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So what makes an application like FileMaker different than just a spreadsheet? There's actually many different ways that you can store data inside of your computer, for example, like in a Word Processing document or in an Excel Spreadsheet. These are examples of what are called, in database circles, a Flat File. That's where it's just one single table, so in this case here, the table of Customers or contact information, and it's independent from any other tables that might have related data. So you could have Customers, and you could have orders, but they're stored independently of each other, so there's no actual relationship between that data.
But in a true relational database, like FileMaker Pro, for example, it's designed to make it even easier for you to enter data and also retrieve data, but in a true relational database like FileMaker Pro, it's set up to have various different tables that are all linked or related together. The reason that you would want to have many different tables related in your database is so, for example, if you have customer information, and you've got order information, you won't want to have to rewrite the customer's name and address and phone number and everything every time that you create a new order, but you might have to do if your Customer information and your order information were independent of each other, or not linked.
Also, imagine if, instead of just having 4 records here, we had 4 million. It wouldn't be very easy for us to manipulate, extract or work with data, or even turn it into reports if it's just in a spreadsheet form, but in FileMaker Pro you're able to store your information, but also create different layouts that are related to other tables inside your database, that allow you to link all your information together, like be able to create an order layout that has information from both the Customer and an order all on one form. And this is something that you could print out of as a hard copy if you need to. Another one of the important goals of a relational database is to eliminate redundant data entry.
If you have a spreadsheet of orders, every row that you enter will represent an order, but you also want to have customer information like their mailing address and shipping address that kind of thing. So each time you create a new order row, you'd have to reenter in all the customer name, customer phone number, customer address info. When you have a related database like in FileMaker Pro, I can just say, hey, this order is linked to this customer record that I've already created in my database. That way you don't run the risk of possibly entering the data in wrong the second time around, or if the customer information is updated, it'll then propagate automatically throughout your system.
We're going to see various different examples of this as we go throughout this title, but it's important to know that the advantage of having a database like FileMaker Pro is because your data is going to be related, thus called a relational database.
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