Menu system and Security Features

Navigation Menus are Displayed in Portals

Someone asked me recently:

ebase seems to be very complex to me... can you briefly tell me again, why you would want to use a portal for navigation?

Ebase v. 2 was developed before FileMaker offered its "custom menus" features, yet there was demand already for the ability to customize the navigation menus on each page for two reasons: tailoring ebase to individual preferences & needs, and to implement data security features. ebase v. 2 has 5 privilege groups, and each user account belong to one of these groups. Each group has configurable access to the navigation menus, so you can enable or disable access to ebase data and features (by enabling or disabling navigation menu choices) uniquely for each group.

The same dynamic menu display features can be used to provide a greatly simplified ebase interface, tailored to the specific needs of users with only a few tasks to accomplish in ebase. This approach can greatly reduce training time and also reduce the number of user errors. I don't know that anyone's doing it, but these features would also support implementation of a separate set of menus in another language.

Displaying menus in a portal makes all this possible: as each ebase screen is drawn, FileMaker displays only those menu choices that are enabled for the current user in the current context. All other options are not displayed in the portal, and so they both don't appear and cannot be clicked.

If there's an ebase v. 3 some day, I expect it'll use FileMaker's custom menu features since these permit an essentially unlimited number of menu choices and privilege groups, but then the ebase menus will be in FileMaker's menu bar at the top of the window, not in a sidebar in the ebase window...  and I think this will result in a poorer user experience. People seem to like having left-side navigation menus, both on the web and in ebase!