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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Working with Related Data

One of FileMaker’s core strengths is how it allows you to view and work with related information from a different but connected contextual set of records from other tables.

The Tasks Starter Solution has related tables for assignees and attachments. A project can consist of one or more tasks; a task can be assigned to one or more assignees. And because these relationships have been set up in the database, it is easy for the FileMaker Pro layouts to display them and allow them to be edited.

Figure 2.25 shows the tasks table in the database. At the right of the layout is a portal that shows the people assigned to that task. A portal lets developers display related information to users.

Figure 2.25

Figure 2.25. The Form View – Tasks layout contains a portal of related contacts.

You can have multiple relationships, and they can be displayed in multiple portals. Figure 2.26, for example, shows the Resource Scheduling Starter Solution. Tabs at the bottom display portals with relationships from each project to people, equipment, materials, locations, and other items.

Figure 2.26

Figure 2.26. Tabs can display multiple relationships in multiple portals.

Understanding the Mechanics of a Portal

A portal is simply a view into another table and includes rows of specific related records. Developers determine the rules by which records appear in portals, and at times the records displayed can dynamically change or a portal might display other records in the same table you’re currently viewing.

Most portals have a scroll bar on the right. They feel a bit like List views and act much the same way. To browse through your related records, simply scroll up and down through the list. Data entry works the same way it does in other areas of FileMaker: Simply click into a field and enter whatever data is appropriate.

At times, developers include buttons in portals. When they place a button within a portal, the button in question appears on each portal row, and each row’s button will act on that row’s data or record. Common buttons are a delete button (often a red X, a trash can, or a red circle with a slash through it at the right of the portal row) to delete that portal row and a disclosure button (often a triangle at the left of the row) or a checkbox at the left of a portal row. Figure 2.26 shows both of these interface elements.

Creating and Deleting Portal Rows

To create a new portal row—which then creates a new child record—scroll to the first empty row of a portal. If there are blank fields, click any of the blank fields there. Child records is a term often used to describe related, hierarchically dependent records—for example, Company and Employee. Employee records are considered children of Company.

If a developer allows for it, you can delete a portal row by following these steps:

  1. Click outside the fields of a given portal on the row background. (You might have to mouse around a bit.) You should see the row become highlighted.
  2. Press the Backspace or Delete button on your keyboard. You can also use Records, Delete Record or the Delete Record command on the Status toolbar. You are prompted as to whether you want to delete that one related record. Click Delete or Cancel to close the dialog box.

Portal Sorting

Sorting records is covered later in the chapter. For now, simply note that a developer determines by what means a portal sorts and that there is no way for you, as a user, to change a portal’s sort order unless the developer creates a specific mechanism allowing for that option. A developer can build a dynamically sortable, command-driven portal in various ways, but this is not the default behavior in FileMaker Pro.

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