Goodbye Claris Pro, Re-bonjour FileMaker Pro

If you missed Claris’ announcement from late August on the strategic pivot back to a single platform, then go read that first. It’s critical to understand the context for one of the main new features in Claris FileMaker Pro 20.2.1, namely:

Connecting to Claris Studio

This is the Claris Pro replacement for those of you who have a license that includes Claris Studio. If you are currently not licensed for Claris Studio, then this feature is not relevant for you, at least not until Claris releases the free tier of Claris Studio later this year. (This is per their roadmap and can change.)

Claris Pro was the FileMaker Pro equivalent in the Claris Platform, and it was the only product that could directly hook into the data tables that live in Claris Studio.

Now that Claris Pro is end-of-life, that same functionality is brought into Claris FileMaker Pro, and it works the same way. You can add a Table Occurrence to your solution’s graph for Studio’s data tables and then interact with them using your usual FileMaker tools.

As a developer, you will need to sign into FileMaker Pro with your Claris ID:

Select 'Sign In to Claris ID' from the 'File' dropdown menu

But unlike Claris Pro, your users can continue to use internal FileMaker accounts or externally authenticated accounts to access your app. Although, you can also now use Claris ID as an identity provider if you wish.

Popup showing 'FileMaker File or External Server' selected

When you are signed in with your Claris ID, you can add a Table Occurrence to your graph. You will be able to pick from your Studio organizations that you are part of and, from there, the Studio table that you want to work with:

Specify Table modal window
Choosing a Studio table to work with

Here’s the interesting thing about this: only the developer needs to have signed in with their Claris ID to add the Studio table. Once the table has been added, your users can just log into the FileMaker file with their normal FileMaker or external account and still have access to the Studio data.

Easier Way to Trigger a Flow in Claris Connect

In this new version, the Trigger Connect Flow script step is updated to add a visual flow picker, which simplifies that connection to Claris Connect.

For reference, in versions of FileMaker 19.6 or older, you can trigger a Claris Connect flow by treating it like any other API call: you use the Insert From URL script step:

Note that you needed to add the “action”: “Script” key/value pair to the JSON body (line 2) for Connect to recognize the call as an instruction to run the Flow. The URL on line 3 is generated by Connect, and you needed to copy it over and on line 4, then create the correct set of cURL options to make it all work.

In 20.1 (the first version of FileMaker 2023), this was simplified with the introduction of the Trigger Connect Flow script step:

Trigger Claris Connec Flow script step

The action/script key/value pair is no longer needed, and neither are the cURL options.

And now, in 20.2, the script step adds a visual UI so that you do not even have to grab the URL and bring it over into FileMaker.

Visual UI added for URL in the script step

This, too, requires the developer (not the user!) to be logged in with a Claris ID that has access to the Claris Connect subscription.

Layout Calculations

Sometimes, you want to show some data on a layout, but you do not want to add fields to your tables. You can use merge variables for this, but it requires that you run a script to set that variable first:

'Merge Variable...' option highlighted on the 'Insert' dropdown menu

In that same menu, you will have spotted a new item: Layout Calculation. This lets you define an actual calculation, which will be evaluated when FileMaker renders the layout.

New 'Layout Calculation' item

You can edit those layout calculations by right-clicking them and selecting edit from the contextual menu:

Select 'Edit Layout Calculation...' from the contextual menu

To the great delight of developers everywhere, you can resize the text block that contains the layout calculation (or the merge field or variable) to be smaller than the size of the calculation or text it contains.

Screenshot showing the resizing of the text block that contains the layout calculation

What we have learned about Layout Calculations:

  • You can have multiple layout calculations in the same text block.
  • The calculation will update automatically if data of the referenced items change (within the limits of the dependency tree, just like a regular calculated field).
  • But unlike regular calculations, Layout Calculations are not protected against TO and field name changes.  When you change the name of a Table Occurrence or of a field in your solution then the layout calculation will stop working and will be displayed as text.  An example:
Screenshot of table occurrence
  • Text format functions are honored
  • Layout calculations also respect data formatting:
Screenshot showing that layout calculations do respect data formatting

Layout Calculations will prove to be a valuable new tool in the toolbox. We have been using button bars for roughly the same functionality, and this now adds one more options. Having more options is always better.

macOS Sonoma

FileMaker Pro 20.2.1 will be the first version of FileMaker Pro (partically) supported on macOS Sonoma. Keep your eye on the release notes, though, since there are some special installation considerations to be aware of.

FileMaker Go and Server

Both Go and Server get the same updates, and specifically for Server, there are some important bug fixes to WebDirect that may be important to your deployment if you rely on WebDirect.

There has been no server version to test with during the beta program, so we will have to do some testing with the production version before we call a verdict on it.

Your Next Steps

As with any new version or patch, test where you can before making the jump, and check the release notes for any bug fixes that may be pertinent to issues you may have run into.

We are glad to see FileMaker Pro inherit the Claris Studio connectivity from the now-defunct Claris Pro. The free tier of Claris Connect is the easier way to call a Connect Flow and use Claris Studio data. We’re looking forward to the upcoming free tier of Claris Studio later this year for anyone who has a current FileMaker license. This all makes for a tighter ecosphere between Claris products and a much easier path to experimentation and adoption. If you have any questions or would like support in launching new features in Claris FileMaker Pro 20.2.1, contact our team to speak with a Claris FileMaker consultant.

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