FileMaker Pro 19.1 – Quick Start Part 2: After Quick Start is Done

By October 2, 2020 No Comments

Claris FileMaker introduced a new way to create an app in 19.1 with a preview of the quick start experience. See Beth Bennett’s excellent quick start blog post on the quick start experience for an overview of those features (is that quick start squared? quick start inception?). Once you select Done in the quick start, you are back in FileMaker’s full functionality. We thought a little quick start guide to regular, wonderful FileMaker Pro might be helpful to those new to FileMaker (Welcome! It’s a great place to be!).

First up, Layout Mode. That’s where you can create fields, change their positions, style them, or delete them.

Screenshot of Layout Mode in FileMaker 19.1 after exiting quick start

Figure 1. Layout Mode after exiting quick start.

Claris helpfully kept the basic set up the same as in the quick start:

  • Left – layouts and fields
  • Center – viewable canvas, it’s what you’ll see in Browse Mode
  • Right – Inspector (with four icons worth of input options to give you much more control over styles and data input)

In the left panel, note that those fields you created during the quick start appear to be Groups, Groups, and more Groups. Click on a Group folder to reveal the field and label beneath it. Or go wild and Ungroup them from the Arrange menu at the top of the app window. You can delete a label, move it to a new spot, have some fun!

Screenshot focused on Arrange menu with the Ungroup option highlighted

Figure 2. Arrange and Upgroup for more flexibility.

And that spacer that you may have used during quick start? It no longer functions as a spacer, it’s a rectangle object. I’d select that and delete it. You can always add a text box or shape when you need it.

Quick start’s relative positioning is a bit like bumper cars: sometimes it’s fun to use one object to push other objects around and sometimes it’s just frustrating and gives you a headache.

You now can have objects stretch across the layout. Best to keep them within the bounds of one Part though!

Screenshot of removing the spacer / text box

Remove spacer / text box and feel free to roam about the cabin.

Or maybe you realize you’d like to add a few fields, change a field type.


Screenshot focused on the 'Fields' inspector in Layout Mode where new fields can be added or change can be made to existing fields, including renaming them

Figure 4. Layout Mode allows for new fields or changes to existing fields. Renaming too.

One thing that’s different from the quick start is that FileMaker does not have Field types of checkboxes, radio buttons, etc. Those are Control types for Text, Number and Date fields, and time and timestamp fields. Head over to the Data Inspector, click on the pencil icon to get a window where you can edit, add, delete from Value Lists.

Screenshot of editing the value list

Figure 5. Value List remorse and how to edit them

A quick tip (this is all quick, huh?): radio button controls allow one value to be selected (Extra Cheese only for that pizza), but a checkbox control allows multiple values (Extra Cheese, Pineapple, Pepperoni, AND antacids)

Another non-standard item in quick start caught my eye: the Fixed Position option in the Inspector.

Close up of the inspector highlighting the 'Fixed Position' option

Figure 6. Quick Start’s Fixed Position option.

Turns out, if Fixed Position is selected during quick start, the top part of the layout will be a Top Navigation type, and that can be handy for mobile devices and longer layouts that require scrolling.

Don’t worry if you didn’t mark Fixed Position while in quick start; you can change it quickly (ugh) in Layout Mode and choose a different header type in the Part Definition window.

Screenshot of the Part Definition window in Layout Mode

Figure 7. Part Definition window.

Take a look at the Styles Inspector too. It’s an easy, qui (I’m not going to write it) way to make your fields and labels have a consistent look. Claris FileMaker’s new default Theme is called Apex Blue. I don’t know why, because it isn’t blue.

Screenshot of the Apex Blue theme

Figure 8. Styles Inspector and new Theme Apex Blue

Now that you’ve made some changes, take a look in Browse Mode and realize restraint might work a bit better than labels and fields plopped any ol’ where on the layout.

Screenshot showing elements on layout that need some style improvement

Figure 9. Design choices matter.

Or maybe you realize it all needs to be bigger and every color of the rainbow. It’s your app, do what you wanna do!

Me? I’ve been doing this a while, and all my creativity is saved for organizing nails and bolts by color and size. I changed my fields to make the photo more prominent (and deleted the label of “Photo” as it seems obvious). I gave less screen space to utility fields for Creation and Modification and more space for Notes.

Figure 10. Screenshot of restyled layout to make it easier to read

Figure 10. Easier to read, I hope.

So that’s it! If you’re interested in learning more about design guidelines, check out my colleague, Mark Baum’s insights on FileMaker’s user interface design. If you need any help with your solution, contact our team. We’re happy to provide direction.

CJ Carbery

CJ Carbery

CJ Carbery is a FileMaker developer, writer, and filmmaker...she makes a living at one of those.

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