Inside FileMaker 16 Seminars

With the release last week of the new FileMaker 16 platform, we are excited to announce a series of full day seminars in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

FileMaker 16 banner

Each new release brings some great new features and FileMaker 16 is no exception. But how do you get up to speed quickly what is new and how to implement them in your FileMaker apps? Easy – come along to one of our Inside FileMaker 16 seminars.

In a jam-packed day, you will see why the new features are important and how to implement them in a FileMaker app. We will give you a lot of ideas around how you can make best use of the features. Then we show you specifically how to get them working. And you will see things that are not in the FileMaker marketing materials that could be important to you.

At the end of the day, you will be much better informed about how you can move to FileMaker 16 and about what you can use in the new feature set.

Seminar Details and Bookings

For more details about the seminar (locations, dates and content) and to book your place online, see the Inside FileMaker 16 seminar page.

The A-Z of FileMaker: L is for Loop

L is for Loop

FileMaker scripting provides the features of any structured programming language. Conditional and looping structures are key features.

Conditional structures like the If / End If in FileMaker scripting allow for different subroutines to run on the evaluation of a condition. See our previous blog article on If statements.

A loop is a series of instructions that are continuously executed until a condition is reached. A simple example is working through a set of records performing certain operations until the last record is reached.

Loops in everyday life

We often perform repetitive processes. These can be considered to be loops with an exit condition.

peel potatoes loop

For example, if you had to peel a bag of potatoes, you would prepare by getting the equipment required and opening the bag. You pick up a potato, peel it, rinse it and place it in a bowl. Then you check for more potatoes. If there are more, you pick up the next one and repeat – peel, rinse, place. When all the potatoes are gone, you finish and clean up.

Loop steps in FileMaker scripting

The basic loop script steps in FileMaker scripting are Loop and End Loop. The script steps placed between (‘inside the loop’) form the looping operation. Any loop is expected to have two components:

  • procedures to be carried out each time through the loop
  • an exit condition which, when true, will exit the loop
Infinite loops are bad

A loop without a valid exit condition is called an infinite loop – it will continue without ever exiting. This is not something you want in a script.

In many cases, there are steps before the loop to set up the environment. For example, if the loop is going to work through a set of records, you may ensure it goes to the first record of the found set before entering the loop.

Example: Loop creating new records from a list

Sometimes you have a list of values that you want to turn into a list of records.

In this example, we have a list of children’s names in a global field. A scripted button will create records related to the current parent.

The screenshot above shows the Parent layout. In the Children section, the names are in a global text field. Child records will display in a portal at the right. The relationship is a simple one to many from Parent to Child.

Why would you be doing this?

Good question. Sometimes it is easier for users to enter a list of data than to create new records. This may be by pasting from another source. Then you provide an easy process to create the required records.

The looping script will work through the child values creating a new record for each. The challenge here is that we do not know ahead of time how many children will be in the list. So the script will count the names to know how many times to repeat the loop.

The pseudocode for the looping script is:

Store the parent ID and the child list
Count the child records required
Set loop counter
Go to the child table 
Enter the loop
Create new record for nth child in list
Exit loop if last child processed
Else increment counter
Return to the parent table

Here is the script:

looping script

How does it work?

The first four steps are setting variables to store required values:

  1. primary key of the parent record
  2. list of children from the global field
  3. count of the children
  4. loop counter initialised to 1

Then we go to the Child layout to create new records in the loop.

Inside the loop, the first step is to create a new record. Two Set Field steps are used to set the foreign key (ID parent) and the child’s name. The child’s name is  extracted from the child list using the GetValue function and the $counter to know which one to take.

GetValue ( $children ; $counter )

The loop will then exit if the $counter is greater than or equal to the $childcount i.e. if the required number of child records has been created. If the loop does not exit, it continues on to increment (add 1 to) the $counter and then loop back to the start where it creates another new record.

When the loop exits, the script returns to the original layout (where it started).

Q. Moving script steps around

Consider what might be the positive effects of moving the Exit Loop If step to line 7 – being the first step in the loop.

[see the end of the article for a suggested answer]

Anything else needed?

