FileMaker Pro 11 Essential Training
Illustration by Richard Downs

Reviewing field validation options


FileMaker Pro 11 Essential Training

with Cris Ippolite

Video: Reviewing field validation options

Any database system that you create really should strive to have consistent data. Without data consistency, it becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible, to derive meaningful and viable information about whatever the database is designed to keep track of. So even in your best efforts to create a good architecture, if you're not managing the types of data that are going into the database, you might have some problems with some of the results you're getting out of the database. So to ensure that data is entered into your database in a consistent and reliable manner, you must design checks and restrictions on the way that users are allowed to enter data in the system.
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  1. 7m 22s
    1. Welcome
      1m 8s
    2. Understanding the FileMaker family
      2m 15s
    3. Using the FileMaker Quick Start screen
      2m 52s
    4. Using the exercise files
      1m 7s
  2. 21m 9s
    1. What is a database?
      2m 26s
    2. Flat vs. relational databases
      2m 29s
    3. How FileMaker works
      4m 48s
    4. Understanding the essential preferences
      3m 13s
    5. Touring the interface
      8m 13s
  3. 11m 44s
    1. Creating databases from templates
      2m 29s
    2. Creating new databases in the spreadsheet-like format
      5m 35s
    3. Importing tables
      3m 40s
  4. 9m 9s
    1. Determining which tables you will need
      5m 10s
    2. Creating tables in the Managing Tables window
      3m 59s
  5. 34m 47s
    1. Understanding relationship types
      6m 58s
    2. Diagramming relationships (with ER diagrams)
      8m 50s
    3. Determining which key fields you need
      5m 18s
    4. Defining primary and foreign keys
      7m 56s
    5. Creating relationships using the relationships graph and table occurrences
      5m 45s
  6. 50m 34s
    1. Deciding what fields you will need
      5m 34s
    2. Understanding field types
      7m 54s
    3. Defining fields
      9m 56s
    4. Using Auto Enter options in fields
      9m 33s
    5. Reviewing field validation options
      8m 16s
    6. Building with container fields
      9m 21s
  7. 14m 8s
    1. Creating and duplicating records
      5m 40s
    2. Editing and locking records
      4m 42s
    3. Deleting records and backing up files
      3m 46s
  8. 21m 6s
    1. Importing data
      9m 57s
    2. Importing records to refresh data
      7m 2s
    3. Exporting data
      4m 7s
  9. 18m 30s
    1. Understanding layouts
      4m 15s
    2. Using the Layout Assistant to create List views
      7m 59s
    3. Using the Layout Assistant to create labels and envelopes
      6m 16s
  10. 27m 11s
    1. Using the Layout Setup dialog box
      4m 54s
    2. Understanding layout parts
      4m 40s
    3. Understanding the new Inspector
      2m 26s
    4. Exploring the Status Area in Layout mode
      6m 46s
    5. Managing layouts and layout folders
      8m 25s
  11. 41m 9s
    1. Arranging, aligning, grouping, and locking layout objects
      11m 5s
    2. Placing and formatting objects, parts, and graphics
      4m 10s
    3. Formatting fields and applying field attributes
      8m 26s
    4. Setting field behaviors
      4m 4s
    5. Using the Tab Control feature
      9m 8s
    6. Setting tab order
      4m 16s
  12. 36m 48s
    1. Using the basic find functions
      7m 31s
    2. Reviewing new requests in the Find mode
      5m 54s
    3. Establishing search operators
      6m 43s
    4. Constraining or extending found sets
      3m 24s
    5. Finding records using date, time, or timestamp criteria
      5m 18s
    6. Using Fast Match and Quick Find
      4m 41s
    7. Working with saved finds
      3m 17s
  13. 17m 28s
    1. Sorting with one criterion
      6m 4s
    2. Sorting with related fields
      2m 18s
    3. Sorting with multiple criteria
      1m 36s
    4. Sorting using custom values
      3m 14s
    5. Sorting using buttons
      4m 16s
  14. 17m 14s
    1. Reviewing Field/Control styles
      5m 43s
    2. Creating and applying static value lists
      5m 20s
    3. Creating and applying dynamic value lists
      6m 11s
  15. 23m 52s
    1. Previewing pages and print options
      6m 20s
    2. Printing in different views
      2m 54s
    3. Sliding objects
      3m 26s
    4. Printing merge letters
      4m 53s
    5. Saving as a PDF or Excel file
      6m 19s
  16. 15m 1s
    1. Building simple reports with summary fields
      4m 36s
    2. Creating subsummary reports
      6m 51s
    3. Creating subsummary reports in Table view
      3m 34s
  17. 52m 19s
    1. Defining calculations
      2m 31s
    2. Exploring the Calculation dialog box
      5m 8s
    3. Using number functions
      12m 41s
    4. Using date and time functions
      4m 58s
    5. Using text functions
      11m 43s
    6. Using get functions
      4m 0s
    7. Using logic functions
      11m 18s
  18. 46m 56s
    1. Understanding scripts and script steps
      2m 23s
    2. Assigning script steps to buttons
      3m 54s
    3. Understanding the ScriptMaker dialog box
      8m 28s
    4. Creating multi-line scripts
      6m 44s
    5. Adding find criteria to a script
      4m 58s
    6. Understanding the If script step
      8m 36s
    7. Using script parameters
      4m 42s
    8. Reviewing the Send Mail option
      7m 11s
  19. 28m 0s
    1. Understanding script triggers
      2m 41s
    2. Using object-based triggers
      11m 58s
    3. Using layout-based triggers
      7m 51s
    4. Using file-based triggers (Open and Close scripts)
      5m 30s
  20. 56m 42s
    1. Using related fields
      7m 18s
    2. Creating portals and using portal filtering
      10m 38s
    3. Using related fields in calculations
      7m 6s
    4. Understanding multi-predicate relationships
      11m 11s
    5. Using the Go to Related Record script step
      7m 26s
    6. Creating a chart
      13m 3s
  21. 30s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course FileMaker Pro 11 Essential Training
9h 11m Beginner Jun 25, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Creating databases from templates
  • Creating fields in spreadsheet format
  • Creating tables and relationships
  • Defining key fields
  • Adding validation and auto-enter values to fields
  • Managing records, including duplicating, locking, and deleting records
  • Creating and managing layouts
  • Formatting layout objects
  • Finding and sorting data
  • Creating calculation fields
  • Building reports
  • Printing and saving as PDF or Excel
  • Writing and triggering scripts
  • Using relationships throughout a database
FileMaker Pro
Cris Ippolite

