Improving FileMaker Portal Sorting With Design

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

WEB: www.dwaynewright.com
EMAIL: info@dwaynewright.com
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I mentioned earlier that a portal can be sorted in the Define Relationship and Portal Setup dialog boxes. These methods will help a user see portal information in a more helpful way. Take for example a portal that shows daily appointments. By default, the portal will show records in the order they were created. So it is possible that appointments for a doctor were entered in the following order ...

8:30 AM - Mrs. Johnson
2:00 PM - Mr, Monk 9:00 AM – Miss Granger
1:00 PM - Mr. Potter
12:00 PM - Lunch with William

Displayed in this order, the portal is confused. You literally would need to look at all the portal rows to figure out what was what. So you can see that having the option of the portal sorted by time ( smallest to largest ) would be a great asset here.

There are dozens of ways to sort portals. Many of them were created before FileMaker 4 (which added relationships sorting) and FileMaker 7 (which added portal dialog sortint) made portal sorting an option. This was a classic case of the FileMaker Developer community designing workarounds and sharing them with other developers. A truly unique and beautiful thing about being a FileMaker developer.

Personally, I tend to dismiss any of the methods that involved ScriptMaker as a key component. Not that I don’t like ScriptMaker but solutions involving use of the calculation engine are more dependable and dynamic. Scripts have to be manually activated in most cases. The only exceptions at the time of this writing include plug-ins or other external influence tools.

My favorite way of beefing up FileMaker portal sort options is with calculations and my current flavor of the month are methods involving the GetField function. In this series of discussions, I am going to explore some of these techniques.

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© 2007 - Dwayne Wright - dwaynewright.com

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