The Ignored Inline Progress Bar

What is the least talked about, most important feature of FileMaker 15?

Today I’ll make the case for the Inline Progress Bar.

The Inline Progress Bar is, on the surface, a very mundane feature.  Everyone knows about progress bars–so what’s the big deal? Let’s take a look at what it does, courtesy of DB Services:


Here’s why it’s important, and why you may want to recommend that your clients upgrade sooner than later:

It’s the one new feature in FileMaker 15 that visibly improves the User Experience (UX) by speeding up the navigation between layouts, at least in certain circumstances.  Most of us have built interfaces with filtered and sorted portals showing the data our customer demands to see.

The problem?  When switching or loading a layout, those often portals take a while to load, causing the user to twiddle their thumbs due to the whole layout not being available to work on while the portals are populated.  And if your client is operating over a LAN or a WAN, the user often has time to go get a cup of coffee.  (For those who remember FileMaker’s early days, especially when operating over AppleTalk on a network, FileMaker actually used to display a coffee cup while loading the layouts).

Not any more.  The Inline Progress Bar solves this thorny user interface problem by assigning a separate memory thread to each portal loaded when a user navigates to a new layout.  The result?  The user is able to fully interact with the rest of the layout while the portal(s) loads.  FileMaker shows a little square progress bar in the portal until the portal is fully loaded.

There you have it:  If you have clients wasting time while waiting for layouts to load, call them up and tell them why they should update now.

For a deeper dive into Inline Progress Bar feature (not recommended for non developers), read this post by (there’s a great downloadable example file) and see how the Inline Progress Bar works with variable updates in different situations with a million records in each of two tables:

This might be a good time to observe that this is a “sandbox” demo to facilitate the exploration of FM behaviors, as opposed to one intending to make a specific point or teach a specific lesson. I encourage you to experiment and see what happens.

At any rate, prior to FM 15, if you attempted to navigate to a layout with multiple portals containing lots of related records, there might be a noticeable delay. Now, in FM 15, the layout will be displayed promptly, with progress indicators inside the portals (each running in its own memory thread) until FileMaker is ready to display their contents. And this is not merely a cosmetic trick — you can interact with the layout while the portals are still rendering.

Granted, these are situations most developers (or clients) will never see, but from a purely academic point of view, it’s good to know why your users are experiencing delays and/or inaccurate information in certain situations.



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