Thank you, Bruce Robertson

I don’t know Bruce Robertson. I have met him once and chatted for a couple of minutes but I don’t know him. Probably a lot of people reading this won’t know him either.

But what I do know, along with a large number of people in the FileMaker™ community, is that we all owe Bruce an incredible debt, not only for his continuous contributions to the community itself but for creating the technique known as Virtual List (VL).

VL has made the impossible possible.

The ingredients for VL are simple:

Add 1 VL table with about 1000 records
Add 1 index field to get the record number of each record
Add 1 global variable for each piece of information you want to write
Add 1 calculated field, for each global variable, to extract the value of each row
Add lots of carriage returns (¶)
Add 1 printable layout (or a portal) to display the results

Now while the ingredients themselves are simple, using it does require some skill but it has become an indispensable tool for professional developers and there are dozens, perhaps, hundreds of ways that it is, and can be, used.

The first time I ever used it was to create a complex quote for a company that manufactures and sells conveyors. The requirements were so complex that I knew there was no way, natively, within FileMaker™ to produce it. VL to the rescue. Wow and wow again! Now while the script itself took 7 or 8 hours to write and get right, I was then able to duplicate it and change minor things to generate every single document required. I don’t think it is all that much of an exaggeration to say that VL is a huge part of the growth of that company (it has tripled in business with no extra staff).

Now the reason that I’m writing this post is to tell all of you that Bruce gave this technique to the community; we’ve all benefited from it enormously and FileMaker Inc. itself has also benefited because FileMaker™ can do powerful things that were previously impossible.

Bruce has never, to the best of my knowledge, made anything from this amazing technique and I think it is time we, as a community, changed that. So I’ve started a GoFundMe campaign.

and have donated the equivalent of one hour of my billable time and I’m asking the community; individual developers, FileMaker™ consulting firms and even FileMaker Inc. itself, to contribute to this campaign and say thank you to an unsung hero.

As I write this, contributions are coming in and we’re already up to $500. There’s a target of $5000 but I’d like to see it get to a couple of times that. If everybody who reads this donates the equivalent of one hour of their billable time, we’ll make it in a heartbeat. But, whatever amount you feel able to donate, will also be great.

Now, before you ignore this request and move onto something else, if you use VL, just think of the enormous # of hours that it has saved you, personally or collectively and show your thanks.

Thanks in advance

Michael Rocharde

One Response to “Thank you, Bruce Robertson”

  1. Bill LeDrew says:

    I think I’ve known Bruce for about as long as I’ve known anyone in the Filemaker community. He has always been quick to respond for requests for help. I’m pretty much retired now, but I still read his posts to see what I can learn.

    Thank you Bruce for your generosity. Bill

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