This is what an Add-on looks like
The Calendar Heatmap was built by our own Jeremy Brown using an open source add-on framework we created at Geist Interactive as part of a collaboration with iSolutions and Claris Engineering teams.
Wasn’t 16 the biggest release since 7?
Yes, it was… but that was 4 versions ago. In my FileMaker 16 release blog post, I focused on the integration features we gained. It was the first release that natively supported connecting to the global API economy. Overnight, we gained access to thousands of APIs and services that are available over the internet. Just a few years later and just about every project we do connects to one or more APIs, and JSON has become the de-facto way of passing data around in our solutions.
All of this was great, but it but it didn’t change what we could do on a FileMaker layout. We could reach out and interact with the internet; we could even pull data back into FileMaker and display it. But FileMaker 16 didn’t make it any easier to build rich interactive experiences inside of FileMaker. We couldn’t use calendars, or photo editors, or kanban boards or D3 charts any easier than before. The calc engine and script engine were also out of reach, unless you opted for plugins, which required a C developer to write and didn’t work on the whole platform. FileMaker itself remained mostly closed.
All of that begins to change with FileMaker 19.
The most powerful and popular software platforms in the world have ways to extend their core capabilities. Some of these platforms like WordPress are free and “Open Source.” Others, like SalesForce, are closed-source and commercial. Either way, they are “open” to modification, extension and hacking. This critical capability lets users, developers and 3rd party vendors build unique value on top of the platform which they can either share for free or make into a commercial business. The easier it is for people to share code and for vendors to make money, they better it is for everyone.
Open platforms also spread out the effort and innovation in an ecosystem efficiently. The main vendor, in this case, Claris, gets to spend more resources building the core features that only it can build. And customers, developers and third parties have the ability to get close to the problems that may only matter to them or to a smaller subset of customers. As a result they will produce features that really work for them.
Importantly, that doesn’t mean that Claris isn’t going to build any more layout objects. Or just decide to let vendors do everything. They know that won’t work either. It’s a balancing act. But having an Open Platform makes the whole environment much more agile.
We’ll cover the specific features that power the Open Platform in detail in future blog posts and podcasts, but let me just touch on some of the highlights.
FileMaker 19 brings CoreML machine learning model to the platform. You can do sentiment analysis, image classification, predictive analysis and a whole lot more. Apps that can look for signs of projects running into trouble in email conversations, or get better at producing estimates and bids that don’t expose your company to too much risk, or figure out how much stock to order are now within our grasp.
Add-ons. Shareable and Re-useable Bundles of Code
In 2013 I launched ModularFileMaker.org. This was an attempt to build modular and reusable chunks of FileMaker code. We did the best we could back then with the tools we had. But I knew we needed some changes from FileMaker to really make the modular dream work. Over the years we have received some of those changes; JSON, Insert from URL, Card Windows, for example. But now FileMaker 19 brings the last big one to the table, the Add-on. A way to organize code so it can be shared, maintained and even sold. It’s the key piece because it lets us take complex modern work flows and package them up so others can use them, fulfilling Claris FileMaker’s ultimate purpose of making complex tech available to everyone and giving power to the problem solver.
It’s early. We don’t yet have everything we need, but Oh Boy do we have lots of fun new stuff to play with.
This will be the last of my yearly release blog posts since this is the last yearly FileMaker release. But I am sure I’ll find another reason to blabber on. But either way, thanks for reading all the way through.
All the best,
Resources and Links
Starter Template for building react based FileMaker Addons
Low level JS code useful for any JS Stuff