Imagine going to a new city, renting a car, and driving to a new location without a GPS or access to Google Maps. You would be lost without a landmark or even a general understanding of the neighborhood. This experience is similar for the FileMaker developer who takes over a solution from another developer. In the typical situation, you have to follow the trail of breadcrumbs from the original developer.
These breadcrumbs, or development standards, organize the code so someone else can follow your work. The better the organization, the easier it is for the developer (yourself or someone else) to come back later and get oriented with the solution. The code is simply the elements in the FileMaker database: tables, fields, relationships, layouts, scripts, etc.
If you ask two FileMaker developers about their standards, you will get three opinions—one from each developer and a combination of the two. While there are strong opinions on the best way to do it, most developers agree the most important thing is to choose a set of standards and be consistent as you create your solution.
To help you get started with your development standards, here are some free resources from the FileMaker community.
- FileMaker Naming Conventions and Standards – A good introduction to development standards for the intermediate FileMaker developer by DB Services, similar to those we use at MightyData.
- FileMaker Development Conventions – In November 2005, FileMaker Inc. published a PDF by a group of leading FileMaker developers. It is in-depth and thought-provoking, although it can overwhelm the novice developer.
- The Importance of Naming Conventions – CoreSolutions has been publishing development standards for over 10 years. They follow a modified version of the FileMaker Development Conventions by FMI.
- FileMakerStandards.org – This wiki is a grassroots movement started by Matt Petrowsky. On this site, Matt and his colleagues explain their development standards and why they chose them.
- FileMaker Coding Conventions – A video by Matt for FileMaker Magazine introducing the standards that became FileMakerStandards.org.
- Anchor/Buoy Design Methodology – An outstanding presentation by Kevin Frank explaining the Anchor-Buoy method of organizing table occurrences (TOs) in the relationship graph.
- Six Fried Rice Methodology – Two articles from the blog of Six Fried Rice explaining some important development standards: separation model and anchor-buoy.
- Special Edition Using FileMaker 8 – Although the book was written for an earlier version of FileMaker, Chapter 27 is an excellent introduction to development standards including those used by the authors at Soliant Consulting.