This script is bare bones. At a minimum, you will probably also check that the user is happy to proceed and error trap to stop the script if no child names exist. You may also choose to clear the global field if the loop ends successfully.

dialog check record loop create

dialog error loop no children

The above example shows the simple structure of a looping process with:

  • setup before the loop
  • doing things in the loop
  • checking the exit condition
  • returning to the start
Loop alternatives

There are many times that a loop will be the right thing to do. However, you need to be aware of alternative methods and possible speed implications of looping scripts.

For example, if you need to loop through a found set of records and set fields according to some conditions, then consider using the Replace Field Contents script step.

If a looping script ‘touches’ every record on the way through, that may slow the process. Consider the methods to avoid opening and closing records, and even jumping to key records in the set. A Freeze Window script step before the loop may result in speed improvements.

A. Moving script steps around

If you move the Exit Loop If step to the start of the loop, this will have the positive effect that a new record would not be created unless needed. Since the $counter has been set to 1 before entering the loop, if there are no values in the children list ($childcount = 0), the loop will exit immediately.

What do you use loops for?

Feel free to leave a comment below.

Building Effective FileMaker Solutions

uLearnIT is pleased to present an intermediate FileMaker training course – Building Effective FileMaker Solutions. This two day course provides a comprehensive look at FileMaker development for building robust multi-user and mobile solutions. We cover topics like relational design, scripting, calculations and user interface.

Build Effective FileMaker Solutions


FileMaker Structure – schema, layouts, calculations and scripts
Planning for Success – what to think about, good developer habits
Relational Design – systems analysis, ERDs and the relationship graph
Calculations – storage and execution, top 20 functions, documenting
Scripting – running scripts, top 20 steps, variables and parameters
UI Design – process modelling, interface design, custom themes
Security – accounts, privilege sets, extended privileges, file access
Next Steps – where to from here

Classes now scheduled

Classes have been scheduled for Tauranga (New Zealand), Sydney and Melbourne. See all the course details on our FileMaker training schedule. Email us any queries you have or go ahead and book your place.

Each course has strict limits on numbers. While we would love to sell out, we don’t want you to miss out. So jump in and book online now.

Kia Ora New Zealand!

G’day to everyone in New Zealand. We bring great news – FileMaker courses are coming to you. We are starting on the North Island but there have been a couple of requests for courses down south too. So we will have to see how to make that happen.

Get Started in Auckland

Our beginner course, Get Started with FileMaker Pro,  is running in downtown Auckland on 10-11 July 2017.

Auckland NZ

This is a great course to get a solid grounding in FileMaker development. We assume nothing about your knowledge of the FileMaker platform. You will leave the course with all the skills needed to tackle your first project, or to get that existing project flying.

Build Solutions in Tauranga

To learn more about FileMaker development, you will need to go further afield. But what a great place to visit – Tauranga. We will be running our intermediate course, Building Effective FileMaker Solutions, at the Oceanside Resort in Mount Maunganui on 13-14 July 2017.

Mt Maunganui NZ

This course takes your FileMaker development skills to the next level. We get to dive into topics like relational design, scripting, calculations and user interface. We look at essential knowledge for building great multi-user solutions for your workgroup.

Bookings are open now

Each course has strict limits on numbers. While we would love to sell out, we don’t want you to miss out. So jump in and book online now.

See all the course details on our FileMaker training schedule. Email us any queries you have or go ahead and book your place. We look forward to seeing you in New Zealand.

The A-Z of FileMaker: K is for Key

K is for Key

In a relational database like FileMaker Pro, key fields are used to establish relationships between tables. Depending on where you get your information, there are many types of keys. In this article, I will focus on just two – primary and foreign keys.

Primary keys defined

A primary key (PK) is a field that contains data unique to the record in that table. As such, it can be thought of as a record identifier. There are some required characteristics of a primary key:

  • never be empty
  • contain unique data (in the table)
  • never change

It is also most useful if it is not real or meaningful data. To understand this better, let’s consider some fields that seem to fit the requirements for a primary key but should not be used as such.

