Under the Hood in FileMaker -Storage and Queries

A peek at what happens under hood in FileMaker

Have you ever wondered what happens under the hood in FileMaker when you perform a find (also known as a "Query", by the way)? Just how does FileMaker quickly find matching records to display? How does FileMaker find related records (AKA a "Join")? Did you know that FileMaker indexes the up to the first 100 characters in a string? And up to 400 characters of significance in a number? That last one might well be important to a client: Excel has 15 characters of significance, so it can't tell the difference between 14,000,000,001 and 14,000,000,002 when it comes to doing a find.

Clay Maeckel, Chief Software Architect at FileMaker, Inc., presented at FileMaker DevCon 2018 on this topic. Consider his credentials: He's worked at Apple/Claris/FileMaker since 1986. And he did the initial work on:

  • Microsoft Windows 3.0 Port
  • FileMaker Server
  • Instant Web Publishing
  • Draco Engine
  • FileMaker Go
  • Carbon to Cocoa migration
  • Data Migration Tool

Maeckel covers all of the above in detail in the video below. There's more, too. How about a quick look at the components of the FileMaker platform for 2006, 2016, and 2018? Pause the video on each year and you'll see why FileMaker's capabilities are growing – and growing rapidly.

FileMaker Components - 2018
FileMaker Component Structure 2018

The differences between 2016 and 2018 are significant, and there's more coming in the future.

FileMaker Maintenance

Last, but not least, you'll learn some very practical information on File Maintenance – what happens when you use the "Save a Copy As" command

  • Compacting, which reduces free space in a file by reordering and merging blocks, and how it impacts reading and writing
  • Cloning (when a clone is first opened, the locale is reset, which effect date stamps, dictionaries, etc.)
  • Self-contained - useful when you need to move a file with many external containers as a single file

Finally, you'll learn what FileMaker does when you properly close a file, and how FileMaker knows when a file is not properly closed, and what happens when you use the "Recovery" option to fix (or test) a FileMaker file.

So, kick back and enjoy the presentation. It's worth the watch.

If you want the answer—ask the question.
― Lorii Myers

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