Coming Soon – fmMMS

It’s been almost 20 years since we first started integrating the FileMaker Platform with SMS Gateways, allowing our customers to send and receive SMS (Short Message Service) messages from their FileMaker solutions to their contacts all around the world. In that time we’ve released four versions of fmSMS, our FileMaker solution that works with over 70 SMS Gateways internationally reaching over 1,000 mobile networks in more than 220 countries.

During that time we’ve had a number of requests to implement MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) functionality as well as SMS, and have done a number of custom integrations over the years allowing customers to extend fmSMS to both send MMS messages and receive MMS messages. MMS has a number of benefits over the text based SMS service, including:

  • MMS allows you to add any kind of multimedia content to your messages, such as images, QR codes, audio and video directly to a phone
  • MMS also increases the amount of text you can send in a single message (SMS is limited to 160 characters per segment)
  • MMS includes an additional Subject line which acts like a headline to your message
  • MMS messages appear more visually appealing to the recipient and can lead to higher engagement with your customers

MMS messages also benefit from the well documented advantages of SMS compared to email, including:

  • The open rate for an SMS is nearly 98% while it’s 20 to 30% for email
  • Over 95% of SMS messages received are opened and read
  • 90% of all text messages are read within 3 seconds

We’ve been hard at work on creating a sister product to fmSMS called, naturally, fmMMS, that is almost ready to be released. We’re in the final stages of testing and documentation and plan to release fmMMS later this month.

The main features of fmMMS include:

  • send an MMS to a single contact
  • send a bulk MMS to multiple contacts
  • check the status of sent messages
  • works with the FileMaker v16 Platform or later
  • Webhooks support for automatically receiving incoming MMS messages for both the FileMaker Data API and the PHP API

fmMMS uses all native FileMaker scripts and functions (no plug-ins required) and like our other products it will be 100% unlocked for you to integrate into your own FileMaker solution.

We’ve put together a short preview video showing fmMMS in action sending and receiving a picture message. You can watch this below or via this link on YouTube:

If you would like to be notified when fmMMS is released please subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

Auto Place Makes Agreement Setup Easy with fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition)

We recently released a free update to fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition), our FileMaker solution for integrating with the DocuSign eSignature platform, that included support for AutoPlace. AutoPlace (also referred to as anchor tagging) is an advanced field action in DocuSign that adds fields near each occurrence of a given string in a template or document.

With a typical document you would need to specify where you wanted the DocuSign tabs (fields) to appear on the document, for example to capture a signature, initials, name or date. In the fmESignature Link file the setup for adding Template Tabs looks like this:

It can be somewhat fiddly while you work out the coordinates from the left and top of the page for each tab and can involve a bit of trial and error before you get the positioning right. This also means that your tabs are hardcoded into fixed positions on a specific page, which is fine for fixed length documents where these positions will never change.

If you’re working with a variable length document, such as the legal agreement where the length of the agreement could change depending on the number of included clauses, then you won’t be able to know in advance what page and what position to place the these tabs. Fortunately DocuSign has a solution to this problem called AutoPlace, which involves the use of hidden strings that won’t appear anywhere else in your document. The tab/field is then automatically placed in the position of your hidden text string.

This makes setting up Template Tabs in the fmESignature Link file much simpler: instead of working out the pixel positions from the left and top of your page you simply enter the matching string to look for like this:

If your agreement PDF is being generated from a FileMaker layout you simply place the corresponding string on the layout like this (I’ve changed the text colour to red to make it visible, but you would set this to the same colour as the background of your agreement which is typically white)

DocuSign then automatically place the specified tab at the position of the matching string, regardless of which page or where it appears on the final document. With AutoPlace you can have your templates setup for eSignature with DocuSign within minutes using the fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition) solution.

We’ve added a support article that has all the details of using AutoPlace with fmESignature Link, along with a short video demonstrating the setup of this which you can watch below or on YouTube here.

Claris Engage US 2020

Normally at this time of the year I would be getting prepared for the upcoming FileMaker DevCon Claris Engage conference: preparing the materials for the Databuzz booth, getting all the product demos ready and working out what movies I would watch on the 14 hour flight to the US. I was especially looking forward to this year’s conference as it was going to be held in Nashville, Tennessee and it was the first under the new conference name (FileMaker DevCon 2019 was the last conference with the FileMaker branding).

Claris also announced a European version of Claris Engage would take place in Lisbon, Portugal at the end of October 2020. Suddenly there were two conferences to get excited about in two cities I had never visited!

As we all know the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of conferences all around the world, with many of them moving to online/virtual conferences. Claris announced in April that they were taking Claris Engage US virtual this year, and then in June had some even better news: the event would be free to attend (virtually).

Claris Engage is now only two weeks away and registration is now open. If you’re planning to attend I would encourage you to register today – some sessions have limited space, but there is no registration fee. You can look forward to sessions from business leaders, industry experts, technologists, and Claris staff. 

