FileMaker Layouts With Hidden Portals

From Dwayne Wright PMP
Certified FileMaker Developer

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Earlier in our blog discussions, we mentioned how to setup a relationship and a portal to create new related records on the fly. We mentioned that some users may be confused by the last row of the portal is where you create a new related record. We also mentioned that ScriptMaker can be used quite effectively to create new related records. It has the ability to go to the last portal row, set data into the fields there and then exit the record.

For a variety of reasons, you may not want a portal on a layout that can create new records on the fly ... but ... under certain conditions you do what to be able to have ScriptMaker create new related records on the fly.

It is quite common for FileMaker developers to have a Developer layout in a FileMaker file. This is a place were fields are used in scripts or calculations the general user doesn't see. It can be a place where fields that normally cannot be edited ... can be edited. It can be a place where buttons exist for developer actions. It can be a place were developer documentation can be found. FINALLY ... it can be a place were portals that create related records on the fly can be found. The idea is that a script can go to a layout where it knows what it needs will be there, it will do what it needs to do and then go back to the original layout.

If you are consultant, you will probably deliver your FileMaker solution to your customer open or give them the master password.In any case, you will want to take steps to protect customers from themselves. Many developers will include a layout in a file that has key fields or portals. This is often called a developer or utility layout.

When a script is run, it goes to that layout, does something special and comes back to the original layout. You may have a customer that decides that layout isn’t necessary and delete it. This can cause you a lot of problems and the customer may want you to fix it for free. A common way to protect a layout is to put some bold text on it saying something on the order of "THIS IS A CRITICAL LAYOUT FOR THIS FILE. DO NOT TAKE OBJECTS OFF OF THIS LAYOUT OR DELETE IT".

If you have a large number of scripts that reference a developer layout, you may want to document them somehow. This can be done by adding some special code to the name of the script or store this information in some sort of external documentation. This includes documenting that the user should not delete any of the Go To Layout scripts steps in regards to going to or back from the layout with the portal.

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