One of the most vexing–and potentially time consuming–problems for FileMaker developers is building navigation menu bars for complex solutions. Each navigation menu was usually context sensitive and therefore hard to copy and paste between different layouts. A lot of work went into making and testing the changes.
Over the years, there have been several very good systems developed to deal with these issues. The latest is by FileMaker itself, in FileMaker 14: The Button Bar.
The desired result is simple enough. Developers want the following specs:
- A navigation button bar that can be easily copied and pasted between layouts
- That works with minimal changes
- That shows the active layout
- That is programmable to allow access based on the users permissions
- That resizes (hides segments) based on pre-set conditions
A tall order to implement.
Daniel Wood, of Digital Fusion, shows how they have handled this issue in the past:
Previous Navigation Articles and our own Navigation
This is the third navigation article we have done and it has been quite some time between drinks. The first one - Starting out Simple - covers building a basic navigation bar using repeating fields. In the second article - Taking it Further - we extended upon the first by introducing selected screen highlights and a navigation script.
And Wood delves into the advantages and disadvantages of using the new Button Bar feature in FileMaker 14 as a replacement for their system:
Button bars are a great FileMaker 14 tool and can be used for a number of applications, one of which may be a navigation bar. As far as making them totally abstracted goes, they work best without icons but if you can live with the icons being fixed to the object then they look great with icons.
Compared to our older articles around navigation bars the button bar comprises of only a single object as opposed to multiple objects for the repeating field implementation. Button bars should also work great in WebDirect and FileMaker Go.
Check it out, and be sure to download their example file. Once you get your head around their process, you'll see it is a powerful and extensible tool for building a great navigation menu.