Some further conference details including sessions you might be interested in:

  • Dates: August 4 – 5, 2020 from 9:00am – 4:00pm Pacific time. 
  • Opening Keynote: Delivering the Promise of Digital Transformation – Claris CEO Brad Freitag and his leadership team share their vision for a more-productive future powered by faster, easier digital transformation.
  • Panel: Business Built on Claris – CxO Perspectives – Hear from business leaders who run successful enterprises on the Claris Platform 
  • Panel: Looking Ahead to Emerging Technology – IoT, CoreML and the impact of AI on the future of your business.
  • Panel: Cloud-Smart Security – Security experts navigate the new normal of modern security threats.
  • Learn how Claris can help you build modern apps faster using shareable add-ons. 
  • And for months after the event, explore #ClarisEngage2020 on-demand sessions in Claris Academy – event recordings plus a broader library of technical and business sessions presented by community experts. Sessions will be posted on a rolling schedule following the live event so you can enjoy them at your own pace.

This will be the first year for a long time that I haven’t flown half way around the world in the middle of the northern summer to setup the Databuzz booth and catch up with friends and customers at Claris Engage. I’m looking forward to attending the keynotes and other sessions now that I don’t have to be at the Databuzz exhibitor booth the whole conference (though might end up watching the replay as they start at 2am in my timezone) and catching up virtually with everyone.

fmSMS Now Supports Live sms SMS Gateway

We’ve just added support for the Live sms SMS Gateway based in Australia. Live sms is an easy to use SMS platform built specifically for Australian SMEs, with the opportunity to earn Qantas Points for your business with every SMS sent.

You can download a trial version of fmSMS to test with the Live sms SMS Gateway from here – please get in touch if you have any questions about using fmSMS with Live sms.

fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition) v1.25 Update

We’ve just released another free update to fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition), our FileMaker solution for integrating with the DocuSign eSignature platform. This update includes a new Template example that utilises the Auto-place (anchor tagging) feature, as well as Webhooks that work with the FileMaker Data API (in addition to the PHP API Webhooks).

Auto Place Template Example

We’ve added another example Template that demonstrates how to use the Auto-place (anchor tagging) feature of DocuSign. AutoPlace adds fields near each occurrence of a given string in a template or document. You can use AutoPlace with any field type – it is automatically placed at all instances in your document of the specified string.

Our previous Template examples demonstrated how to place DocuSign tabs at fixed locations on a page or by reference to a DocuSign Template, but there are circumstances where you will not know in advance the page number where the tabs should be placed. For example you might have a standard legal agreement that varies in length due to the number of standard clauses that are included which might cause the document to run to 1, 2, 3 or more pages in length as a result.

Tab anchoring enables you to place tabs at every location where a specified text string, also known as an anchor, is found in a document. This allows the tabs to move with the text of the document. One common approach to anchor tagging is to use special strings that don’t appear anywhere else in the document as the anchorString property for anchor tagging, then setting the colour of these strings to match the document background, making them invisible to recipients. This enables you to easily attach tabs to many places in your documents without disrupting the signing experience for your recipients.

The new Auto Place Agreement Template uses a new layout Customer Agreement Auto Place PDF that demonstrates the use of special text strings that are used as the guide for the Auto Place tabs. If you have a look at this layout in Layout mode you will see these invisible text objects highlighted here:

These text objects have a white text colour set – the same colour as the layout background – so they are not visible when printed or saved to a PDF file. If we change the colour of these to red you can see the strings that we have set for these:

There is a new setting option on the Template Tabs tab in the Template Details screen where you can specify the same strings to associate with these. If you click the gear icon to the right of a Template Tab you will get this popover:

Here you can specify the Anchor String and any X/Y offset values. As I have specified /SigName1/ as the Anchor String for this tab it will search the document for any matches for this and place the specified tab in that location.

Webhooks Changes

In addition to the existing PHP API Webhooks we now include Data API compatible versions of these. Remember when working with the Data API you will need to enable the fmrest extended privilege for the Webhooks Privilege Set:

You’ll now find 2 folders in the PHP Webhooks folder containing the php files for both the Data API Webhooks and the PHP API Webhooks:

Both folders contain the same contents (each set of PHP files works with either the PHP API or the newer Data API) – see our DocuSign Webhooks page for further details on installing these on your server and configuring the fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition) file for these.

Other Changes

As well as the new Auto Place Template example and Data API Webhooks updates this update includes a number of other small changes, including:

  • you can now specify the Template Tab Recipient ID to assign tabs to specific recipient
  • we’ve added the option to allow you to set the Routing Order to 1 for all recipients which means that when set all recipients will receive the signing request at the same time. This overrides the Position value that you can set when specifying the Recipient Contacts for a Request. This is helpful when you don’t want all recipients to be delayed by a previous recipient not having signed the document in a timely manner.

