I recently gave a presentation for a joint meeting of the New York FileMaker Developers Group and the CocoaHeads NYC Group. It was a demonstration on how to submit web forms using the POST method from within FileMaker Pro using the open source command line tool cURL (comes pre-installed in Mac OS X).
FileMaker has the ability to load web pages into a “web-viewer” and can thus be used to programmatically load search results using web forms that submit via the GET method, where the search terms are embedded in the URL of the results page. A developer only needs to create a URL that includes the search terms and set the web-viewer to display that URL. However, many useful sites use the POST method, where the search terms and other parameters are sent in a separate HTTP header, rather than directly in the URL request.
The command line tool cURL has many options for accessing data via HTTP, FTP, and much more, including the ability to programmatically submit form data via POST. So, FileMaker can run an AppleScript command that calls cURL by using the AppleScript command “do shell script.”
A completely unlocked copy of the demo file I used in my presentation is now available online: Web Form POST Demo. Please note that it leverages features of Mac OS X, and thus will not work as-is for the Windows version of FileMaker. There are alternative plugins that can be used to perform similar operations for Windows.
Is Apple ashamed of the iPad’s lack of Adobe Flash? Far from it, they seem to be proud to be the ones who are working to kill Flash and move websites to open standards like HTML5.
I found it amusing to read commentary that suggested that Steve Jobs accidentally revealed the iPad’s lack of the Adobe Flash plugin when he viewed the NY Times website during his web browsing demo. For example, a post on Geek.com says that “a missing plug-in message spoiled Jobs’ presentation for a moment but he quickly navigated away.” That is not true. It shows several times during his demo of web browsing on the iPad. In fact, if you scan to time mark 0:13:57 in the released video of the iPad special event, Steve Jobs actually zooms and and makes the “broken plugin” fill most of the display.These seem to be deliberate. It is clear that Apple views Flash as a terrible format. It is not an open standard for information, Adobe controls it, it wastes a lot of battery life, and it slows down other functions by overusing the CPU.
It seemed to me that Jobs was taunting Adobe and the abomination that is Flash. For years we’ve needed someone with the will and the strength of position to kill Flash. Apple has both. The iPhone doesn’t do Flash and never will. Same for the iPad. Eventually, websites that want to continue reaching many people with disposable income will start using HTML5 and other standards instead of proprietary junk that kills batteries. If the iPad used Flash, that 10 hour battery life probably drops to 2 hours. Apple would be making a big mistake to put Flash in it.
For an insightful commentary on how Apple seems to view Adobe Flash technology, read John Gruber’s post Apple, Adobe, and Flash at DaringFireball.net.