Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Just Back From the Fire Drill

I am REALLY liking the iPod/FileMaker/FMTouch combination.
We just got done with a fire drill.  It was very nice to have all of my class lists in my pocket.  I have literally hundreds of kids in 12 different classes.  This time, no worrying that I had grabbed the wrong clipboard.  
Search for that section, sort alphabetical by last name, take attendance and wait to walkie-talkie  it in.  Pretty cool.


Paul said...

So how much work is it to set up your fmtouch database? Does it actually support scripts?

Roger Whaley said...

Thanks for the questions.

Here's how I got to this solution.

I was using FileMaker Pro because I work in a mixed platform environment (PC and Mac.) I have been using FMP for a while and have some things set up already.

It is possible to use PHP to get to your FMP data with a web browser. You can set that up yourself, but it takes more time than I have right now AND working in a school that doesn't currently have wifi everywhere using the network to get to my data wasn't going to be much of a help. I am not so sure that it will be much help after we get wifi (it is coming soon!) because we use dynamic IP addresses here and that can make your database hard to find.

What I believe the FMTouch people have done is set up the PHP for you. When you connect your iPod to your computer/database their app stores the info on your Touch/iPhone.

I haven't gotten into the scripting too far yet. Right now, I know I haven't been able to program a button to do a sort or a find. That has not been too much of a problem, because these functions are built into FMTouch.

Class lists and address books really are pretty dull as far as information processing goes. Not a lot of scripting necessary. They are pretty static and straight forward, so I think the real problem is keeping the information synced.

As far as data entry goes, I did most of mine by import into the FileMaker database and by keyboard. The FMTouch does type-ahead and dropdown fields to help with that.

I like the container field for pictures of my students and these are supported by FMTouch. The design tip here is use a file reference for the pictures stored in the FMTouch folder for related files. This hasn't been my usual practice as I like to import images into FMP to make back-up easier (but that practice can take up more disc space...so maybe it was time to change.)

Set-up was easy. Watch the movie and go try it. You can download the directions, but the movies have everything you need in them.

If you have an all Mac situation, I would take a look at Bento and their iPod app as well. We aren't running Leopard or Snow Leopard everywhere I need the information, so I really didn't give it a try.

So in short, not too difficult to set-up, scripting isn't full out FileMaker (but do you need it?) and this is the solution if you need to store it and take it with you (as opposed to access it with a web page.)

I have found it a useful App.