Using the tools in FileMaker Pro Advanced, you can customize your solutions to a considerable degree. However, there are still some limitations on what you can accomplish in using FileMaker Pro Advanced to create something like a "shrink-wrap" software experience. This section explores some of those limitations and what you can do to overcome them.
As we mentioned previously in this chapter, FileMaker solutions that are bound into runtime applications cannot be shared among multiple users. Each copy of a bound runtime application can be installed and used on only one computer, and multiple copies of the same runtime application can share data.
There is an exception to this rule. If you have a copy of FileMaker Server and you configure it to allow the hosting of runtime solutions, you can then share a bound solution such that users with the FileMaker Pro software can open and work with the files. This technique, of course, removes much of the reason for creating a bound runtime in the first place because one goal is to allow the distribution of FileMaker-based software to users who don have a copy of FileMaker Pro.
In the preceding edition of this book, we had to report that there were limited options for menu customization in FileMaker. With the release of Custom Menus, all that is changed. FileMaker menus are vastly more customizable than they were in FileMaker 7 and before. Still, even the new Custom Menus feature has its limits. Menus can be enabled or disabled only in sets. And there is very little programmatic control of menus and menu sets, aside from the Install Menu Set script step. Theres no way to add items to a menu via a script, for example, nor have menus generated dynamically from database data.
Further customization of menus is possible, though, using third-party plug-ins. SecureFM with MenuMagic, from New Millennium Communications (www.nmci.com), allows even more fine-grained control over menus, as does MenuControl from Dacons (www.dacons.net).
As with all plug-ins, youll want to look at these carefully and weigh whether they have the features you need. Plug-ins aren guaranteed in any way by FileMaker, Inc., so do your homework!
The term event triggers refers to the capability to associate program logic (such as running a script) with specific kinds of user interaction events (such as tabbing out of a field while doing data entry). In a system that supports event triggers, it would be possible to specify that a particular script be run every time a user exited a field, or every time a user submitted or deleted a record.
FileMaker Extra: The Limits of Customization FileMaker doesn yet support event triggers (although we hope developers are toiling away on them behind the scenes!), but this doesn mean that such functionality can be achieved. Again, youll want to look into a plug-in that can accomplish some or all of this task. Several useful candidates are listed in the Scripting section of the FileMaker, Inc., plug-ins list (http://solutions.filemaker.com/solutions/index.jsp, and then follow the Plug-ins link). Each of these plug-ins will have its strengths and limitations, so here again, due diligence is called for.
Part I: Getting Started with FileMaker 8
Using FileMaker Pro
Defining and Working with Fields
Working with Layouts
Part II: Developing Solutions with FileMaker
Relational Database Design
Working with Multiple Tables
Working with Relationships
Getting Started with Calculations
Getting Started with Scripting
Getting Started with Reporting
Part III: Developer Techniques
Developing for Multiuser Deployment
Advanced Interface Techniques
Advanced Calculation Techniques
Advanced Scripting Techniques
Advanced Portal Techniques
Debugging and Troubleshooting
Converting Systems from Previous Versions of FileMaker Pro
Part IV: Data Integration and Publishing
Importing Data into FileMaker Pro
Exporting Data from FileMaker
Instant Web Publishing
FileMaker and Web Services
Custom Web Publishing
Part V: Deploying a FileMaker Solution
Deploying and Extending FileMaker
FileMaker Server and Server Advanced
Documenting Your FileMaker Solutions