Back in November, a former client of mine called out of the blue to ask if I could still build a database out of FileMaker Pro for his business.
Since then, the intricacies of FileMaker have become my latest personal challenge. Some days I’m not sure I’m winning. Others, I think I’ve figured out a great deal, and then I loop back to the previous questioning.
Without a doubt, I am a creative. Math, admittedly, has never been my strong suit. Writing is something I’m far better at than logical equations.
But at 50 years of age, I’m determined to master FileMaker and database development, and for several reasons.
What’s FileMaker you ask? It’s a database management program that when built right and hosted on a dedicated server, can work on iPhones, iPads, Droids, Macs and PCs.
What kinds of databases? There are, of course, some limitations, but as you know by now, I don’t like to be limited, so for the time being, I’m not letting that be an issue. But most mortals use FileMaker to track their work hours for client billing, to track tasks, calendaring, event management, asset tracking, contact management, expense tracking, and other typical business applications.
There are 14 starter “solutions,” (they use that ambiguous, technological buzzword that has so little meaning, to describe the files or individually built programs one runs.) My inner-editor also has had to adjust to putting punctuation outside of quote marks because in writing a script, everything INSIDE quotes gets included. But I digress.
FileMaker can be used via FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Pro Advanced, an iTunes app called FileMaker Go, and via a Web browser in FileMaker’s Web Direct (this includes Droids, their tablets, and PC and Mac users who don’t buy licenses of FMP). Via PHP development, it also can be built seamlessly into a website.
Over the past two months, I’ve been working hard to prepare to test for FileMaker 14 certification, to demonstrate mastery with the product. There are 63 questions to be prepare for in an array of domains including Technical Specifications, Building Layouts, Calculations, Scripts, Security, Server Deployment, Data Integration, Publishing on the Web, Developmental Tools and Processes, and FileMaker Go.
Am I ready yet? I hesitate to answer. My weaknesses at the moment include the need to do a bunch of calculations, script trigger and script writing, and understanding the intricacies of Anchor Buoy relationship design. They really are a matter of “the more you do them, the better you will get.” Practice, Donny, practice.
MY FILEMAKER DISSERTATION, AS IT WERE
I learned how to write HTML for websites by buying a book in March of 1995 entitled How To Write HTML In A Week. From that, I authored the original pages that launched the state of Alabama’s first presence on the Web.
My proficiency in Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, Audition, and After Effects by Adobe have come largely the same way–through practice, Lynda.com‘s training series, and little tricks I’ve learned here and there.
To gain the proficiency I desire in FileMaker, I’ve isolated my interests in two areas–one in story telling, the other via a friend of a friend in California who owns a dog grooming business and finds that many/most dog groomers don’t like the database management systems that presently are available on the market.
So, FMGroomer™ is in the design and building process. FMAuthor™ is as well.
Each project, which will consume untold hours of mental time, energy and sweat equity, in the end, will have an impact on their respective industries.
FMGroomer™ will focus on customer, groomer, and salon owner processes for getting a dog groomed, and the ordering of products for pet care in the form of soaps and sprays and other services.
FMAuthor™ will focus on helping authors formulate their stories, encourage them to create colorful, well-thought-out characters and storylines, and then, once the book is written, help them develop a personal database of potential literary agents to pitch.
THIS IS MY PRESENT WORLD
I have two full-length manuscripts I’m about to begin revising in hopes of them one day becoming published novels. Already, I’m itching to begin a third novel. That’s pushing me to really intensify my development of FMAuthor™ and test it for me before offering it to the rest of the publishing world.
FileMaker has been an interesting ride so far. There are dozens of ways, beyond FMGroomer™ and FMAuthor™ that I can see building and using the product. And certification will be nice, too, even though one of the gurus in the FM world told me the only thing that will really do is, “Look good on my resume.” Maybe so. But I sense I’ll have a certain level of self-satisfaction in having passed, too.