Sorting A FileMaker Relationship

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

TWITTER: dwaynewright
YOUTUBE: FileMakerThoughts

The sort option when defining a relationship is used to have related records recognized in a defined order. Relationships sorting can be useful for ...

- defining what related information appears when you put a related field on a layout

- defining what related information is used in calculations using relationships

- defining what related record FileMaker will go to in a GTRR situation

- what order related records appear in a portal

Relationship sorting is a feature to consider carefully before implementing. By default, a FileMaker relationship in portal view is sorted by the creation order. This is true if you place a related field on the layout as well. If that record is related to many other records, you will see the first created related record. Once again, that means the related records that were created first are seen before any more recently created records.

Choosing the sorting option can reverse this order or allow you to set your own preferred sorting order. Sounds pretty cool and this option can be very useful. The problem is ... as normally is the case ... when the databases start growing in size. When you go from record to record, you have to wait for the related records to sort. This can be very uncomfortable on large databases that are networked with many users.

REAL WORLD EXAMPLE: As a developer, you may be working with a copy of the FileMaker solution on your individual hard drive. You turn the relationship sorting option on and it doesn't appear to be too slow. After you have completed your design changes, you upload the files in the FileMaker solution to the main FileMaker server. The next day you begin getting complaints about how slow the database is behaving. This is because every user on the networked file is encountering the same default sorting routine. Speed is one thing when a database solution is run by one person on a local hard drive. Speed can be another thing when a database is being used by 50 people over an already stressed network connection.

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© 2007 - Dwayne Wright -

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