fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition) Updated for Bills

We’ve just released an update to fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition), our FileMaker solution for integrating with MYOB AccountRight in Australia and New Zealand, with examples for working with Bills in MYOB. With v1.25 of fmAccounting Link you can now use FileMaker to:

  • download Bills from AccountRight to FileMaker (either all Bills or filtered by Bill Date)
  • create Bills in FileMaker and upload them to MYOB
  • convert a Purchase Order to a Bill in FileMaker and upload the converted Bill to MYOB

This is a free update for all existing customers – you can view the full release notes on our version history page.

Connecting FileMaker Pro to FileMaker Server with the FileMaker Data API

FileMaker Server 16 (and FileMaker Cloud 1.16.0) included a new trial feature called the FileMaker Data API (application programming interface), which allows web services or applications to access data in hosted FileMaker solutions without needing any FileMaker client software to be installed. This is similar to the current XML and PHP APIs which have been around for over 10 years, however the Data API is a REST (Representational State Transfer) API which means you don’t need to use any particular programming language to work with the Data API.

In their Product Roadmaps over the past couple of years FileMaker Inc. have indicated that they will be investing in the Data API in future releases of FileMaker platform. Whilst they have not included the XML and PHP APIs in their list of deprecated features their focus will be on the Data API which opens up the FileMaker platform to an almost unlimited number of external apps and services.

We’ve been working with REST APIs for many years – sending SMS messages, integrating with Accounting platforms and eCommerce platforms – so we were pleased to see FileMaker Server (and now FileMaker Cloud) include a REST API as this now opens up many possibilities for integration by external web services and applications, as they don’t need to know “FileMaker” in order to make requests with the Data API. If you’re familiar with making HTTP requests (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE) and working with JSON data formats then you will have no issues working with the FileMaker Data API.

As the FileMaker Data API is a trial feature – the trial expires on September 27, 2018 and the Data API will cease to operate – we normally wouldn’t recommend our clients use this feature in any live systems as it is likely to change and you will have to upgrade to the latest version of the FileMaker platform before the trial expires in order to keep using it (after making any necessary changes to ensure compatibility with the final release of the Data API). There is also the issue of licensing – the Data API is currently free to use in the trial period, but FileMaker plan to have a licensing model in place before the end of the trial. Without knowing what the final licensing model will be makes it hard for clients to commit to using the Data API at this stage.

During a recent project we had encountered a challenging issue that turns out was perfect for the Data API. This project has a FileMaker Server v16 hosted solution with a Custom Web Publishing/PHP interface. All users access the solution using a web browser – for security reasons installing FileMaker Pro was not an option. One requirement of the project was to allow printing of labels with barcodes and picking lists – we solved this by generating PDF files via the new support for generating PDF files on FileMaker Server as well as Excel files (see our blog post from last year on how we did this). We still ended up using a local FileMaker file to import the Excel file containing the data for the shipping labels and to create the barcodes.

This process was working smoothly but was more suitable for doing large bulk shipments and involved a number of steps that you normally wouldn’t have to perform in a purely FileMaker Pro interface:

  • users would first have to find the records via the web interface that they wished to generate labels for
  • they would then click a button to call the server side script to create the PDF or Excel file
  • they would then have to download this Excel or PDF file to their local machine
  • for PDF files they would simply open them and print as needed, and for the Excel files they would open the local FileMaker file and click a button to import the Excel file which then generated the labels and barcodes

As you can see there’s a number of steps involved, whereas with a pure FileMaker Pro interface there would typically be only 2 steps:

  • find the records to print
  • click a button to print the shipping labels or picking lists

The process was also the same regardless of whether you wished to print a single shipping label or 100 labels. We had been discussing ways to streamline and improve this process, knowing that we couldn’t connect to the solution using a live FileMaker Pro connection. We were leaning towards building a integration using either the XML or PHP APIs, or using a product like RESTfm when we realised that the Data API might be another option worth considering, knowing that it was a trial feature and would stop working in September but would be a better long term investment. Now that FileMaker Pro v16 supports cURL and JSON natively it started to make even more sense, even though using FileMaker Pro to integrate with FileMaker Server via the Data API doesn’t make too much sense at first.

