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A lot of computer users don't like having to take their hands off the keyboard when doing data entry. For example, one way that you can enter data into certain fields is to click into a field, make some changes, and then take your mouse and click into another field. But in most cases, users like to keep their hands on the keyboard and just tab from one field to another. An important aspect of creating an effective user interface is going to be how you manage how users move throughout the layout. That's really going to be a key to its usefulness to your users. The primary means for doing so is by customizing something called the Tab Order in order to create a smooth and logical progression, by which your users can then move from field to field, as well as from field to non-field objects.
FileMaker creates a default Tab Order for each layout, according to the physical placement of the fields on the layout. So, for example, the order in which you've added the fields to the layout will determine what your default order will be. But that's not always going to be the most logical way that your users want to work with the fields. So if we go into Layout mode and go under the Layouts menu to Set Tab Order, you'll see a window appear called Set Tab Order. You'll also see that by each field and layout object, we've got arrows with numbers.
And as you can imagine, this is the order in which the tabs features will work. And most of the time when you open up the Set Tab Order, you are already going to see numbers in these arrows. However, this sequence might not be the way that your users want to tab through the fields, and also, there might be fields that you don't want in your Tab Order. So the best way to set a new Tab Order is to go into your Set Tab Order window and hit Clear All, and then you see all the numbers are gone from the arrows. And then now what you can do is pick the order that you want to use by simply clicking, in order, into the Arrow Fields; you see here's 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and so on.
And now I am going to leave these fields down below. Since users don't actually enter any data into them, we're going to leave those out of the Tab Order, and also we don't want users clicking into the Primary Key field anyways, so we will exclude that from the order as well. You'll also notice that number 2 is actually the Tab panel. So we've got the ability to tab from the CompanyName into the Tab panel, so that things like buttons or even this logo for that matter, we could have put into the Tab Order, if that logo happened to have a ScriptAction assigned to it, for example. When we're done with setting our Tab Order, we hit OK, and now we'll go back in Browse mode, save our changes, and we see we click into the CompanyName, and now we are going to hit the Tab key on the keyboard.
You see it tabs over to the Tab panel, and now you'll notice I can go to different panels, if I want, by hitting the left and right arrows on my keyboard, and if I hit the Spacebar key, that will take me to that Tab panel. So you're going to need to instruct your users on how to use that. But now, if I hit Tab again, it goes into the fields in the order that we originally set it up, and then when it gets to the end, it starts all over again. But you will notice now if you go into Layout mode, and let's say we insert a new field, which we can do by saying Insert Field.
We'll just pick one of these for an example, like Notes, for example, and if we place Notes somewhere else in the layout, and go into the Set Tab Order, we will see that what its done is it's automatically placed it at the end of the layout order. But we could manually go in and insert it in any one of these locations, if we want to. So, for example, we could say this would be 7, and this could be 8, that type of thing.
So it will automatically add newly assigned fields to the end of the Tab Order, which makes it a lot more useful, but then you can go in here and either Clear All and Reset them, or just manually change a couple of them if you want to swap some of the fields out of the Tab Order. I will be making these same changes on other layouts, and you'll see those in upcoming exercise files. But if you want some more practice on Tab Order, feel free to go into the 10_06 exercise file and go into Product Detail, or Invoice Detail to do the same thing. The order in which users can tab through fields can help make data entry a lot more efficient, and using this Set Tab Order gives you the control over how that's going to work.
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