Author: Jesse Feiler
Publisher: Que, 2012
Aimed at: FileMaker users who want to begin development
Reviewed by: Kay Ewbank
How useful will this book that claims deep coverage be to developers?
This was one of the first books to appear when FileMaker 12 was launched, and while the writing is good and the topics covered show the author knows what he’s talking about, there are gaps, and a lot of the material looks similar to the previous edition of the book covering FileMaker 11.
I reviewed the paperback edition, but at the time the book was released there were numerous complaints about the layout of the Kindle edition; I don’t know whether these problems have now been resolved, so you should approach the Kindle edition with care.
The first part of the book covers getting started with FileMaker, and even though Part Two is called ‘Developing solutions with FileMaker’, most of the material is about database design rather than solution development. Part Three on Developer Techniques is of most interest to developers, with chapters on developing for multi-user deployment, implementing security, and using the Web Viewer, the FileMaker control that can be used to display web pages within your FileMaker apps. The chapter on advanced interface techniques looks at working with FileMaker themes. There’s a chapter on ‘advanced calculation techniques’ that covers Filemaker’s more advanced functions including the array functions.
Advanced scripting techniques get a chapter with descriptions of script parameters, variables, and a short section on recursive scripts. FileMaker Triggers are separated into their own chapter, and are covered clearly and well. The final chapters in this section of the book look at how you can create more advanced multi-window interfaces to your applications, debugging and troubleshooting, and converting systems from previous FileMaker versions. The descriptions of scripting are fine but tend to talk more concepts than in-depth descriptions, and there’s a lack of example scripts.
The next part of the book is titled Data Integration and Publishing, and starts with a look at how to connect to external SQL data sources, before going on to look at web publishing from FileMaker. You’d be able to connect to a SQL database if you read the material, but this is definitely a brief introduction that shows you how to set up an ODBC connection rather than anything deeper. There are several pages of screenshots showing the ODBC connection wizards on Windows and OSX, but that’s as far as it goes. Web publishing gets more detailed coverage, with some sample scripts in PHP and XML. The book closes with a section on deploying and extending FileMaker.
So far as I can see, the book suffers from the fact that it’s called FileMaker 12 in Depth, and the breadth of material means the topics can’t really be covered in depth. It’s a useful introduction to the various topics, but the developer side (both scripts and FileMaker functions) are treated fairly superficially. If you’re a FileMaker user who wants to dabble in development, it would be a reasonable way to get started. Otherwise, the coverage is too slight.