Richard S. Russell designs FileMaker Pro databases pro bono for various worthy causes in the Madison, Wisconsin, area. Not wanting to be wasteful, he shamelessly reuses file structures, field names, layouts, scripts, and sometimes entire files from one installation to the next.

Occasionally he will revise a particular way of doing business within his databases and want to propagate it across all the places where it occurs. This involves over two dozen different non-profits and small businesses, so needless to say not all of them get the update at the same time — some of them not until literally years later. This raises the issue of how best to communicate the nature of the changes to the people who have to use them when they're installed.

You may have heard it said that, when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. That was the case here, as well, as Richard's first instinct was to create a FileMaker Pro database called "News" and link to it from the master database at every location, updating "News" as necessary when changes were made to that database system. And he tried it and discovered that, while it's possible to drive in a nail with a pipe wrench, it's really better to get the right tool for the job. Let's hope this blog is it.

The intention is to have a separate posting under "News" for each significant change to Richard's standard database conventions (color coding, startup scripts, layout order, button names, etc.) and to refer clients to the appropriate one via e-mail after it materializes at their shop. Of course, there's absolutely no reason why you can't scope out the other listings here as well as the one you've just learned about.

We'll see how this works. Feel free to contact me with any suggestions.

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