As always we are hot on the heels of the FileMaker Pro 19 release to announce a new version of BaseElements, v 19.0b1.

FileMaker 19 and the open platform

This release is a big one in terms of the changes and direction in the platform, and the deeper integration of JavaScript and the Data API into FileMaker Pro client is going to be massive. A insightful take on this is from Todd Geist, describing FileMaker 19 as the “first open platform“.

Solution Upgrades

I think the other interesting aspect of FileMaker 19 is how the platform is talking about developer tools and how we integrate directly with our solutions out in the field. FileMaker now has a “Save As XML” option which is great for for documenting a solution, but still not quite a DDR replacement.

However alongside FileMaker 19, we also got the release of the “Claris FileMaker Custom App Upgrade Tool” which is complementary to the data migration tool we’ve previously seen. This is going to be the start of a huge shift in how we do changes to solutions in FileMaker. It uses the Save As XML formats to document the changes, and can be automated in a closed FileMaker file.

Although the tool itself is documented well, the process to build a “patch” file is only described. At this stage it’s not clear if FileMaker will in some future release automatically “diff” two versions of a FileMaker file, and produce a patch, or if it’s something that developers, and tools like BaseElements will have to generate.

But I see BaseElements as fitting into that niche either way, as the data inside BE is in its own structure, but can be output in any format you like, so BE can generate patch files based on two versions of a solution. I’m looking forward to having a play with this for future releases.

Faster Iteration and releases

FileMaker has also talked about a new faster cycle of releases, moving from annual to more like quarterly with new features coming more often. This is exciting for BaseElements as it also means we’ll be tracking new functionality in real time.

I think the addition of the annual licence model in BaseElements is going to be key here, as we keep active and up to date on a more regular basis. I’m also considering a monthly option for those who would prefer it, and will have more to say about licencing in the future.

So, BaseElements 19

Yes, it’s out in beta, you can get a copy here :

There’s some cool changes, and some differences between 18 and 19.

Improved interface design

First the biggest change is to the main toolbar at the top. I’ve long thought it to be a bit disjointed, and not as clean as I would like, and so I spent a lot of time iterating on the layout and coming up with a better design. Not only does it fit the same amount of info in less space, it’s much clearer where you are, and how to get back up the chain of hierarchy. I really liked how this turned out.

A lot of the ideas for this have been swirling around in my head since a few of the Goya staff did a session on design with Albert Harum-Alvarez last year. And there’s still more to come from that session that I want to work on, so if you’re looking for design inspiration, his masterclass is well worth it.

We also added new custom designed icons from IconFactory. At one point I realised we had quite a mix of odd native icons, custom patches and things I’d found on the web. Having a consistent theme and format across all the iconography has been a great addition.

On top of that, the new home page better tracks “Apps” and groups your solutions, so you can see which version of a solution you fixed all those errors in. Plus the re-import feature is more prominent, which is something I do all the time : re-import a DDR I’ve just generated. This alone is a time saver for people who run the DDR regularly.

New 19 features

Obviously BaseElements 19 is compatible with all the new features in 19, and adds support for the new script steps, functions and design changes.

Some things haven’t made it yet

Two big features didn’t yet make it into the new UI in BE 19, but will be back shortly. The back and forward buttons that let you retrace your steps in BE aren’t on the toolbar, but are still available via the menu and a keyboard shortcut :

This will return in a future beta before 19 final. Also the “Mark as Fixed” button on the Alerts tab isn’t there, but will also return soon.

Reporting is the big change

Updated in this release is the layout of the changes report. This got a complete overhaul and is hopefully much clearer about what has changed and where, and also lets you more easily see the cool tools, like the diff and copy options that are there.

“Coming soon” are the other big changes. We’ve got some cool plans for the Top Call report, I think this can be much better utilised to show changes over time, and be really useful in terms of monitoring performance in a solution.

Also the ThemeBuilder report got a fantastic reception from users, even though it was a first attempt, and we think this could be a game changer for how we make styling changes in solutions, so there’s a lot of plans there.

Plus there’s the new Tools option in the toolbar, which goes nowhere yet, but is going to fill out by the end of the beta cycle…

More too

Some other things that are either started, or worked on but not complete, or coming soon, or ideas that we are wanting to sort out :

  • Server side compatibility for automated imports – no FMP required.
  • Storing of the XML inside BE for future use and archiving.
  • Improved Clip Manager editing, including bulk replace.
  • Utilising the Save As XML on top of the DDR.
  • Notes that persist across versions of the Analysis.
  • Utilising the App idea to track your solution over time.
  • there’s always more, I’ve got a long list…

If you want to see something, head over to the new documentation page, and fill in the contact form.

So thanks to all our customers, who keep using BaseElements and recommending it to friends. It’s great to hear the stories of how BE saves developers time and frustration in their day to day development.

If you’ve got an annual licence, you can download BaseElements 19 today and get started.