Documenting Database Systems - File Maker

Once your database systems are installed and running, you should provide your client with some documentation. You should also create some documentation for yourself so that if you have to return to the system years later to work on it, you’ll be able to use it to remind yourself how the system works. Here are some ways to create documentation.

Database Design Report
FileMaker Developer’s built-in Database Design Report function. This report can also be used to provide detailed technical reports on the entire database system, which you can then put in a binder and give to your client or keep on your own shelf for future reference.

Third-Party Tools
The Analyzer, Visualizer, MetaDataMagic, and Brushfire are useful tools for documenting and analyzing scripts in ScriptMaker, and they include features for generating complete reports on all of the highly technical elements of a FileMaker database system.

FileMaker-Based Electronic Help Systems
Several FileMaker-based online help system builders can be quickly populated with instructions and explanations of how to operate your database system. They are intended to be integrated with your database system such that they are accessible by any user and provide context-sensitive help on any screen. They work much the same way as FileMaker Pro’s built-in help system, but are specific to your database system. Following are a few you may like.

ClickHelp from ClickWare is a simple, easy to integrate help system. Its interface is pleasant , and it allows you to offer users context sensitive help. You can also include screenshots with help topics.

CC Help
CC Help from Cleveland Consulting can be quickly integrated with any FileMaker database to provide context-sensitive help, and it’s probably the most versatile FileMaker-based help system available. You can download a free light version, but the enhanced version allows you to link images to help topics and link help topics to one another. (The latter works like the “More information” link at the bottom of FileMaker Pro help topics.) Here’s what CC Help will look like for your users:

Documenting Database Systems

CC Help gives you plenty of space to expound on any help topic, ensuring that users won’t need to scroll extensively to read your instructions. And the help topic list, detail of the selected topic, and even the built-in search feature all appear on the same layout so that you don’t have to keep switching back and forth.

Pro Help
Pro Help from Onegasoft is a great-looking FileMaker-based help system. Some killer features include the ability to include screenshots and even how-to movies. Also, it has a built-in search feature and the ability for users to bookmark the most useful help topics.

Printed or PDF User Manuals
Of course some clients want printed manuals for their users. If you need to produce printed manuals, consider starting with a template like Microsoft Word’s Manual template

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