Secure Your FileMaker Database with Encryption at Rest

Claris’ FileMaker platform offers a number of great avenues for keeping your data secured. One of these avenues is to secure the database itself using Encryption At Rest. To be as un-technical as possible, this keeps your data in an unreadable form that can only be opened with a secure key. So, if the database is stolen, the thief would have no way of opening and reading or extracting your data without also have your secure key.

We recommend encrypting ALL FileMaker databases with sensitive data.

How to encrypt a database?

The first step is to get the database onto a local computer. If the database is currently hosted using FileMaker Server, it must be closed and then removed from the server. You will then Open the Developer Utilities. (If you do not see Developer Utilities, it means that you do not have advanced tools turned on. There is a checkbox in FileMaker Preferences to turn this on)

You will select the file you want to encrypt, what folder you would like the encrypted file to be saved to and then select Solution Options.

Here, you will select Enable Database Encryption, enter a shared ID (or just leave the default one), specify one of the database’s Full Access FileMaker accounts and then enter your encryption key. (Make sure to keep the key on file. Once a database is encrypted, the ONLY way it can be opened is by entering that key). You can then choose whether or not to keep Open Storage, which relates to FileMaker’s container data. There are some situations where you may want to keep the container data open even though the database is closed. This should be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Alright! You now have an encrypted file. You will notice when you try to open it, it first asks for the encryption key before it asks for your username and password.

How does it work with FileMaker Server?

Now, you will upload the database back to your server. When you do so, you will see this alert:

When you open up your admin console, you will notice that the file is indeed closed.

You can open the file through the admin console, and when entering the encryption key select “Save Password” or through the command line as shown below.

By saving the password, when you close and open the database, it will open the database without asking for your encryption key.

How does the new FileMaker Server 19.1.2 Update Relate to this?

With the new FileMaker Server 19.1.2 release, you can now run two new system-wide scripts automatically through FileMaker Server’s script schedule.

The first script, SYS_Default_PurgeTempDB, clears the temporary cache of the server. If your server is not restarted often, this temporary cache can become quite large and affect the performance of the server. Now with this script, it can be cleared weekly, daily, or even hourly if needed.

The second script, SYS_Default_VefiryAllDB, will verify all databases on the server to confirm that none are corrupted. During the process, the server will close each file, run the verification, and then open the file back up. The server, however, can only open an encrypted file if its key is saved to the server using the command line script. Because we want this schedule to be run automatically, it is necessary for the encryption key to be saved to the server in order to run this script.

Replace DropDown Lists with a Faster Type Ahead

Has FileMaker’s dropdown list functionality left you wanting more?  While adding a drop down has the benefit of being quick to implement, often it’s behavior can leave a lot to be desired.  Not being able to filter the list by any word in a string (typing out the second word instead of the first for example) or being able to style the look of your drop down can be huge drawbacks.

Here’s a technique that is both powerful, speedy, and quick to implement.   By Creating a “text tree” in any table (as pictured below) we can utilize FileMaker’s relationships which supports multiple values (separated by carriage returns) to find records by our own specified amount of letters, words, or even data from multiple fields.  This technique doesn’t involve finds, and given how versatile it is, we can place it anywhere in our solution — allowing the user to find data without leaving the layout. For example, finding a name only knowing the last name.

Setting this up is fairly straight forward.  The first thing we’ll want to do is prep the data by adding a text field to our target table. In this demonstration we will be adding a full_name calc field to the People table. Our new text field will be an auto-enter calc breaking down each name into a text tree, like above.  This code can easily be copied & pasted into any solution. You just need to modify the input field.  It can also be modified to support longer word lengths, more words, and multiple fields within the local table.

Note: If you’re adding this to existing data, be sure to “refresh” the data, perhaps with a ‘Replace Field Contents’

Now that our data has a satisfactory text tree, let’s create two global fields in the table of the Layout we intend to use. The first field g_SearchField,  will be the field on the layout as the field the user will be typing into.  The second field g_Search_forRelationship will be used in a relationship to our Text Tree, displayed below:

Now, all that’s left is to place a portal on your layout. It’s context should be the table where your text tree is. Then you put a script trigger (onObjectModify) on your search field, which will move what the user types into your secondary global.  It will then refresh the relationship live while the user is typing without having to commit the data entry global.

