I recently wrote about the number of bugs that were fixed in the FileMaker v15 platform (Pro, Server, Go and WebDirect) – over 150 by my count. Now I would like to cover some of the “sleeper” features of the FileMaker v15 release – some of which are included in FileMaker’s marketing to highlight the new version and some that are not mentioned at all in any of the release notes.
FileMaker Inc. have published a list of Behaviour changes in FileMaker Pro 15 which you should all read (I’ll be mentioning one of the items on this list). Otherwise the changes that I’ll be discussing below were discovered through notifications from bugs I had reported that were addressed in v15, reading the FileMaker documentation (including the FMP Acknowledgements.pdf), reading posts on the FileMaker Community forums and testing the software in real world use.
PDF Changes – FileMaker Pro v15 introduced a number of changes to the Save as PDF feature. The ability to generate a PDF file was first introduced in FileMaker Pro v8 – FileMaker Inc. licensed a PDF library from DataLogics. This has changed with v15 – FileMaker Inc. are now using an open source PDF library called Hummus PDF. The Hummus PDF library is available for both C++ and NodeJS environments – hopefully this change in PDF libraries will see FileMaker Inc. address two of my top feature requests: PDF generation under FileMaker Server and Append to PDF support for FileMaker Go.
The change in PDF libraries, along with some other PDF behaviour changes, is leading to smaller PDF files generated from FileMaker Pro. In our tests we’ve seen an average 30% reduction in PDF file sizes, which is great when you’re generating PDFs to email or working across a remote network. As with any major change like this you should run some tests on your solutions to ensure your PDFs still look the same with v15 – there have been some reports on the FileMaker forums about issues some issues are encountering with certain layouts, objects etc, so make sure you test this before rolling out v15 to all your users if PDF generation is a critical part of your workflow.
FileMaker Inc. recently released an update to FileMaker Pro v14 (14.0.6) as well that also updates the PDF library to the same one used by FileMaker Pro v15, so existing v14 users can also benefit from the reduction in PDF file sizes that the new library generates.
(Make sure you check out the FileMaker Product Ideas area where you can suggest new features and also vote on existing features.)
Mouse Wheel – for many years the mouse wheel under FileMaker Pro has worked differently on Windows compared to the Mac, and in my experience this has been the cause of much confusion as Windows users scroll their mouse wheel only to suddenly find they have changed records when they though they were scrolling the window up or down. For many years we’ve recommended to our customers to install Mouse utilities like KatMouse which allows you to change the behaviour of the wheel in FileMaker Pro on Windows, but with FileMaker Pro v15 the mouse wheel finally behaves the same way on Windows as on the Mac.
Under FileMaker Pro v15 the scroll wheel will only scroll a layout or an object, just like it does on the Mac. It won’t flip you through the records anymore – Windows users will have to click on the navigation buttons just like on the Mac (on the Mac you can use the Apple Magic Mouse to swipe left/right to quickly scan forwards/backwards through records when in Form view – I haven’ tested this on Windows yet). As this change is reversing decades of how it used to work, some users who prefer the previous scroll wheel functionality can use hacks to modify the behaviour of the mouse wheel again, though we’re recommending to all our customers that they stick with the default behaviour.
Truncate Table – the Truncate Table script step was the only new script step added to FileMaker Pro v15 and it’s one we’re very happy to see. As it’s name implies (and for those familiar with the SQL Truncate command) this script step deletes all records in the specified table regardless of the current found set. In some solutions we have a temporary table used to generate reports or to import temporary data for processing. Often the record count for these tables can be into the tens of thousands of records or more, which means when we need to clear out the temporary table when running a new report users will see the deleting records dialog box which generally freaks them out the first time (not to mention that it can takes several minutes to delete large numbers of records over the network). Now with the Truncate Table script step we can quickly and silently delete all records in one go in seconds without the user noticing.
There are a number of issues you need to be aware of when using Truncate Table, including:
- both FileMaker Server v15 and FileMaker Pro v15 are required if the file is hosted by FileMaker Server
- it attempts to lock all records in the table before deleting them. If it can’t lock all records (for example, if a record is being edited by another user), Truncate Table stops and returns an error code
- it does not delete related records even if the relationship is set up to do
- Server-side scripts and Custom Web Publishing run this script step as if the With dialog option is Off
If you would like to read more about the Truncate Table script step we recommend the following articles:
Script Comments That Wrap – we love the new FileMaker Script Workspace that was introduced in FileMaker Pro v14, but as we started using it and making script comments we noticed one annoying change. Script comments didn’t wrap to the next line and you couldn’t scroll to see what wasn’t visible on the screen. Here’s some screenshots showing the change in script comments from v13, v14 and v15:
The above screenshot shows FileMaker Pro v13 – you can’t see the rest of the comments but you can scroll to the right to view them.
The above screenshot shows FileMaker Pro v14 – you can’t scroll to see the remaining comments. You can click into the comment and then move the cursor to the right to see the rest of the comments, which is not a great experience.
In FileMaker Pro v15 above the comments now wrap automatically – no more scrolling or moving the cursor to all the comments. If you use a text editor when working with other languages such as HTML, PHP etc then you will be familiar with this behaviour and welcome the change.
Search your of FileMaker Server favourites – this change alone saves me a few minutes every day. I work with lots of different clients who have their own FileMaker Servers which I save to my list of favourites in FileMaker Pro. Currently my list has around 70 different servers which I’ve accumulated over the years, so when I come to open a file on a client’s server I have to try and remember where in the list their server is (I’ve memorised them so I know if there towards the top, middle or bottom sections of the list). Now with FileMaker Pro v15 I can simply do a search in the Open Remote dialog box:
No more remembering where in the list they were – I simply type part of the server name (it doesn’t matter whereabouts in the name the search string you enter is – I can type ‘fm’ or ‘acme’ or ‘.au’) and FileMaker Pro will filter the list to show any matches. I’ve been wanting this feature for many years so it’s great to finally see this one – anyone who has a long list of server favourites will upgrade to v15 for this feature alone!