Old can be made new again. Last year we performed a FileMaker Pro solution update, replaced an ancient solution with one rebuilt from the ground-up. The client, a 24-hour club located in Vancouver, wanted us to reproduce the old layout to minimize confusing changes that might’ve occurred with a redesign. That could’ve meant keeping the design consistent, but ugh, the design! And consistency for consistency-sake makes no sense when an improved UX takes only minutes to learn and permanently improves efficiency and ease-of-use. So we, ahem, adjusted the layout somewhat.

Want to see what we did?

Before: Solution in FileMaker 5.5

The software ran on a Windows NT server, with a Windows 7 client. Older versions of FileMaker Pro run happily on most Windows versions, one advantage over the Mac (FM15 and lower won’t run on macOS Mojave).

Here’s the old Activity screen:

FileMaker old solution activity screen

After: Solution Rebuilt in FileMaker 17

The new design speaks for itself. This was one of those “anything would be better” scenarios, but we went above and beyond to make something both usable and attractive. Client was thrilled. Incidentally, they ditched the Windows setup and run the new solution on a 21″ iMac with the layout set at double-resolution to fill the screen. We managed to incorporate both the existing barcode scanner and Star Micronics printer.

Here’s the new activity screen:

New FileMaker Pro solution Activity screen

iPad Cash Out Sheet Automation

We did more than that. Shift changes happen immediately; the employee signing off must surrender the computer to the next operator, which meant staff were forced to enter cash counts on paper for later entry:

We replaced that with an iPad running FileMaker Go and wirelessly connected to the iMac using FileMaker’s peer-to-peer sharing. When a staff member cashes out, they fill in this form on the iPad, and the data goes straight into the solution:

FileMaker Solution cashout iPad screen

Data to QuickBooks

Previously the manager would hand-enter the sheet data into an Excel document, then email it to the bookkeeper, who would key the data manually into QuickBooks. We created a system that weekly generates a QuickBooks-importable Excel document with all the entries. The system automatically emails it to the bookkeeper, who simply imports it, reducing errors, labour, and costs.

Adapting with Innovations

Incidentally, a transaction requires a barcode – the solution prevents a user from exiting the field without it. Naturally, conditions can arise in which a code can’t be scanned, yet the employee must continue. What to do? We created a special a code they can type in the field to escape and move on to the next transaction:

Barcode escape message: "helpstuck"

Additional Features

After completing the original specification, the client asked for more time- and labour-saving functions. We delivered automated reports, plus payroll data using login and logout times for employees. The club runs 24-hours per day, 7 days per week, and so does our cool, new, rebuilt-from-scratch solution.