We built a basic prototype in a few hours to authenticate and make simple requests to get single and bulk shipping labels and picking lists and were impressed by the speed of the responses, so decided to press ahead and incorporate this functionality into the existing local FileMaker solution that users were already using to import the Excel files and print labels and barcodes. We were further able to link the web interface with this local FileMaker file through the use of FMP URLs by adding buttons on the web interface that called scripts in the local FileMaker file and passed in parameters, so the updated process to print labels and packing lists is now down to 2 steps:

  • find the records to print
  • click a button to print the shipping labels or picking lists

If you’re thinking about using FileMaker Pro as a client for the FileMaker Data API here’s some tips and tricks we learnt along the way:

  • the FileMaker Data API Reference can be found on your FileMaker Server at this URL – https://localhost/fmi/rest/apidoc/ – and contains examples for the requests and responses you can expect when authenticating, working with records and performing finds. The FileMaker 16 Data API Guide is the other main reference to working with the Data API. I recommend having both of these resources open in separate tabs when working with the Data API for the first time
  • we recommend using tools like Postman when working with the Data API to learn how to structure your requests. You can convert your working requests to cURL using the Generate Code Snippets feature which you can then copy and paste into your FileMaker Insert From URL script step and format for use with FileMaker Pro. See our previous article about about using Postman environments with the REST API.
  • the Data API is not currently a complete replacement for the XML or PHP APIs. For example you cannot insert container data or run FileMaker scripts with the Data API, or retrieve metadata about your FileMaker solution such as layout schema. The Data API does not currently return data such as the number of found records like the getFoundSetCount() method does in the PHP API, so you need to use workarounds for these.
  • date formats appear to work in a similar way to the PHP API in that you need to specify them in MM/DD/YYYY format regardless of your date formats on your server or FileMaker solution. Dates are also returned in the same MM/DD/YYYY format (e.g. 11/30/2017 for November 30th, 2017).
  • when performing a find query the fields you are searching for don’t need to be on the layout you specified in your URL, but only fields on the specified layout are returned in the response.
  • when performing a find query that results in no records found the use of the –show-error cURL option determines whether the Insert From URL script step returns an error (1631) or not. This is documented in the Supported cURL options page help page under the Handling errors heading.
  • one issue that caused us grief is an apparent bug with the use of the JSONSetElement function with spaces when used in a particular way the the cURL options. We have now standardised on specifying the JSON for each Data API request using the –data @$data syntax instead of the alternative methods
  • to help with debugging we recommend using the –trace and –dump-header options with every request

The final cURL options generally look like this for a typical request (assuming you have already authenticated and stored the access token somewhere):

"--request POST" & 
" --header " & Quote( "Content-type" & ": " & "application/json" ) & 
" --header " & Quote( "FM-data-token" & ": " & $$restAPIAccessToken ) & 
" --data @$json" & 
" --trace $$cURLTrace" & 
" --dump-header $responseHeaders"

Using FileMaker Pro as a client for the FileMaker Data API has us thinking about new ways we can leverage the Data API from an offline FileMaker Pro or FileMaker Go client, such as syncing records when using FileMaker Go on an iPhone or iPad and removing the overhead of having to have a live connection to your FileMaker Server. The Data API is perfect for uploading or downloading small changes from an offline file and once the shipping version of the Data API is available in the next version of the FileMaker platform (and the licensing model revealed) we expect to see more widespread use of the Data API, particularly for offline files running under FileMaker Go.


Databuzz Turns 10 🎂

January 2018 marks the 10 year anniversary for Databuzz – we first opened our doors for business back in January, 2008. As it turned out 2008 wasn’t a particularly great year to start a new business. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 60 percent of small businesses cease operating within the first three years of starting, and with a global financial crisis that same year I probably couldn’t have picked a worse time to start a new business.

Here I am 10 years later and happy to have come out the other side of the GFC, with many customers from our first year still with us today (and some still with us after 20 years).

When I started planning to return to the world of FileMaker Consulting as an independent developer after spending many happy years with Complete Data (which is still going strong today) I knew that I wanted to have a different name to my previous company name – Splash IT Consulting Pty Ltd – as that was no longer an accurate reflection of the business and work that we would perform.

