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This is a reprint from MacUser's review. The original can be found here.

By Richard Dyce

Verdict: For serious FileMaker developers, Troi plug-ins are still as necessary as ever.

It's been a while since we last reviewed any of Troi's plug-ins. During this hiatus, FileMaker has moved to the new version 7 file format and changed both the plug-in API and the way in which the user or developer interacts with plug-ins. Internally, the application has also seen functionality improvements (custom functions, calendar pickers for dates, the web viewer), which might leave you wondering if third-party plug-ins are the still relevant in FileMaker 8.5.

Despite the numerous improvements in FileMaker Pro 8.5, developers still need some holes to be filled. One clear example is getting FileMaker to interact with external files. It's now possible to export the contents of a single field, import photos from a digital camera, and import and export data to specified files. However, simple copying, moving and deleting files and folders is beyond native FileMaker. With 54 functions in its armoury, Troi's File plug-in provides these basic file manipulation tools, plus a few useful advanced ones: functions for mounting disks, search and listing directories, file-based search and replace and grabbing a thumbnail from a graphics file.

If you want to provide more than just the standard dialog provided by the FMPro Show Dialog script step, chances are the Troi Dialog plug-in is still your best bet. With a few function calls, you can create standard dialogs with as many as nine labelled fields, each field specified as either a text, pop-up, password or checkbox field. You can show progress indicators, flash dialogs, list dialogs and password dialogs. You can specify their physical size and position, as well as the title and custom icons. You can also dismiss dialogs with the esc key. They can be pre-populated with existing data and your scripts can even pre-select a specific item from a List dialog. Version 4.5.1 adds a new dialog type: the Big Input dialog is a text input dialog that allows you to enter up to 64,000 characters of text. Usefully, the List dialog has been tweaked, so it's now possible to select an item via initial letters on the keyboard. There are a couple of criticisms: you still can't seem to select multiple items from the List dialog, and there's no support for radio buttons.

Also getting a spring clean are Troi Activator, and Troi URL. Troi Activator lets you trigger scripts to run at a specified date and time, or when exiting a record or field. You can trigger scripts on remote machines; triggers sent to other machines can also include a user ID and a custom text parameter, making it easy to pass data between machines. Remote triggering is done via TCP/IP, which means you can do it over the Internet. And if Internet interaction is your bag, then you need to look at Troi URL. Although it's a small plug-in with just 10 functions, it lets you Get and Post data to web servers, bypassing a browser. It handles both http and https served pages, as well as pages fetched via a proxy.

The latest versions of these plug-ins are both 8.5 compatible and Universal. More importantly, for existing users of older Troi plug-ins, 8.5 compatibility means they're using the version 7 plug-in API. If you're used to the version 6 model, where external functions can take just one text parameter, you'll know that the multiple parameters needed by some Troi functions meant you had to get creative with delimiting '|' characters. The new API means plug-ins can now take multiple, named parameters, so external plug-ins are much easier to use. Thankfully, some things haven't changed. Each Troi plug-in comes with excellent documentation and a set of example databases. For serious FileMaker developers, Troi plug-ins are still as necessary as ever.

Ratings (number of mice out of 5):

Troi URL 2.0b1 3 Mice
Troi File 3.5.1 4 Mice
Troi Activator 2.5.1 3 Mice
Troi Dialog 4.5.1 4 Mice