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This chapter is from the book

Integrating Without a Visible File System

People have gotten used to organizing their files on their desktop-based computers. Although some files are hidden, and some files are protected from modification, the vast majority of files and folders on a desktop-based computer are your data, and you can use them as you see fit. You can rename and reorganize them until the structure makes sense to you. The standard File Open and File Save dialogs let you locate the files wherever you want them on your computer, as well as on any connected servers. If you want to put your accounting files in a folder called Photos, no file-organizing police will stop you.

Designers of operating systems have made this possible, and some of them have had second thoughts. There is something attractive to OS designers in having separate areas for the files of each application. Most operating systems implement some concept of a file's owner (the application that will be used by default to open it), but even in those cases, users can often change the file's owner so that, if you want, you can open your vacation photos with AccountEdge or Quicken (or at least try to).

If you are deploying a FileMaker database for use on iPad or iPhone, you have to think about two types of files:

  • The database files need to be available to users.
  • Graphics and other files used by the database need to be available.

Your FileMaker database files can be served up from FileMaker Server; you can access them using a local Wi-Fi connection or by connecting to them over the Internet. You use FileMaker Pro and the File, Open Remote command to connect to these databases; on mobile devices, you can use FileMaker Go.

You can also publish databases on the web using FileMaker Server; in that case, people connect to your database using a browser. The browser option is available for mobile devices such as iPhone and iPad.

As for the files that your database needs to access, these can be inserted into the database directly; you also can insert them by reference. Those techniques are also described later in this section.

Moving FileMaker Databases to Your Mobile Device

Each application on your iPhone or iPad has its own area for files. You place files in that area either by moving them to your device or by creating them with an app. As you see in this section, you move them back and forth between your computer and your mobile device with iTunes or email.

One consequence of this is that if you remove an app from your device, all the files you have stored in that app's area are also removed; you should back them up to another device before removing the app.

Using iTunes

iTunes is the basic tool you use for moving files to and from your mobile device. The device normally has to be connected to your computer with a cable in order to move files back and forth. (Apps such as Contacts, Calendar, and Mail move data over wireless connections, but that data consists of relatively small items, such as individual phone numbers, appointments, and the like.)

To move files from your computer to your mobile device, connect the device. iTunes might open automatically; if it does not, launch it yourself. In the left-hand side of the window is a section for devices; your iPad or iPhone should appear there after a few seconds. If you do not see your device, check the cable connection and verify that it is turned on. Figure 4.3 shows an iPad connected through iTunes. Tabs at the top of the window let you see various parts of your device's storage: Click Apps to manage storage.

Figure 4.3

Figure 4.3 Connect a mobile device using iTunes.

Scroll down to the bottom of the Apps tab, as shown in Figure 4.4.

Figure 4.4

Figure 4.4 Scroll down to see file storage.

Here is where you can see the file storage system on your iOS device. Each app has its own set of files. Click on an app, and you see the files (and, as noted, remove the app, and its files are removed, too).

Developers see more of the file structure, but basically this is it. People can discuss and argue about whether it is better or worse than the totally user-controlled file structure on personal computers in general, but this is what is provided on iOS.

If you want to add a file to your device so that an app such as FileMaker Go can access it, you connect your device, launch iTunes (if it does not launch automatically), and scroll down to the app in question.

As Figure 4.4 shows, there are two buttons in the bottom right of the window that let you move files in and out. Click Add, and a standard File Open dialog opens that lets you select a file from your computer or available network locations and add it to your device. The file is immediately sent down to your device. You can also drag the file from your disk into this window; just make certain that you have selected the proper app.

With any of the files on your device selected, the Send button in the bottom right of the window opens a File Save dialog. This lets you choose a location and name for the file on your device. The file is saved on your disk (or network locations) with the name that you provide. It is not removed from your device. If you want to do that, you do it on the mobile device as you see later in this chapter (see Figure 4.9).

Note that this is not anything special about FileMaker Go. Files for the iWork apps (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) work exactly the same way as do files for any other app that supports its own files.

The FileMaker Go files on your iPad are shown at the left of the screen you see when you launch the app, as shown in Figure 4.5.

Figure 4.5

Figure 4.5 FileMaker Go files are shown when you launch FileMaker Go.

Using a Non-Paired Copy of iTunes

An iTunes library is paired with a specific iPad or iPhone (it can be paired with one of each). That enables you to sync your apps, music, and videos between your computer and your mobile devices. If you change computers or mobile devices, you can move your apps, music, and video to the new device or the new computer, but you only can have at most one iPhone and one iPad paired with your computer. (This is part of digital rights management—DRM. It protects copyrighted material from unauthorized distribution and duplication.)

Because most of the synchronization between your mobile device and your computer has to do with copyrighted material, the security mechanisms are activated when you connect the device to your computer.

However, the files that belong to you can be moved to and from the mobile device without running afoul of intellectual property laws. (That is, of course, unless you are trying to move a database that belongs to someone else to your mobile device or from it to your computer. That is against the law, but iTunes does not prevent you from doing so. The owner of the database or other copyrighted file must have it out with you.)

Because it is perfectly legal to move your own files between your iPad or iPhone and your own computer, iTunes lets you do so. However, it does remind you about the copyrighted material that is involved and asks you if you want to synchronize that material. Remember that most people are used to just plugging in their iPad, iPhone, or iPod and having their music sync automatically.