The full list of changes are listed in the version history notes here. Existing customers can download this version from the link on your original order email (contact us if you need the link to be reset etc).

Speed Improvements with fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) v2

When we released v2 of fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) a few months ago we mentioned in the announcement that users could expect to see faster downloads and uploads between FileMaker and the Xero API and that we had seen improvements of 35% from v1 to v2.

We had seen similar improvements when releasing the updates to our other solutions to run on the FileMaker v16 or later platform using native functions and script steps, compared to the previous version that required a FileMaker plug-in to communicate with the various APIs (Shopify, WooCommerce, MYOB and now Xero).

We had some early feedback from customers letting us know just how much faster they were finding v2 compared to v1. For example we had reports that users were seeing improvements of between 45-80% when performing bulk operations with Products, Invoices and Contacts. This meant that users were going from requests that were previously taking over 16 minutes to now taking just over 4 minutes – that’s a significant timesaver!

We decided to perform our own series of benchmark tests using the same data set for both v1 and v2 of fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition), focusing on bulk uploads and downloads of Contacts, Products and Invoices which represent the most common API endpoints that most of our users engage with. Working with a sample of 100 records we found the following:

  • Contacts (including Addresses and Phone Numbers) uploaded 44% faster and downloaded 61% faster
  • Products uploaded 45% faster and downloaded 56% faster
  • Invoices (with multiple line items) downloaded 65% faster

Our tests with v2 were running too fast initially – we kept encountering the 429 (too many requests) response code which is returned by the Xero API when you exceed their API Rate Limits. We kept hitting the limit of 60 calls per minute with our bulk upload tests and ended up adding a short pause to these scripts so they would stay within the Xero API Rate Limits (we added the same pause to our v1 tests).

Here’s some charts showing the time taken to complete each request for v1 and v2 – you can see that v2 is typically 50% faster than v1 in most operations:

We’re planning to do some further optimisations of our fmAccounting Link solutions for Xero and MYOB and our fmEcommerce Link solutions for Shopify and WooCommerce to further improve the performance when processing large sets of JSON data. For example we believe we can reduce the time it takes to download large numbers of Orders from Shopify and WooCommerce – we’ll report back on our findings in a future blog post.

fmSMS Now Supports Bulksms2u.com SMS Gateway

We’ve just added support for the Bulksms2u.com SMS Gateway based in Malaysia. This is the 2nd Malaysian based SMS Gateway that we’ve added support for this month. You can signup for a trial account with Bulksms2u.com and receive 20 free credits to use for testing.

You can download a trial version of fmSMS to test with the Bulksms2u.com SMS Gateway from here – please get in touch if you have any questions about using fmSMS with Bulksms2u.com.

fmSMS Now Supports Mocean SMS Gateway

We’ve just added support for the Mocean SMS Gateway based in Malaysia. We had previously supported Mocean in fmSMS v3 so we’re pleased to now offer support once again for Mocean in fmSMS v4. 

You can download a trial version of fmSMS to test with the Mocean SMS Gateway from here – please get in touch if you have any questions about using fmSMS with Mocean.

FileMaker 19 Platform Compatibility Update

Claris today released the FileMaker 19 Platform and we’re pleased to report that all Databuzz products are compatible with the FileMaker 19 Platform. We haven’t encountered any issues with the following products in our testing with the FileMaker 19 Platform:

fmSMS – we have sent messages from multiple SMS Gateways, checked Account balances and checked the status of sent Messages successfully. Tests were performed using both fmSMS v3.5 and fmSMS v4.

fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) – we have been able to authenticate, download from Xero to FileMaker and upload from FileMaker to Xero successfully. Tests were performed using both fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) v1 and v2.

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) – we have been able to authenticate, download from WooCommerce to FileMaker and upload from FileMaker to WooCommerce successfully

fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) – we have been able to authenticate, download from Shopify to FileMaker and upload from FileMaker to Shopify successfully

fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition) – we have been able to send a signing request, check the status, download the completed PDF and form data successfully.

fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition) – we have been able to authenticate, download from AccountRight to FileMaker and upload from FileMaker to AccountRight successfully. Tests were performed with the on premise version and the MYOB Cloud version.

If you encounter any issues with any of our products and FileMaker 19 Platform please let us know. We’ll be writing more articles about some of the new features in the FileMaker 19 Platform over the coming weeks – you can subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when they are released or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

fmSMS Now Supports 5c SMS Gateway

We’ve just added support for the 5c SMS SMS Gateway based in Australia. As their name suggests 5c SMS pricing starts at AUD 5c per message and goes down to 3.5c if you purchase in bulk. There are no setup costs or ongoing monthly fees and your prepaid credits never expire.

You can download a trial version of fmSMS to test with the 5c SMS Gateway from here – please get in touch if you have any questions about using fmSMS with 5c SMS.