Avoid using these as primary keys
  • tax file number (TFN)
  • email address
  • student number
  • phone number

Although most people in Australia (and certainly those who are employees) will have a TFN, it can fail the PK test. First, if a person cannot provide their TFN for whatever reason, the field is left empty. Second, if the number is wrongly entered, it will need to be changed.

An email address could be shared by multiple people and may change.

A student number is generated by another database system. As for a TFN, it may not be available or may be incorrectly entered. Student numbers may be re-issued in some circumstances.

A phone number may be shared by multiple people and will likely change.

Good primary keys

The best primary keys are generated by the database system in which they are used.

The most basic is a simple serial number. In FileMaker Pro, the field option can be set to auto-enter a serial number on record creation. This will ensure sequential creation of unique serial numbers even in multi-user systems.

serial field option key field

Many database systems can generate a universally unique identifier (UUID). In FileMaker databases (as in many others), the UUID is a unique 16-byte (128-bit) string. In the standard representation, the UUID is 32 hexadecimal (base 16) digits, displayed in five groups separated by hyphens, in the form 8-4-4-4-12. An example of this is:


The function used to generate this is Get ( UUID ). To create a primary key in this way, set the field options to auto-enter a calculation that uses the function. We covered this (Set a primary key) in a previous blog article The A-Z of FileMaker: G is for Get.

Foreign keys defined

A foreign key (FK) is a field that contains a unique identifier from a PK of another table. In this way, the record with the FK is linked (or related) to the record with the key data in the PK.

Consider a FileMaker solution for recording issues with equipment. There is a table for equipment with a PK field. There is a table for issues with a PK field. The issues table also has an equipment FK field.

When a new issue is created, the unique identifier of the equipment is copied into the equipment FK field. This serves to relate the issue record to a specific equipment record.

By definition, the values in a FK will not be unique. In the above example, all issue records for a specific equipment item will have the same data in the FK.

Usually the FK will not be empty. In the above example, if the FK is left empty, the issue is not attached to any equipment and would be considered invalid. In some cases, it may be valid to leave the FK empty.

Generally the FK will not change. If it does change, this means that the record is relating to a different record. In the above example, the FK may be changed to correct an error when the wrong equipment was identified.

Referential integrity

Referential integrity refers to a rule that every foreign key value must match a primary key value in an associated table. In other words, the FK value must exist in one record of the other table.

Naming Keys – What do you think?

Most developers have opinions and conventions for naming their keys. For what it is worth, I name all my PK fields with a simple name – ID. I find that the context of the field is usually self-evident. It also allows me to copy and paste a PK into a new table.

I name my FK fields simply too – IDtable. In the above example, the FK would be named IDequip or IDequipment.

Here is an ERD from a previous post on the Join Table.

Do you have a naming convention for keys and a reason for using it? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Other keys

Often when we import data from other systems, we may be provided with a key from that system. It may seem like we have a ready-to-use PK supplied for us. Beware! Do not use the PK from another system. However, it is useful to store it with our data. In reporting, we can then refer to records with our key or their key.

The A-Z of FileMaker: J is for Join Table

J is for Join Table

A join table is used to resolve a many to many relationship with a flexible structure for data storage.

The FileMaker Platform works around a relational database. The structure of a relational database includes tables and relationships between tables. There are three major types of relationships:

  • one to many
  • many to many
  • one to one

The most common relationship is one to many. This is where one record in table A may be related to many records in table B. Conversely, each record in table B is related to only one record in table A.

For example, consider customers and sales. One customer is (hopefully) related to many sales. Each sale is related to only one customer.

Other examples of one to many relations are:

  • one venue – many events (each event = one venue)
  • one employee – many payments (each payment = one employee)
  • one diver – many dives (each dive = one diver)
  • one student – many certifications (each certification = one student)

These are often represented with a crow’s foot notation where the crow’s foot is the ‘many’ end of the relation;

When working through the data structure for a database, we often come across many to many relationships. Some example are:

  • houses and owners – one house has many owners (over time); one owner owns many houses
  • students and classes – one student enrols in many classes; one class has many students enrolled
  • cars and mechanics – one car can be serviced by many mechanics; one mechanic services many cars
What is the problem with many to many relationships?

