A READER ASKS: Misbehaving FileMaker Calculations

From Dwayne Wright PMP, PMI-ACP, CSM
Certified FileMaker Developer

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Sometimes an employees’ total number of hours worked is calculated wrong. It’s a simple adding calculation, so I’m at a loss as to how it could be getting confused. Do you have any insight? What would we need to know in order to resolve the issue?

I wish I could hand out a “silver bullet” to slay monsters such as this when the arise. Unfortunately, you have to put on your detective hat and ask a lot of questions.

Generally I start off with ... is the calculation using related information? If the related information isn’t committed, then a calculation may not show up accurately. In the past, I’ve seen some conditions where related data doesn’t refresh a calculation properly (but not so much with the current versions of FileMaker).

In the same neighborhood, if the calculation is using related values, your relationships might be the culprit. Remember that you may have to take the context of the layout and the calculation into consideration when dealing with calculations that have related values within them.

Bad or incomplete data entry can be another contributing factor. In this case, data entry validation in key areas might help keep your foundation data intact.

Mixing data that is in different formats can sometimes hurt you. I’ve seen cases where data is saved in one format (text, number, date, time) and the calculation is in another format. This mix and match situations can cause problems.

Hope this helps!

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