Sharing My Feedback To A Proposal Needs Assessment

© 2010 Dwayne Wright - dwaynewright.com

From Dwayne Wright PMP - Certified FileMaker 10, 9 & 8 Developer
EMAIL: info@dwaynewright.com     TWITTER: dwaynewright

One of the strengths I try to evolve as a FileMaker developer is the soft skills area. I’m not interested in the latest and greatest memory variable array creation / parsing techniques or elaborate gold plated developer “ain’t this cool” techniques. These are important aspects of the FileMaker community but I’m more of a GTD developer.

I do like to dive deep into a customers needs analysis and communicate possibilities to them. This is the main reason I started the trek towards project manager certification and devoted so much time attaining that credential.

Anyhoo ... that is my rationalization for writing project related manifestos, such as below, for clients. I thought I’d share it with you (just in case you are as nutty about documentation as I am). Cheers! Dwayne

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We need a unified bibliographic database that will enable us to:  
(1) Find both specific records and lists of records that fall in particular categories,  
(2) Pull up electronic copies of these records via a link,  
(3) Find information that will help us locate hardcopies of documents,  
(4) Generate citations for use in reports,  
(5) Have capability for expansion to include other resource types (maps, databases, our own deliverables). 

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REGARDING ITEM 1
By all means, FileMaker has excellent search capabilities and can return search results in form or list views. Depending on the needs, search results can be easily grouped and even have their results displayed in a chart!

As we discussed, it would be recommend to have the entire workgroup upgraded to FileMaker 11. This can empower your search process in two very important areas. 

First, FileMaker 11 has a new global search feature called Quick Find. Using an area in the top status bar, you can enter in a search string and it will look for matching results for every field on the window layout.

The second feature is called Snapshot Link. This allows you to save a small file that remembers found sets of data. It isn't the data itself but when opened by another FileMaker user, it will take them directly to the records that were in the found set when the snapshot link was created. In essence, it is a found set capsule that can be easily shared among workgroup users.

REGARDING ITEM 2
FileMaker 11 allows you to embed file location references in a field type called a container. This allows you to bring up the file with a double click upon the field itself. We can also program a button to retrieve the file for local storage or even create an outgoing email with the file automatically attached as an enclosure.

REGARDING ITEM 3
There are a number of ways to interpret this requirement. A search for FileMaker records can bring up results for previously embedded file references. If you have documents stored in an area and you would like FileMaker to build a batch index of those documents, that is possible. There are utilities designed to empower FileMaker solutions to batch add references to various documents and glean what information it can from them to store in the FileMaker record. These utilities are called "plug-ins" and when added to a users FileMaker installation, they add additional capabilities to FileMaker's existing feature set.

REGARDING ITEM 4
By all means, you can build citations for multiple records and you could store these citation references as an ongoing asset to the data set. That is to say that you could build a citation list for one record and then click a button to automatically look at those associated documents and include it as a possible citation for them.

We can store citation results as their own data set table. That way you can have citation specific lists to help empower building new future citations. A particular record could store multiple citation sets over time and be used as an organically evolving research resource of its own. In fact, using the FileMaker 11 snapshot link feature (mentioned earlier), you can even email the citation list to another user enabling them to view the citation records!

REGARDING ITEM 5
The container field type I mentioned earlier is capable of storing references of almost any file type. Adding an interesting twist to these capabilities is another FileMaker feature called the web viewer. Basically it is a web browser that is available within a FileMaker layout and can have input control based upon the record itself!

A classic example is a display of a google map on a layout that corresponds to the address information on that record. So you can think of it as a blending of internet features within an existing shell of FileMaker features for your solution.