While it is possible to create a many to many relationship in FileMaker Pro and other database platforms, it is generally not done. When we find a many to many relationship, it presents a problem with the storage of data associated with the relation.

For example, with a relationship between houses and owners, where would you store data for the sale price and date purchased? If you put fields in the house table, then you will need to store a price and a date each time the house is sold; if you put them in the owner table, you need a price and a date each time they buy a house.

A join table is the solution

To correctly model a many to many relationship, we break it down using a join table. This is a table that represents the relationship between the tables. There is often an action word that represents the relation:

  • owners purchase houses; houses are purchased by owners
  • students enrol in classes; classes take enrolments by students
  • cars are serviced by mechanics; mechanics perform services on cars

In the case of house and owner, we add a table between called purchase. There is a relationship between owner and purchase (one owner makes many purchases; each purchase made by one owner). And there is a relationship between purchase and house (each purchase is for one house; one house can have many purchases).

Each purchase record relates to one house and one owner. The purchase record is the right place to store data such as sale price and date purchased. So this solves the data storage problem with one purchase record created every time an owner purchases a house.

Many to many resolved

Each table will have a primary key (named ID in each table below). The relationships are created to foreign keys (ID owner, ID house) in the join table.

When creating a purchase record, you need a process to select the owner and the house. The primary key (ID) of each is inserted into the foreign key fields of the purchase record to create the join.

Your turn

Draw the tables and relationships required for the other many to many examples above. Name the join table and the foreign keys required.

The A-Z of FileMaker: I is for If statement

I is for If Statements

The word “if” indicates a condition and an action – in the event that the condition is met, the action will be performed. In real life, an example might be “If you eat your dinner, then you can have dessert”.

In the computer world, the condition is expressed in If statements as a Boolean test. We have previously explored Boolean values and expressions in another A-Z post.

FileMaker Pro uses if statements in both calculations and scripting. The structure of each varies slightly as we will explore below.

If function in a calculation

The If function is classified as a logical function. It has the following format:


If is the name of the function; test, result1 and result2 are parameters. The result2 parameter is optional and is shown in curly braces {} because it is optional.

When the test is evaluated, if the result is true the function returns result1; if the test is false the function returns result2. If the test is false and no result2 is specified, the function returns a null (empty) result.

Consider the following examples calculating a discount amount for VIP customers:

Example 1:  If ( IsEmpty (cust::VIP); ""; 0.2 )
Example 2:  If ( not IsEmpty (cust::VIP); 0.2; "")
Example 3:  If ( not IsEmpty (cust::VIP); 0.2 )

For VIP customers, the VIP field contains the string “VIP”. Each example uses the IsEmpty function to query the VIP field in the cust (customer) table.

Example 1 says that if the VIP field is empty, return a null result (“”); otherwise return 0.2 (20%).

Example 2 reverses the logic of the test – if the VIP field is NOT empty, return 0.2; otherwise return a null result.

Example 3 uses the not logic but does not explicitly state the false result so it will be null.

All three examples return the same result for any given data. Which is “best” is a matter of opinion. Some would say that #1 is easiest to read and understand – the not logic requires two steps to interpret. Others would prefer #2 over #3 for the explicit statement of the false result (even when it is null).

Did you know?

The FileMaker calculation engine also allows numeric results for the test where 0 (zero) is false and any non-zero numeric result is true.

Nested If functions

What if there were different levels of VIP customer – VIP1 and VIP2. How could you assign them different discount levels? You need to perform multiple tests with the following logic:

if the customer is VIP1 give them 10%
otherwise, if the customer is VIP2 give them 20%
otherwise, there is no discount

FileMaker Pro allows you to nest If statements so that result2 for the first If is another If statement.

If ( cust::VIP = "VIP1"; 
     If ( cust::VIP = "VIP2"; 
          "" ) 

The parameters of each function above have been separated onto new lines to make it easier to read. However, even with one nested If, it is difficult to read and maintain. The Case function should be used instead.