I had first registered the name Splash IT Consulting back on January 5, 1999 when I first went solo and needed a business name to operate under as a sole trader. Having worked at Apple for many years, both in Australia and the UK, I was more of a generalist back then and offered a number of IT services, including:

  • FileMaker Pro development (I had just joined the FileMaker Solutions Alliance as it was known back then)
  • Mac OS X Server installation/configuation (sadly Apple has just announced that it has deprecated most of the macOS Server services)
  • Sherlock Plugins for Mac OS 8.5 – who remembers those!
  • Palm Pilot solutions
  • CD Burning

Here I am almost 20 years later and FileMaker Pro development is now the only service Databuzz offers and most of the other services no longer exist. Back then FileMaker Pro v5 was the latest version – FileMaker, Inc. had only recently come into existence to replace Claris Corporation. I no longer have any of the original website files for Splash IT Consulting but thanks to the magic of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine I managed to find an archive from September, 2000 (missing the main graphic):

Back in 1999 the options for searching for business names and registering them online were very limited and you had to complete the registration in person at the local Consumer Affairs registry office. I wanted to have the word ‘data’ in my name somewhere and had compiled a list of my top 3 names which I believed were available and most importantly also had the matching domain name available. I had also learnt the lesson of never having a hyphen in a domain name if you can avoid it (too many typos from customers when reading your your email address on the phone etc), as well as unfortunate emphasis some customers placed on the “sh-it” part of the name when pronouncing it.

I headed off to the local registry off knowing that if my first option was rejected then I at least had 2 other names to fall back on that I was happy with. For reasons that I can no longer recall all my names were rejected and I was left standing at the counter with a big queue of customers behind me frantically trying other names – and that’s how Databuzz was born. It was the first name I could come up with on the spot that didn’t get rejected!

I decided to keep things simple and use Databuzz as a trading name and keep Splash IT Consulting Pty Ltd as the official company name. The first Databuzz website was also a very simple 5 page static site:

which had an associated blog that ran on a platform called WordPress, which itself was only a few years old at the time. I’ve since replaced the static website with WordPress which now runs the website, blog and online shops for the Databuzz and fmSMS shops. Back in 2008 FileMaker Pro v9 was the current shipping version and FileMaker Go was still three years away from being released – FileMaker Mobile, the previous FileMaker mobile solution for the Palm OS and Pocket PC, had recently been discontinued. The original iPhone had been released in June, 2007 but was not available in Australia – it wasn’t until the iPhone 3G was released in July, 2008 that you could buy an iPhone in Australia.

It’s amazing how much change there has been in the IT industry in the past 10 years, and no doubt there will be even more change in the next 10 years as the pace of change only gets faster. Looking back there have been a number of highlights and milestones that stand out, including:

We’re continuing to update these solutions with new features based on suggestions from our customers and our own product roadmap, as well as work on some exciting new products that we hope to release some time later in 2018. I’d like to thank our customers for their support over the past 10 years (and a special mention to PEDro who we have worked with since 1999) and I look forward to working with you all again in the future and cannot wait to see what the next 10 years brings.

Sydney FileMaker Developer Meetup Dates for 2018

The dates for the 2018 Sydney FileMaker Developer Meetups have been finalised so you can lock these into your diary now:

  • February 23rd (Pennant Hills Bowling Club 12:30pm)
  • May 25th (Pennant Hills Bowling Club 12:30pm)
  • August 24th (Pennant Hills Bowling Club 12:30pm)
  • December 7th Xmas Drinks/Dinner (Sydney CBD 6pm – location TBA)

If you would like to join the mailing list just visit the signup page at:

We’ll send our reminders before each meeting – anyone is welcome to attend and no RSVP is required (except for the Xmas dinner).

Eliminating Double Data Entry with eCommerce, FileMaker and Accounting Integration

Are you a small business that uses FileMaker to run your business (Contacts, Invoices, Suppliers, Leads etc) but also have an online store and use another accounting software? Do you find yourself re-entering online orders multiple times in your FileMaker CRM then once again in your accounting software?

