Fields - File Maker

Fields contain the data users enter into a database. They can range in size from very small to the size of the entire layout, and they can be enterable or nonenterable.

If a related field is on a layout and/or in a portal, you’ll see data from the related database. Fields can have different styles, fonts, formats, background colors, and borders.

Adding a Field
To add a field to a layout, drag the field tool onto the layout where you want to add the field. Or, select Field from the Insert menu or click the Insert Field button on the toolbar. A dialog will come up asking you to pick which field you want to add. Select your field and click OK (you can also choose whether to have FileMaker add a field label for you). You can only add one field at a time.

Styles and Object Effects
You can apply the same styles and effects to fields as you can to text blocks with several additions. For one, depending on the type of field you are adding to the layout (text, date, and so on) you can specify how that particular data type will display on the layout. For example, a date field could be defined to display as “4/4/44” or “Four April, 2044”, among others.

Let’s look at these formatting options for the different field types. To access them, click the field you want to format and select either Text, Number, Date, Time, or Graphic from the Insert menu. (Only those selections valid for the field you are formatting will be selectable).

The Text Formatting dialog allows you to style your text and preview it before applying it to the layout.

Below you see the Number Format dialog for Company.fp5’s cConstant field where you can select how you want a number field displayed.

  • “General format” means the number will be rounded (or expressed in scientific notation) as needed to make what’s in the field fit in the default field boundaries.
  • “Leave data as formatted” does just that no formatting is applied.
  • “Format as Boolean” means “display x if the contents of the field isn’t zero and y if the contents is zero” and you can specify what x and y are in the dialog.
  • “Format as decimal” allows you to display the number using decimal places.

You can specify how many decimal places (-99 to 99, inclusively), the notation (percent or currency), and whether or not to display the number if it’s zero. In the Separator area, you can specify what the decimal will look like and whether or not to use a thousands separator (as in “1,000,000” instead of 1000000) and what that separator looks like. Last, you can specify what happens if the number value is negative (it can look like “(1,234)” or “-1,234,” for example), including changing the color (accountants are used to negatives being colored red).

Number format for constant

The following screen shows the Date Format dialog for the CreationDate field in Company.fp5. As with the Number dialog, you can leave the date data formatted exactly as the user entered it, select from a drop-down menu of commonly used formats, or create your own custom date format. The Custom date format allows you to specify up to four date “parts” and up to five delimiters. You can also select whether or not you want leading characters (usually zeros) in the date’s day and month numbers. as in “03/03/2003”.

Date Format dialog for the CreationDate

The screen below shows the Time Format dialog for CreationTime from Company.fp5. As with date formatting, you can choose to leave the time formatted as entered, or you can use custom formatting. You can choose whether to show seconds, whether to use 12- or 24-hour notation, and whether there are leading characters for hours or minutes and seconds.

Time Format dialog for CreationTime from Company.fp5

The graphic format dialog for the Logo field in Company.fp5 is shown below. You can specify whether to have FileMaker reduce, enlarge, or crop the graphic contained in the field to fit the field. A cropped graphic will show in its original size, cut off by the edges of the field if there isn’t enough room, or floating somewhere in blank space in there’s too much. Reducing and enlarging graphics stretches them to fit the size of the field on the layout.

The checkbox “Maintain original proportions” will resize the width and height of any graphic in the field in proportion to each other. The Alignment settings determine how the graphic will be aligned in the field (left to right and top to bottom). A preview shows you how the graphic will look before you commit the settings to the layout.

graphic format

Field Borders
In addition to setting the pen color, pattern, and point size for the field border, you can further specify how you would like the borders to look by using the Field Borders dialog. To get there, select a field in Layout mode and then select Field Borders from the Format menu (or right- click / CONTROL- click a field and select the same from the contextual menu). You see this dialog:

Field Borders

Here you see the border settings for the Notes field in Company.fp5. Note that you’ve got the borders turned on on the top, left and right side of the field.

You could also check one box to show the text baseline a line running along the bottom of each visible line of text in the field in all modes, and another box to show borders between repeating field values. At the bottom of the dialog you can set the fill color, pattern, and point size of the current field’s fill, borders, and baselines. On the right side you’ll see a preview of what the field will look like with the styles you select.

Field Format
The last but oh, so important area of field formatting is the Field Format dialog (shown below). To reach this dialog right-click/CONTROL-click the State field in Company.fp5 and select Field Format from the menu.

Field Format

  • The Style section has you specify whether the field should be of the standard variety (user enters data into the field free-form) or whether data should be entered as a value list a predefined selection of possible choices of values. For example, it makes sense for the State field to use a value list so a user doesn’t have to remember the two-letter state abbreviations (and the number of states is limited). (You’ll learn how to define value lists shortly.)
  • Repetitions lets you decide whether to show repetitions of the current field, if any, how many repetitions to show, and whether you want them shown horizontally or vertically.
  • The Behavior area allows you to decide whether or not a user can get into a field at all in Browse or Find mode. If the “Allow entry into field” box is checked, a user can enter the field with their cursor, type data, copy and paste, find records, and so on. If “Select entire contents of field on entry” is checked, when the user clicks into the field with the mouse all text or other data in the field will immediately be highlighted and “ready for action” (copying, deleting, typing over). Be careful with this checkbox, especially in a field like Notes where it would be quite easy for someone to quickly and accidentally highlight the entire contents of a field, and press DELETE.

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