Reviewing field validation options

Any database system that you create really should strive to have consistent data. Without data consistency, it becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible, to derive meaningful and viable information about whatever the database is designed to keep track of. So even in your best efforts to create a good architecture, if you're not managing the types of data that are going into the database, you might have some problems with some of the results you're getting out of the database. So to ensure that data is entered into your database in a consistent and reliable manner, you must design checks and restrictions on the way that users are allowed to enter data in the system.

This is where another field option called Field Validation comes into play. Field Validation, which can be found under the File > Manage > Database Window, clicking on any field, and choosing Options, you'll notice that in the Field options, you've got a Validation tab. Field Validation allows you to test field data against specific criteria, and possibly even warn the user if the value doesn't pass muster in some way. So, for example, you can use your field validation to make sure that a price that was entered is greater than 0, or make sure that a ZIP code field is not empty, those types of things.

You might be familiar with this type of experience as a user, whether you're using database system or even making orders online. If you forget to put in a ZIP code field, the database that runs a Web site, for example, will come back and tell you, oops! You've forgotten that. Can you make sure to add a value before we let you proceed? As you'll learn later in this movie, if a user tries to commit a record containing field data that violates the validation rules, a user is going to receive a warning, and be prompted to change the nonconforming data; thus, keeping your data consistent and reliable. They will be frozen in time, not allowed to move forward or backward without addressing the violation of the data.

Of course, this can be somewhat of a hindrance to data entry, so you have to make these Validation Option selections very carefully. So let's do an example here. If we went into the AddressEmail, and let's say it's very important for you to communicate with your users via e-mail, and that every time that they order from you, you send them a confirmation e -mail that they need to reply to. So in that case, you've got a business rule that says we need to have a customer's e-mail in order to be able to complete this workflow. So if we double-click on AddressEmail, or we can select it and hit Options, either one of those two ways, it'll bring our Field Options window forward.

You can select the Validation tab, and beginning at the very top of the dialog, we can see that we've got a couple of decisions that we need to make. First, you'll see Validate this field Always or Only during data entry. The Only during data entry is of course the default. When you create a new field, it means that the validation that you select, if you select any, will occur only when a user manually enters data into the fields. There are other types of ways that you can get data into the field, such as scripts or even importing data into your database, but if you have Only during data entry selected, those other ways will be a mute.

This is a default setting, because it's more common that you want to control how human beings, or your users, are entering data, rather than other technical mechanisms like importing or scripts. So, for example, let's say that anytime someone's data entering a customer record, I want to make sure that they gather the e-mail. But let's say I've got a huge database of leads that I got from a conference, and I just want to import those into my database. Those might not be customers yet, so I don't necessarily need their e-mail until we start to engage them. So in that example, I do want to bring records into my database through an import.

