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FileMaker is a registered trademark of FileMaker, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries.


August 2002

FileMaker Terminology
by Brian Dunning

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Once in a while it's wise to brush up on the basics. Though many of us have been working with FileMaker Pro for quite some time, a lot of new versions have appeared over the past few years and there may be some vocabulary expressions that are new to you. With this in mind, here is a list of many often-heard FileMaker Pro terms that you should know, and their definitions. If you are handy with these terms, it increases your own value in the corporate marketplace, and makes you a superstar around the office.

Access Privileges: Privileges conferred upon those who run the Windows version of Microsoft Office rather than the Mac version. Also refers to those who have not yet received a copy of FileMaker Pro.

Ascending Order: The direction that a request, such as for more paper clips, takes through the corporate command structure before apparently achieving escape velocity, leaving earth's gravity, and never being heard of again.

Body Part: The portion of your anatomy that you flash at the sysad when he turns his back. Usually found in the gluteal region, except in France.

Button: That thing you have that the sysad pushes with his negative response to the slightest request.

Cache: The stuff you never have enough of, especially when everyone goes out after work.

Client Application: This is what some FileMaker consultants have potential customers fill out ahead of time to determine whether they have what it takes to be a good client (a lot of money and a pliable personality).

Client Server: A guy whose job is to personally hand deliver papers to non-paying customers of FileMaker developers.

Clipboard: A good thing to hold when you have nothing to do but are enjoying just strolling around the office. It lends a sense of management ability, technical knowledge, and goes well with a white lab coat.

Clone: That guy in the office who wears the same shirt and tie as the boss, mimics his annoying speech patterns, and receives an according amount of respect for his troubles.

Constant: The amount of complaining that comes from the guy who's too ignorant to do anything for himself, and has to have you come over to his desk every five seconds and show him how to find records.

Container: That thing beside your desk that you fill with AOL 2.0 floppy disks, CDW catalogs, and probably some important papers that you shouldn't have.

Cookie: What the sysad gives you when you try to explain to him that his Windows network will not, in fact, burst into flames if you plug in your Mac.

Database Management System: In some non-FileMaker equipped offices, a process that involves lifting the computer keyboard and striking it sharply across the top of the monitor repeatedly. Or, in extreme cases, raising the monitor clear of the desk and causing it to soar across the office via a throwing motion.

Descending Order: The direction that blame takes through the corporate structure before landing squarely in your lap.

Embedded OLE Object: A pointed thing that finds its way deep inside your entrails during the annual Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. Many FileMaker developers travel to this event as a way to escape, and replace the rigors of database peril with genuine peril.

Function: Something that one person at every office tries to avoid having. This person is usually seen standing at the water cooler cracking wise.

Group: That subset of corporate personnel that the FileMaker developer is just never quite cool enough to belong to. "Hey fellas, want to see this cool unstored calculation?"

Guest: A way to log in to most co-workers' computers.

Handle: A distinctive anatomical feature found on the waistlines of FileMaker developers who spend the bulk of their spare time, as well as their working hours, at their computer.

Host: At the crack of five o'clock, this is what you turn the FileMaker Server into so that everyone can enjoy a brutal first person shoot-em-up game.

Import: The practice of replacing highly paid, experienced FileMaker professionals with overseas talent who work for less than minimum wage, and even that in some foreign currency that no longer has any value since the Euro.

Insert Object: What you tell the sysad to do when he cops a 'tude.

IP Address: In small offices, a label affixed to a restroom stall door bearing the name of the principal user.

Key: What you probably forgot to get back into the building when you went up onto the roof for a smoke.

Layout Mode: What everyone goes into just after the lunch hour, usually involving the transport of sofa cushions onto the office roof, or at least under the desk in that unoccupied office down the hall.

Locked Object: Where all the necessary office supplies like rubber bands, Bic pens, and staplers are kept.

Lookup: Famous last words heard by many a stall sitter.

Master: The proper way to address a sysad when requesting permission to install FileMaker Pro on the office network.

Object: What the sysad is going to do when he finds out that people in the office are using FileMaker Pro to be more productive and efficient.

Operand: One of those cryptic sounding words that you should always have scrawled on your whiteboard so everyone thinks that (1) you’re working, and (2) you're smarter than them.

Operator: That guy in the office who always has a bit of chest hair showing and a gold chain. Often seen in the men's room making excruciating yet imperceptible adjustments to his hair.

Plug-In: A troubleshooting step that solves most intractable computer problems, i.e., "Screen will not come on," "No lights glowing," etc.

Protocol: Something you should require your users to follow when addressing you. Usually this involves grandiose titles, and a procedure where problems should be sent through other channels first.

