FileMaker is by far the easiest to use custom application solution available. To prove this and to educate my 12 year old daughter, I took on the task of showing her how to build a custom FileMaker solution from scratch in less than an hour. I wanted to make it something interesting to encourage her to use FileMaker, have it be something useful, and make it fun.

She loves playing the Disney Infinity video game…and collecting the characters to add interest and variety to the game. Over time, she’s gathered a lot of characters. Our journey started out at dinner at a restaurant. We talked what types of things she might want to keep track of regarding her Disney Infinity Characters. We identified the following items on a paper napkin:

  • Name
  • Power Level
  • Owner – Her or her younger sister
  • Date Purchased
  • Cost
  • Rating – How much do you like this character? Is it your favorite?
  • Photo
  • Online Code

Napkin Database Planning

Each of the items would become a field in the Character table. We then decided the type for each of the fields.

  • Text – Name, Owner, Power Level, Online Code
  • Date – Date Purchased
  • Number – Cost
  • Container – Photo

Characters_Table

We started creating the application on her MacBook. The power of FileMaker Pro allowed her to create an application that would run on MacOS, Windows, the web, or iOS on an iPad.

I showed her how to use the built-in “Touch Theme” with larger buttons and fields so that they are the appropriate size for fingers and use on an iPad instead of a mouse and keyboard.

With just a few short instructions we had a working application with a List and a Detail view of her information. She completed every step herself and then spent a couple of hours entering all the information for her collection of figures.  She found it fun and appealed to the organizer in her. I’ve included the application she created here so you can see the results.

Game Characters Screenshot 3

Taking it to The Next Level

We added another field called URL. This field allows you to enter a web site URL that links the record to a web site with information about the character. Adding a button and one script step of programming using the “Open URL” command that takes you out to the Disney internet site in your default browser (Safari, Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer) to view a video or additional details about that character.

When she clicked on that button and FileMaker took her to the website, her face lit up. That is so cool!

Adding Reports and Graphs…

After the main database structure is complete you could then build some useful reports. For example, you could easily add a report that shows the total amount spent on characters for any particular owner and overall. You could also show the total number of characters that a particular owner has accumulated on a bar chart, etc.

Field Validation…

You could add field validation or formatting to verify that the data entered is in the proper format…auto correcting capitalization errors, choosing items from a value list, etc.

This is a simple solution. It is one table of information with no relationships. More complex solutions take much more time to design and build…but this is a start. She is no longer afraid of creating a database…and the complex work that daddy does on the computer. I’m hoping that this starts her on a career path that fits within her strengths and interests.

You’ll need a copy of FileMaker to make it work on MacOS or Windows or modify it for your own use. You can download a free trial of FileMaker for 30 days…or download the iOS version of FileMaker Go for free from the Apple app store to run it. (You need the desktop FileMaker application to customize it). Feel free to use it as you wish…but the fun is in creating it yourself and seeing the power of FileMaker.

You can download the final solution she created in less than an hour here:

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