Objects, Properties, and Methods - File Maker

The functionality of ActiveX automation is based around the object (often referred to as a component or class in object-oriented programming languages).

An object is nothing more than a self contained chunk of code that represents a certain type of “thing” within an application. (An object can even be the application, as you’ll see soon enough.)

For instance, in the FileMaker ActiveX implementation, you can work with three types of objects: the Application object, the Documents collection object, and the Document object. By calling any of these objects from an external application, tasks can be performed in your database system, ranging from the simple (retrieving the FileMaker Pro application’s version number to opening a specific FileMaker Pro database) to the complex (launching a script within it to find and export customer sales data, closing the database, and then importing and graphing that data in Microsoft Excel). The idea of objects is to make programming easy, allowing you to use and reuse objects within your applications, thereby minimizing the amount of code you need to write from scratch.

Every object you’ll encounter on those many late night database development journeys will have at least a few properties (aspects or traits of the object that determine its behavior) associated with it. Some properties are read-only (like the Version property of the FileMaker application object; you can’t change the version number of your application, only FileMaker, Inc. can do that!), while others permit read-write, allowing you to set the value of that property. For -instance, in FileMaker, the Application object has a Visible property that can be set to true or false, making the FileMaker application window visible or not within Windows.

If a given object property does permit read and write functionality, then that object’s property can be set at design time, when you are developing and programming your solution. It can also sometimes be set programmatically, at runtime, when the database is running and being used. This flexibility allows your database system to be user-modifiable at runtime.

Most objects also have one or more methods associated with them. Methods can be thought of as code that does something with, or to, an object. So instead of having to write custom code, you can use an object’s method to make it do something like open or close a database or run a script. In short, methods are called to make an object do something.

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