Legacy Feature Czar?

Would like to get people's feedback and ideas, and maybe find a way to influence Claris on some long standing issues. Would you like to see a "Legacy Feature Czar" at Claris? I certainly would. I came out of some other products before working in Filemaker, and I'm amazed at some of the features that essentially go ignored for years, often with what I would consider an 80% completion rate. I've worked for decades as both an in-house and Contract developer. There seems to be little prioritization in going back and finishing or revamping current, well used, features that have glaring deficiencies, especially when compared with competitors.

Some issues become obsolete. I.e. built in Charting is very basic, and never really evolved to what it should have been. It takes a lot of work, and we now have very good third party alternatives we can plug in that are far more capable than we could ever expect of the built in feature set.

Other features are harder for developers to work around if they are deficient. I.e. ESS and SQL integration as a whole. There is no reasonable way for a developer to fix problems with ESS and no complete ways of working around the bugs/performance issues, aside from very complex synching solutions. Other products handle SQL Data and SQL syntax as standard as say brakes on a car. It is simply expected to be there and work.

Another long term pain is the minimal functionality of the EXPORT Dialog. When can we get a revamp to bring it up to speed with the new Import functions? How many years do we need to wait to get the ability to export a field name alias in a friendly, scriptable manner? Yes, this can be worked around, but this is something even the most rudimentary user often needs, and they should not have to jump through hoops for such a basic feature.

Next, when will the Reporting/Sorting/Subtotal feature get some needed love. Again, this is possible to replace with third party tools, but beyond the scope of many Filemaker users. Sort field and the number of Sorts must essentially be hard coded, making it difficult to build run-time/dynamic options. It is possible to use indirection, but at the cost of a great deal of complexity and a significant performance hit. Even with native Filemaker data, Filemaker is notoriously slow in Calculating Sub-totals, and sorting data. We should also be able to have sum-aggregate fields that do not need to be defined in the main table schema. These are basic database functions that should be done well.

I'm sure everyone who works in Filemaker has their own list. These are some of my pet peeves. New features and marketing seem to drive the priorities at Claris, and it takes a lot of momentum and push to try and get them to go revisit features they consider "done". I really think some of this lake of polish is loosing them potential business.

Filemaker has many unique and fantastic features, and the company and community are second to none. But someone at Claris needs to be a advocate for making sure the older code and legacy features are kept up to snuff.

What do folks here think? Any ideas on how we can encourage Claris to make these kinds of issues priorities that get attention over the long haul?



I think they should hire a product manager


The absolute number 1 developer request (aka 'idea'), posted 5 years ago by Intex, is

Horizontal Portals


To be clear, I'm narrowing the focus to enhancements/fixes to existing functionality that is not quite up to par. But that would be a great addition.


A Legacy Feature Czar seems like a good idea… only I have seen this in the past.

I attended a SOFA meeting many years ago. We had a guest from FileMaker Inc, I don't recall her name, a recent hire at FileMaker to work on user experience. She introduced herself, told us what her mission was and asked us for our feedback.

Lack of consistency in the user interface was a top issue. The guest indicated consistency in the user interface was very important and that she intended to address this issue. Everyone thanked everyone and then I never heard a thing about this topic from FileMaker Inc ever again.

One could make the case that new features could be excused for being inconsistent from a UI point of view, especially in this era of Agile project management. I, for one, don't buy it. I find it sloppy. That said, most consistency issues in the FileMaker platform are old.

This issue makes my job more difficult than it needs to be. I talk to my customers about user experience and the importance of consistency in both the interface and the experience. I sell this as well as FileMaker as a platform, yet FileMaker's user interface is glaringly inconsistent. This is not at all lost on my customers and even less when I talk to programmers.

So… would a Czar make a difference? Would Claris lets this Czar do his / her job with authority and accepts this authority? I guess I can dream.


I think that Heather Winkle is the guest you are referring to. I believe she was brought in to spiff up the interface. She came to a Richmond FMPug meeting (she lived in Richmond at the time). I don't remember if she gave a presentation, or just came as a participant, but I was impressed that she took copious notes the whole meeting which implied that she actually cared about what we were saying.

I know she spoke at DevCon one year. And after a few years, she disappeared.


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It was likely Heather at the SOFA meeting also. Heather and her team had a pretty big impact on a lot of things. One can only really remember if you go back to pre-10. Heather's fingerprint would have been on versions 10-15. There was a pretty dramatic shift in a lot of areas during that time.

Heather now works for Capital One. And I believe Matt O'dell also works there now.

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Heather Winkle is now the Managing VP, Head of Design at Capital One.

Yep, Heather was great. Sorry we lost her from the fold, but it had to be frustrating. :wink:


Sure. This is one of the great ‘unfinished’. Form, list and table layouts scroll horizontally and vertically.
Portals scroll vertically only. A portal is a window technique, adding horizontal scrolling would make it complete.

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... blast from the past but certainly still more then relevant if not urgent!

Maybe stuff from here can be broken down into low hanging fruit list to get reevaluated?

Horizontal portals have always been an odd feature request for me. Back in the day everyone really wanted these, but I can't think of a situation in the last 10 years where I've ever said "Dang I wish I had horizontal portals to solve this problem" , it just hasn't happened.

I think a datatable object would probably be more suitable than simply a horizontal portal. Generally you want that two dimensional representation of data, which invariably would require a horizontal scroll associated.


My #1 request would be side-layout parts. Rather than parts always needing to be vertically stacked, if you could have a fixed left-navigation part, then you could build some very cool layouts. Imagine a fixed left nav for your solution navigation. Moreover you'd be able to utilise list-mode while still having a vertical navigation...


Ah… but I suddenly would benefit from a horizontal portal in a solution I am currently developing. Similar to your side-layout request, I have a list layout in which I need columns of related data, one record per column. I am currently doing this by displaying a bunch of single record portals. It's a pain whenever I need to modify anything in a portal — I must repeat the change six times.


I’ve always thought it was odd that we couldn’t choose vertical or horizontal orientation for portals. It seemed like such an arbitrary limitation, and so petty that they didn’t give us this option.

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