Enable WebKit debugger in FileMaker Web Viewer

If you are having difficulty getting your HTML, CSS, or JavaScript to render in a FileMaker Web Viewer, you may have a struggle ahead of you trying to find the problem, and no good way to debug it. In comparison, most web browsers have debug facilities that can help developers find problems in their code.

Updated for FileMaker 16, 17, 18: This article was originally published July 20, 2015. It has been modified to include newer versions of FileMaker, and older references for versions 14 & 15 were removed.

It turns out if you are using macOS you can get the same facilities found in Safari to debug your code that’s running in a FileMaker Web Viewer.

Enabling Web Inspector

To do this we need to first enable a hidden option. Quit any open copies of FileMaker and start up the Terminal app to execute one or more versions of the command below.


Quit FileMaker if open (it will overwite the plist change).

For FileMaker Pro 16 Advanced (Yes, advanced12 is correct for version 16):

For FileMaker Pro 16 and FileMaker Pro 17/18:

An important caveat with FileMaker 16 however is that the integrated/attached version will cause FileMaker Pro to crash when you quit. To avoid this, use the window mode buttons at top-left after the Inspector opens:

Safari Inspector window mode buttons

You can also try setting the Inspector’s default window mode, however this did not work consistently for us:


Using Web Inspector

With your plist changes made, start FileMaker back up, and navigate to a layout containing a Web Viewer. Right-click on a Web View, and select Inspect Element from the contextual menu. Voila! You can now debug HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in any Web Viewer.

Web Viewer contextual menu
Safari debugger in Web View

If you are debugging JavaScript and are trying to catch your code in action, there are some minor tricks required.

One issue is that the debugger will go away whenever the Web Viewer is not displayed. Annoyingly, this also clears any previously set breakpoints. So for debugging JavaScript code you probably want to take advantage to the debugger extensions added to JavaScript. These are documented on table 5-2 of the Safari Inspector Guide.

A partial list of functions are:

  • console.assert(expression, object)
  • console.log(object)
  • console.profile([title])
  • console.trace()
  • debug (expression)
  • debugger

None of these debugger functions will work until the Inspector has been activated, so enable it as soon as possible with the contextual menu on the Web Viewer. But at least the debugger breakpoints will persist each time the web viewer is reloaded.

Simon

References

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