Your trigger only needs to be a simple set field like so:

There you have it, please feel free to download the file and test it out yourself!

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Claris FileMaker is Now Available on Linux

As part of Claris’s new open release approach to FileMaker 19, the latest version of their platform now supports CentOS Linux. This includes all the features and benefits you’ve come to expect from FileMaker, as well as the most recent updates (you can read more about the most recent version of FileMaker here). While FileMaker Server was previously available for Windows and macOS, this marks the first time it’s been available on the open-source Linux system in many years.

This is especially exciting because a considerable number of businesses utilize Linux for both cloud hosting and their on-premise servers specifically for its security and stability.

In a press release, Claris noted that FileMaker Server for Linux includes key features like data integration via OData and the FileMaker Data API, server-side script schedules and plug-ins, and custom backup schedules. 

Claris also stressed that regardless of which operating system you’re using FileMaker on, you’ll be able to enjoy their new features like faster upgrades and better performance.

This year has seen Claris continue to innovate and bring major, requested features to their platform, and they show no signs of slowing. Have any questions about how you can create FileMaker applications for your business? Reach out to us here.

How Can FileMaker Work for My Business?

FileMaker is frankly an unassuming name for what’s actually an incredible suite of development tools. Custom applications created through FileMaker can streamline business operations and maximize employee effectiveness. Even if you’ve used FileMaker in the past, the changes and additions made in the last several years mean it’s a drastically different, more robust application.

What is FileMaker?

FileMaker began as a way to allow anyone to create simple bits of code to help automate or streamline processes at their small to midsize business. And while it’s still designed to give anyone access to designing simple tasks, it’s grown into something much greater. While the barrier for entry is still low, the skill ceiling is much, much higher.

As FileMaker evolved, it became a system that allowed those same small to midsize businesses to create (or hire someone to create) custom apps and platforms tailored specifically to their business. It’s effectively giving everyone access to the kinds of tailor-made internal platforms previously reserved for massive corporations.

How Does it Work?

In the simplest terms, for anyone with a low-code background (meaning anyone who isn’t a developer), FileMaker works as a series of databases that look similar to an Excel spreadsheet. FileMaker makes it simple to then create relationships between these databases. In these cases, a business owner could create a “relationship” that automatically sends an email out to a customer after a payment is recorded.

However, as mentioned previously, FileMaker can be much more complex. Certified developers— like Kyo Logic— can create GUIs (Graphic User Interfaces) and overlays that make these systems much easier to use, and those relationships can be amazingly complex. For these developers, they can use FileMaker to create a fully tailor-made, optimized CRM or ERP system.

It’s best to think of FileMaker like a paintbrush and set of paints. Anyone can pick them up and draw a picture, but the difference between a first-time artist and seasoned professional is massive.

What Does it Mean for My Business?

In the hands of the right development team, it means access to a custom-built platform like Salesforce or Netsuite at a fraction of the cost. Business can create a system to replace outdated and outmoded platforms they’re currently using. FileMaker is secure and scalable, so it can be used to create anything from a payment portal for a website, to an in-store point of sale system, to inventory management, to payroll databases. If a solution is needed, it can be crafted through FileMaker.

Are There Any Drawbacks to FileMaker?

For small to midsize businesses or projects, the answer is frankly “no.” FileMaker is flexible and feature-rich enough that there is very little it can’t do out-of-the-box, or be programmed to do by a knowledgeable development team. While it scales very well, it’s not ideal for massive corporations with thousands and thousands of concurrent users. But that said, departments within those large companies could very well use a FileMaker-based program for their needs.

How Do I Use FileMaker?

FileMaker and its associated services are available online, so setup is quick and easy. While some tutorials are available online, it’s ideal to take classes and get hands-on experience. That’s typically all one would need if they’re just looking to create something simple. However, professional developers take years of classes and credits, and typically have multiple certifications.

We recommend having a conversation with a FileMaker developer before making any purchases or commitments internally. It’s critical to understand the scope, goals, and expectations of the product. We’re happy to have a conversation with you to best assess your needs and make recommendations. You can reach out to us here.