A Before You Export FileMaker Data To Do List

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

WEB: www.dwaynewright.com
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Many times when you export, you will be doing it with a whole lot of records. Like most operations, the more you do, the longer it takes. Many times, your exported file cannot be edited in a key spot. For example, if you export 10,000 records and you notice that you forgot a field ... usually ... your only option is to do the export again. Depending on the speed of your computer, the number of fields you are exporting and the types of fields you are exporting... this could take a couple minutes or up to nearly a hour.

So let us take a moment to discuss some of the things you will want to try and do before you do any exporting. Some of the items on the list are common sense and some are things you may not have considered before.

Which file are you going to export? On the surface, this may seem to be a silly question. However if you remember that you can export related fields, then the question can be very valid. You may get much more bang for your buck if you export from a different file that has more relationships ... or ... if you add a relationship to the file you are exporting from ... you may be able to add a related field or two that makes the set of data that much more useful. Also, it's a key step before moving on to the below steps.

Which fields are you going to export? Since these are the containers for the data, you should think of this before selecting the menu "EXPORT' command. Many times, you may have hundreds of fields in the file and selecting the right ones / in the right order might be a bit of a chore. TIP: IF YOU SORT THE FIELDS IN THE DEFINE FIELDS DIALOG BOX FIRST, THEY WILL BE IN THAT ORDER IN THE EXPORT DIALOG BOX! It might be a good idea to write your chosen fields down on a piece of paper first and then use that as a reference later on in the export process.

Are any of the fields you are exporting repeating fields? If so, then you will have a separate record for each repetition that has data in it. This is not a problem if your export is really about the data in the repeating fields. However, if it's not critical to the export content, I'd bypass the repeating fields. If you have to export them, then you might have to delete some of the duplicates the repeating fields may create.

For example, say you have an old FileMaker 2.X invoice database that has been upgraded. It still has repeating fields for products sold. In some of the repetitions, there isn't anything sold. The product description area contains some comments about the invoice. So the quantity field for that repetition is blank but the description says something like "Be sure to ship this invoice before Tuesday." If you are exporting this data for a sales report, it may incorrectly affect your report. In cases like this, you may have to import the export, clean up the data and then export it again.

Are you going to export all the records or just a found set of records? If you are going to export all the records in the database, make sure that your found set of records match the overall set of records. If you are wanting to export just some of the records, make sure you do your find or omit commands BEFORE you start doing your export.

Would you like to have the final output sorted? It's usually not necessary but it can be a nice touch to have your exported data organized in a way that benefits it's final destination.

Do you plan on doing the export again from time to time. If so, make sure to save it as a script so that you can use it later. This way the script can remember the FIND, SORT, EXPORT FIELD ORDER and even EXPORTED FILE NAME inside the script itself. I've gotten in the habit lately of naming my scripts with a verb in the front to define it's action. When you think about it, scripts are the verbs of a database. They define an action. For example, my export script would be named something like

EXPORT_Quarterly Sales Report

EXPORT_Month End Sales Totals others can be found with names such as...
FIND_Incomplete Data Entry Records
SORT_By Date Modified

I just thought I'd throw that tip in, just in case you may also find it useful.

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

© 2008 - Dwayne Wright - dwaynewright.com

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