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Designing FileMaker Layouts – Best Practices – FileMaker Today

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FileMaker has a very advanced user interface compared to some database programs. It is very easy to create the perfect layouts for your solutions with a few simple practices. Below are some tips from Sam at FileMaker Examples for best practices for designing layouts.

Sketch your layouts ( Wireframing )

You should sketch your layouts on paper or onscreen before creating them in FileMaker Pro. A few sketches can help resolve design problems, communicate ideas, and save time. The sketching process can also help you create layouts that are visually balanced and provide a clear path for users to follow. This point is particularly important if you work in a team; because everyone will have their own ideas for the layout.

Tip: If you want to use an iPad to sketch your layouts I recommend the Notability app ( App Store Link ). This app is great for creating a quick sketch! You can add text, images, voice memos and all your data can be synced over iCloud. A very neat tool indeed!

Notability Wireframe

Identify the devices that will access your layout

Devices can vary by hardware, screen size and resolution. If you identify which devices will access the layout, you can better design the layout to work with those devices. For example, a layout designed for a desktop computer may not work well on an iOS device; especially an iPhone.

To provide the best solution for users, design your layout to adapt to each device. Design each layout for a range of device sizes, and configure the auto-resize options for layout objects based on the layout’s height and width. This ensures that the layout will expand to fill the entire screen for every device.

If a wide variety of devices will access the layout, consider creating a layout for each device ( e.g. Desktop, iPad and iPhone ). You can direct users to the appropriate layouts with the OnLayoutEnter script trigger, the Get(SystemPlatform) function, and the Go to Layout script step.

Use the screen stencils and positioning tools

Click the arrow on button_scrn_stncls in the layout bar to show screen stencils that help you design layouts optimally for iPad, iPhone, and several common desktop resolutions. You can have multiple screen stencils visible at the same time.

FileMaker Pro provides several tools to help you quickly and precisely size, position, and align layout objects. Guides help you align layout objects vertically or horizontally within the same layout or across multiple layouts. Dynamic guides give you visual cues as you work with layout objects. See Using guides and dynamic guides.


Use a theme that suits the purpose of your layout

A theme affects characteristics and looks of a layout, such as the background colour, field borders and fill, and text attributes in text objects and in fields.

Select a theme in the Change Theme dialog box that best suits the purpose of your layout. (Click Layout Theme button in the status toolbar to display the dialog box.) For example, to work with a theme that has simple lines, colours, and styles, choose the Minimalist theme. If your layout will be used with FileMaker Go, choose one of the Touch themes (for example, Minimalist Touch).

Alternatively you can create your own theme.

Consistently duplicate layout objects

A characteristic of a well-designed layout is a consistent appearance among the layout objects.

You can use:

  • Predefined object styles that come with FileMaker Pro or custom styles you create to format objects consistently on one or more layouts in a file or in multiple files in a solution. When designing layout styles to be used throughout a file, it’s best to work on one layout developing all the styles you need and then save them in a theme so you can apply styles consistently throughout all layouts.

  • The Format Painter tool Format Painter tool button in the status toolbar to quickly duplicate the attributes of layout objects.

  • Undo and redo commands in the Edit menu to incrementally remove or replace changes to layout objects.

Optimize layout performance

To improve the overall performance of your layout, keep the following practices in mind:

  • In List View and portals, minimize the number of layout objects displayed simultaneously.

  • Minimize the number of portals and panel controls.

  • Minimize the size and number of shadows.

  • Minimize the use of unstored calculations and script triggers.

  • Create several layouts with fewer objects rather than one layout with many objects.

  • Create custom themes and custom styles rather than overriding existing themes and styles.

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