Our free FileMaker plugin started it’s life as something developed entirely for ourselves. We wanted to reduce the number of plugins we were using in our BaseElements FileMaker developer tool, and couldn’t find anything that fit perfectly.
It seems, and it makes sense that most FileMaker plugins stick to a single set of functionality. So for there is the Troi File plugin for file operations, SMTPit for sending mail via SMTP and Troi Dialog for dialogs. ( There are others that do these things too, these are just the ones we recently used ). Each of these plugins is a complete package and will do everything you want in File, SMTP or Dialogs. If you have complex needs or specific requirements, then this is the way to go. We’ve used, and continue to use these plugins for various things when the needs arise.
But our requirements were that we needed a couple of file functions, one basic dialog function, some XSLT stuff that didn’t seem to exist in any plugin yet and a couple of very esoteric things for speeding up processing in BaseElements. Some of the esoteric things could have been done in something like Scodigo’s PHP plugin but we’d still have multiple plugins to install and manage.
In the end, writing our own was a no brainer. It allowed us to have a single, BaseElements branded plugin which did everything and was in our control in terms of updates and bug fixes. But the question we had was what to do with it. Should it be limited to our own solutions? Should we try to sell it? Give it away? Keep it in house?
Our decision was that we’d open source it. Give away the code and the plugin itself so that others can benefit from it and use it in the same way we do.
One of the things that this opens up is the idea of it growing beyond our initial plans, and including code for other people’s desires as well as our own. We certainly have our own plans and ideas, all based around things we plan to do in the future in either BaseElements or RefreshFM.
Recently we’ve had a couple of requests for functions we hadn’t planned on adding at present, but we felt made sense to have in our “toolkit” plugin. So we’ve opened up the ability to sponsor BaseElements functions that we will then get coded and added in.
These were some HTTP POST functions ( to add to the GET function that is already there ) and a set of Base64 encoding to accompany them.
We’re very excited that we’ve had interest from three different sources to sponsor these functions and that we’ve been able to add them into the plugin code.
How it works
If you have an idea for a function, or a set of functionality that you would like to see in the plugin, contact us via the form on this page, or the github comments page. If we think it’s a good idea and could be done, we’ll add it to the existing list and also add an individual function page. On there you can comment, and we’ll flesh out the details of parameters and functionality.
Once all that is done and agreed on, we’ll put up an estimated price and put out a request for sponsorships. Anyone can contribute, if you want to pay for the entire amount you can, if you want to round up individual donations and bundle them up you can. There is a paypal account listed to send contributions to. In the case of functionality not being developed, anything donated that isn’t used will be returned to the donors.
We have an external contract developer we’re using for the coding. All of the amounts go towards paying the developer and nothing is kept by Goya. And we’re not restricting this to our own developer either, if you know of or have your own programmer who understands FileMaker plugin development, then we’re happy to accept code via github as well.
The only restrictions would be that we stick to our original licence terms, so any code must be open sourced and that the functions work cross platform.
Our first set of sponsored functions are on the sponsorship page, and the code is in the progress of being developed. We were so excited about this that we’ve already started some coding and we have some alpha releases available on the github page ( scroll down to the 1.3 alpha links ).
Some other bonus features in the 1.3a5 release that are things we’re adding for ourselves are a File Open function, zip and unzip and the ability to set the default folder for the Select File or Select Folder dialogs.
Hopefully this attracts others who have ideas for things not currently well supported by other plugins.
As well, we’re constantly on the lookout for something to manage the donations. Keeping track of this manually is a pain, and although sites like kickstarter seem promising, they’re limited to US residents only ( i.e., not us ) and don’t really work in terms of having a project with 6 different ongoing functions that could all run separately. If people have other suggestions, we’re open to ideas. Some sort of drupal module would be great, as that’s what we’re currently using on the site.