Importing Data Into Filemaker Explored ( part 1 )

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

TWITTER: dwaynewright
YOUTUBE: FileMakerThoughts

It is quite common to import data into a FileMaker database. Here are a few of the situations I’ve been in that required the importing of data using FileMaker Pro.

- Created a new version of a FileMaker file and need to import the data from the network version of the file before I can release it to my users.

- Received data from a payroll service about payroll / employee benefits and need to import that into a FileMaker employee file.

- Customer is moving from an older database system and I need to import the legacy data from that system into the new FileMaker solution.

- Another database system is great at calculations on massive amounts of data. I import the results into FileMaker because it is more flexible for user needs.

The first step in an import is to activate the process from the menu command (under the file menu) or via a FileMaker script with the import script step. After that, FileMaker will give you a dialog box to navigate to the appropriate file to import.

The file can be a FileMaker file or another data file that FileMaker can import. You can import data from a FileMaker file that is located on your machine or even a file on the network (via the Open Remote menu command).

The next window you will see will show you the data import fields on the left side and the fields that can import data on the right. The idea is to match the two sides correctly to indicate to FileMaker where matches occur. You can move the fields on the right up or down. This is done by clicking the field and moving it while the mouse button is down. Any field on that right that is grayed out means it cannot accept imported data ( such as a calculation or summary field).

The arrow pointing from the left to the right means the data from the left (import resource ) is going into the field on the right (your FileMaker file ). The dot with a slash between the two fields means they are not connected and will not import. The double arrows means that the fields are matched in such a way as to synchronize the two data sources. This is done when you are working with two FileMaker files.

FileMaker has added a helpful feature for mapping the fields on both sides. It can be found via a pull down menu just below the target fields. It is called Arrange By and can sort the fields on the right to make match ups easier.

Another nice feature is the Scan Data buttons. The buttons are found below the list of source fields. Clicking these buttons allows you to scan through the source data. This allows you to double check your import field mapping settings.

Come to think about it, there is yet another helpful feature FileMaker has provided to help your field mapping endeavor. Right above the Import button (bottom right of the dialog box), is the Manage Database button. What can happen is that you realize that you have data you want to import but you don’t have a matching field in your destination file. The Manage Database button allows you to define a field on the fly by bringing up the Manage Field dialog box. You can quickly create the fields, tables and even relaitonships. Then when you close the Manage Database dialog box and then match your import to the newly created fields.

Here we can see the import field mapping dialog for a text file. This means you probably won’t see a field name unless the source of the data specified it. Although we don’t see a field name but we can see the data. We can scan forward and backward through the records to import with the Scan Data button just below the left side field display area.

More info about the author and FileMaker in general, contact me at

© 2008 - Dwayne Wright -

The material on this document is offered AS IS. There is NO REPRESENTATION OR WARRANTY, expressed or implied, nor does any other contributor to this document. WARRANTIES OF MERCHANT ABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMED. Consequential and incidental damages are expressly excluded. FileMaker Pro is the registered trademark of FileMaker Inc.