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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book


Most of the trouble you’ll run into as a user will be with issues specific to your own database solutions. The best advice we can offer both developers and users is to work together! When you run into problems, knowing your developer will be a great first step.

Data Loss

I’ve noticed that I’m suddenly missing some data. What happened? What can I do?

One of the most critical aspects of your database is what gives it its name: your data. A wide range of possible problems can affect your data, but the most dangerous is accidentally deleting a record...or worse yet, discovering that you had the wrong found set when performing a Delete All Records command. FileMaker doesn’t have an undo function, so if you delete a record, it’s gone forever. Be sure that you haven’t simply altered your found set to exclude the records you’re looking for. Go to Records, Show All Records to recall all the data in your table.

Back up your data. We can’t stress this point enough. FileMaker Server deployment best practices and backup routines are easy to learn. If you’re not using FileMaker Server, you can make timestamped copies of your files and store them on CD or on another computer. By far the best backup strategy is to use an automated procedure. That way, no one has to remember to do anything. It always seems to be the case that the only time you do not back up your data is the one time your hard disk fails.

Also, make certain you have practiced recovering data (backing it up and then restoring it to disk). It is common for someone to note a data loss and proceed to take all sorts of steps to recover the data (inadvertently destroying data in the process). And then, at the end of the day, it turns out that there was no data loss—all the day’s data was entered with an incorrect date.

Data Integrity

How do I ensure that the data I have in my database is “good” data?

Making sure that good data is entered into your database is vital. If you properly put people’s names in the first name and last name fields of a contact database, but your office assistant decides to enter nicknames and other random tidbits, your data will be compromised.

In addition, duplicate data is a problem that plagues all databases everywhere. If you’ve already created a record for, say, Uryas Forge, you won’t want to create a second record for him. What happens if his phone number changes? You’ll change one record, but not the other.

Dealing with bad data is a challenge and almost always requires the power of the human brain. Become adept at running find requests. Use the ! mark to find duplicates and use * characters for wildcard characters.

You can also work with your developer to put validation in place, or even build an approval process by which new data is added to your system in phases, with raw data in one set of fields and confirmed data in another. Alternatively, you can add a single check box field to each record that indicates whether the data has been reviewed.

Reverting Records

What does Revert Record do?

As you enter data into fields, that information is not saved (committed) until you exit the record in question. You do so by clicking outside any fields or by changing modes, changing layouts, and so on. Before the record is committed, you can choose Records, Revert Record. This command undoes all the data you’ve entered while working with active fields. If you’ve tabbed from field to field, it reverts all those not yet saved. If you have created a new record, it even reverts the entire new record if you haven’t yet committed it.

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