Dyce & Sons Ltd.

Helping IT since 1993

Secure FM 5.0.4

Wednesday 14th February, 2001

One word that comes to mind when you use FileMaker is ‘empowerment’. It lets you get as close to the data as you want, and even someone who’s only been using it for half an hour can be creating, sorting, searching, and printing. Unfortunately, it’s just as easy for them to be deleting, editing, and replacing. The very openness of FileMaker, as far as solution developers are concerned, can also be one of its greatest weaknesses. You can, of course, set access privileges and passwords for individual files, but this approach is very rigid, and they can’t be altered programmatically. You can’t change user access as you go along.

Enter SecureFM, a plug-in that provides just the tweaks you need. By giving you script control over the application’s command interface, you can leave all the functionality turned on, but deny users access to that functionality via the menus.

This latest version adds new capabilities to what was already a standard plug-in in the developer’s arsenal. As well as being able to turn on and off individual menu items, you can now show and hide entire menus (the Window menu is a prime candidate for this as any developer will tell you). In addition, you can now disable the contextual menus and the new Microsoft lookalike Toolbars.

In use, the plug-in is straightforward, providing four external functions: Menu-Disable; Menu-Toolbar; Menu-Register; and Menu-SetStartup. Menu-Disable lets you specify which menus or menu items are to be disabled.

No strings attached

Although easy to understand, constructing parameter strings for various states of enabled or disabled menus would be painful. SecureFM comes with a Configurator file that lets you specify the states of the various menus and menu items, and save them as separate records. It also includes a number of predefined menu selections, offering a variety of useful menu set-ups. You simply have to copy the resulting strings into your scripts in order to turn off the various items as and when you need to.

Menu-Disable handles menu bar menus and contextual menus. Disabling a menu item also disables that menu item’s keyboard command. What’s more, if you disable a menu item for switching modes, this also disables the corresponding mode pop-up menu in the window.

Copy protection is an important element in SecureFM, and by default, you need to put in the registration details for the plug-in as soon as you fire it up. The SetStartup function allows you to save the current state of the menus (into a file called ‘SecureFM.ini’), and have them reinstated the next time FileMaker is fired up. This is a great way to dumb-down end-users' copies of FileMaker without having to add any scripting to your existing solutions. Simply set up the menus you want on one machine and then copy the SecureFM plug-in and the SecureFM.ini file into each user’s FileMaker Extension folder.

SecureFM is a good, easy-to-understand and simple-to-implement solution to end-user security issues. Even developers who only use it for turning the Window menu on and off will find it of enormous benefit. To make it a more rounded solution, it would be good if it somehow included the ability to control passwords and groups programmatically, although it’s difficult to see how this could be achieved. Of course, it would be better if FileMaker could include this sort of functionality within the product itself. Until then, SecureFM is definitely the way to go.


One word that comes to mind when you use FileMaker is ‘empowerment’. It lets you get as close to the data as you want

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Rating 4
Manufacturer New Millennium Communications
Pros Provides menu and menu items control + Simple to use
Cons Expensive for single user + No password control
Price 99.95
Originally Published MacUser, Volume: 17, Issue: 3, p31