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FileMaker Pro has built-in functionality for saving data as either Microsoft Excel or Adobe PDF files. You can see these options when you go into Preview mode in any one of your layouts, because we've got icons in the Status toolbar for Save as Excel and Save as PDF. You can also find these options while you're in any layout, in any mode, under the File menu, under Save/Send Records As. The Save/Send Records As Excel functionality makes it easy for a user to export FileMaker Pro data from the current layout and current found set, and work with it in Excel's Spreadsheet.
Note also that FileMaker Pro 11 supports both the .xsl and .xslx formats for Microsoft Excel. So the Save as Excel option is great for you if you want to share data that's stored in your FileMaker database with someone who doesn't have access to the database; however, it's not intended to be an alternative to storing the data in your database. You should never create an Excel Spreadsheet and then make modifications to the data, because you'll just end up with data with different versions in different locations. So make sure this is only for sharing subsets of data and not for making modifications.
But in fact, if somebody contacts you and says -- let's say, for example, an accounting person says they want some information that's stored in FileMaker. This is an excellent tool for being able to share that data, and it's really easy to do, too. So if you are asked to do an Export as Excel, you could of course go into the File Export option and choose Excel, which in that case it allows you to pick various fields. But when you're doing the Save As Excel, it's a little bit easier to do, because it's just a single button press. But just remember that the layout that you're on is going to give you the fields that it'll Export.
So basically hitting Save As Excel will give me these three fields, the ProductID, Product Name and Cost, and it will give me the number of records that I currently have in my Found Set. So if we look here, I have all 40 records showing. But if I were to create a subset of those, that's what would Export. So back in Preview mode, if I do want to create the Save as Excel, all I have to do out of Preview mode is hit the Save as Excel button, but keep in mind that in any mode you can go under the File menu and choose Save/Send Records As Excel.
In the Save Records As Excel dialog window, you'll choose the name of your Excel file, as well as the location where we're going to save it, and you can choose which type of Excel Workbook you want to create, and then you also have an option to choose whether its going to be the records being browsed or the current records. Now remember, we had 40 records in our found set, so that means if I choose records being browsed, it's going to give me all 40 records as part of the spreadsheet Export. If I choose Current Record, it's just going to give me whatever the active record was at the time that I pressed Save As Excel. So we'll keep it as Records being browsed.
You see we have a couple of options here. Automatically open file, which I have checked, will open up the file in Excel for me to preview it. I'll make any modifications if I need to, but just to help me take a look at it which I will do in this case, and also a really handy option to Create an e-mail with the spreadsheet as an attachment. So like in the example before where someone in an accounting department, for example, has asked you to send this information over to them. Well, you're going to e-mail it anyway, so why not just hit this button,which will open up a outgoing e-mail on your default mail program, with this spreadsheet attached.
We'll just keep the Automatically open file option open right now. Then we hit the Save button. You see now that the spreadsheet has been saved to the location where we told it. In this case we've actually got 41 records, and that's because of course, Excel uses a row to use your column headers. And you'll notice also that the column headers inside the spreadsheet will be the name of the field. So sometimes you might want to open this up and maybe just change these around, so instead of the naming convention that you used, you can make it to say ID, for example.
And if you've ever use related fields, you'll actually see the table name colon, colon in the field names. So that's definitely something you want to clean up before you share this with anybody. Just like with Excel, FileMaker allows you to output your layouts as a PDF document. It's actually quite easy to do. First just navigate to the layout that you want to create. Let's say we go to our Welcome Letter, and instead of printing out a hardcopy of the Welcome Letter, let's say this time we want to just generate a PDF and send it over to one of our customers.
So now that we've navigated to this layout, we can take a look at what its going to look like in Preview mode, and of course, Preview shows us the margins and the spacing for not only a hardcopy output, but also what the PDF is going to look like. And we're in Preview mode now, so we see we've got the Save as PDF button, but of course, in any mode I can go under the File menu, choose Save/Send Records As and choose PDF. It will give me the same Save Records As PDF option, and here just like with Excel, name the PDF, pick the location where you want it to be saved, and choose whether or not you want the Records being browsed, which is going to be all of the records in the found set.
This time, though, we just want to print the one active record that we're on. So that's going to be the Current record that we see onscreen. Also, though, with a PDF you have the option to choose a Blank record. This means, for example, if you have a form that you've created in your database for data entry, you can print off a PDF version of it with no data in the records, or fields, and then have somebody hand-fill that out and use that for data entry. Just an option here that you have, because of the PDF's write-in capabilities in FileMaker Pro 11. We'll choose Current record. We also see by hitting the Options button that you have all the regular Adobe output options, so you can name the document something.
You can even put a password into the document. These are all options that you might be familiar with if you use Adobe Acrobat anyways. And of course, you see in the bottom, we've got the Automatically open file or Create e-mail with this file as an attachment, just like with Excel. We'll open it up with whatever reader you have, or open it up in an outgoing e-mail. So let's hit OK, and let's hit Save. And now you see the PDF on our desktop, and you see the PDF option, which is a nicely-formatted letter opening up inside Preview on my computer.
So both of these are really great tools for FileMaker, for sharing information on the fly, as either Save As Excel or Save As PDF, both of which will allow you to save out in formats that you can then share with those that don't have access to FileMaker Pro.
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