May 18, 2011, 9:53 AM — Today's tip comes from Hal Gumbert, lead developer and owner of CampSoftware.com
If you use a FileMaker Pro database on your iPad or iPhone using FileMaker Go, chances are it doesn’t work as well as it could. Here are a few simple optimizations that will boost your productivity.
Back to basics
Remember when you used a computer monitor with a tube? Back then, most displays supported 1024 x 768 pixels. Now, desktop and laptop computers now have around twice as many pixels available. When optimizing a database, you need to consider that every device has different screen space constraints. The iPad has the space of an small laptop and the iPhone has about one fourth the pixels of the iPad. Using layout techniques similar to those you used years ago will be very helpful in optimizing for iOS!
Build to the device
The three visual items that are different between Mac, Windows, iPad, and iPhone are the available pixels on the screen, the status toolbar height, and click accuracy. Combined, these work together to determine how well the solution integrates with a human. In a desktop app, you can pack in a very large number of objects on the screen and have the solution work well since people are very accurate when they click with a mouse. This makes Mac and Windows very similar except that the status toolbar heights differ slightly and the Windows application window uses some additional space. On iOS, the toolbar takes 44 pixels (34 pixels on iPhone in landscape mode) from the bottom of the screen if it is visible. While the toolbar takes up additional space it’s a good idea to keep it visible so users can easily navigate layouts and records as well as add, duplicate, omit, sort, or find records. Even more important, click accuracy is lower because people’s fingers are much larger than a computer mouse arrow. This means your fields, buttons, and other objects must be larger to reduce accidental clicking of the wrong object.
Layout - If your interface is landscape and can fit into 1024 x 623 pixels, you could design one layout for Mac, Windows, and iPad. A separate layout will be needed for iPhone to make it work well. You can use the iPad layout for the iPhone if access on the iPhone will be infrequent, but zooming will be required.
List - The iPhone has much less screen area so choose the most important information to be included in no more than three columns. We use a calculation field called ’DisplayList’ which includes a few bits of information concatenated by spaces with the most important information sent to bold and a color a bit lighter than the other information.