Grouping objects together when designing layouts is a very helpful tool and one of my favorites to use. I am very excited for the new ability to select an individual object while it is still in a group in FileMaker 17.
Grouping and Ungrouping Objects in Previous Versions
If you are not familiar with grouping and ungrouping objects in previous versions here is a recap: By selecting all objects you would like to group and clicking the group button in the inspector, you can group multiple objects together even if they are different types of objects. This allows you to work with them as one single object, manipulating its stacking order or alignment, for example. It comes in handy often as I have perfectly aligned a group of fields and need to move them around to continue working on other parts of my layout without disturbing their current alignment relative to each other.
Previously, you could not make an adjustment to a single object after it was in a group without selecting it from the Layout Objects window. The layout objects window allows you to select an object that is currently grouped and make changes to its appearance in the inspector, but you do not have the ability to adjust its size or position. You would first need to ungroup it, make your adjustment and regroup. This could get tedious if you had many changes to make. Additionally, I find it helpful to specifically name my groups in the layout objects window so I can distinguish which group I am working with. However, the custom object name for a group is erased when the objects are ungrouped. Additionally, if you have formatted your group as a button, you will have to recreate your button and add back your script if you ungroup it.
What’s new for Grouping Objects in FileMaker 17?
In FileMaker 17, we now have the ability to select one or more objects inside of a group and make changes without affecting the other objects in a group or having to ungroup them. This added functionality makes grouping a more diverse tool to use, assists with speed of development and makes tasks like layering and hiding more enjoyable. You can now group objects together and move them around even if you know you still have to make adjustments to the individual objects inside.
Since ease and speed of development are often such high motivators for gravitating towards certain workflows and tools, I am pleased by the new flexibility of grouping objects together in development. For those of you who have shied away from grouping objects in development for lack of convenience, it may be time to consider putting it back in your toolbox.
Monica Blum is a junior application 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.