FileMaker Launches Small Business Service Business Toolkit

service toolkit


In July 2010 FileMaker Inc. launched the first version of FileMaker Go for the iPhone and the iPad, beginning the push towards mobility and extending FileMaker’s reach beyond the office and into the field. FileMaker Go was particularly helpful for service businesses that had staff working remotely onsite with customers – for example servicing customer equipment or performing scheduled maintenance. FileMaker Go allowed these service workers to make the move away from paper and to a digital solution that help removed unnecessary paper work and data entry.

Over the past six years we’ve helped implement a number of FileMaker Go based mobility solutions for customers that have helped transform the way they do business. A typical workflow before FileMaker Go would like something like this:

  • office staff would allocate jobs for technicians/service staff via an office based FileMaker solution
  • these would be printed off and collected by the service workers at the start of each day
  • service workers would complete the jobs and record all the information in paper forms
  • at the end of the day the service staff would return to the head office and deliver the completed forms to an office based worker who would then re-enter the same data in the office database

With the introduction of FileMaker Go we can now extend the reach of the office FileMaker system to the remote field workers. An integrated FileMaker Go custom app can transform the old workflow in many ways and eliminate a lot of paper based forms and double data entry. As a result the new workflow looks like this:

  • office staff allocate jobs for the remote field workers
  • using an iPhone or iPad running a FileMaker Go custom app the service staff download any jobs allocated to them each day containing all the details of the job, customer details and equipment details
  • service staff visit each customer (they can view their address using Google Maps direct from FileMaker Go) and record details about each job. This might include time spent on site, parts used, equipment readings, photos and asignature from the customer who approves the job
  • if required an invoice can be generated and sent via email as a PDF onsite to the customer
  • at the end of the day or after each job is completed the data is uploaded back to the office system which in turn triggers a new workflow (e.g. to set the next follow up date, issue an invoice if one was not delivered onsite etc)

With an integrated FileMaker Go solution there is no longer any requirement to re-enter data back in the office, a process that can often take multiple hours each day. This frees up office staff to perform more meaningful and productive work (and can also mean you don’t need to hire as many staff or temp workers to perform this work).

FileMaker Go can help transform any service based business, regardless of whether you’re currently using a FileMaker solution in the office. We’ve implemented FileMaker Go/mobile solutions in many different industries over the past six years, including:

  • Real Estate – allowing property management staff to download a list of properties requiring end of lease inspections and complete the inspections onsite. All completed inspections are then uploaded to a central database back in the office and reports send to the landlord
  • Equipment Inspections – we have a number of customers that need to perform regular scheduled inspections on equipment such as septic tanks, gas tanks and properties. Inspections are allocated to a particular staff or area and then downloaded either daily or monthly as required and uploaded when completed.
  • Electricians – allowing electricians to download daily jobs and record time and parts used onsite for each job and upload back to the office each day

In recognition of how FileMaker Go can help service based businesses FileMaker Inc. has recently released a free Small Business Service Business Toolkit to help small businesses plan, create and deploy a custom app that will enable them to maximize customer satisfaction, drive growth and increase profitability. The Toolkit includes an eBook with case studies showing how small businesses, by replacing pen-and-paper processes with custom apps built using the FileMaker Platform, are experiencing tremendous improvements in overall work performance.

You can download a free copy of the Small Business Service Business Toolkit here. If you would like to discuss implementing a custom app for your service business please get in touch.

FileMaker Inc. releases State of the Custom App Report

FileMaker Inc. today released their State of the Custom App Report –  a survey of custom app usage and results. After surveying over 490 FileMaker customers internationally in November/December 2015 they found that teams are building and using custom apps to achieve a meaningful impact for their organisations. The Key Findings included:

  • 74% saw an increase in productivity
  • 81% saw a reduction in inefficient tasks
  • 60% saw a return on investment
  • 73% consider mobility moderately to extremely important
  • 82% built internally and 52% built in less than 3 months

Custom apps are changing the way teams work – Databuzz has helped many organisations to plan, create and deploy a custom app using FileMaker Go for the iPhone and iPad in a wide variety of industries. Customers love to automate inefficient processes and reduce unnecessary paperwork and double data entry, boosting the productivity of their teams.

You can download a copy of the report here.

FileMaker Inc. has also recently released the first in a three-part series of free how-to guides that will lead teams through the process of building a custom app using the FileMaker Platform. The three-part series will cover:

  1. Plan – Your first steps toward creating a successful custom app
  2. Create – Your step-by-step guide to successfully create an app with FileMaker
  3. Deploy  – Your step-by-step guide to successfully deploy an app with FileMaker

Click here to download the Plan ebook – the Create and Deploy eBooks will be released over the next few months.

If you would like to discuss a custom app for your organisation please contact us for a free initial consultation.

Creating FileMaker Go Web Clips using Apple Configurator

Since the first iPhone was released back in 2007 users have been able to save “Web Clips” to their home screens, which act as shortcuts to the individual website. They let users quickly access a website they use frequently without having to open Safari and enter the website or select it from the list of favourites.

FileMaker Go also supports the use of Web Clips which allow you to create an icon on your iOS home screen that opens a FileMaker Go database. This saves the user from having to open FileMaker Go and select the database from the list of databases on the device, and creates a much nicer experience particularly for users who don’t use FileMaker Go on a regular basis.

