FileMaker Field Naming Conventions And Guidelines

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

TWITTER: dwaynewright
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Field Name Guidelines are a way to consistently name your fields in a logical and systematic order. As far as operability of your database, a set of Field Name Guidelines isn’t going to net you that much additional horsepower. About the only place a user will interact with the actual names of fields is when they are looking at the sort order dialog box. As far as the time and effort it takes for a developer to enhance a robust database solution, field name guidelines can make an incredible difference.

Obviously, FileMaker requires a field name to be unique in the table it resides. If you try to use the same field name twice, FileMaker will bark at you that it will not allow you to do so. The fewer characters it takes to make the field name the better but you also want to clearly define the purpose of the field. So this can be a bit of a tug of war, a bit of the ying yang, a bit of ... ah ... you get the idea.

Acronyms might be helpful and might be confusing. If it is consistent and documented, it can help keep your field name character count down. In the technical world, an acronym is used to condense a multiple word term do a single word by using the first letter of each word to create a new word. This is quite evident in the FileMaker world for terms such as ...

CWP - Custom Web Publishing
ESS - External SQL Sources
IWP - Instant Web Publishing
TO - Table Occurrence
TOG - Table Occurrence Group

Finally, it is generally recommended that the field name be singular in nature such as employee name and not employee names. Although, I can see places where they may be bending of the rules here, in particular for FileMaker repeating fields.

One thing that I’ve been doing lately is an extension of the naming convention I use for relationship graph table occurrences in the anchor / buoy system. I’m starting to name my fields with a first word anchor and the the description of the field is the buoy. This allows me to easily sort the fields alphabetically and thereby sorting the by their anchor.

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© 2008 - Dwayne Wright -

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