Using A FileMaker Portal Like A Value List

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

TWITTER: dwaynewright
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You can use a portal like a mini menu to populate the data in one or more fields. You may be thinking, "Can't I do that with a value list?".

Yes, you can use relational values in value lists and value lists are the most popular method of offering data choices for a field. A value list however can only show you two fields in regards to the choice you want to make.

Using a button in a portal instead of a relational value list can give you the following ad vantages...

- portals can easily show more than two fields across
- portals can be filtered easily, thus increasing data selection possibilities
- you can have more then one portal setup to add data to a field
- portals can show more of a fields information such as a large text data

The best use of a portal working like a value list was being used as a client picker. The solution had the ability to type the first few characters of a company name in a field and possible matches would show up in a portal. Then you could click one of those portal buttons and then that client would be chosen. This was good because you could see multiple divisions within the same company and be more likely to pick the correct one.

Another good option was a solution I created for a customer many years ago. The company had retail stores all across America that sold their products. A customer may call in and say “what stores carry your product?” The phone operator would type in the future customers address and phone number. One portal would show state matches, one would show zip code matches and one would show area code phone number matches. The phone operator would give the caller the name of 3 possible places.

FYI: The operator would also check the locations given to the caller and reports / lead generation sheets would be run later.

FYI: If I was to work that solution again, I’d use Brian Dunning's Zip Code product. By it you can tell the distance between two zip codes by latitude and longitude calculations!

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