From Dwayne Wright PMP, PMI-ACP, CSM
Certified FileMaker Developer
If you will allow me, I will use the first few paragraphs of this discussion to try and describe fields using non database examples. I don’t do this that often, so please forgive me. Here goes...
A field is like a spreadsheet cell or to bring it down even further... it is like a shoe box in the wall of a shoe store. This wall is made up of many shoe boxes of different sizes and styles. In this example, the wall of shoes would be the FileMaker database table.
Each day, the wall is going to be different as new shoes come in, older shoes go out and occasionally a shoe box is empty or only contains one shoe. In the FileMaker world, we would call this a record. So each record in a table has a variety of fields, which may contain (or not contain) unique information within those fields. Usually it takes multiple fields to make up a record much like it takes multiple shoe boxes to fill a wall. A address database for instance would probably have the fields name, address, city, state and zip.
I will cover fields in more detail in following discussions. I just wanted to introduce the necessary concepts here, in case you were not familiar with them. Below, I’ve added some common terms that are associated with any discussion about fields.
DEFINE FIELDS DIALOG BOX - A central area for defining the attributes for fields. Field types include Text, Number, Date, Time, Timestamp, Container, Calculation and Summary.
FIELD BEHAVIOR - In FileMaker 7 and above, you have a new layout field option called Field Behavior. This allows you to set a field to be entered into in browse mode or find mode. This appears as two different checkbox options for each. When checked, you can enter into that field in that mode. When it is not checked, you cannot enter into that field in that mode. Many times, you will want to have your key fields setup so they cannot be entered into in browse mode but can be entered into to perform searches.
FIELD LABELS - A text string that appears alongside of a field when placed on a layout to identify it.
FIELD TOOL - This layout tool found in the status area allows you to place fields on your layout screen while in layout mode.
FIELD TYPE - In FileMaker you can have text, number, date, time, timestamp, container, calculation and summary and field types. It should also be noted that calculation and summary fields can be saved in different types themselves such as text, number or date. With these fields you can have 2 levels of type. For example a calculation field could use many fields, all of different types and save the answer in yet a totally different type. A summary field inherits the type of the field it summarizes.
KEY FIELD - Used to describe the fields used in a relationship. The Primary Key which is usually a field that has unique data for each record in the file. The Foreign Key field which is used on the other side of the primary key field in FileMaker relationship dialog box. I tend to think of the Foreign Key as the field opposite the Primary Key. Parent Key fields are the key fields within the current table of the relationship and Child Key fields can be found on the other side of the parent relations.
** well, that is about as clear as mud, I will cover this in more detail in later discussions ***
MERGE FIELDS - A format that allows you to place the contents of a field into a text string on the layout. This is done by using the Merge command or the keyboard shortcut.
RELATED FIELDS - A field on a layout that actually resides in a different database and is being viewed via a defined relationship.
More info about the author and FileMaker in general, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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