Many full-sized FileMaker-based database systems keep track of contacts, companies, invoices, purchase orders, products, and other record types just fine. But many clients also ask to be able to link external documents to, say, a contact record which can then be accessed from that FileMaker record. For instance, you might want to be able to see all documents sent to a particular contact from within that person’s database record. Further, you might like to be able to link new documents in and then be able to access them in their native application from within FileMaker Pro. Or, perhaps you want to be able to attach PDFbased drawings, schematics, or fact sheets to records in your products database.
If this describes what you want to do, you need a document management system, and FileMaker Pro (combined with a few popular plug-ins) can provide this functionality. In this section you’ll learn how to set up a document management system for your FileMaker database system.
Document Management Example
The first thing you need to do is to choose where you would like to store your linked documents. In the pink field below the document portal, next to the words “Where to Store Your Documents?” enter the folder on your hard drive (or, in Windows, elsewhere on the network) where all linked documents for this database system will be stored. Here’s what a path to a folder looks like, depending on your platform:
How It Works
Now take a look under the hood and see what’s happening here. Go to Contact.fp5 and look at the “Link a Document” script, which looks like this (comments on what the script is doing are shown in between the code sections):
First you set a global in Document.fp5 so you know which contact this new linked document is associated with.
Above are several calls to the Troi File Plug-in that have to do with asking you to specify which file you’ll be linking to.
Here you’re just creating the new Document.fp5 record and bringing its ID back to the Contact.fp5 database . . .
Above is where the destination for the new linked file is set and then a call is made to the plug-in to actually move the file (if that’s what the user chose to do instead of making a copy of the file).
The above sequence is the same as when moving a file but instead of moving it from its original place to the linked documents folder, only a copy is moved to that folder.Go to Layout ["Correspondence"] Go to Field 
Notes and Caveats
You may have noticed that as the linked files are moved to the linked documents folder they are renamed using a serial number scheme like “LINK10014.doc”.
This isn’t something you have to do, but it might be safer because this way there aren’t really two files on your computer named the exact same thing. Also, if someone finds his or her way to the linked documents folder, it’s harder for that person to find sensitive documents.
Here are some other caveats and ideas regarding managing documents like this in FileMaker Pro:
Only allow access by clicking a document link in FileMaker. If users are able to somehow rename, move, or delete documents from the linked documents folder without going through FileMaker, the integrity and order of your document management system will be compromised (links will be lost and so on).
But keep in mind that the linked documents folder needs to be somewhere that everyone on the network has access to. Make sure to test document linking from many workstations before rolling out the solution.
The people at Datavations seem to have come up with a FileMaker Pro /Microsoft Office integration solution just like the one described here. It’s pretty cool. Not only does its kit link with Word but also with Microsoft’s Excel, Outlook, and Project.
Speaking of generating Word documents containing merged data from a FileMaker Pro database, have a look at EZxslt developed by Chaparral Software & Consulting Services. It takes FileMaker fields that are populated with data and creates a Microsoft Word document, which merges the data with a Word template (which you set up beforehand). The great thing, though, is that it requires no knowledge of XML (though that’s what’s powering this stellar solution) and the Word template is relatively quick and easy to set up, as is the export of XML-formatted data from your FileMaker database.
EZxslt has a bright future; never before has it been easier to merge File- Maker data into templates that you can use to generate personalized contracts, quotes, invoices, menus, tasks lists you name it using the power of Microsoft Word.
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