Recently I presented Inspector Pro by Beezwax to our development team during our weekly Innovation Meeting. Most of our team is familiar with BaseElements by Goya and I wanted to expose them to another tool. Personally, I have been using Inspector since it was called Analyzer in the FileMaker 6 days. As a result, I am very comfortable with the user interface of Inspector. (For the record, I use both tools equally although each has different strengths.)
Before I go further, I need to point out two things. First, “Inspector” is also the name of the palette to change element properties in FileMaker Pro 11. This article is not about that. Second, to use Inspector (or BaseElements), you need to have FileMaker Pro Advanced (FMPA) to generate a Database Design Report (DDR). The XML version of the DDR is imported into Inspector to create an analysis of the database.
Inspector Pro 3.0v2 was released in March, and as a long time user, I was excited to see what changed in this new version. Of course, Inspector provides standard features like list and details views, a search interface, and reports for the elements in your database. Rather than a comprehensive review, my purpose is to highlight 10 features that caught my attention.
- Native FileMaker Finds – Inspector uses a custom interface with Quick Find and portals to display elements in your database. Now they have added “Raw Data” views so you can search the elements using native FileMaker finds.
- Find Dormant Calculations – A dormant calculation is one that has been disabled by turning off a field option (like Auto-enter by calculation) or changing the field type from Calculation to something else. On the Calculations screen in Inspector, you can enter “Dormant” in the Quick Find to view all the dormant calculations.
- Apply Security Perspective – Inspector imports the settings for the Privilege Sets as part of the DDR. On the various screens, you can see what the effect of a specific privilege set is by selecting one from the Security Perspective drop-down.
- Display Changes Inline – If you have analyses of two versions of the same database, you can display the changes for a specific element “inline”. My only concern with this feature is it seems to require significant processing as it takes a few seconds to display (although it could be my computer).
- Script Step and Function Reports – These reports display an inventory of the script steps and calculation functions including how many times each is used. This is helpful to see, for example, how much the database uses If vs. Case.
- Index Percentage Report – This unique report shows the percentage of fields that can be indexed and the percentage of fields that are indexed by table. It also includes a bar chart for visual reference if you run Inspector using FileMaker (not the runtime).
- Script Trace Report – This report shows the entire code for a parent script, including subscripts with indentation, in one document. This saves having to jump in and out of multiple script windows in FileMaker.
- Open with FileMaker Go – If you host the database with FileMaker Server, you can open Inspector using FileMaker Go on the iPad. This is helpful if you need to review an analysis and you do not have enough screen real estate.
- Customize FileMaker Go Compatibility – As I write this article, FileMaker Inc. (FMI) has released FileMaker Go 1.2. Not only does Inspector show FileMaker Go compatibility when viewing scripts, it includes preferences so you can update the status of compatibility when FMI release a new version of FileMaker Go.
- Customize Detection and Comparison – Inspector also has preferences to customize how issues are included in a Detection Report and which elements are included in a Comparison Report. This is very useful if you only need to review certain elements types.
Also, Beezwax has setup a Wiki for the documentation including tutorial videos for some of the key features. Both the help text and the videos are useful for learning how to get more out of Inspector.
I continue to use Inspector each time I start to work with a customer who has an existing solution. Having this tool in my toolbox helps me get the best perspective on the database and ultimately, the customer.