With each new release of FileMaker, as developers, we tend to look at the big changes that may affect how we develop, what new features just became easier, and what can we do with this version over the last. But in this, we might miss some of the smaller, more subtle changes that could affect the end-user’s ability to simply log onto our apps. Within FileMaker 17, there is a subtle yet significant change in how users access an app and starter solutions upon program launch and from the File menu.
Accessing your app from FileMaker Pro 17
In FileMaker Pro Advanced 17 the former “Launch Center” has been completely redone and is now known as My Apps.
In FileMaker Pro 16 we had the Launch Center which was broken up into the favorites and recent sections plus buttons for Browse and New.
In FileMaker Pro Advanced 17, the My Apps window will open anytime FileMaker Pro Advanced is launched. The My Apps “tab”, is also accessible from the updated File menu shown in the section below, and is equivalent to the “favorites” section of the old Launch Center but is much easier, and I believe more intuitive for your end-user. If the user has certain apps they access frequently, then it is best to have them add the applications to the My Apps screen and now those apps will be displayed in the above window and from the My Apps menu shown below.
Please keep in mind that simply opening an app, either local or remote, will NOT add it to the My Apps screen. All recently opened apps will show in the Recent tab which is a nice list view showing the app name and its location in descending order starting with the most recently opened app.
Adding a New App
To add a new app simply click on Add app. When you do so a small pop-over will appear with two options
- From Browse – this will allow the user to browse their local system for a local file.
- From Hosts – will open a new window allowing the user to select from a hosted file on a remote server.
Please note a subtle change in terminology. FileMaker 17 no longer has the concept of Open Remote, it is simply called Hosts. The former Remote dialog screen has been modified to look like the following:
In this new Hosts screen, the user can add a new host once supplied with a URL or IP address. They have the ability, once connected, to toggle between icon and list view. They can more quickly search through a list of files on the server using the new filter by type feature in the search field. What is not evident is that a user must right-click on the hostname in order to edit it or remove it from their favorites.
*Removing a host from the Favorites removes that host from anything saved in your local FileMaker Pro copy.
One other hidden gem is the icon in the top right corner. Clicking that opens the Network FilePath dialog box.
Using the New File Menu
As you can see above, there have been many changes to what is now known as the My Apps window. Some key terminology has changed as well – Hosts = “Open Remote” and My Apps = “Favorites”. The changes have been extended into the File menu which has had its own reorganization.
- The Open command is simply 1 line and opens a standard file explorer that has a button to go to Hosts.
- My Apps allows you to add a currently opened app to the My Apps menu – “favorites”.
- Hosts “was Open Remote” opens the new Hosts window.
- The Recent menu allows you to clear all of your most recently opened files. This also clears the list of recently opened files in the My Apps window.
Creating a New App in FileMaker 17
The final important change in all of these getting started changes is that of the Create New menu which replaces the Getting Started and New Solution menu items from FileMaker 16. From the My Apps window, there is a Create button, also found in the File menu. Both take you to the following window:
This Create window allows the user to create an app “Blank” with one table and a default set of fields (also new in FileMaker 17). A user can convert an Excel document or other related files into a FileMaker 17 database. Finally, new to 17, there is the Learn Center that has some basic tutorials for creating apps and for working with their starter and sample apps.
In the window, you can clearly see a new set of files made available by FileMaker as a true starting point for use by any user/organization. Note the change in iconography for the Starter solutions. These solutions, based on a new template called Universal Touch are designed to be a true starting point for a new app. The Universal Touch design can be modified to match an organizations color scheme, branding, or whatever is needed to make the starter solution their own. The Starter apps are different from the Sample apps which remain from FileMaker 16. The Sample apps are designed with their own themes and layouts and are more intended for inspiration rather than solution starting.
As a developer, it is easy to get excited about the new Master-Detail layouts, FileMaker 17 Server changes, multiple e-mail attachments and the many other development improvements that can make our lives easier and apps more exciting. But with these changes to how we simply launch the apps we create, we can not lose sight of our users who may need a little more assistance re-orientating themselves to new terminology, options and window changes for actually accessing the apps they use on a daily basis.
Todd Stark is a FileMaker 16 Certified Developer at Skeleton Key in St. Louis, MO.
About Skeleton Key
Skeleton Key helps turn complex, complicated, and outdated systems into true information platforms. Our team of consultants and developers do this by developing custom-fit software tools and reporting dashboards that help businesses find, use, and understand their data, freeing them to focus on and grow their core business.
In addition to custom databases and applications, we also provide training and coaching for getting the most out of your existing systems and understanding your unruly data. Skeleton Key is an open-book management company and active player of the Great Game of Business.