FileMaker, Microsoft Outlook 2011 And Missing Carriage Returns

From Dwayne Wright PMP
Certified FileMaker Developer

TWITTER: dwaynewright
YOUTUBE: FileMakerThoughts

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At a biweekly meeting with desktop services at the day job, heard that we were finally going to upgrade our Macintosh users to Microsoft Office 2011. Entourage has been the email equivalent of a shuffling zombie for years and we were all looking forward to an upgrade we thought would never come. I would never imagine so much glee being generated by an email upgrade announcement!


The FileMaker Send Mail Script Step is used  in  concert  with  a compatible  email  application  to  send  email  from  the  database  file. Basically, FileMaker takes the data you specified that you wanted in an outgoing email and passes that information to your email application, which creates an outgoing email message using that data. After FileMaker has passed the process to the email application, it is that applications job to get the email out to your addressees. Many  of  the  elements  of  the  email  message  can  be  hard  coded  text strings  or  use a value you determine from the define calculation dialog box. Using a FileMaker calculated value gives you an almost unlimited amount of flexibility in your outgoing email message.


Entourage handles, the “Perform Without Dialog” option horribly (IMHO), instead of bringing the message to the foreground, it places the message in a local Drafts folder. In the corporate setting, Entourage has two draft folders, one server side and one local to the user. We have a considerable number of FileMaker email scripts that aid in workflow operations across multiple departments. In my FileMaker solutions that use the Send Mail script step, I would have to trap for what platform the user was on and tell the Macintosh users “look in your drafts folder” because it was easily ignored. Heck, I ignored it a few times and that was the original inspiration for creating the reminder.

Microsoft Outlook 2011 for the Mac doesn’t do that, it brings the email right up to the user and allows them to add additional comments into the outgoing email. BEAUTIFUL!

Then I came across my first FileMaker crafted email that used the LIST function to gather data from multiple related records. Microsoft Outlook didn’t recognize FileMaker embedded carriage returns and the result was a big work glob.

This is what Outlook (Windows) and Entourage (Macintosh) will give you …

The following records are open and a snapshot link is enclosed for your review.

Blah, blah, blah - created by Jon Doe
Yada, yada, yada - created by Jane Doe
Whatever, whatever, whatever - created by Jason Doe

This is what Outlook Mac gives you  …

The following records are open and a snapshot link is enclosed for your review.Blah, blah, blah - created by Jon Doe Yada, yada, yada - created by Jane Doe Whatever, whatever, whatever - created by Jason Doe


I only cruise web forums when I have a problem and only come to them via a resulting google search. The answer to this challenge is to replace the carriage return symbol used in the calculation dialog box with its HTML counterpart. In my case, I often have the message calculated in a script variable. So all I needed to do is add an additional script variable after the original resetting itself to use the substitute function.

Substitute ( $message ; "¶" ; "<br/>" )

I sent a message out to test with the Entourage users and the Windows users and the message was received just fine!

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© 2012 - Dwayne Wright -

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