Exploring FileMaker Pro - File Maker

Now that you are familiar with the basic concepts of relational database systems, it is time to familiarize yourself with the FileMaker Pro application itself. You will soon realize that FileMaker Pro is very easy to understand and that you can be building a relational database system in very short order. If you are used to working in Microsoft Office, then FileMaker will be somewhat familiar to you.

Launching FileMaker Pro
Before you can examine the basic interface elements of a FileMaker Pro database, you need to launch the application. Assuming you have already done a standard install of the FileMaker software on your computer, you simply need to navigate to the FileMaker Pro application icon and double-click it.

NOTE To launch FileMaker Pro under Mac OS X, navigate to Hard Drive/ Applications/ FileMaker Pro and double-click the FileMaker Pro icon. How one actually gets to the final folder depends on the Finder preference settings you have set up. The navigation can be similar to Mac OS Classic navigation (where each folder opens its own window), similar to Windows (where each folder appears in the same window), or in a columnar view where each folder appears in its own column.

Exploring FileMaker Pro

On either platform, depending on the installation options you chose, the FileMaker installer may have placed a shortcut (called an alias on a Mac) to the FileMaker Pro application right on your desktop. In this case, you can launch FileMaker Pro from the desktop by double-clicking this shortcut icon.

After the application loads, you will be presented with FileMaker’s new database dialog.

Launching File Maker Pro

In this dialog, you can specify whether or not you want to create a new database from scratch, create a database from one of the template databases included when FileMaker Pro is installed, or open an existing database that you’ve previously created.

For the purposes of exploring the FileMaker Pro interface, we’ll use one of the template files.

  1. Select “Create a new file using a template” (it should be the default selection).
  2. Select “Business” from the drop-down menu. If you don’t want to see this dialog anymore when FileMaker launches (instead, you’ll get the standard Windows or Mac open dialog), you can click the “No longer show this dialog” checkbox located just above the Template Info button. (Don’t worry; you can get the dialog back later if you want it.)
  3. Click the Inventory database in the scrolling list of templates then click the OK button.

FileMaker will then ask you where you would like to save this copy of the Inventory database, because it knows that you don’t want to overwrite the master template file. You can choose any location you wish, but it might be easy to save this database right on the desktop or create a “Practice Files” folder on the desktop to keep all databases created as you work your way through this as organized as possible.

  1. Navigate to the location where you would like to save this database.
  2. Type the name that you would like for this new database (you would just leave it as “Inventory.fp5”).
  3. Click the Save button.

FileMaker will save a copy of the template database to the location you specified and open it up in Browse mode, one of FileMaker’s four modes

Below it shows the Inventory.fp5 database as it appears when it’s been opened in FileMaker. Now let’s take a look at some of the features of the FileMaker environment.

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