Case function

The Case function simplifies the expression of progressive tests. The format is:


The first test/result pair is required but there can be any number of following test/result pairs with an optional final default result (if all tests return false).

FileMaker Trivia

A calculation formula in FileMaker Pro allows a maximum of 30,000 characters. This places a technical limit on the number of tests in a Case statement.

The nested If statement above is more readable with a Case statement:

Case ( cust::VIP="VIP1"; 0.1; cust::VIP="VIP2"; 0.2; "")

This will also make it much easier to add new VIP levels in future.

The FileMaker calculation engine reads the expression and exits as soon as a test returns true. For efficiency, it is best to try to order tests with the most commonly expected results first.

Since most customers are not VIPs, the expression might be better written:

Case ( IsEmpty (cust:VIP); ""  ; 
       cust::VIP="VIP1";   0.1 ; 
       cust::VIP="VIP2";   0.2 ; 
What do you think?

It can be argued that there is no need to use If statements at all since any If statement can be written as a single test Case statement.

If script step

If statements are also used in scripting. The logic is the same as in calculations – perform a test, and act one way for a true result and another for false. The definition of ‘true’ is also the same.

Simple If script statement

Every If script step needs a matching End If step. The script shown above is the minimum structure required. There is no explicit action for when the test returns false. In that case, the script proceeds directly to the End If step and continues the script.

Else and Else If script steps

The Else and Else If script steps can be used within an If/End If structure. The screenshot below shows three possible structures for an If statement:

If statements in scripting

The Else script step is used in example 2 to provide a place for steps for when the test returns false. This is the standard If logic – “If the test is true then do this, else, do that”. When the If test returns false, the script skips to Else and then proceeds through the following script steps.

What do you think?

Advocates of explicit programming would argue that you should always include an Else step to be clear about what should happen when the test returns false. In this way, the developer is showing their intention for the code – even if they intend for nothing to happen.

There is no Case script step. Instead, you use Else If steps for progressive testing (as shown in example 3). At each test (If and Else If), when the test returns true the script performs the following script steps and then skips to End If. As for a Case statement in a calculation, it is most efficient to test for the most common results first.

What about this?

It is possible to write nested If statements with scripting (as below). But as with calculations, it is harder to read and harder to maintain. This was done before FileMaker introduced the Else If script step. You are well advised to avoid this type of scripting.

Nested if statements

The A-Z of FileMaker: H is for Host

H is for host

With the FileMaker Platform, you can share data in a file over a network. Many users can access the same data set at the same time.  The shared file is open on a host device and available on the network. In the FileMaker world, the host is a computer (rather than a mobile device), but it may be a physical or virtual computer.

Another name for a host like this is a ‘server’. All servers are hosts, but not all hosts are servers. Only hosts that accept connections from other devices (clients) qualify as servers.

How to host a file

There are two FileMaker products that can host a FileMaker file – FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server. You should consider FileMaker Pro as a host only for testing or for a limited timeframe. FileMaker Server is a robust and performant host recommended for all long term hosting.

FileMaker Pro as host

Hosting a file with FileMaker Pro is quite simple. Open the file and choose File > Sharing > Share with FileMaker Clients…. In the FileMaker Network Settings, turn Network Sharing on. Then choose a currently open file from the list and set network access to All users.

FileMaker Network Settings for host

FileMaker Pro is a limited host – it can accommodate up to five connected clients. Those clients can be either FileMaker Pro or FileMaker Go (no web clients). If the host needs to close the file for any reason, all clients must exit.

FileMaker Server as host

Install FileMaker Server software on a dedicated server machine. It is beyond the scope of this blog article to consider all the requirements for the server configuration. When the FileMaker Server has been installed and configured properly, upload files to the server from FileMaker Pro.

Open the file and choose File > Sharing > Upload to FileMaker Server…. In the resulting dialog, choose the FileMaker Server on the network and supply server admin credentials.

Did you know?

FileMaker Server can host up to 125 files simultaneously and easily accommodate 100 concurrent clients accessing this files.

Connecting to a hosted file

When you use FileMaker Pro, you can open a file stored on your local device as a single user. By definition, a hosted file is available on the network. To connect to a hosted file with FileMaker Pro, you choose File > Open Remote…, then choose a host and a file.