But when a user gets to it, and I want to make sure that the user is alerted that we don't have an e-mail. So conversely, choosing Always means that whatever rules we apply inside the Validation tab will always have to take place, or the record won't be allowed to be added, or the data won't be allowed to be added if it violates muster. This is a very strict level of Field Validation, and you should use caution when you're choosing Always. We'll keep this one on the default, data entry. For the sake of the AddressEmail option, we're going to leave it as Only during data entry, because we may want to import customer records from other sources that don't have e-mails, similar to the example that we just discussed.

An additional check box in the upper section of the dialog also allows you to choose whether or not the user can override data entry. So you see that this is also kind of a soft sort of reminder that there's a rule about the data in the field. If that's checked, that means that the user can choose to ignore it; however, if you uncheck it, that means they have no choice but to comply before they can proceed on with their activity. They could, of course, just delete the record they're working on, but they won't be able to create a record, and ignore your field validation. So now in the central section you'll see that we've got the various different choices that we have to apply validation to a field.

These validation rule options that you see here are not mutually exclusive, meaning that you can pick more than one, and therefore have various different rules that the data will have to pass in order to be added into the database; however, some of them really don't make sense to choose both at the same time, so FileMaker won't allow you to do that. For example, choosing Unique or Existing, it's only going to allow you to choose either/or because those conflict with each other and it doesn't really make sense. However, if I say, Not empty and Existing, it will allow me to do that. You'll also notice that Strict data type > Numeric; I can only choose one of those rather than multiples.

So under Strict data type, I can say, this field must only have numeric data entered, a 4 digit year date or be a time of day. As we saw here, I can check Not empty, which is what we want to do in this case, or choose from either a Unique value or Existing value. These are probably the most common settings that you may have inside of FileMaker. Member of a value list ensures that the field value that you're trying to enter into the field also exists in a value list somewhere within our database. Later on in this movie, we'll show you how to create value lists, and this is just a number of one of the useful ways that you can use those value lists once created.

In range is pretty self-explanatory. It gives you two entry boxes, and whatever the data that you enter in must fall within the range, whether your field is a number field or a date field, it will be able to determine whether or not the date falls within the range or a numerical value falls within the range. Validate by calculation is very popular; however, it's going to require an understanding of the calculation dialog and functions which we'll be covering later on in this title, and we're even going to use the Validate by calculation option as a demonstration to show how those work. So now finally, we're just going to leave the AddressEmail validation settings to Not empty.

We'll hit OK, and hit OK again. Now, let's create a new record. When we try to commit the record, you see when we get this message, "AddressEmail" is defined to require a value, and you must enter a value. So until we enter something into this field, it's not going to let us pass, but one thing that you'll notice is that that message is a little bit nondescript. So there's something that we can do about that if we need to. First, we'll enter a value to let us move on.

We'll go to Manage > Database, under the File menu, and go to AddressEmail and double-click on it, and you'll see we've got Not empty chosen. But if you notice down below, we can choose to Display a custom message, should the validation be violated. So in this case, we can do something a little bit more user-friendly, like "You must enter an e-mail before proceeding." Now, when we hit OK, and OK, and try to create a new record, you see that it's a little bit more user-friendly of a dialog than the other message that popped up earlier.

One important thing. Since we're going to be using this database for our various other exercises, we don't want the users to have the same experience where they keep seeing this message. So we're going to just delete a record, we're going to go under File > Manage > Database, and we're going to turn off the Required, and we're going to turn off the Not empty. This way it won't be a hindrance to us when we're doing other exercises. But you notice though, that by deleting the record, it doesn't require us to enter a value, and that's because FileMaker doesn't care if you're deleting a record, because that data is not going to violate the rules that it had set up for the data that's already storing.

FileMaker Field Validation allows you to test data against specific criteria to warn your users if a field value does not pass muster in some way, thus allowing you to keep your data consistent and reliable. All are keys to having an effective storage mechanism inside your FileMaker database.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about FileMaker Pro 11 Essential Training .

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Q: In the Chapter 16 tutorial, “Using Text Functions,” the instructor discusses how to calculate the First Name and Last Name from the Full Name. However, the method does not account for names ending with  “Jr.” or “Sr.” or “III,” etc.  How can I account for added suffixes in names?
A: For cases like this, you can create a third "Suffix" field. Then change the FullName calculation to:

NameFirst&" "&NameLast&" "&Suffix 

This way, nothing will appear if the Suffix has no value, but if it does have a value the suffix will appear.
Q: What information is actually on the “Invoice Line Item” table in the examples, and how does it actually connect to the tables that it comes from?
A: The information in each line item is native to the "Invoice Line Item" table. The fields are defined in that table and each record represents "A Product appearing on an Invoice."
Each time a product is used on an invoice, a record in the line item table is created. Many of the fields, for example "Quantity," are native to that table because those values only exists when a Product is used in an Invoice, and not as attributes of a Product itself.
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