There is a better way – we know as we once were in that situation ourselves. Over the past five years we’ve introduced a number of new systems into our business operations, including:

  • 2 online stores for our main Databuzz site as well as for our fmSMS product both running WooCommerce
  • switched from a  desktop accounting software to the Xero Cloud accounting platform

We also use the FileMaker platform internally to run our business and like many of our customers we suddenly found ourselves in the position where we had to enter a new sales order multiple times in different systems. The workflow for a new order became:

  1. receive notification via email of a new online order
  2. create a new order in our FileMaker CRM and copy/paste the customer and order details from the email
  3. logon to Xero and create a new Customer and Invoice and enter the Payment manually via copy/paste from FileMaker

The online order was being manually typed twice in FileMaker and our accounting software, leading to data entry errors and wasted time handling the same order multiple times. At Databuzz we like to “eat out own dogfood”  and most of our Products have been the result of a need to solve a problem within our own business that we suspected other businesses would also have. With the help of our fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) solution as well as fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) and the power of webhooks we’ve been able to completely eliminate all data entry for our online orders.

The new streamlined process looks like this:

  1. a new order is created in one of our online stores which triggers a WooCommerce webhook to push that new Order to our internal version of fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition).
  2. this calls a FileMaker script which then pushes the online order to our internal version of fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition). It checks to see if the customer already exists, otherwise it creates a new one.
  3. a staff member does a quick sanity check to make sure everything looks correct and then clicks a button to upload the new Invoice and Payment to Xero.

We’ve managed to reduce this business process from 5-10 minutes to 5-10 seconds –  this has freed up time to be spent on more productive tasks instead of mindless double data entry. Whether you’re using WooCommerce or Shopify for your online store and Xero or MYOB AccountRight/Essentials for your accounting it is possible to integrate all of these with FileMaker in the middle so that new online orders flow directly into FileMaker and then into your accounting software without any more double data entry.

If you would like to discuss integrating your FileMaker solution with your eCommerce system please contact us for a free initial consultation to discuss your requirements. We also have a number of FileMaker integration solutions available if you would prefer to do the integration in-house:

Databuzz 2017 End of Year Xmas Sale – 20% Off All Licenses

The Databuzz End of Year Xmas Sale is now on – all Product Licenses are now 20% off, including:

The sale runs until the end of the day on the 31st December, 2017 (Australian Eastern Daylight Time). Free trial versions are available for all of our products – please contact us to request a trial version.

All our prices are in Australian dollars – if you’re purchasing from outside of Australia you’ll also get to take advantage of the low Australian dollar (1 Australian Dollar equals approximately 0.75 US Dollars).

Discounts are applied automatically – no coupons required! Click here to start shopping.

We also have a similar sale on fmSMS Licenses (20% off) – click here to visit the fmSMS website for further details.

FileMaker 16 Certified Developer

Databuzz is pleased to announce that Andrew Duncan recently passed the Developer Essentials for FileMaker 16 Certification Exam and is now FileMaker Certified in v8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16. FileMaker 16 Certification is the official credential offered by FileMaker, Inc.

FileMaker Certification is your validation that you are hiring an experienced FileMaker professional who has technical knowledge of the complete FileMaker product line and has passed the “Developer Essentials for FileMaker” certification exam. Being a certified developer demonstrates to clients, peers and management that you’ve achieved an essential level of knowledge, experience and skills in developing FileMaker solutions.

Using Postman Environments and Tests with the FileMaker Data API

One of the new features of FileMaker Server 16 and FileMaker Cloud 1.16.0 is the FileMaker Data API – currently in trial mode which expires on September 27, 2018. The FileMaker Data API is an application programming interface (API) that allows web services to access data in hosted FileMaker solutions and conforms to Representational State Transfer (REST) architecture, making the FileMaker Data API a REST API.

You can use the Data API to integrate your FileMaker solutions with other applications and services – REST APIs are the current standard for integration and the Data API will be the replacement for the current XML and PHP APIs.

Your web service or application calls the FileMaker Data API to obtain an authentication token for access to a hosted solution, then uses that token in subsequent calls to create records, update records, delete records, and perform find requests.The FileMaker Data API returns data in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), another standard that is used with REST APIs for data formatting (and is also supported by FileMaker Pro v16).

A great tool to use when testing REST calls with the Data API is Postman, a free app for macOS, Windows and Linux (paid versions are also available). Postman allows you to make requests (GET, POST, PUT etc) to a REST API like the FileMaker Data API and inspect the response, including the headers. You can quickly make changes to the requests and headers that you send and compare the results – when working with REST APIs a tool like Postman is indispensable.