As with local files, you may need to provide account credentials to open the file. You are strongly advised to ensure that all hosted files are password protected. This will stop casual networkers having a look at the file. And obviously, you should use strong passwords.

Did you know?

Network traffic travels in and out of devices through numbered ports. The standard port for web traffic between your browser and the web server is port 80. Standard FileMaker traffic uses port 5003. When you are using FileMaker Server with SSL enabled, it also uses the standard SSL port 443.

Why use FileMaker Server as a host?

FileMaker Server provides many more important hosting features than does FileMaker Pro.

  • Scalability and Performance
  • Security – SSL connection, host AES-256 encrypted files, logging
  • Sharing – WebDirect and custom web publishing (PHP), OBDC/JDBC support
  • Maintenance – scheduled backups and procedures, web management console

For more details, refer to the FileMaker web page for FileMaker Server.

The A-Z of FileMaker: G is for Get

G is for Get (functions)

The FileMaker calculation engine provides almost 300 built-in functions. Plug-ins and custom functions provide even more. The largest group of built-in functions is the Get group. FileMaker Pro 15  includes 116 Get functions and more are added each version. In the calculation engine, you can type “get” and press the return key to see all the Get functions:

Get functions

Inline help shows what each function will return.

The basic structure of a Get function is:

Get ( InformationName )

where the InformationName is the information returned by the function. Get functions do not have any parameters – they query the system and return information.

When was that?

Perhaps the most commonly used Get function is the one that returns today’s date:

Get ( CurrentDate )

The “current” date is provided by the machine where the calculation is evaluated  – that may be a desktop client, mobile device or server. To be consistent in the date used for a hosted solution, it may be better to use:

Get ( CurrentHostTimestamp )

While this will return both the date and time from the host, it can be explicitly coerced to the date:

GetAsDate ( Get ( CurrentHostTimestamp ) )

Alternatively, if the calculation returns a date result or is inserted in a date type field, then FileMaker will coerce the date for you.


The GetAsDate function used above is not classified as a Get function. There are 9 GetAsType functions that coerce data to a specific data type. There are 14 other functions that also start with Get such as GetNthRecord and GetLayoutObjectAttribute.

Did you know?

The Get ( CurrentDate ) function has been known by different names in previous versions of FileMaker Pro. Most recently, it was Status (Current Date) and before that it was Today.

Other Get functions that return date and/or time are:

  • CurrentTime
  • CurrentTimestamp
  • CurrentTimeUTCMilliseconds
Timing of evaluation

As with all calculations, you should know when the expression will be evaluated and re-evaluated if necessary.

When using the Get ( CurrentDate ) function, a developer will usually expect it to be using the current date. For example, this is a calculation for the ageing of invoices that returns the number of days since the invoice was issued:

If ( InvoiceDate < Get ( CurrentDate ) ; 
     Get ( CurrentDate ) - InvoiceDate ; 
     0 )

If the calculation field is set up with default storage (stored result), the expression will be evaluated when the invoice date is entered or modified. However, if the solution is closed and re-opened the next day, the expression will not be re-evaluated using the new current date. For an invoice issued on a particular date, the age of the invoice may stay at zero (0) days forever.

To ensure that the expression is re-evaluated as needed. the developer should set the calculation storage to unstored by checking the option for “Do not store calculation results — recalculate when needed”:

calculation storage options
Set Storage Options… in the calculation dialog box
Querying security

There are a number of Get functions that return information about the current security level of the user. These include the account name, privilege set name and list of extended privileges. You can use these functions to control scripted operations while using proper FileMaker security setup.

Extended privileges are great for assigning privileges to multiple privilege sets. For example, in a medical system, a custom extended privilege to allow prescribing of drugs may be assigned to a number of privilege sets (chief MO, doctor, head nurse, psychiatrist) but not to others (nurse, administrator).

