New ideas and thorough documentation of product issues are important for the continued improvement of any platform. The FileMaker Community has grown as a place where these two areas have become their own space. It’s important to engage the community before opening a new topic, though; here are some steps to consider in your process…
Submitting FileMaker platform product ideas
The product ideas section of the FileMaker community is where we gather to share ideas for the FileMaker platform. Each idea comes with a voting system (+/- 1 point per vote), and a discussion section on the page where the community can discuss the idea. The landing page also contains a “super list” of the most popular ideas.
FileMaker has confirmed that they do monitor this page for ideas on guiding the platform road map. They ask that you read the product ideas guidelines before posting a new idea in this space. If you have an idea that seems like a good advancement for the FileMaker platform, it’s highly encouraged to share! Before you do, make sure to review these do’s and don’ts:
- Search the product idea space to see if there is a similar idea. Duplicate posts of the same idea can clutter space, or may be removed completely if it’s a duplicate of a known post. Instead, contribute to the conversation of the existing idea if you have clarifications on how it should work, or why it would not
- Vote! Read through the ideas section every now and then, and vote for the ideas that are most useful for you. The only way for FileMaker to gauge the popularity of a certain solution or idea is by taking into consideration the score of that idea, and how much discussion it has created.
- Document your idea. Provide “cocktail sketch” images of what your idea may look like in relation to FileMaker. Write down why it would be a good feature, and what makes it useful to you. Lastly, a step-by-step process on how your idea would work from a functional standpoint. The more thorough your idea is documented, the easier it is for other people to understand the value and vote for it.
- Continue to monitor your idea after posting it. Engage the community in discussion and champion your idea.
- Ignore criticism of your idea. The community will bring a world of perspective. Modify and update your idea, and continue to hone it based on feedback.
- Set unrealistic expectations. The product idea space is a great place for FileMaker to get ideas for features to integrate into the roadmap. Even if your idea is a good one that gets implemented, it’s not an overnight or guaranteed process. Features that are suggested sometimes take years to be fully implemented into the FileMaker platform, and they often vary wildly from the original concept.
- Omit FileMaker from the equation. FileMaker is a for-profit subsidiary of Apple; Ideas that don’t “fit the mission statement” may not have a good chance of success. As an example, a suggestion to restore functionality of a deprecated feature may not be useful; Instead, consider suggesting an alternative or replacement that would compromise on functionality.
Submitting FileMaker platform product issues
Discovering a bug in any platform can be frustrating and arduous. FileMaker created the Report a Product Issue space to directly engage the community and identify bugs and document their process. Several FileMaker representatives regularly interact with threads here to provide feedback from the engineering team to confirm bugs or provide further troubleshooting. As with the product ideas space, it’s important to search and document your issue before reporting it to make sure it’s unique and not previously identified. Here’s some do’s and don’ts for reporting issues:
- Search the product issues space. Make sure that the issue you are having has not been reported. A lot of people will tag specific versions with their issue so you can easily match your setup in a search.
- Thoroughly document your issue. Provide a sample file if possible. Take screenshots of the errant behavior. Use the list below as a sample of what information to document.
- Post a discussion first in the regular Community Space. Before you post a product issue, you should be certain that you have done everything possible to make sure that there aren’t any issues with your hardware or custom app that are causing the errant behavior. The community can give you great feedback and support to make sure you’ve thought of everything.
- Continue the conversation. Once you have submitted a new product issue, make sure to follow-up on all responses and post if the issue has been resolved by a FileMaker platform update or other troubleshooting measure. Sometimes FileMaker will respond that an update version number resolves a specific report so that anyone locating that issue will know to update.
- Take product issues lightly. FileMaker dedicates good resources to working through product issue reports and following up on them. If you don’t perform due diligence in troubleshooting and searching for duplicate reports before making your own post, it can waste those resources.
- Provide little or no information. If you just casually report “such and such doesn’t work”, the only response you will get is a request for information you should have provided in the first place. Use the sample checklist below for what information to provide.
- FileMaker has product issues just like any other platform. If you’ve done your due diligence and identified a new issue, chances are it will be fixed in a patch release in upcoming versions. Don’t panic, try and develop workarounds with the community and educate others to the issue.
Product issue documentation checklist
Use this list to check and document your product issue before reporting it in the FileMaker Community.
- FileMaker major version (EG: FileMaker Pro 16)
- FileMaker minor version (EG: 184.108.40.206, found under “about FileMaker”)
- Operating system and version (EG: Mac OS 10.12.3)
- Browser and version (if using WebDirect)
- Special software in your environment (antivirus, software firewalls, VPNs, etc.)
- FileMaker server (if used)
- FileMaker clients
- Mobile device specifications (if using WebDirect on Android or FileMaker Go)
- Any specific hardware in your environment (EG hardware firewall clients, special routers that could cause network issues)
- Is one user or all users affected?
- Is the app hosted or just a local file that you opened?
- What is the issue, in detail?
- What have you already attempted to do to resolve it?
- What steps can FileMaker take to reproduce the issue?
- Expected result vs. actual result
- What workarounds are you using, if any?
- Sample file (develop a quick sample file to keep your own private)
- Screenshots of issue (as many as needed to show issue), annotated if possible
- Log files (crash log, server log, etc…), making sure to anonymize any sensitive information