Using advanced tools > Setting up files for developer solutions > Documenting developer solutions

Documenting developer solutions

Note  This topic describes features that are available when the Use advanced tools general preference is selected. See Using advanced tools.

You should provide documentation for your database solution, whether it is a database that must be opened in FileMaker Pro Advanced or a standalone runtime database solution. There are several ways that you can provide documentation for your solution, including a printed manual, an online Help system, and an About layout that is available from any layout in the solution.

Create custom About and Help layouts that document what your database solution is, how to use it, and where users can go for more information. Then use the custom menus feature to attach scripts to menu commands that open the About and Help layouts.

Note  The FileMaker Pro Advanced Help system is not available in runtime applications. However, status bar Help (Windows) and Help tags (macOS) are available.

Creating an About layout

For runtime database solutions, the FileMaker Pro Advanced license specifies that you must create an "About" layout that provides information for your users on how to contact you for technical support.

To create an About layout:

1. In Layout mode, click New Layout/Report in the status toolbar.

2. For Layout Name, type About <your solution>.

Important  For runtime database solutions, you must include the word "About" in the layout name. You must also include certain specific information in the layout. See Your responsibilities as a developer.

3. Select Blank Layout.

4. Click Finish.

5. Include in the layout your logo, other graphics, and your company information.

6. Include text that notifies users if the solution files are protected with passwords or if full access privileges have been removed.

7. See Your responsibilities as a developer for the exact legal wording.

8. Create a button that lets your users return to the main layout of the primary file.

9. Choose Scripts menu > Script Workspace and create a script that goes to the About layout.

10. Include the word About in the script's name.

11. Create a menu command that displays the About layout. See Defining custom menus.

To display the About layout when the runtime application is started:

1. Open the primary file for the database solution.

2. Choose File menu > File Options.

3. In the Open tab of the File Options dialog box, select Switch to layout and choose the About layout from the list.

Creating a custom Help layout

Create a Help layout that provides instructions for how to use your solution and add data to it. Then create a script in the primary file of your solution to display the Help system. Use the custom menus feature to make the script available as a command in the Help menu.

If you want to create a webpage to document your solution, you can put a web viewer in your Help layout that opens the webpage.

See Creating and editing custom menu items.

Including printed documentation

You'll need to provide instructions to your users on how to install your database solution. Here's a list of things you should document:

minimum equipment and software requirements

how to install your bundled solution

how to install custom files

how to use software you might have included for:

installing your bundled solution

decompressing your solution files

how to upgrade to new solution files (see Importing data into upgraded runtime solutions)

how to use your Help system

how to start the database solution (see Starting runtime solutions)

what to do in case of a damaged file (see Recovering runtime files)

how to reach you for technical support

Important  In the event that your runtime database solution files become damaged, make sure users have access to your technical support email address or telephone number in your printed documentation or in a text file. If a database file is damaged, they may not be able to access the About layout in your solution to find out how to contact you.

You might also want to include the following recommendations:

Tell your users not to rename any solution files (except the runtime application), or they may be unable to run your solution.

Recommend that users back up their data regularly. You might want to automate some of the process by including scripts that save copies of the solution files. See Maintaining and recovering FileMaker Pro Advanced databases.

Related topics 

About creating runtime solutions

Preparing files for a runtime solution

Binding files into a runtime solution

Naming runtime solutions