TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Nov 01 Databases2

Volume Number: 17 (2001)
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: Databases

by Mark Shuchat-Marx

All in the Family: Relational Databases in FileMaker Pro 5

Apple's FileMaker Pro database has long been the standard to beat for the Mac world, much as Microsoft Access is the database standard for Windows. While many users keep records in FileMaker of video collections or recipes, it does have some considerably more advanced features, such as ODBC (stands for Open Database Connectivity, a standard cross-platform protocol for accessing data from SQL servers) and use of relationships. It is this second feature that we will examine here.

Relationships in databases have nothing to do with giving flowers or making a commitment. It has everything to do with how different database files share data with each other. Suppose that you are constructing an expense report database and you don't want to type in the employee's name, department number, and so on every time you create a new record. If you already have an existing employee database, you can set up a relationship between the two files that will keep the data organized for you. (For this example, we took the sample files "Personnel Records" and "Expense Report" included as part of the FileMaker installation.)

In the expense report file, go to the "Define Relationships" item in the File menu and create a relationship between the expense report and the personnel files, linking the related fields in the two databases. In this example, we linked the Employee ID fields from the two database files so that data in the expense report will be automatically filled in based on data in the personnel file. Why did we choose the Employee ID field? Because in this example that is the one field guaranteed to be unique for each and every person.

The second step is to set up the fields you want to be automatically filled in. In our example, we want FileMaker to automatically fill in the employee's first and last names whenever we enter in the Employee ID number. Go to "Define Fields" in the File menu and scroll down to the First Name and Last Name fields, then select First Name and press the Options button. Check off "Lookup" under the "Auto-Enter" tab, then press the Specify button.

Now select the relationship you created earlier, and you will see the fields from the personnel file. Select the "First Name" field, make sure the "Don't copy contents if empty" box is checked off, then press OK. Do the same for the Last Name field.

You are now ready to create records. Put a few sample records into the Personnel Records file, making sure each person has a unique Employee ID number. Now switch to the Expense Report file and create a new record, Put in an Employee ID number of the person for whom you want to fill out an expense report. And voilà, you will see that the person's first and last names are automatically entered into the form.

Another way to do this is simply to put a field from the related form onto the original. In our example, we put the First Name, Last Name and Title fields from Personnel Records (using the relationship created earlier) onto the Expense Report form directly. To do this, put the form into Layout mode, and then drag the "Field" item from the toolbar on the left side of the window to the desired location on the form. Select the desired field from the list that appears.

Once you select the field and it's placed on the form, you can manipulate it like any other field, changing the size, font, color, and so on. On your form, it looks like any other field from the original file, except that in layout mode, the field name begins with two colons (::)

Now go back into Browse mode and create a new record. Put in an existing Employee ID number from Personnel Records and you will see the fields you just placed populated with data from Personnel Records.

A third method of using a database relationship is to use a portal. This is a way of placing several instances of a field on a form. Suppose you want to create a travel record form to track travel records that groups take. Create a relationship between the travel file and the aforementioned Personnel Records file, then place a portal on the layout form. Once you are back in Browse mode, you can then use the portal to display multiple records from Personnel Records in a single travel record.

In a way, you can use the portal even in database files that are not related. In such files, this is called a repeating field, and is a way of containing a relational database within a single file. Suppose you're creating a database to keep track of your video collection and you want to put in a field to hold cast members. You can create a single text field and use commas to separate the stars' names (e.g., "Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains" and so on) or you can designate the field as a repeating field.

To do this, go into the "Define Fields" item in the File menu, select the field you want to repeat and press the Options button. Under the "Storage" tab, you'll see an option to turn on repeating fields, as well as the number of times you want the field repeated. Once you press OK, you'll see "Repeating" listed next to the field name under Options. [display "repeating field list" picture here]

Now, when you place the field on your form, it will look like any other field. But if you select the field and select "Field Format" from the Format menu (or control-click on the field and select "Field Format" from the contextual menu), you'll see an option to display anywhere from none to all of the field's repeats. You can also place the repetitions horizontally or vertically. This will let you enter data on multiple cast members within one field.

