We’ll use the same “Darn Good Security System” solution to demonstrate a real world example of how you might want to access FileMaker Pro as a data source. The scenario is that a database administrator wants to pull data from the Log.fp5 database in order to create meaningful charts and graphs of the records entered in the log.
Enabling the Data Access Companions
The first step in getting the log database ready for access by Microsoft Excel (where we’ll create our chart) is to turn on sharing via the Remote or Local Data Access Companion FileMaker Pro plug-ins. The only difference between these two plug-ins is that the Local Companion is designed for accessing databases that reside on the same workstation as the client application (in this case, Excel), while the Remote Companion is used when the database system is on a different workstation. In this case, to make things simple, you’ll use the Local Data Access Companion.
Now launch the LaunchDev.fp5 database (with the developer launcher database in order to bypass the iron curtain of SecureFM’s security features) and log in to the system. (The user name and password are -ckubica- and -wwww1111-, respectively.) Once you’re all the way in, switch to Log.fp5 using the Window menu, then go to File > Sharing. In the Companion Sharing area, check the Local Data Access Companion checkbox and then click OK. The Companion is set up. Easy, huh?
Configuring the ODBC Control Panel
Now you need to set up the ODBC control panel to allow access to the Log.fp5 data from any ODBC-compliant database. Depending on your platform, your ODBC control panel will be located here:
In any case, you’ll get a dialog like this:
This is the User DSN (Data Source Name) tab, which shows all data sources that are set up on your computer for the currently logged in user. The System DSN tab shows DSN’s setup for anyone who logs in to the current computer. File DSNs are DSNs that are shareable by users of the computer who have the same drivers installed. Check the Drivers tab to make sure that your FileMaker Pro ODBC driver is installed.
Back on the User DSN tab, press the Add button as you’re going to add the Log.fp5 database as a data source. Now you’ll see this “Create New Data Source” dialog.
Select FileMaker Pro and click Finish. You’ll get the ODBC FileMaker Pro Driver Setup dialog:
Enter a meaningful Data Source Name (something users who need this access will recognize when seeing it) and a Description, if you like. Next, if you’re using the Remote Data Access Companion plug-in instead of the Local Companion, check the Use Remote Connection box and enter the IP address (or host name) of the computer running FileMaker Pro or serving the data via the Remote Companion plug-in.
Take a look at the Advanced tab, even though you’re not going to make any changes here for this example. Here’s what these advanced settings do:
Fire Up Microsoft Excel
This example uses Microsoft Excel 2000 for Windows 2000, but you could try another application or database system that you have handy and are familiar with.
In the upper left is a list of all available databases. Clicking the plus button shows you all fields in that database. If you click on a field and click the Preview Now button, you’ll see some sample data from that field.
Filtering basically means that you are specifying a find request (“Show me only records where the date is earlier than today” or “Show me only records where ‘Giant Meat Cleaver’ is the ProductName”). Set up a basic filter by clicking the Type field at left. The Type field will populate to the right.
Choose “Date Created” and “Ascending” for “Sort by”, then “Time Created” and “Ascending” for “Then by”, as shown in the illustration. Click Next.
Now, finally, at long last, there’s data from your Log.fp5 database in an Excel spreadsheet. From here, you can manipulate your data into meaningful, dynamic lists and reports, and even make charts out of it. For example, here’s a pivot chart showing the number of logons by date.
That’s it for getting data out of FileMaker Pro via ODBC, but here are some last minute pointers and reminders:
Anyone who wants to connect to a FileMaker Pro database via ODBC must have their ODBC control panel set up as explained here for it to work.
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