There have been a number of ways to generate FileMaker Go Web Clips over the years, including the now discontinued App Maker database from FileMaker Inc. I’ve settled on using the Apple Configurator application (which replaced the previous iPhone Configuration Utility) to generate the necessary iOS profiles that are required to create the Web Clip icons on the home screen. This article will show you how to use the Apple Configurator to create an iOS profile and associated Web Clip that you can distribute to your users to install on their iOS devices.

Create the iOS Profile using Apple Configurator

I’ll be using the Contacts starter solution that is preinstalled on every copy of FileMaker Go v14 and Apple Configurator version 1.7.2 (I haven’t upgraded to El Capitan so cannot install the newer Apple Configurator v2. I will update this article once I have installed Apple Configurator v2).

Step 1: open the Apple Configurator application and you will see a screen like this:Apple Configurator Launch

Step 2: we need to create a new iOS Profile but the option is disabled by default. You need to turn Supervision to ON which will then enable the creation of a new Profile:Apple Configurator - 1

Step 3: click the + button at the bottom of the screen to create a new Profile: Apple Configurator - Profile

Step 4: under the General section enter a name for your Profile. I left the remaining fields blank but you can complete these if required.

Step 5: scroll down on the left hand side until you see the Web Clips option. Select Web Clips then enter the Label for the Web Clip and the URL. The URL will be entered in this format:

FMP://%7E/<<Name of Your FileMaker database>>

If the name of your FileMaker database contains a space you will need to URL encode the file name. For example if your filename is “ACME Contacts” your URL will be “FMP://%7E/ACME%20Contacts”. You can use the GetAsURLEncoded ( Get ( FileName )  ) function to get the URL encoded version of your filename. You can get more information about the FMP URL formats and options for passing script parameters and defining local variables in the FileMaker Go Development Guide.Apple Configurator - Web Clip

You can also select an icon to use for the Web Clip (rather then the default icon that appears) – select a graphics file in GIF, JPEG, or PNG format. Web clip icons are 144 x 144 pixels for iPad devices with a Retina display, and 114 x 114 pixels for iPhone devices. To prevent the device from adding a shine to the image, choose Precomposed Icon. Once you have finished entering these settings click the Save button.

Step 6: you will be taken back to the home screen showing your new Profile in the list of Profiles:

Apple Configurator - Profiles

You’re now ready to share this Profile with your iOS users. Select the Profile from the list and click the share icon at the bottom of the screen to export the profile. You will be prompted to save the .mobileconfig profile file on your computer. If you need to make any changes to the Profile simply double click on the Profile from the list and navigate to the Web Clips section and save your changes.

Installing the Profile on an iOS device

Now that you have generated a .mobileconfig file containing the iOS Profile you can now distribute this to your users to install on their iOS devices. There are a number of ways you can do this, including:

  1. simply email the .mobileconfig file you exported to your users
  2. upload the .mobileconfig file to a web server you control and distribute the URL to that file (see note below about setting the correct MIME type on the web server)
  3. use a Mobile Device Management application to distribute and install the Profiles (outside the scope of this article)

If you’re going to email the .mobileconfig file attachment be aware that some iOS email apps (like Outlook) won’t recognise the .mobileconfig attachment and will attemp to view the Profile instead of installing it. The default Mail app recognises these attachments correctly.

Once your users have received the .mobileconfig file via email or downloaded it they will be prompted to install the Profile as follows:

  1. the Install Profile screen will appear – tap the Install button in the top right hand corner to proceed: IMG_2397
  2. as the Profile is an unverified Profile you will receive a warning – tap Install in the top right hand corner to proceed. You will be prompted to enter your iOS Passcode:IMG_2392
  3. the Profile will now be installed – click Done
  4. IMG_2393
  5. installing the new iOS Profile will create the Web Clip on the home screen at the same time – if you specified a custom icon for the Web Clip this will be the icon that appears on the home screen: IMG_2394When you tap the icon it will open Safari and attempt to open the FMP URL that you entered into the Web Clip earlier. In my testing using FileMaker Go 14.0.4 and iOS 9.1 the following dialog box appears: IMG_2395The user has to click Open to continue, at which point FileMaker Go opens then opens the solution that is stored on the device: IMG_2396

N.B. if you delete the Profile from the iOS device (found under Settings > General > Profiles) it will also delete the home screen icon.

A Note about hosting .mobileconfig files

If you plan on hosting your .mobileconfig files on a web server that you control you might need to add the following MIME type to your web server configuration (particularly if you’re using IIS on Windows):

File name extension: “.mobileconfig”
MIME Type:”application/x-apple-aspen-config”

Databuzz to Exhibit at the 2013 FileMaker Developer Conference

FileMaker Inc. have recently released the schedule for the 2013 FileMaker Developer Conference, to be held in San Diego, California from August 12-15. We’re excited to announce that we will be exhibiting at the conference for the first time, showcasing fmSMS v3, our 2 way SMS solution for FileMaker Pro.



We’ve completely rewritten fmSMS from the ground up for FileMaker Pro v12, with a number of new features including support for FileMaker Go. If you’re coming to the conference please stop by and say hello and we can demonstrate how you can send and receive SMS/TXT messages using FileMaker Pro.

We hope to see as many of you there as possible and look forward to answering your questions about FileMaker and SMS integration.

Databuzz eNews – July 2010 Released

We’ve just released our eNews newsletter for July 2010. You can view it online at:

If you want to be added to the newsletter mailing list just leave a comment below and we’ll add you to the list until our new automated subscription service is operational.