The ability to use relationships in linking databases together is one of FileMaker Pro's strongest features. With several ways to do it, you are sure to find a method that fits your requirements.

As of this writing, FileMaker Pro 5.5 has been introduced, and has replaced version 5 on the store shelf. The biggest change in 5.5 is that the program now comes in two versions: a Classic version for OS 8.1 or higher, and a Cocoa version for OS X. The Classic version requires a Power Mac with 32MB of RAM and running Mac OS 8.1-9.1. The Cocoa version requires an OS X-capable Power Mac G3 or G4 (upgrade cards are not supported) with 128MB of RAM and running Mac OS X.

The list price for a new copy of 5.5 is $249, with a price of $149 for registered owners of FileMaker 2.1 or later. More information, including downloadable demo copies of both Classic and Cocoa versions, is available at http://www.filemaker.com.


Mark Shuchat-Marx is a longtime Mac technician, consultant, and writer. He lives in the foothills of Albuquerque with his wife Jacqueline, their cats Gingie and Pyewacket, and a Power Mac G4 named Godzilla. You can reach him at marksm@mac.com.

 
AAPL
$101.58
Apple Inc.
+0.72
MSFT
$46.52
Microsoft Corpora
-0.24
GOOG
$584.77
Google Inc.
+4.82

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

iExplorer 3.5.0.0 - View and transfer al...
iExplorer is an iPhone browser for Mac lets you view the files on your iOS device. By using a drag and drop interface, you can quickly copy files and folders between your Mac and your iPhone or... Read more
BusyCal 2.6 - Powerful calendar app with...
BusyCal is an award-winning desktop calendar that combines personal productivity features for individuals with powerful calendar sharing capabilities for families and workgroups. BusyCal's unique... Read more
Apple iOS 8.0 - The latest version of Ap...
The latest version of iOS can be downloaded through iTunes. Apple iOS 8 comes with big updates to apps you use every day, like Messages and Photos. A whole new way to share content with your family.... Read more
Apple Digital Camera RAW Compatibility 5...
Apple Digital Camera RAW Compatibility update adds RAW image compatibility to Aperture 3 and iPhoto '11. For more information on supported RAW formats, see here.Version 5.07: Adds RAW camera... Read more
Transmit 4.4.7 - Excellent FTP/SFTP clie...
Transmit is an excellent FTP (file transfer protocol), SFTP, S3 (Amazon.com file hosting) and iDisk/WebDAV client that allows you to upload, download, and delete files over the internet. With the... Read more
Macgo Blu-ray Player 2.10.8.1715 - Blu-r...
Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can bring you the most unforgettable Blu-ray experience on your Mac. Overview Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can satisfy just about every need you could possibly have in a Blu-ray... Read more
Capture One Pro 8.0.0.433 - RAW workflow...
Capture One Pro 8 is a professional RAW converter offering you ultimate image quality with accurate colors and incredible detail from more than 300 high-end cameras -- straight out of the box. It... Read more
Adobe Acrobat Pro 11.0.09 - Powerful PDF...
Adobe Acrobat allows users to communicate and collaborate more effectively and securely. Unify a wide range of content in a single organized PDF Portfolio. Collaborate through electronic document... Read more
Adobe Reader 11.0.09 - View PDF document...
Adobe Reader allows users to view PDF documents. You may not know what a PDF file is, but you've probably come across one at some point. PDF files are used by companies and even the IRS to... Read more
iFFmpeg 4.6.1 - Convert multimedia files...
iFFmpeg is a graphical front-end for FFmpeg, a command-line tool used to convert multimedia files between formats. The command line instructions can be very hard to master/understand, so iFFmpeg does... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Paste+ | Clipboard Action Widget (Produ...
Paste+ | Clipboard Action Widget 1.0.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Productivity Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Powerful clipboard widget for iOS 8. Reimagine what you can do with your clipboard! Paste+ is a... | Read more »
Agenda+ | Calendar & Reminder Widget...
Agenda+ | Calendar & Reminder Widget 1.0.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Productivity Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Best Calendar and Reminder Widget Ever for iOS 8 | Read more »