The function Get ( AccountExtendedPrivileges ) returns a list of enabled extended privileges for the logged in account privilege set. The following expression will check for the existence of the extended privilege canPrescribe in that list:

Length (
  FilterValues ( Get ( AccountExtendedPrivileges ) ; 
                                     "canPrescribe" )
       ) > 0

The expression can be used in an If or Else If script step to approve the running of the script steps that follow. Using a custom extended privilege in this way allows for quick and simple assignment (or revocation) of privileges to multiple privilege sets.

Query the device and network

Some Get functions provide information about the device and the network being used:

  • Device
  • HostIPAddress and HostName
  • NetworkProtocol and NetworkType
  • ConnectionAttributes and ConnectionState
  • PersistentID, SystemIPAddress and SystemNICAddress

You can identify and log devices and clients with these functions, as well as checking that the network is appropriate for connection.

Other Get functions check the client and host software:

  • ApplicationVersion, HostApplicationVersion, SystemVersion
Query the state of the solution

A number of Get functions allow the developer to check what is going on in the solution and act appropriately.

  • FoundCount, RecordNumber
  • RecordOpenState
  • LayoutName
  • WindowInfo (there are 14 of these such as WindowName)

For example, Get (FoundCount) is commonly used in scripting to determine what to do next. Different actions may be appropriate depending on if there are zero, one or many records found.

If a developer uses a consistent layout naming convention, Get ( LayoutName ) can be used to determine the context and the next action. In a script:

If [ PatternCount ( Get ( LayoutName ) ; "customer" ) ]
     # do this for customers
Else If [PatternCount ( Get ( LayoutName ) ; "invoice" ) ]
     # do this for invoices
Set a primary key

It is common to use a universally unique identifier (UUID) as a primary key value rather than a serial number. This is made easy by the use of the Get (UUID) function. This returns a unique 16-byte string such as:

Developer Tip

When creating a primary key field, use the Get (UUID) function in an auto-enter calculation. Remember to turn OFF “Do not replace existing value of field (if any)” to prevent duplicate UUIDs.

Set and get file locations

Get functions can be used to set storage locations for files when sending to PDF or exporting records, and for retrieving files for email attachment and other processes.

  • DesktopPath, DocumentsPath, TemporaryPath
  • FilePath, FileMakerPath, PreferencesPath

For example, a developer could define the path and file name for a PDF file as:

Get ( TemporaryPath ) & 
Cust::custCode & "_" & Invoice::invNo & ".PDF"

If the developer sets this to a variable, that variable can be used for defining the file attachment in a following Send Mail script step. Since the PDF is saved in the temporary path location, it is cleaned out at the end of the session.

And so much more…

As stated above, there are over 100 Get functions. Clearly there is not room in one blog post to cover even half of them.

As a FileMaker developer, you would be wise to spend time familiarising yourself with many of them including understanding exactly what each returns in what circumstances. Get functions will often return variable results based on where they are evaluated (FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Server, FileMaker Go, FileMaker WebDirect).

Did you know?

uLearnIT runs FileMaker classes. You will learn about Calculation and Summary Fields in the Get Started with FileMaker Pro 15 course.  Learn more about FileMaker classes.

The A-Z of FileMaker: F

F is for find the found set

One of the advantages of using a database rather than a spreadsheet is the innate ability to find data. Sure, with a spreadsheet you can apply filters but it is not really the ‘wheelhouse’ of a spreadsheet.

When using FileMaker Pro, the status area shows how many records are in the table you are viewing on the current layout. In the top screenshot below, the current table has 102 records in total (and the current record is #98).

find results in found set
All records (102 total) and found set (62/102)

After a find request has been performed, there are 62 records in the found set. When you show all records, the found set is the entire table.

Why is the found set important?

Many operations in FileMaker apply to the found set of records (and therefore not to the ‘unfound set’). The following will apply only to the found set:

Replace Field Contents
Delete Found Records
Export Records
Constrain Found Set
Sort Records
Save Records as PDF or Excel

It is commonplace to find a set of records before performing these operations. For example, if you wanted to print a daily invoicing report, you would first find invoice records from the day, then sort and print the found set.

Records not in the found set are effectively excluded or protected from bulk operations.

How is a found set managed?

As shown above, the most common way you will create a found set of records is to perform a find.
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