We’ve built version 1.1 of our free and open source FileMaker plugin. Downloads are available here :
And lots of documentation and the actual code is available on the github project page.
Although this is the first version to receive some publicity, it’s actually version 1.1 and is the second iteration since we started this project. Version 1.1 adds some neat functions that don’t exist inside FileMaker, notably the BE_FileMaker_Fields and BE_FileMaker_Tables functions that allow you to match a Layout or TO to it’s current base Table. Also file Copy, file Move and listing files in a folder.
Plus one other function that I really like : OpenURL. At first you think, what’s the purpose of that, I can do that via script step? In my case I’m using it within calculations to open help pages. Imagine you have a If step, with calculation that checks for errors and if not, continues. You can have the same single step opening a calculated set of help pages, based on which error occurred. Or you can have a calculation that uses the dialog function, checks for results and opens a url and continues, all within the one step. It’s a great way to simplify your code and abstract out what would become a whole bunch of steps.
Then again, there are people who like having lots of indents of if and else steps to make things more explicit. Either way this is a useful additional option.
It’s funny how these things work out, as soon as you come up with the functions you want today, you come up with a dozen other ideas for more things you need tomorrow. I’ve already got three other major functions ( perform scripts, sql calls and http requests via curl ) that I want to add to 1.2, so those will hopefully be coming soon. I’ve already received some examples and code for functions to extend the XSLT options we’ve got ( thanks Magnus ). These additions allow you to perform XPath functions on XML and also do XSLT transforms in memory instead of onto disk.
In the real world
For us, once version 1.2 is done with the additions mentioned above, this plugin will do 90% of what we do with plugins in our FileMaker solutions. And it’s so much easier managing a plugin with no registration code, and no licence issues. The only big outstanding item would be sending SMTP mail which we currently do via SMTPit. There are so many variations and permutations on SMTP it’s not something I think we’d want to tackle but there are also a whole bunch of pre-written SMTP libraries available, so adapting someone else’s code is certainly an option there too.
This plugin is, at the moment, something we’ve written for our own needs, and to fill our own particular niche. I don’t think what we do with FileMaker is extraordinarily different from other people’s needs, so I’m curious to see if this plugin will be adopted by others for their own solutions.
I’d love to hear from others about what it would take for this plugin to replace the 2 or 3 or 6 other plugins you’re currently using. And if anyone is interested in helping us add more options to the code, please let us know.