FileMaker layouts are composed of parts. Layouts, and therefore layout parts, are used to display data and other objects. Parts can be used to control how data is displayed.
Navigation parts were introduced in FileMaker Pro 14. There are two available for any layout – top and bottom. On screen, these parts display at the top and bottom of the window. They are called navigation parts because they will typically contain buttons and other objects that help the user to navigate the solution and identify the current location.
Adding parts to a layout
The easiest way to add parts to a layout is using Insert > Part… (when in Layout mode). Some parts may be greyed out to indicate that you already have one on the layout (and you can only have one).
If you need to remove a part from a layout, click the part tab at the left when in Layout mode. Then press delete on your keyboard. If the part contains objects you will be asked if you are sure (delete the part and all objects in it), otherwise the part will be deleted immediately.
Aren’t navigation parts just a header and footer?
At first glance, navigation parts appear to behave in the same way as header and footer parts. Fields placed in any of these parts will display data from the current record when in Browse mode.
When working in List or Table view, these parts will behave in a very similar way. The top navigation part appears at the top of a window and then the header part below. The bottom navigation part is at the bottom of the window with the footer above. None of the parts move as the user scrolls through a list of records.
Displaying parts in Table view
If you use Table view, you may not see navigation, header and footer parts. You can turn on display of any of these parts for any layout via Layouts > Layout Setup… Then in Views, click the Table View Properties button to access display for these four parts. Not easy to get to is it?
When working in Form view and the body part is longer than the window, the header will disappear off the top of the screen when the user scrolls down. Similarly, the footer will only be visible when the user scrolls to the bottom of the body part. If the body part is shorter than the window, the footer will appear immediately after the body part (perhaps halfway up the window).
A difference to note is that the navigation parts will always fill across the entire window. In Form and List views, header and footer parts only extend to the implicit right edge of the layout (set in Layout mode). In Table view all parts fill across the entire window.
Forcing a header or footer to fill across the window
This can be done by setting any object in the part with a right anchor. Interestingly, if this is done in either the header or footer, it will affect both parts.
To print or not to print
A major difference between the part types is that navigation parts do not print – they are intended purely for on screen use. Of course, this also means that navigation parts do not display in Preview mode.
When printing headers and footers, they will appear at the top and bottom of each page. However, unlike in Browse mode, the header will display data from the first record on the page and the footer from the last record on the page.
There also exist title header and title footer parts. When printing, these parts will appear at the top and bottom of the first page (replacing the header and footer).
Unlike all other parts, navigation parts will not zoom. With any change to the zoom level, navigation parts and their objects will remain at 100%.
Formatting part display
All parts can be styled through the Appearance tab of the Inspector. First click the part tab at the left of the part in Layout mode. Changes can be applied to the fill (none, solid, gradient or image), line and inner shadow.
The default style for each part is set according to the theme chosen. All parts share the same set of custom styles. So it is possible to use styles to ensure that your top and bottom navigation parts are exactly the same.
Conclusion – when to use navigation parts
Use navigation parts when you need an on screen area that is fixed to the top or bottom of the window. Use them to present buttons for various actions and information that needs to be constantly available.
The difference between navigation parts and header/footer parts is most evident when working with a long body part and scrolling in Form view. In this instance, it may be useful to use a footer part to contain a button that can only be actioned when the screen has been scrolled to the bottom. For example, if you want to force a user to scroll through terms and conditions (and pretend they read them) to get to an Accept button.
Look at some of popular apps like Facebook and Instagram to see how they are using the app equivalent of fixed navigation parts and a header that scrolls off the top of the screen.