The Data Viewer Watch Tab Explored

Watch Tab

CATEGORY: Working With FileMaker
CLASS: Advanced Design
VERSION: All Current Versions

The Data Viewer is a feature available to FileMaker Advanced users and it has two different tabs within its interface window. The first tab in the Data View interface window is the Current tab and the second tab in the Data View interface window is the Watch tab.

The Watch Tab in the Data Viewer interface window allows you to configure what fields, calculations or variables you want to see the data results for. Setting up the watched items is accomplished via a set of buttons in the lower right corner of the Data Viewer window. These include Add New, Duplicate Existing, Edit Existing and Delete Existing listed watched values.

Clicking to add a new watched value will bring up the slightly modified version of the classic Specify Calculation dialog box in which you can simply add a field, add an existing variable or add a calculation. The modifications to this version of the Specify Calculation dialog box include a Result area, an Evaluate Now button and a Monitor button. The Evaluate Now button will take the expression you entered and show it in the Result area. The Monitor button is basically the same as the traditional OK button and simply adds that defined expression to the Watch list.

FYI... The Data Viewer is a great way to see how a calculation will perform before you go to the trouble of adding it to your FileMaker solution (in a field, in a script, in a custom function, etc...).

Along the bottom left area of the Watch tab is a button to refresh the values that are shown by all the expressions you are watching. This can be handy when monitoring unstored values like Get functions, Design functions or related values.

The Watch tab has two columns for viewing the particulars of the watched items. The column names are Expression and Value and you can sort your watched values by clicking on the columns themselves. To the right of the column names, you can see the classic sort button to change the sorted option for that column to be in ascending or descending order. You can even have a custom order by manually dragging a listed item up or down by the dual arrow button listed to the left of the listed item.

Now the Watch tab is not exclusive to a particular FileMaker file and doesn’t reset itself when you quit out of FileMaker. Both of these default behaviors are good things but you can see watched values from files you don’t currently have open because you were watching them in the past. So expressions you have added to the Watch tab are going to be there until you manually delete them via the trash icon button in the lower right corner of the Watch tab.

In active development of a FileMaker solution, a developer may be testing how the database responds from a lower security level. In a case like this, the Data Viewer may not show its secrets because that security level does not have that access. In a case such as this, the developer can click an authentication button and enter in the full access account name and password. This is how you tell FileMaker, “I’m not a lower level user but playing that part for this current session.”.

Here are some links to other posts that might be of interest in regards to this topic...
The FileMaker Data Viewer
Data Viewer
Test A Calculation By Creating An Example File / Data Viewer
Break Long And Complex Calculations Into Smaller Pieces

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