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Paul Bostwick's
FileMaker Pro Tips and Demos

One of the best ways of learning a FileMaker Pro technique is to create an experiment file that you can monkey with to test ideas and approaches. Most of the time it helps to keep these experiment files as simple as possible so there are no distracting elements and you can concentrate on the central issue you are trying to explore. Seldom are these self-help files worth sharing: they just help us think. Those few that merit sharing inevitably need sprucing up for presentation to others. I owe a debt of gratitude to the various members of the FileMaker community who have taken the extra time do make their technique tip and demo files clear and easy to understand. Having now made a few, I appreciate their efforts even more. This brings us to the other leading way to learn a new technique...

Dissecting a (copy of a) working file built by someone else to see what makes it tick. This is among the best ways to learn a new technique. There are demo files all over the place on the web... here is a handy way to search for them: go to the FileMaker Web Ring.

In partial repayment of my debt to the developer and list-serve community, here are my offerings:

Open URL Vs. Send Mail: ¡¡Digital Deathmatch!! Click For Windows version | Click for Mac version (75k file)
This FileMaker Pro 5.x file demonstrates first how the Open URL script step works. Then there are two scripts for Email generation. One using FileMaker's "Send Email" script step and the other uses "Open URL" and the URL form "emailto:" which allows the addition of the BCC parameter as well as to addresses formatted as: Mickey Mouse <mm@dizney.com>.This, "I know you" nicety is not handled in the Send Email script step. There are other ins and outs to this approach and this Demo file exists to illustrate them. Download your copy now!

A Résumé: naughty normalization & packed with goodies Click For Windows version | Click for Mac version (75k file)
This is a fully open application that presents résumé information in an interactive manner and allows reordering of sections and elements of sections to suit the audience. It is also a promotional device so it is all about ME. As if that were not exciting enough, you can learn from its:

Intuitive Interface (which is odd since we seldom get to interact with résumés)
Reader's Bookmarks and Personalisation
On Screen Help
Context sensitive Menu
User-Sensitive navigation
Email integration (Yes this uses the Open URL Email approach described above)
Protected Portals (you cannot click into them)
Non XML based formatting of HTML-output
Logging of user activity
Looping to beat the band

Why wait? Download your copy now!

Serial Number Manager: an old idea with some current uses? Click For Windows version | Click for Mac version (75k file)
This is a fully open demo of a method of advancing serial numbers. The idea is that if you keep serial numbers in a file (single record one field for each of the files in your system) then different installations of your system can have serial numbers at different end points and you do not have to use other workarounds to get the "next" seial numbers when you distribute a new fix (sorrry, I meant "upgrade.") Since the "high" values are not in the database's structure but in the data you can distribute new copies of the files in your system empty and script a simple import.

This is an old workaround and there is today a new (version 4.5 and beyond I think) preference in the import "update serial numbers" that allows you to remove the need for this little workaround but since this solution is scripted there are still some cool advantages.  The serial number could be advanced with fun goodies thrown in like user ids or the like. I also just hate the import dialog and saving import set ups, so for me, removing another variable from that process still appeals.

Download your copy and see if it inspires you or solves some problem!

Coming Soon: LetterBuilder: Malleable Mergers. | coming soon!
I'm still refining this solution (some features below) and would welcome your ideas about this approach.

Upgrade Routines (so you can distribute upgrades but keep your existing letters)
Correspondence History Keeping (see down to letters from your system)
Form Letter Building
One-Off Letters (based on Form Letters but hand customizable without changing layouts)
Merge Codes and Fields (create batches of letters that mutate according to your recipient's data) Mass Personalisation
User configurable Merge data field selection.

The goal is for this file to be a module you can slot into your solutions easily (one relationship and a couple of scripts.) This is proving to be the tricky part: keeping it generic enough to be adaptable but quick to implement and specific enough to be useful. It will be shareware (Tentative price $5 for single users and more for sites and commercial developers) If you'd like to see the rough version let me know.


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