FileMaker Date Fields Explored

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

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The date field is designed to hold a data string representing a single date such as 11/22/2004. When you define a field as a date field, you are making a commitment to that data type. In other words, you don't enter text in a date field, you don't enter numbers in a date field and you don't enter a time in a date field. If you were to try, FileMaker will bark at you that it does not recognize the data string as an acceptable date value.

The date field has quite a bit of background programming to handle all the unique things you can do with date information. Don't take this lightly because the incorrect setup and use of date related information can always cause you wrinkles if you let them. Some examples of date fields would be Date Entered, Date Received, Date Shipped, Payment Date, etc...

The date field can process chronological information from year 1 to year 4000 and is setup to have 8 characters plus characters to separate the month, day and year information. The eight characters FileMaker uses for data related dates are 2 for day, 2 for month and 4 for year.

To separate the day, month and year information, most developers suggest the characters of hyphen (-), period (.) or slash (/). FileMaker does not require you to put in leading zeros for single numeral days and months (although, it is recommended that you do). A few common examples would be 02/25/2004, 2-25-2004 or 2.25.2004.

FYI ... As odd as it may sound, the separator characters are optional in FileMaker. If a date field holds “ 02 25 2004 “, FileMaker will recognize it as 02/25/2004. The space actually becomes the separator!

Although FileMaker will accept 2 characters for the year information ( such as 04 for 2004 ), it is not recommended that it be entered that way. If your database holds any historical date information ( like a birth date or the date that a building was erected ), FileMaker could interpret 30 as 2030 and not 1930. What FileMaker will do is look at the 2 digits and guess what 4 digits you really want. If the 2 digit year is within 30 years of the current year, it will assume you mean in the future or the past 30 years. If the two digits is greater than 30 from the current 2 digit year, FileMaker will assume you are talking about a date in the past.

For example, if today is 10/30/2004 ... a date entered in as 01/01/01 is recognized at 01/01/2001 ... a date entered in as 01/01/25 is recognized at 01/01/2025... a date entered in as 01/01/45 is recognized at 01/01/1945.

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