We are hard at work developing LCFM Native here in Edinburgh. It’s an exciting and engaging process, requiring the very best of our talented development team. The core of our compiler architecture is complete, which means that we are racing through adding features. New capabilities are coming to the compiler literally every day. We’re now able to give you a broad road map of what to expect at each phase of the beta process. I’ll be able to update you with a new blog post every week now as we move through the beta stages.
In the meantime, we need your help. At the time of posting we are at Stage 1 and we need as many of your solutions to test with as possible. We’ll send out some basic functioning Android App APKs at the end of Stage 1, which will be the first moment that there is something to try out yourself! Read on and I’ll outline what you can expect at each Stage over the next few weeks.
Stage 0 – Analysis of the FileMaker Data Model, Script Functions, Script Steps, UI Objects, Layout Modes, Data API, DDR Parser, Automated Layout Extraction Tool, Abstract Representation Format, Compiler Architecture, LiveCode Data Model, Basic Call out from FileMaker to LiveCode to add LiveCode Functions, Compilation of Initial Solutions, Native App Builder for Android and Mac
Stage 0 is by far the largest and hardest stage … and this has been completed.
Stage 1 – Layout Objects, Script Functions, Core Script Steps, Browse Mode, Form and List View, Always Online Data Connection, Initial APK Builds
We’re currently working our way through the first stage. The goal is to ensure all solutions that we have go through the compiler and come out at the other end with a) no error message that prevents compilation and b) a report of what works and what doesn’t.
We’re finishing support for all of FileMaker’s main UI elements in this phase. We’re running each solution we have through the compiler and creating coverage reports so we can prioritize the next few steps.
Core Script Steps for this stage are Variable manipulation and control flow, FoundSet and Record Manipulation.
In this stage the app will need work in “Always Online”, i.e. it will need a Connection to FMS to work.
At the end of this stage we’ll send out a basic Android App (APK) to anyone who has sent us their solution. These first APKs are not going to cover the whole feature set, but this will be your (world!) first opportunity to at least see your solution running on an Android device.
If you want to get involved and send us your solution, please see the “How You Can Help” section below.
Stage 2 – Beta Tool to Download
Once we enter stage 2 we’ll have got to the point where all the solutions we have in our test framework compile, we have the UI elements covered and a lot of the core scripting functionality working. At this point we will provide the first download of the compiler for you to try out yourself.
Stage 3 – Simple Offline Mode (saves changes to replay when data connection is there), Majority of Script Steps, Find Mode. Native App Builder for iOS
The next stage will be to increase coverage of FileMaker’s script steps. We’ll be aiming for almost 100% coverage by the end of this stage. We will also add the basic ability for an app to continue functioning without an Internet connection and to wait for a connection to send back any changes. This is a prelude to the more extensive syncing capabilities that will come in stage 5.
Stage 4 – Multi-File Support, Fully Offline mode, Table View. Native App Builder for Windows.
Once solutions are compiling with 100% coverage, we’ll look to expand the compiler capabilities to support multiple files. At present due to various technical complexities we can only compile single file solutions. We will also add support for working fully while offline.
Stage 5 – Mixed Data Mode (Offline with Sync when connection); Remainder of Script Steps, Full LiveCode Capability Integration. Native App Builder for Linux.
This final stage is where we add the other sync mode options, including various custom modes that let you select who has priority in the event of a conflict, when to sync, and so forth. We will also complete any remaining less frequently used script steps. This is the final step once all the other modes are up and running.
How You Can Help
If you’re keen to get started, we are now accepting solutions for stage 1. The benefit to us in receiving your solution now is to have a large enough test base to ensure that our compiler can work with all FileMaker solutions. The benefit to you is that the sooner we have your solution in the queue, the sooner we can sort out the specific functionality that your solution uses. It will take a little while to go through the stages and ensure we have 100% coverage of everything in FileMaker. It is a case of first come first served, so if you want your solution functionality and specific script steps completed sooner then get it to us right away!
Additionally, if your solution is straightforward you may well find that LCFM Native fully meets your needs before we get to the final Stage 5. We’ll recommend that you test very carefully on an actual device. However we do anticipate that simpler solutions will be ready sooner and if yours is ready and you’re in a hurry, you can purchase a seat pack and deploy at any point – even during the beta program.
If you’re a backer of our LCFM Native Campaign, then all you need to do now is send us your solution to be included in Stage 1. If you would like to protect your work then feel free to fill out our non-disclosure agreement here before you send it. You can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org either as an attachment to an email if it is small, or for anything over about 5mb, send us a link to download the solution. If you’ve already sent us your solution then there is nothing you need to do today. You are already at the top of the priority queue and we are testing using your solution.
We estimate the very first Android APKs for you to try out should come out towards the end of Stage 1, i.e. within the next couple of weeks or so. Remember that there will still be missing functionality, but it will be a first opportunity to at least see your solution on an Android device.
During beta we have special pricing. You need to buy the compiler for $499/year. This includes your first 5 seat deployment pack. After that we have seat packs that cost between $6/user/month (for low volume user packs of unnamed users) right down to as little as $2/user/month in volume (for large high volume seat packs of named users). (We will honor our initial estimated published pricing for all campaign backers.) All seat packs are billed annually in advance. If your needs grow you can purchase additional seat packs at any point, these are also billed annually in advance. To get a quote for your specific case please get in touch.
After the beta ends the price will rise significantly. We still haven’t determined the final pricing, however it will be a function of the volume we get during initial adoption.
So – to get your solution into our testing program early, to ensure compatibility of your solution early, and to get the very best pricing, get on board today. Again, it’s first come, first served in terms of ensuring your solution is fully compatible with the compiler. Send us your solution now and we’ll have something for you to see in the next couple of weeks!