You can now run FileMaker scripts using Apple’s Siri Shortcuts app on Macs, iPhones, and iPads, a promising move that makes more automation possible for some business users.
Shortcuts for FileMaker
Apple subsidiary Claris first introduced support for Shortcuts a couple of years ago in FileMaker Go, the mobile version of its venerable cross-platform relational database application. The company has now extended this support to Mac users with its very recent macOS Monterey update.
The introduction of this support means you can run FileMaker scripts just like any other Shortcut, including via Siri.
You do need to designate which of your scripts you want to “donate” to Shortcuts, after which you can use those scripts in routines that you design. You also need to assign privileges to those scripts to enable access to them. “You can then run a shortcut using the Shortcuts app or Siri voice commands to open the file, run your script, and pass in an optional parameter,” says FileMaker.
This support makes it possible for companies using FileMaker to build voice commands to enable some tasks. These could include automations, inventory updates, or simply a process launcher.
You can also integrate your donated FileMaker scripts within workflows of any other Shortcut-enabled application. (This video may help explain how this works on iOS, but make sure your devices aren’t listening for the ‘Hey Siri’ command the narrator uses way too often during the presentation.)
How would you use this?
How useful is this? Prosaic deployments will include the capacity to automatically open specific databases or send business cards while more sophisticated uses include the capacity to check customer orders, create reports, or get business-critical data. You may want to ask Siri how many orders your company received last week or yesterday or check the status of a specific order, for example.
These Shortcuts will proliferate across all the devices you use signed into a specific iCloud account. They don’t necessarily need to be activated by Siri, they can also be location- or proximity-based and appear as a button (or application icon) on the Mac desktop or Home screen.
I think this feature will work well along with the application’s support for Apple’s CoreML.
FileMaker developers can already use CoreML to add machine learning to apps. This makes it possible to achieve tasks such as object/face detection, image classification, text predictions and more. In conjunction with Shortcuts, it makes it possible to build automated inventory management systems leveraging cameras in iPads and iPhones, for example.
Why this matters
What’s most useful about this feature is that it is relatively accessible. While FileMaker Pro is complex, it’s not too complex, and many businesses worldwide use the app to support their work.
That’s because it is becoming a good example of a low-code solution that can be configured to meet real-world business tasks that can also scale up to deal with more complex demands. We know low-code and no-code environments will become increasingly popular across enterprise IT, particularly as demand for developers continues to grow. Reflecting this, Gartner claims the low/no-code market will be worth around $13.8 billion this year.
In part, this is because these kinds of options enable businesses to quickly build and deploy solutions to respond to changing needs without competing for (expensive) developer time. In part, relatively frictionless yet powerful development environments match the expectations of Millennials and Generation-Z employees. The idea is you scale up when you need to, but most routine tasks should be easy to automate.
“Globally, most large organizations will have adopted multiple low-code tools in some form by year-end 2021,” said Fabrizio Biscotti, research vice president at Gartner. “In the longer term, as companies embrace the tenets of a composable enterprise, they will turn to low-code technologies that support application innovation and integration.”
It is in this context that Claris’ move to embrace Apple’s Shortcuts tech matches emerging business needs. It also suggests that Shortcuts itself should evolve as a business-focused solution, serving more than primarily consumer needs.