Interesting Twists On FileMaker 11 Layout Folders Feature

From Dwayne Wright PMP
Certified FileMaker Developer

TWITTER: dwaynewright
YOUTUBE: FileMakerThoughts

Please Note: If you are viewing this page in a news feeder, the images may get munged up a bit. For the best experience, please visit the journal directly by clicking (here). 

Perhaps I should take a step back and describe how I foresee developers embracing the layout folder structure introduced with FileMaker 11? In projects that use the anchor / buoy relationship design, layout folders are likely to be organized by entity (or anchor, if you will). This would look something like Clients, Invoices, Inventory, Activities and so forth. I also see some developers layout folders being organized by their default view or purpose. This would look something like Forms, Lists, Tables, Finds, Dialogs, Reports, Print Outs and the like. I also imagine there will be times you will see a developer utilizing a combination of the two above methods.

This may or may not have been mentioned elsewhere but I uncovered an interesting use of FileMaker 11 layout folders today. I duplicated a clients layout, so that I could dissect a collection of fields that were layered on top of each other. A technique that always worries me when I come across it because there is no way to know what a layout is really doing during a workflow session. Anyway, I created a folder called Experiments 4/17/2010 and then put my layout copy within it. This brings up two interesting twists to new layout folder usage.

One twist I was thinking of was to create an "under construction" layout folder series and add a timestamp in to the folder name. Adding a timestamp to the name can be useful in multiple ways such as where / when you left off or as a way to organize the work when you have multiple developers on a project. So you would have a development methodology that no layout in the "under construction" area is wired into the "LIVE" production system until it has been tested for functionality. Any really old layouts in the "under construction" folder are deleted periodically as failed experiments.

The next interesting idea is organizing your layout folders in a workflow structure. We do this all the time with scripts and mimicing that method in layout organization is ... potentially ... another way to document the organizational workflow structure.

That sounds odd doesn’t it but think of the following. What if the organizations workflow process changes and it drastically alters the way your database has to work? This happens all the time, particularly for the FileMaker in house developer. For the sake of illustration, lets say you organized your scripts and layouts by workflow. Then the big organization workflow change happens and your boss says you need to have an estimate for the work change by Monday.

You open up your manage layouts dialog box and see that your schema setup immediately mimics the organizations work flow structure. You immediately see areas in your design that you have to target for changes and start documenting your needed activities for estimation!

So these are some interesting ideas that popped into my noggin and I'm sharing them before really thinking them through. Perhaps someone has input about other layout organization methods for FileMaker 11 folders they would like to add?