FileMaker 8.5 Book Update

FileMaker 7 is so radically different I expect best practices and optimum procedures will continue to emerge over the next year. As I write this in August , 2004, developers are furiously discussing how to best use the new tools we've been given. I've done my best to test and explain everything I've learned about it over the past year and a half and include it in the book. But we'll really begin to understand what we're dealing with once we start building projects for our customers. That's why I'm adding this area to my web site where I'll post new information as well as clarifications and corrections to items in the book. If you make discoveries on your own that you think others might benefit from, e-mail me at the address below and I'll try to include them.

Click here to go to the book corrections

Click here to go to the book


Number of Open Files

Even though there may be limits to the number of files open at one time with FileMaker Pro Server, the number of files you personally can have open is at this time unlimited. Some developers report having as many as 125 files open at one time with no problems.


Self-joins the easy way

by Jonathan Mickelson

When using the Relationships Graph to define a New Table Occurrence, you can do it graphically instead of using the "Add New" Button at the bottom left of the dialog.

For Example: Imagine you have a data table defined, and it has a few fields, perhaps Name_First and Name_Last. Now you want a new table occurrence just to display some info from this table in a new way, for instance, people with the same last name.

Rather than defining this manually. Just grab the field Name_Last, from the existing single table and drag it off the table as if you were going to link it with another table. Now drag it back to the same table you pulled it from, to the field you want, in this case the same field, Name_Last.

You will be prompted with a FMP dialog stating "Add Relationship: To create this self-join relationship, another occurrence of the same table must be added to the graph. Name of Occurrence:" and a field that has a value of your existing table with a "2" added to it. Change this to the name you 'really' wanted and you are all set.


Getting to the Join in a complex graph

by Jonathan Stars

When the relationships graph gets hopelessly complex, it can be very difficult to double-click on the join sign between Table Occurrences (TOs). I'm talking specifically about where you have one TO that has many, many other TOs attached to it. Of course you can move one of the TOs off to the side until you can see the join. But that can mess up a carefully aligned and organized graph. Try this instead:

Click on the TO with the fewest TOs attached. Now click the arrow key (left or right) that goes in the direction of the TO that has all the complex connections. Mac users type Command + O (the letter O, not the number) and Windows users type Control + O to "Open" the relationship. If you have organized your graph using the Anchor-Buoy standard, this method will always work.


Getting Around Your Database

by Jonathan Stars

Now that we have the ability to have multiple tables in one file, it increases the number of layouts and scripts in one file. (Yes, it often reduces the total number of scripts compared to the old multiple file system.) So how do you get around? In ScriptMaker and Layout mode, you can get around by typing the first few letters or digits of the name of the item. Now if you were to use the naming conventions I suggest on page 485 of the book, typing a number would make this a snap.

Say your scripts are organized by number. You were just in Layout mode and double-clicked a button to find out it triggers script 223 - Find Invoices. Exit to ScriptMaker and type "223." You're instantly transported to the script! If instead you organize your scripts by categories (BUTTONS, REPORTS, etc.), type "BU" and you'll be looking at the first script that begins with those letters.

The same works with layouts. I have to admit, I have found it more difficult to keep layouts organized by number. Especially now that it's recommended that a layout name should include the Table Occurrence name as well as the layout function. The darn layout names get pretty long. And eventually I need to reorganize the layouts - reordering them, deleting some, adding others - until a layout number preceding the layout name may not be accurate. But remember, with all these tables in one file, layout lists can get pretty unwieldy. I've found it particularly frustrating on the Windows platform because the layout list scrolls so slowly. There's gotta be a better way.

If each layout is preceded by a unique number, you can get to the layout in a snap. Click the pop-up above the book to reveal the layout list. Then type the unique layout number and you're there. No muss, no fuss. If you're dead set against layout numbers, you can organize the layouts by keeping them organized based on the TO they refer to. As long as all CONTACT and INVOICE layouts are grouped together, you can at least get to the first layout that begins with "CO" or "IN" by simply typing those letters.


Consolidating Multiple Files into Multiple Tables

by Jonathan Stars

This needs to be an article by itself. It's the step-by-step I wrote for GRPD.


This by Thord Herzberg

1. First, create the layouts in the new file. Leave them empty for now.

2. Create the necessary TOs and name them the same as the relations in your old files.

3. Import scripts.

4. Copy over layout elements from the old file to the new one (If you do not prefer to build the interface from ground up).


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