Leg·end·ar·y (Games)
Leg·end·ar·y 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Simple and yet complex. Leg•end•dar•y is a grid-based puzzle game based on numbers. Discover the adventure of Leg•end•dar•y and... | Read more »
KuaiBoard (formerly QuickBoard) (Utilit...
KuaiBoard (formerly QuickBoard) 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: KuaiBoard is currently 50% off for launch! Billing info. Signatures. Locations. KuaiBoard allows you to... | Read more »
Treasure Fetch - Adventure Time (Games)
Treasure Fetch - Adventure Time 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Adventure Time Treasure Fetch is a fresh take on the classic Snake game! STRETCHY JAKE Snake your way... | Read more »
Light in the Dark (Games)
Light in the Dark 1.1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.1.0 (iTunes) Description: Be enlightened by this delightful puzzle game that has never before seen the light of day! "A physics and color-blending... | Read more »
Transmit iOS (Utilities)
Transmit iOS 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: >> LAUNCH SPECIAL: Transmit iOS is ONLY $10 for a LIMITED TIME. << THE #1 FILE TRANSFER CLIENT FOR THE MAC NOW... | Read more »
Minuum - The Little Keyboard for Big Fin...
Minuum - The Little Keyboard for Big Fingers 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Utilities Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Type faster, see more of your screen, and take control of autocorrect with Minuum: the little... | Read more »
TextExpander 3 + custom keyboard (Utili...
TextExpander 3 + custom keyboard 3.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $4.99, Version: 3.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Swype - Keyboard (Utilities)
Swype - Keyboard 1.0.1411 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $.99, Version: 1.0.1411 (iTunes) Description: Why type when you can Swype? One of the most requested apps for iPhone is finally here. "If Swype itself ever... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Toshiba Introduces TransMemory ID High-Speed...
Toshiba’s Digital Products Division (DPD), a division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., today introduced the TransMemory ID USB 3.0 Flash Drive, a simpler storage solution for people who... Read more
New iPads and OS X Yosemite Release Coming Oc...
The DailyDot’s Micah Singleton reports that Apple is planning to hold its next product announcement event on Oct. 21, at which it will unveil the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 and release a final build... Read more
Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Cross-Platfor...
Logitech has an enviable track record of making some of the best computer keyboards and mice. At least in my estimation, the best freestanding keyboards I’ve ever used have been Logitech units,... Read more
Roundup of Apple refurbished iPad Airs and iP...
Apple is offering Certified Refurbished iPad Airs for up to $140 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Stock tends to come and go with some of these... Read more
Sprint offers 16GB iPad mini for $199.99 with...
Sprint is offering 1st generation 16GB iPad minis for $199.99 with a 2-year service agreement. Standard MSRP for this iPad is $429. Their price is the lowest available for this model. Read more
2.5GHz Mac mini remains on sale for $549, sav...
B&H Photo has the 2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549.99 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software. NY sales tax only. Read more
Apple refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $300 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. These are the best prices on... Read more
13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro offered for $100 off M...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Free GIMP Professional Grade Graphics App Ver...
The latest 2.8.14 version of the oddly-named GIMP (acronym for: GNU Image Manipulation Program) open source, high-end image editing and creation alternative to Adobe’s Photoshop and refuge from... Read more
Apple Announces Record Pre-orders for iPhone...
Apple has released metrics showing a record number of first day pre-orders of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, with over four million sold in the first 24 hours. Demand for the new iPhones exceeds the... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.