View FileMaker Index Searching

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

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Indexing is one of the most fundamental aspects of relational databases. It is what makes relationship primary key fields to function, searches happen faster and a number of other technical things aspects in the database system perform.

If you were reading a FileMaker book, it would likely have an index in the back. This index would tell you on what pages you may find a topic or sub topic. For example, the topic "indexing" may be listed on pages 12, 50, 79 and 112. Indexing, as a topic, would be spread out over that many pages because it may be discussed in detail or only in passing as other FileMaker related topics are discussed. In theory, if the index was not there, you would have to scan each page of a book (front to back) to see if the word or topic you're looking for appears. One can see why an index is a critical addition for books, especially those which cover a multitude of topics. On the flip side, we should look at the drawbacks of having an index in the back of a book First, it makes the book bigger since the printed index takes up physical space. The more words you index for the book, the more pages the book will be. Also, if you decide to add or delete a sentence, paragraph, page or chapter in the book, chances are that you will need to rebuild your index to make sure it's up to date.

FileMaker is similar to a printed book except that it's also completely different. (Indulge me, I just love saying things like that!) FileMaker indexes focus on the data within a field. So if you have a FileMaker field indexed, FileMaker can look at it and go to the associated records quicker than it can if it is not indexed. For this reason, indexing is a key player in searches, sorts, reports and relationships.

The Insert From Index command can also be found under the Insert menu in both browse and find modes. We chatted about field indexes very early in this blog. One very powerful and dreadfully easy search tip is using the index.

Simply enter into find mode and click into the field you want to search. Then use menu command or the keyboard shortcut of Command I ( macintosh users ) or Control I ( windows users ). This will bring up the fields index, for the fields that can be indexed. This allows you to pick and choose values that already exist in that field!

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