Troi Activator 1.1
Wednesday 28th March, 2001
Dutch developer Troi Automatisering has done it again with another excellent plug-in, Troi Activator 1.1. This cross-platform tool provides external FileMaker functions for scheduled and network scripting. Basically, you can get FileMaker to do stuff without the user interacting with their copy of FileMaker.
There are two ways to make use of the Activator plug-in. First, you can tell it to run a script in advance, say two minutes into the future, next week or next Christmas. Second, you can have a copy of FileMaker running on one machine and tell another copy of FileMaker running on a different machine to execute a script.
Activator achieves this by providing FileMaker with simple event-handling capabilities. The concept of event handling should be familiar to anyone who’s written some AppleScript: an ‘event’ or message is handed to an application, which performs some function based on the type of message and any parameters that get passed along. Activator simplifies things: the only response to an event is to run a script - each Activator event that the plug-in (and therefore FileMaker) receives includes a file name and the script name.
As well as receiving, Activator can send two types of events. The first is a scheduled event. A simple call to the ‘Actr-ScheduleEvent’ function lets you schedule a script, specified by name and file name, to run at a certain date and time in the future. As well as the ‘when’, you can also specify two user-defined parameters along with the event - an ID and a piece of text - which you’re free to use as you like. When Activator ‘receives’ an event, you can get these two bits of information using the ‘Actr-GetEventInfo’ function. This is great for creating reminder applications or for simulating an ‘on idle’ type script - which runs every 10 minutes and then reschedules itself to run 10 minutes later.
In the event
The real magic is that Activator allows you to send and receive events across a network. The first thing to note is that Network events are sent via TCP/IP (yes, it will work over an Internet connection), so you need to know the IP address of the machine you want to talk to. One of the external functions Activator provides lets you get hold of the IP address of the machine you’re currently on. It’s therefore straightforward to maintain a shared database of all the IP addresses of other applications on your network.
To receive events, the client copy of FileMaker is given a security code and is told to listen at a certain port, so as well as an IP address you’ll also need to know a port address and the same security code. Once all these are in place, you can send network events, in a similar fashion to scheduled events, to another machine on the network, requesting that it runs a named script in a named file. Again, you can provide a user-defined ID and text message.
And if all that wasn’t enough, Activator has one last trick up its sleeve: if you’re running on a Mac, you can put the machine to sleep and have it wake up at a scheduled time.
Thankfully, the documentation is back up to the high standards of other Troi plug-ins, including demo files and a 57-page PDF file.
As you’d expect, Activator will run under both FileMaker Pro 4 and 5 on Mac OS, but needs version 5 to run under Windows 95+.
At some point, developers may question the increasing cost of plug-ins such as these, but, although it’s expensive, Troi Activator’s power justifies the cost.
Dutch developer Troi Automatisering has done it again with another excellent plug-in.
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|Pros||Allows scheduled and network events + Works over the Internet + Straightforward syntax|
|Originally Published||MacUser, Volume: 17, Issue: 06, p41|