Fun with Button Bars, The Series
In recent years, design, has become such an important aspect of what we do; luckily FileMaker has responded with a much improved design surface. With themes and styles, conditional visibility, SVG icon support, and new layout objects, we can now use design and color to communicate with users in ways not previously possible (see, for example, the “Priorities” example in the accompanying demo file).
When I first saw the button bar demoed, I was a bit underwhelmed. It’s not that it didn’t look potentially useful to have a new layout object type that keeps a group of buttons permanently joined at the hip, but that’s about all I thought it did. Once I got my hands on them, however, I discovered the nuances that make button bars far more than just a permanent grouping of individual buttons. This series will explore some surprising uses for which they’re particularly well-suited. In the end, you’ll not only see how you can improve your users’ “user experience” (UX), but, by letting your design communicate effectively, possibly even their efficiency.
So, let’s get started learning some ways button bars can provide a better user experience in your solutions.
Part 1: Check Please
Boolean fields: 1/True or 0/False the only allowed values. So fundamental are these to the relational model that Chris Date, one of the model’s founders, has called Boolean fields the only data type explicitly required by the model (1).
What’s not so simple, however, is how we handle these yes-no fields on our FileMaker layouts. If you’re like me, you’ve probably long created a special value list with only the single value “1,” placed a single-item checkbox “set” on the layout, endeavored to carefully hide the value, and lined up the label right next to it. It works, if perhaps a bit inelegantly. (FileMaker’s native checkbox-set control is really designed to display value lists for multi-valued fields; in many cases those are better handled by a one-to-many relationship anyway.)
Check Please provides a modern alternative: a simple, transferable layout object, styled just as you like, and without the limitations of Checkbox Set controls. There are no value lists required, no technique-specific custom functions to copy into your files, and only a single script.
Using a button bar offers several advantages:
- It allows you to control the exact appearance of your checkboxes; the accompanying file shows both PNG and SVG icon examples and discusses the pros and cons of each.
- It allows the full label to be clicked to toggle the state, a standard behavior users have come to expect.
- It obviates the need for a single-item “Boolean True” value list.
Continue reading Fun with FileMaker Button Bars: Check Please