In our previous article, Claris platform: Pro comparison, we took a good look at the differences between FileMaker Pro and Claris Pro. The great news was this:
Claris Pro is the FileMaker Pro app ported to the Claris platform. So the good news is that you likely already know how to use Claris Pro.
In this article, we will have a closer look at what it is like to create and develop a database in Claris Pro. Spoiler alert — it’s basically the same as doing it in FileMaker Pro!
So what might you see that works or behaves differently?
When creating a new blank file, Claris Pro creates a file with the .claris extension. This is compatible with the Claris platform and not at all with the FileMaker platform.
There is currently an unfortunate issue that is known and will be resolved by Claris:
If you are logged in with a Claris ID that is a manager of a Claris Studio team and create a new blank Claris Pro file, you get the standard local table with five fields, and also a shadow table for each of the existing tables in your Claris Studio instance (along with a table occurrence of each on the relationship graph). You also get a copy of every value list used in Claris Studio. Although you can delete all the shadow tables and TOs, the value lists cannot be edited or deleted.
There are currently two workarounds for this undesirable behaviour:
- log in with a Claris ID that is not a manager of a Claris Studio team and add an account for the other Claris ID that is a manager
- create a file in FileMaker Pro and then convert it by opening in Claris Pro
The third option is to wait until it is fixed! We will post here when a fix is released.
Peer to Peer Sharing
If you are creating an app that will have a mobile component using Claris Go, it is useful to share the file with the Claris Network Settings (File > Sharing > Share with Claris Clients…). That way, you can test on the iOS device as you develop in Claris Pro.
Claris Pro peer to peer sharing is limited to one desktop, one iOS, and one iPad iOS device at the same time. The better option, for a number of reasons, is to host the file on Claris Server for development.
You will see some minor differences in parts of the Manage Database dialog.
Many of your Claris Pro tables will have a Migrate button in the top bar above the field list. This is used to migrate a Claris Pro table to Claris Studio. The use cases and exact procedures for migration will be covered in a future article. For now, know that it is a non-reversible process that removes the table from Claris Pro. It is then available as a Claris Studio data source.
Another difference is seen when adding a table occurrence (TO) to the Relationships Graph. Claris Pro provides an option to select a Claris Studio Data Source. Unlike ESS, this is automatic with no DSN setup required.
This gives access to all the tables in the Claris Studio instance (where the current user is a manager). These can be used in virtually the same way as you may have used ESS tables from a SQL data source:
- Claris Studio data can be viewed and updated through Claris Pro layouts,
- Claris Studio TOs can used in relationships with other tables,
- supplemental fields (calculation and summary) can be added to the Claris Pro shadow table,
- shadow tables will have a Sync button in the top bar above the field list.
All the calculation functions from FileMaker Pro are available in Claris Pro. Yes I checked all of them! You’re welcome.
However, with the change in platform and behaviour, some functions will return different results.
- Get ( AccountName ) — returns the current user’s Claris ID user name (an email address), even if the user authenticated via the Default account.
- Get ( AccountType ) — returns “Claris ID”; there are currently no other account types.
- Get ( AccountGroupName ) — returns null result since this is related to externally authenticated accounts not supported at this time.
- Get ( ApplicationVersion ) — currently returns “Pro 40.0.1” so that will support the same parsing techniques we currently use.
All the script steps from FileMaker Pro are available in Claris Pro. Yes I checked all of them too!
However, with the change in authentication to Claris ID, the Accounts script steps do not work (Add Account, Change Password, etc). While they can be written into a script, they will always fail with error 3 (“Command is unavailable”).
You can add any Accounts script step to a script using typeahead or from the list of script steps sorted in alphabetical order by name. If the script steps are grouped, the Accounts group is missing.
Musing: it is interesting that Claris has chosen to keep these script steps in Claris Pro. Of what use might they be in future versions? Certainly Add, Delete and Enable Account could be make sense with Claris ID.
Claris Pro files can only be accessed using Claris clients (Pro, Go, etc) and only by users with a Claris ID. Since the Add Account script step is disabled, this means that you have to manually enter each Claris ID as a new account and assign them a privilege set. This may be a bit of work, but at least as a database administrator, you no longer have responsibility for resetting user passwords.
If the [Default] account is active, any user with a Claris ID that is not listed as a user will be able to log into the file and will be assigned the [Default] account privileges. And as noted above you can still identify individuals with Get(AccountName) — better than the [Guest] account in FileMaker Pro.
Using the [Default] account could be useful to give general low level access to the app without having to specify Claris IDs. But be mindful that if you do this, anyone who can find your Claris Server can access your file with a Claris ID. Perhaps not a good idea!
Developers are well advised to have more than one [Full Access] account in their file. One of these accounts can be an emergency account with a complex password that (hopefully) will never be used. In case of emergency where other [Full Access] accounts are not accessible, the emergency account is used to open the file, reset access for others, and then close the file.
Claris do warn specifically:
Don’t forget the Claris ID account name and password that is assigned to the Full Access privilege set. If necessary, write it down and store it in a secure place. If you can no longer sign in to Claris Pro with this Claris ID account, you may not be able to access or change the file.
But how do you create an emergency account with Claris ID? One suggestion is that a developer or organisation creates a Claris ID specifically for emergencies. And this emergency Claris ID is added as a [Full Access] account to every file. Hopefully never needed.
To round out the security section, remember from our last article that the File Options no longer allow automatic login (users must have a Claris ID) nor stored credentials (through Keychain or Credential Manager).
If you have used snapshot links (File > Save/Send Records As > Snapshot Link…) in FileMaker Pro, the .fmpsl files will not work with your converted Claris Pro file. Obviously, you can recreate them using Claris Pro. This will create files with a .clarislink extension.
At this time, the content and structure of data in a snapshot link file has not changed. You could edit an existing .fmpsl file in a text editor. Really all you need to change will be the internal file extensions to .claris, and then change the extension of the file to .clarislink. That may save you some time if you have used the snapshot link feature extensively.
Interesting to note that the parent object <FPSL></FPSL> (as in “FileMaker Pro Snapshot Link”) is still used in the new .clarislink file. This may change in future.
Is that It?
I think so. Claris Pro really is FileMaker Pro ported to the Claris platform. And that is great news for FileMaker developers with the required 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery! Your skills and techniques are still valid and useful but now you can do even more. Try it out.