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In FileMaker Pro 11 Essential Training, Cris Ippolite demonstrates the principal features and functions of this popular database software, including creating tables and relationships, managing fields and records, and working with layouts. The course shows FileMaker developers how to find, sort, and share data as well as how to create reports, calculations, and scripts. It also covers brand new features in FileMaker Pro 11 such as the Inspector tool, charting, and portal filtering. Exercise files accompany the course.
One very popular request from FileMaker users is the ability to print letters. And much like other applications, like Word, for example, FileMaker Pro supports Merge fields. If you navigate over to the Customer Welcome Letter, I'll show you an example of how this Merge field technique works. First, we'll need to go into Layout mode, and we're going to take a look at this layout and how it's set up. You see this layout has a standard Header/Footer part, but inside the Body we just have one big text area, which was created, initially, by choosing the Text tool and just picking an area onscreen and beginning to type.
You'll notice we've got a couple of areas here where we've left blanks because we want to actually show field data. One way that we could do this is to drag a field, which we can do by choosing the Field tool and dragging the field right next to the area that we want to display the name, like so. And certainly that could work; as a matter of fact, if you look at it in Browse mode you can see that a value can show up. But what happens when we want to put information in between other text, or list data inside the Letter area and have it expand and contract based on how long the data is? Well, then these fields aren't going to work.
And plus, even in this case, they'd be a little difficult to work with. I'm going to go ahead and delete this field here, and I'm going to click inside the text area, and double-click on it so I can put my cursor in there. And instead, what I'm going to do, I'm going to go into the Insert menu, and at the very bottom you see there is a section here for Merge Field. When you select Insert > Merge Field, you see the familiar Specify Field window which allows you to pick a field from any table that's related to the current table that you're on.
When I hit OK we see now that the entire name has been placed inside of the text area, with double brackets on each side of it, which is a common way to denote Merge Field. Going back into Browse mode, saving our changes, we now see, as we move from record to record, that the first name Field data has been put inside of this, that the data from the first name field has been placed right next to Hello, and what's nice is it dynamically moves the position of the dash forward and backward, depending on the length of the data in the field.
Now what's nice about a Merge Field is we can treat it just like it's text. So, for example, if I wanted to select this and add some formatting to it, I would use the same formatting options as I do for formatting any other kind of text on the layout. Let's take a look at a couple of other areas where we can insert some Merge value. Let's put in the CompanyName here and get rid of some of these spaces.
And then down here, we're going to actually add the address, since that's what it indicates here. I want them to verify their shipping address. So we're going to treat it just like text, but we can say AddressStreet, and I'll hit Return, Insert > Merge Field, City, and now because it's like text, very similar to the one we are creating our label layouts and our envelope layouts, I can put a comma and a space, and I can insert another Merge Field after that for State, put another's couple of spaces and insert Zip.
Now when we go onto Browse mode and we cycle through the different records, we can see the addresses and the names update. But we don't see anything where we have the customer name. So if we go into Customer List and Find Matching Records, Show Omitted, it will give us a found set of records that have company names. Now we can go back and preview and see how those look. Thank you for signing up, and then we've got the name, and you'll notice that no matter how long the name is, it's actually wrapping the entire text from that paragraph around to the next line, which is a nice way to do this.
But also, we can apply some formatting, so we choose the name here and hit Bold. I can also maybe add other character there and go into Browse mode, and you see now we're able to create smart-looking, professional letters with dynamic data that's populated by a found set that we created in our customer table. So it's a good idea, when you're creating letter layouts, that you always use Merge fields; however, Merge fields can also be used anywhere else in a layout that you want a field value to be treated as text.
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