As mentioned above the FileMaker Data API requires you to obtain an authentication token when first accessing a FileMaker solution – the access token is valid until you log out of a solution or for 15 minutes after the last call that specified the token. While the token is valid, each call that specifies the token resets the session timeout counter to zero. To save you from having to manually copy and paste your token with each new request you can use some features of Postman to save your from having to manually update any variables in your requests manually, including the Data API access token.

Postman lets you setup multiple “environments” that can contain multiple variables fore each environment, such as the host address URL. For example you might have a development environment and a production environment, each with their own host address and other variables. In Postman I would simply have a POST request URL like this:


and in each Postman environment I would specify the value for the {{server}} variable. When you make your request by hitting the Send button in Postman it will insert the appropriate value for each variable you’ve specified. You can read all about setting up Postman environments and variables in the Postman docs.

As you can’t specify the Data API access token in advance you can use another great feature of Postman to dynamically create the token variable which is then used in subsequent API requests. Your initial request to authenticate/login will look like this:

{ "user":"admin", "password":"admin", "layout":"Tasks" }

and if successful the response will look like this:

{ "errorCode": "0", "layout": "Tasks", "token": "fdde29fa175eb1cc8347512ca327b191619fc32ed65efaab26d8" }

Using the Tests feature when making a Postman request you can execute some JavaScript code after the request is sent to dynamically create a token variable that you can use with your subsequent API calls without having to copy and paste the token each time. Here’s a screenshot of how you would set this up in Postman for the Data API authentication request:

The JavaScript code you can copy/paste is:

var data = JSON.parse(responseBody);
postman.setEnvironmentVariable("token", data.token)

Using Postman environments and Tests to update the token variable makes working with the FileMaker Data API much easier and should save you a lot of time.

Webhooks are coming to Xero

Earlier this year Xero announced that Webhooks would be coming to the Xero API, which was exciting news for Xero developers who have been asking for webhooks support for a long time (there is a request from 2010 in the Xero API Customer Feedback site!). Webhooks allow you to subscribe to certain events that happen in Xero: the Contacts endpoint was the first to receive webhooks support and Xero have said they will quickly move to Invoices and other high-use endpoints (hopefully including Payments which our customers would love).

The events that are currently support for the Contacts endpoint are:

  1. Create: A new contact has been created
  2. Update: An existing contact has been updated (including when contacts are archived)

When one of these events are triggered the Xero API sends a HTTPS POST to the webhook’s configured URL – you can then perform the appropriate actions based on the contents of the webhook payload, such as creating a new contact or updating an existing contact in FileMaker.

Xero started a closed beta for the Contacts webhooks which Databuzz was lucky enough to be invited to join and we’ve been working on ways to implement webhooks with our fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) solution, initially using the FileMaker PHP API. Databuzz has been working with webhooks for many years, for example adding webhooks support to our fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) solution to allow new orders to be pushed automatically, and to fmSMS to allow incoming messages to be pushed to FileMaker without requiring users to download these manually. Adding webhooks support to our fmEcommerce Link solution was fairly straightforward – we created a PHP file that uses the FileMaker PHP API and processes the webhook payload to update the existing contact or create a new Contact as required.

We still need to polish these off but we wanted to demonstrate how you could use Contacts webhooks (and Invoices and other endpoints that are supported in the future) with our fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) solution. If Contacts are created or updated directly in Xero and you need to make the same updates in your FileMaker solution web hooks will save you having to either re-enter these manually or downloads these from Xero via the Xero API.

Check out our video below (or on YouTube) that shows how you can use webhooks to have updates from Xero pushed automatically to fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) (or your FileMaker solution that you have integrated this into). If you have any questions about webhooks and Xero please post them in the comments below or contact us directly.

Update November 30, 2017: webhooks for Invoices are now available.

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) Update

We’ve just released a minor update to fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) – v1.34 – that includes one new feature and one bug fix:

  • we’ve updated the Get Orders download script to check for any previously downloaded Orders with the same WooCommerce ID and skip them if present. This makes it easer to download new orders multiple times a day without having to worry about ending up with duplicate Orders
  • we’ve fixed a bug that was failing to delete the Products Meta Data records when updating a Product from WooCommerce

Once again this is a free update to all our existing customers – you can get the full details of the changes in the release notes for fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition). Existing customers can download this new version using their existing download links from their original order – please contact us if you have any issues downloading this update.