My top feature request for FileMaker 14 is Multiple Parameters for Scripts. It’s a critical part of building complex apps. It’s not yet satisfactorily solved. Compared to other technical issues that FileMaker has taken on like WebDirect, it’s easy. Yet it’s positive impact on the ecosystem would be huge.

FileMaker Inc. has decided  that FileMaker is a platform.  Platforms live and die based on their ability to create a network effect. Recently I wrote about what the network effect did for WordPress and how FileMaker could learn from it. To sum it up, we need more people, sharing more code. I believe that the biggest impediment to that, is our inability to have a native, standard way to pass more than one parameter to scripts.

What’s my evidence?  Years of arguing, wrangling, convincing and cajoling that has gone on in this community over how to do it best. It maybe the number one topic of discussion at I know it has taken  a couple of years to come up with thiers.  Imagine what that energy could have spent on, instead of being wasted over something that should be built in.

As an example, this just came up today on Twitter.

@fmsimplicity ( Drew Sanderson ) is hitting the nail right on the head. “This is a pain with out CFs, yet I don’t want to use somebody else’s”.  There is nothing wrong with the sentiment. It’s legit.

Technical Solutions to Multiple Parameters

There are lots of good technical solutions. Some that rely on custom functions. Some that do not.  Here is a short list.

There are many more. Incidentally there is a new way that just became reasonable. I will discuss that in another post tomorrow. It’s interesting but I don’t think it solves the problem completely.

Good technical solutions aren’t always what’s best for a community hoping for a network effect.  We need solutions that encourage ways of working that allow us to share. Custom Functions do not, as I have argued before.  That is the main reason I support’s Parameters.  You can use that standard without custom functions.  I wouldn’t quite say it’s the lesser of all evils.  But at least it can be made to work without CFs.  But it is not as easy as it needs to be.

Watch out for Anti-Patterns

I have shared my opinion on this with all of the project management team at FileMaker Inc. And while they seem to agree that it is important, it never seems to make the list of new features. I think this is because it seems like it is solved well enough for those who care.  The custom function solutions do sort of work. But only in the way that all anti-patterns do.  They work at first, but eventually lead you down the wrong path.  In this case they lead into fragmentation and fragility.  These are exactly the kind of problems that must be solved at the platform level.

Pass it On!

We need the ability to pass multiple parameters to scripts to be a core, native feature of FileMaker.  We need it ASAP!  If you believe this to be true as well, why not help spread the word? Maybe if enough of us ask nicely, we can get some tractions.