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In FileMaker Pro 11 Essential Training, Cris Ippolite demonstrates the principal features and functions of this popular database software, including creating tables and relationships, managing fields and records, and working with layouts. The course shows FileMaker developers how to find, sort, and share data as well as how to create reports, calculations, and scripts. It also covers brand new features in FileMaker Pro 11 such as the Inspector tool, charting, and portal filtering. Exercise files accompany the course.
The question that I get from a lot of users is whether or not FileMaker allows you to send e-mails, and if you can log e-mails and all that kind of stuff. Well, there is a pretty cool feature inside of here that allows you to either manually send an e-mail, or you can send an e-mail from within a script. In FileMaker, this is called the Send Mail functionality, and the easiest way to do this is manually. So, for example, if you're in a record that makes sense that it actually has an e-mail stored in it, so a good example of this would be your customer's database, then you can go under the File menu, and you will notice all the way down here, you've got a Send option.
So you've got two options in here: one of them is called Send and then Mail, which we are going to explore here. And by the way, Send > Link to Database, all that does is if you're hosting a database or if you're logged in to a hosted database, you can hit Link to Database. It's going to pop up a new e-mail in your mail client, and it's going to have a link that users can click on to log into the database, as long as they are on the same network. But that's completely different from the Send Mail functionality that we want to explore now. So if you look under Send and Mail, up pops the Send Mail window. You see it's pretty self-explanatory, for the most part, but what it allows you to do is pick different fields or even specify a calculation to populate values, and within these fields, you can map up to the recipient's e-mail, whether or not you are going to copy or blind copy, and you can even put the subject line, a message in here.
So, for example, I could say To, and I could just simply specify the field, AddressMail and copy, maybe I want to put myself in here, and I can just hardcode it, and I won't have any Bcc options or anything like that. But now for a subject, you can specify a calculation, and you can do the technique that we have been working with where I say, "This is the Subject" where I am wrapping just plain text inside quotes because I need to do that, otherwise FileMaker will give me an error in the Calculation dialog.
And maybe you can do something like make it customized where you are adding the person's first name, or something like that. The message is the same way. So you can either point to a field, specify a calculation or import a whole series of text from a file, which you will still need to put into calculation form but this way, you can save the same template that maybe you have created in a previous Send Mail activity, copy and past it to a text document, and then you can import it in to future send mails. We will look more at this dialog when we are in the script version of this, but the idea here is that you can send an e-mail by just simply selecting the option in your File menu, and then up pops this interface, and it can attach an e-mail, do all sorts of stuff and what it's going to do in this case is it's going to gather all this information, and then it's going to go find the default mail application on your computer.
So if you have Outlook set up, or Entourage or Mail, it's going to know what your default mail application is. It's going to go launch if it's not open, and then it's going to pop-up a new e-mail, and it's going to author the e-mail and its contents based on the information that's either in the record that you are on or the information that you have typed into one of these fields. The other interesting thing about it is the default is set to only Send one e-mail using data from the current record. So in this case, it would just send an e-mail for this Akira record. But if I choose Multiple e-mails, what it's going to do then is it's going to cycle through all 52 records, and each time it hits a record, it's going to go send an e-mail out of your mail client.
So one at a time, send an e-mail. This is great, because then you don't have to worry about these Cced e-mails with all the peoples' names exposed, and it can be caught inside spam filters and that kind of thing. It will send a ton of e-mails out to your mail client, but this could be very helpful for you to be able to automate these things, or send people customized messages based on the calculation you use for the subject, or calcs you use for the message or that kind of thing. Then the most current option, probably the best one, allows you to choose either between sending from an e- mail client or an SMTP Server.
Now an SMTP Server is actually your e-mail server. This is something that your IT people will know more about. If you have ever set up a new account inside one of your mail applications, like the ones I mentioned earlier, you had to type all this information in to the new account. You set it in there and then you forget it. Aame thing with this type of information. You can point to the name that's on the account, or you can use the Calculation dialog to extract it somehow. You can customize an e-mail address. You could say, well, if I am sending to somebody that's a sales customer, then I can say it's from firstname.lastname@example.org, but if I am sending for a collection notice, I can say email@example.com, using an If statement in the calculation, those type of things.
Same thing with Reply, too. But here is where you put your server information, Port, Connection encryption, and then User Name if you are using any kind of authentication. So this area here is what you will need to ask your IT people about. You type that in, then what happens is instead of sending it through your mail client, which can be a little awkward, especially if you're sending a large group of e-mails, it's going to just send messages directly through your network to your mail server, and then your mail server is going to handle it. So if you have larger sets of e-mails, this is perfect for that.
If you want to send out e-mails and not have to bother the user with the fact that an e-mail is going out, the SMTP Server option is perfect for that. And if for some reason, you are having issues just sending out of your mail client, then use the SMTP Server, and also keep in mind that anytime you send out of your mail client, it has your account as the From. So you've got to be careful if you don't want people to have your e-mail address for whatever reason, you're definitely going to want to send it through the server. Let's take a quick look at the same dialog but in the Script Step. You see we had a message there indicating that the SMTP Server wasn't available; that's because I didn't putting the settings in there.
But if I open any one of these scripts, you will notice that towards the bottom of the list, I have got an option called Send Mail which I can perform with the dialog or not. So without the dialog, it's just going to go ahead and execute everything based on the credentials that I am putting in here and all the settings. And hitting the Specify button pops everything up, and as you see, it's actually saving the information that we put in the last time the Send Mail was open, so that we don't have to type in all in again, especially the SMTP Server stuff. But this is an excellent new version of the Script Step because of the SMTP Server setting.
So what this allows you to do is say anytime somebody creates a new order in our database, then behind the scenes, I want to send the customer who place the order a confirmation e-mail, or anytime you change the status of something to shift, then go send that customer an e-mail, all the while sending it through the SMTP Server and then not bothering the user with the fact that an e-mail is going out. So it's a very cool feature inside of FileMaker that can be used manually or as part of scripts. And I think you will get the most power out of it if you just do it as a script. So really, the sky is the limit, and this one is a real sleeper function inside of FileMaker 11.
So remember that you can train your users to go under the File menu and execute the Send Mail under the File > Send > Mail option, or you can build it in, in any robust fashion, any way you like as a script, and then even add it to existing scripts, if you like to. So have some fun with this one because it's a really great way to extend your database to be able to communicate with other people using data inside of the FileMaker Pro database.
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