The Silent Report Helper - The FileMaker Value List

From Dwayne Wright PMP
Certified FileMaker Developer

TWITTER: dwaynewright
YOUTUBE: FileMakerThoughts

Value lists allow you to setup a field to have a list of entry options for the database user. These selection lists are very helpful with users doing data entry or performing a search. Value lists are one of the most powerful methods of adding data to a database quickly without the risk of mistyped information. That is the key benefit for reporting, without the risk of mistyped information. Many times when you run a report, you might see bad data such as a state field being typed in as Illinois, IL or even Illinios (a typo). If these data entry mistakes are a common occurrence in your reports, you may want to find where that problem data is typed in and associate it with a value list.You can even setup field validation by using value list information. To do this from your field validation dialog box, you simply click the check box next to the words "Member of Value List" and then pick from the value list pull down menu. If the value list is not there, you can create one on the fly by choosing the Define Value Lists selection at the bottom of that list. You can even edit an existing value list the same way. A common way this could be used is for area codes, states, credit card types or job titles.

To add even more power and flexibility to this validation option, a value list can be composed of data within a field. This makes the list dynamic and can be updated constantly. The field used for the value list can even be filtered by a relationship. That is to say, the value list is only made up of data in a field only for the records that match a relationship setting!

So value lists can be great for quick data entry and validation of data in a field, is that it for their advantages in reporting. No, not at all! Most reports have their data sorted in order to present their data in an informative format. For the huge majority of the time, you will be sorting fields in ascending and descending orders. However the ability to sort via a value list can add some very interesting opportunities to your sort routines. A sort by value list can be very helpful in the crafting of reports that might have grouped totals based upon a sub summary part. Here is a link to an example file that I have on the subject ... EXAMPLE: Value List Sorting

There are five different options available for your value list needs and they are pop up list, pull down menu, radio button, check list and pop down calendar. The pop up list and pull down menu options require you to click into the field to see the list of possible choices and you select one of those options. The radio button and check list options show all the available choices on the layout itself and you click to select one or more of them. The pop down calendar option pretty much explains itself. Some FileMaker fields (mainly date fields) can be setup to have a pop up calendar show up. To do data entry you quickly select a date from the current month. You can also quickly navigate within the calendar from month to month or from year to year.

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