Query: A good thing to have at the ready whenever you see someone who looks like they're bringing a FileMaker question or problem to you. Before they have a chance to speak, deliver your query first, thus turning the tables and giving you time to escape.

QuickTime: The way everyone walks when the boss is visible.

Record: A unit of data in a database, and if you're looking it up here, it's probably because you just deleted it. Sorry, refer to "Embedded OLE Object" above.

Recover: The first order of business on a Saturday morning following that big TGIF party.

Relationship: One of those things that are absolutely forbidden in the office (does not apply in certain southern states or New York).

Remote Access: The process of everyone gathering at the window to stare across into the adjacent building where that weird guy is giving another of his apparent motivational talks to his team, with broad sweeping gestures, great bowling tosses, and then conducts while his team breaks into the feverish corporate cheer.

Row: This breaks out on days when the executive team is away at the retreat, and some of the FileMaker developers want to play Half Life, but the rest want to play Myth.

Script: That thing you refer to when the boss comes in and demands to know why nothing productive has been accomplished. It's important that the rotation of Script contents is maintained to minimize repetition.

ScriptMaker: The one guy who is elected by the others to keep the Script fresh and vibrant. Usually this is his only discernible contribution to the corporate work product.

SCSI: The way you invariably look whenever you chance to encounter that extremely attractive co-worker from Accounting that you've been trying to meet.

Sliding Objects: Pay scales, promises made under duress, and especially, software delivery schedules.

Status Area: That portion of the parking garage closest to the elevators, where each space is marked with its owners name on a little printed sign. FileMaker developers are contractually excluded from this area by the building management.

T Square: Everyone's nickname for the FileMaker developer with the Buddy Holly glasses, greased hair, and the pocket protector.

Tab Order: The direction around a restaurant table that the bill is passed, usually toward the guy believed to hold a company credit card.

Table: What to do with design requests from users who don't have any idea what they're talking about.

Text Expression: An angry epithet included in an email to the facilities guy about why the coffee is always so damned bad, and why Office Depot is consulted on cuisine.

Web Browser: A developer whose output is measured not in completed layouts and scripts, but in Amazon dollars spent, chat sessions completed, and mailing list flame threads contributed to.

Web Companion: A "co-worker" with whom you engage in "videoconferencing" during office hours, for a monthly membership fee.

Read this list several times to familiarize yourself with all the terms. You'll find that your own knowledge of FileMaker Pro has become enriched, and by extension, you'll be happier in your work.

Browse Mode
Jan 10 Solving Performance Emergencies with FileMaker Server
Aug 06 Top Ten Sessions Cut from the 2006 FileMaker Developer Conference
Jul 06 Who's Driving This Thing, Anyway? Or, How Marketing and Engineering Buried the Hatchet (Warning: Contains a Curse Word)
Nov 05 Shingle Grandiloquence
Oct 05 In Celebration of Geek Magnetism
Aug 05 A Rogues' Gallery of Devcon Attendees
Mar 05 Lies, Damned Lies, and Project Specifications
Feb 05 Pick the Right Tool for the Job
Oct 04 Home Media Server Requirements
Jul 04 Leveraging Your FileMaker Lingo
Apr 04 Technical Support Redux
Mar 04 Enforce Seats in FileMaker 7/8/9 Commercial Solutions
Feb 04 Reinventing the Wheel
Oct 03 WAP: The Technology That Wasn't
Aug 03 Brian Dunning's California Governor Election Platform
Jul 03 Sex and the Single Software Developer
May 03 XSLT: Creeping Out of the Closet?
Feb 03 A Consultant's Guide to Traveling
Nov 02 Adventures of Bat Magnum, FileMaker Consultant
Sep 02 FileMaker at Area 51
Aug 02 FileMaker Terminology
Feb 02 Computer Shunts
Dec 01 Aquabase Alpha & the Consultant's Challenge
Aug 01 It IS the Size That Counts
Jun 01 On the Trail of Sasquatch
May 01 Spring Cleaning
Feb 01 FileMaker Mobile Survivor Challenge
Jan 01 Letter from Nürburg
Dec 00 Performance Anxiety
Nov 00 Objection, Your Honor
Oct 00 Leveraging Convergence: Jargon for the 21st Century
Sep 00 Top Ten Things to Do at Devcon
Aug 00 Aesop's FileMaker Fables
Jul 00 Ten Commandments of FileMaker Pro
Jun 00 Explats Cross Examined
May 00 iMac, Therefore iServe
Mar 00 Valley of the Dollars
Jan 00 Are You Up for a Review?
Nov 99 Tales from the Script
Sep 99 Tech Support Revisited
Jul 99 Moderns vs. Classicals
Mar 99 Nashoba, We Hardly Knew Ye