FileMaker Portal Row Highlighting, Column Sorting & Record Creation Reminders

From Dwayne Wright PMP
Certified FileMaker Developer

TWITTER: dwaynewright
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Here are some quick portal row comments that came up during a virtual one on one session with a client. Looking down at the notes I took, I thought I’d jot them down quickly and post them.

It is important to remember that to create related records in a portal, the child matching key field needs to be able to accept new data strings and the relationship needs to include the operators of =, ≥ or ≤ . Basically, they need to be equal to match criteria in order to be created reliably.


There isn’t a checkbox in the portal setup dialog to allow the current portal row that the user is within to standout visually. This can be accomplished using your FileMaker design skills and there are dozens of examples of different methods on the internet. You can do a google search for “highlight portal row” and you can find these diverse postings. Unless I see a compelling reason to do so, I don’t actively include this feature in my solutions. However, I know of many developers that will add portal highlighting logic to every portal they release for public consumption. For the most part, developers are using some form of conditional formatting to achieve this effect and so all the normal precautions about conditional formatting apply.


The setting for the sort order for a portal will override the sort setting for the relationship. Any level of automatic portal sorting could have a performance effect on how quickly records load. Your mileage may vary depending on many factors and there are many discussions on this topic that can be found on the internet.

This is another technique I rarely include in my solutions and there are dozens of sites out there that have different ways of achieving this feature. You can do a google search for “FileMaker portal row sorting” and you can find these diverse postings from the developer community. There is one that I'm a big fan of called "FileMaker Portal Sorting That Doesn't Suck" by Tom Fitch. It is my "go to" technique (or a variation thereof) whenever a product owner wants to have the ability to manually select different portal sorting options.

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