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Andrew LeCates from FileMaker discusses version 16

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Posted Tuesday, May 16, 2017 by RICHARD HARRIS, Executive Editor

Andrew LeCates from FileMaker discusses version 16
FileMaker, an Apple subsidiary that helps developers make custom apps, has recently released their platform's 16th iteration. The updates have enhanced previous versions with improvements that both professional and first-time developers can use to create, share, and run custom apps.

Some of their new updates include a new Layout Objects window, scalability up to 500 simultaneous users, simplified credential management for greater security, and the addition of animations and transitions with scripts.

The updates also offers enhanced signature capture so that users sign documents on their iPad or iPhone just as they would on a paper form. In addition to full screen, the signature capture screen is displayed as an overlay or embedded in a layout. Users can now see what they are signing on the same screen. To learn more about all the new updates, we had a chat with Andrew LeCates, Director of Platform Evangelism, FileMaker, Inc. Here's what he had to say:

ADM: What can app developers look forward to with this release?


LeCates: The Layout Objects window is a developer focused feature we’ve been working on for some time. Professional app developers creating robust, refined user experience typically combine many assets, controls, and interface elements on any given layout. And those are often stacked, grouped or nested. With the Layout Objects window we're providing a searchable index of those objects that allows the developer to directly find and reveal a layout object, then modify it in place without any risk to overall construction of the layout. And it’s a big time saver.

There are many other updates that benefit both seasoned and beginning app developers. Specific updates include:

- Cards: In one easy step, create windows that are automatically sized and placed appropriately on the main screen. Cards allow for a more controlled user experience, guiding users to take action before returning to the main window, without impacting any interaction with other windows or files.

- New FileMaker Pro interface on Windows OS: Get a more native Windows OS experience on FileMaker Pro with the brand-new user interface. Maximize screen real estate and use multiple monitors when working with your custom apps.

- Enhanced Data Viewer: Increase your productivity with auto-complete for function names in the Data Viewer, available in FileMaker Pro Advanced. Plus, automatically evaluate results for functions and resize the Edit Expression window to easily view all results.

ADM: How did you choose these particular updates to work on?


LeCates: We changed core development cycle a few years ago, targeting a shorter (roughly annual) release cycle. We did this for a couple reasons. The obvious reason was to improve our responsiveness to market as the technology landscape is evolving more rapidly than ever. Another reason though is to allow us to pursue long-view feature updates that we can incrementally build towards. So we work hard to lead with vision as well as responsiveness.

For example, as low-code / high-productivity development platforms are becoming more important to business dev teams delivering mobile apps, features like the Layout Objects window are critical for that class of developer. But we needed architectural and feature updates in our prior several releases first. Other features like new security updates or scaling FileMaker WebDirect to 500 users have followed a similar path. So we continuously look at the market today but also technology direction years in front of us.

At the same time, we benefit from a long history with our vibrant community of developers, including members of the FileMaker Business Alliance, that are a passionate and vocal group. We work closely with developers to get vital feedback we need as we work on updates to the platform. Over many years working together we’ve developed a very symbiotic relationship.

ADM: How does FileMaker help businesses overcome inefficiencies?


LeCates: There are as many answers to that question as there are businesses! The great thing about creating a custom app is that each business is unique, with its own way of doing things and its own specific needs. Business owners and employees have the hands-on perspective that enables them to understand exactly what processes need improvement.

Having said that, our customers use FileMaker to make their business processes faster and more agile, which helps increase productivity and improve customer experiences. Their custom apps streamline field services, manage schedules, organize sales and inventory data, and automate repetitive tasks, for example. These apps transform tedious paper processes, or those that require multiple devices, into a streamlined workflow that lets employees focus on their core roles instead of tracking down receipts and scribbling notes on a legal pad.
Andrew LeCates
Andrew LeCates, Director of Platform
Evangelism, FileMaker, Inc.

ADM: Can you elaborate on the enhanced security features? What are they, and how do they work?


LeCates: FileMaker 16 adds two new features to its robust security roster. The first feature is OAuth 2.0 support for accounts. It simplifies credential management with OAuth 2.0 using third-party authentication providers. Instead of having to create a whole new account, users can use their existing Amazon, Google or Microsoft Azure account credentials to log in to their FileMaker-based custom apps.

The second feature is clickable security lock icons. Users can click on the icon to get more details about the security of their network connection in FileMaker Pro. They will find information about SSL certificates, related details and certificate validity.

ADM: Can you share an example of how a FileMaker custom app improved its processes?


LeCates: Absolutely. Wood Fruitticher, a large foodservice distribution company with 80 salespeople in the field, offers more than 8,000 different products to customers in seven states. You can imagine the complex and dynamic nature of their ordering and delivery effort. It requires tremendous coordination, but that wasn’t happening in an optimal way. Salespeople could not see all of their orders for the day in one place. Instead, they were operating with a mish-mash of emails, phone calls, paper notes, PDF files and spreadsheets.

The company built a custom app to make the order and delivery process more transparent and real-time. The app aggregates information and delivers it to field sales and managers via iPhone or iPad. Salespeople can see all of their customer orders for the day, regardless of how the order was placed, all in one place - and they can edit orders easily, without having to call the home office. The app saves a tremendous amount of time, which increases productivity, and has resulted in happier customers as well.




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