Software Publishing: The Design Of Your Solution

From Dwayne Wright - Certified FileMaker 9 Developer
TWITTER: dwaynewright

This is part of my ongoing series of articles about setting up your own software publishing business (cause FileMaker is very good option for doing that). This was originally published by me in a guide called FileMaker Software Publishing back in 2002. .

You don't have to create each layout, field, script and relationship from scratch for every file in your solution. I would recommend building a template file for your solution and then reuse this template as you build each associated file. Create an interface you like and try to build in all the possible navigation features you can reuse. This includes any navigation or operational scripts that will be used system wide. You will also want to setup a consistent standard of how you name FileMaker objects ( layouts, fields, scripts, value lists and relationships).

Back when I self published my FileMaker guides, I used to have an example file template. Here I use a template that has a tab interface across the top. It has screens for 600 by 400, 800 by 600 and 1024 by 768 with and without the status area showing on the side. This allows me the foundation to build to many different screens or build branching to automatically switch screens by reading what monitor the user is using. It also has a completely configured button dock and a pull down menu to activate defined scripts.

This template allows me to make a professional looking solution in 1/2 of the time and allows me to integrate previous work to new solutions. This is what I call the "Lincoln Log" approach to design.

I would also recommend keeping everything as simple as possible. I’ve seen some FileMaker designers that seem to make everything more complex than what it really needs to be. They understand what they are doing and how but anyone else has to struggle to understand what is going on under the hood. Simple design doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice sophisticated features! It just means that you should implement those features the simplest and most direct method.

I remember my coach in Little League baseball explaining a basic truth about playing the outfield. It’s much easier to run forward and catch a ball than it is to run backwards and catch a ball. In the FileMaker world, it’s much easier to add sophistication to a solution than it is to run backwards and try to get it all out.

More info about the author and FileMaker in general, contact me at

© 2008 - Dwayne Wright -

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