FileMaker Merge Fields Explored

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

WEB: www.dwaynewright.com
EMAIL: info@dwaynewright.com
TWITTER: dwaynewright
YOUTUBE: FileMakerThoughts

A merge field is part text and part concatenated field. To create a merge field, follow these steps.

Go To Layout Mode And Click The Text Tool
Click The Text Tool On The Layout Until You Get The Blinking I Beam
Choose Merge Field From Under The Insert Menu
(try to select a field you know has data on every record)
Select A Field From One Of The Tables And Click OK

When done, you will see where the Blinking I Beam was, now contains the selected field name with two less than symbols in front and two greater than symbols in the back. This is just a text string on the layout. However with those symbols in front and back of a text string that matches the name of a field ... the field data for that record is displayed.

To see the magic of the merge field, now go into browse mode. You will see the contents of the field for that record. Now go forward a few records at a time and see how the dynamic text string shows the fields data for that record. Now give this a try,

Go To Layout Mode And Click The Text Tool
Click in front of the << characters and manually type in some text and then a space.
Click in back of the << characters and manually type in some textand then a space.
Go back into Browse Mode

When in layout mode, you might see something like this ....

Blah, blah, blah, <> blah, blah, blah

When in browse mode and the data in the Ship Contact field for that record is Dwayne Wright, you might see something like this ....

Blah, blah, blah, Dwayne Wright blah, blah, blah

Many folks don’t even encounter merge fields until they create a label or envelope layout using the layout assistant. When they are done and looking at the layout in layout mode, they notice something odd.

<>
<>
<>
<>, <> <>

Here you can see a collection of merge fields. We have the Ship Company Name with two less than symbols in front and two greater than symbols in the back. So in browse mode ... <> ... will show LeSaux Media Services because that is what is in that field on that record. Going to the next record, you might see Apple Computer Inc. because that is what is on that record.

As you start working with more sophisticated layout options, particularly for lists and reports, chances are you will be using merge fields from time to time. It’s not a must know aspect of layout design but it definitely falls into the darn nice thing to know category.

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More info about the author and FileMaker in general, contact me at info@dwaynewright.com.

© 2008 - Dwayne Wright - dwaynewright.com

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