Today FileMaker Inc. announced the FileMaker iOS Application SDK, a toolkit for building fully native iOS Apps. This is awesome. Finally we can build applications for iPads and iPhones that look and behave just like native applications. How does it all work, though? Read on to find out more.
Update: 5 hour training course now available from LearningFileMaker.com
We got this working with GoZync, our framework for building offline apps with FileMaker Go, almost immediately. It works beautifully. You can see it in action at Seedcode’s blog.
During the process of getting GoZync to work we figured somethings out. Below you’ll find some FAQs that cover the questions we had and the answers we got. Richard Carlton and I will be hosting a webinar this Friday to cover a bunch of this info. Make sure you register early as space will likely fill up.
IOS Application SDK – FAQs
Can Apps built with the iOS Application SDK be sold or distributed through iOS App Store.
Probably. The truth is that this is so new that we can’t say for certain. We don’t think any applications have been either accepted or rejected by Apple yet. We don’t believe there is anything about how this works that will cause Apple to reject these applications out of hand, but until an application makes it all the way through the review process we won’t know for certain.
Can these apps be distributed through Apple’s Moblile Device Management and/or Testflight?
Yes, we have already done so.
Can these apps connect to FileMaker Files Hosted on a FileMaker Server?
Yes, they can. However you have to give some thought to how to connect to the Server. An external file reference will work, however it hard codes the App to a given server. The people who use the App will be unable to change it with out getting a new update from the App Store or through MDM or test flight.
Can an App be “pointed” at different FileMaker Servers?
Yes, you can use a special launcher file that lets the user enter in the server address and the file name of the File you want to open on the internet. It’s not that special actually. See below for more info.
Can your App consist of local files installed on the device?
Yes, you can have your application consist of all locally installed files, or some combination of a served and local files. You must have at least one file locally installed on the device. We call this a “launcher” file.
Can you update your native applications through the App store or MDM?
Yes. Although you may not need to as much as you might think. If your application is hosted on a server, then your changes made on the server will files will automatically be reflected in your native app. If you have locally installed files, there are ways to update those files in place. The only time you will have to update your bound application is when you want to support a new version of the FileMaker Go engine.
Can you sync data from a locally installed File to a FileMaker Served file so it can work offline?
Yes, we already have this working with GoZync 5. In fact once you are on the latest version of GoZync 5, it pretty much just works. Data sync and in place updating of local app files work just as well with your own native apps as they do with FileMaker Go and GoZync. We’ll have something up on the SeedCode blog soon, showing how this works.
Do I need Xcode?
Yes, you do need Xcode to compile your application. You will also need to run a couple of commands on the terminal as well. If you need help with this, please contact us through our website or give us a call, 800-935-6068. We will be happy to help.
Do I need to be enrolled in an Apple Developer Program?
Yes. If this is not something you want to do, we can build and distribute your app for you. Contact us for more info. 800-935-6068
Do I need to have a FileMaker Developer Subscription to use the iOS Application SDK?
Yes. If this is something you don’t want to do. We can build and deploy your app for you. Just give us a call 800-935-6068.
Is the FileMaker iOS Application SDK similar to the FileMaker Pro Desktop Runtime?
Yes, the concept is similar. You application file is compiled with a copy of the FileMaker Go runtime engine. Each application built with this kit will have it’s own FileMaker Go Engine bundled with it.
Whats a “Launcher” File?
A launcher file is the main solution file that gets launched when your app starts up. We call it a launcher, becuase its only job is to launch the application. It doesn’t have any specific logic or UI in it. It has one job, Launch!
We’ll have more to say about this in the near future. We will discuss at the webinar on Friday for sure.
Do these apps behave like FileMaker Go?
Yes, for the most part. There a few subtle differences, like its not possible to close the main solution file, and you may need to create a custom URL protocol since if you use fmp://etc it won’t work. We’ll try to compile a list of differences as they become apparent.
Can I build iOS Apps with a windows machine?
No. You’ll need a mac.
I’ll try to keep this up to date as we learn more about how this works. If you have questions leave them in comments below, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up for the webinar.