Here are the steps to take if you want to move your own files between an iPhone or iPad and your own computer. When you connect your mobile device, iTunes might launch automatically. Depending on your settings, it might start to synchronize your music, movies, apps, and photos automatically.

If you connect your mobile device to a computer that is not paired with it, iTunes might still launch automatically. If it does not, launch it yourself. You see a warning like the one in Figure 4.6.

Figure 4.6

Figure 4.6 Cancel iTunes library synchronization.

The text of the dialog box presents you with two choices for your iTunes library (that is, your music, movies, and apps—copyrighted material that you have downloaded from the iTunes store whether or not it is a free app or a movie you have paid for). You can choose to erase the iTunes library from the device you have just plugged in and replace it with the contents of the iTunes library on the computer to which it is now connected. On the other hand, you might want to transfer the iTunes library content from the mobile device to the computer. Either way, at the end of the operation, the iTunes library on the mobile device and the computer will be synchronized.

If you click Cancel, neither of those things happens. If you are interested only in moving your own files between your mobile device and your computer, Cancel is your option.

You move on to your photos, as shown in Figure 4.7.

Figure 4.7

Figure 4.7 Cancel photo synchronization.

As you can see from the text in the dialog in Figure 4.7, you have an option to replace synced photos on your mobile device with those from the computer you are using (you do not have the reverse option as you did with the iTunes library).

If you are interested just in transferring your files, click Cancel again here.

In this way, all that happens during the connection is that you synchronize files and, perhaps, change some mobile device settings and recharge it as necessary.

If you refer to Figure 4.3, you can see that iTunes does not recognize any apps from the attached mobile device because it is not being synced for apps. At the right of Figures 4.3 and 4.4, you can see a dimmed version of the device's home screen (you can normally rearrange the app icons here). That image is dimmed and not modifiable unless you have decided to pair the device with the computer.

Using eMail

You can also move files to your iPad or iPhone using email. In many ways, this is simpler because you do not have to connect your mobile device directly to your computer.

In order to move a file to an iPad via email, just send it as an attachment to an email message to the iPad's owner. It arrives in the same way that any email message with an attached file arrives. Figure 4.8 shows such an incoming message.

Figure 4.8

Figure 4.8 Send a database in an email message.

When you tap an enclosed file, you are given the opportunity to open it in the application associated with it, as you see in Figure 4.8. (If no such application can be found, the attachment icon simply is displayed in the message.)

After you have tapped a FileMaker database from an email message, it is opened in FileMaker Go and it is moved to the FileMaker Go file storage area. From now on, it shows up in the Files on Device (left-hand) column of the FileMaker Go home screen, as you see in Figure 4.9.

Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9 Review the FileMaker files on your iPad.

Figure 4.9 also shows how you can remove a file from your device: the standard left-to-right swipe brings up the Delete button, as you see in Figure 4.9.

On iPhone, the screen shown in Figure 4.9 is replaced by a file browser. By default, you see recent files on iPhone, as shown in Figure 4.10.

Figure 4.10

Figure 4.10 Start from recent files on your iPhone.

If you tap the File Browser button, you can look at the different types of files (Recent Files, Files on Device), and from the lists in those categories, you can open the files directly. Those screens are shown in Figure 4.11.

Figure 4.11

Figure 4.11 Browse and open the files you want.

It is important to note the iTunes display of files for apps on your iOS device (shown previously in Figure 4.5). With iTunes, you can add files to your device or save them from your device to a location on your computer's disk or network. Remove files from the list on your device or select them on the Apps tab in iTunes (see Figure 4.4) and use the Delete command. This is standard practice for most apps.

Inserting Files and File References into FileMaker Databases

FileMaker databases can contain container fields. These are fields into which you can place references to files or even the contents of files. (In many ways, they are similar to blob fields in databases such as MySQL.)

When you place binary data into a container field (that is, data that could be the content of a file), its structure is preserved. FileMaker cannot display it or manage it in most cases, but it does store the data and can present it as needed. Another application can then process the data.

The most common use for container fields is to store images, movies, spreadsheets, PDFs, and even other FileMaker databases. You can do this in either of two ways:

  • Inserting files. You can select a container field and then choose a command from the Insert menu to insert a Picture, QuickTime, sound, or file. In cases where you specify the type of content, FileMaker might be able to display it in the field. By inserting the file, you make your FileMaker database bigger (because it now contains movies, images, and the like).
  • Inserting file references. A checkbox on the dialog that opens from the Insert menu lets you choose to insert a file reference rather than the file itself. This keeps your database's size manageable; the file and all of its data remains on your hard disk or network. However, if you move your FileMaker database to another location, you must move the referenced files in such a way that FileMaker can find it.

Thus, you have a clear tradeoff: more portability of your FileMaker database versus larger database size. This matters when you are publishing a database on the web because you need to move the database and its referenced files together, and it also matters if you are moving a database to a mobile device (for the same reason).

Using Signature Capture

FileMaker Go introduces a new use for container fields: You can use them to capture signatures from an iOS device. When you tap a container field on an iOS device, you have the option to insert a photo from your library or to capture a signature directly into the container field (after all, these are touchscreens). In addition, on iPhone you have the option to take a photo and automatically have it inserted into the container field. Figure 4.12 shows a container field in action on iPad.

Figure 4.12

Figure 4.12 Use container fields in FileMaker Go on iPad.

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