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FileMaker Pro developers spend a significant amount of time working with layouts because layouts are the primary way of presenting and organizing data in FileMaker Pro. Layouts serve both as user interfaces, as well as areas for design and development. Throughout this chapter, you're going to learn how to work efficiently and effectively with layouts, which is an essential skill for any FileMaker developer. Layouts come in various shapes and forms, and can be rather simple or extremely detailed, all depending on the needs of the particular system that you're trying to create, as well as the aesthetic sense and design skills of the creator.
Generally speaking, FileMaker is going to have one of three different layout types. First, you're going to see that there's a Form View, which is what we're looking at here with Customers. The Form View is different from any other type of layout, because the Form View will only show one record at a time. But it's generally a good idea for you to have at least one Form View per primary table in your database. This way you're giving users a good place to do data entry, to do searches, or to edit data onscreen, or if they just want to see the most amount of information onscreen at a time, most likely you're going to use a Form View.
Commonly, these layouts are referred to as Detail layouts. Also, it's common to have a List View. You see we've got Customers as a detail, but we can also click on List View. List View just simply changes the property of a layout, and allows us to scroll through and see many different records onscreen at any given time. Finally, other types of reports can be made up of Table Views, which is really just another way to view many different records in a List View, but developers also like to call certain layouts reports.
Reports are layouts that are specific ways to view and output FileMaker data. Layouts are the primary user interface and display mechanisms in FileMaker Pro, and each individual data entry screen, List View or Report, is going to be a separate layout within your database system. You can see here that this one FileMaker file has four different layouts. In some applications, you might need only a handful of layouts, and in other applications you might need several hundred. There is no practical limit to the number of layouts that you can create in a database file; it all depends really on what you need to do.
Later on in the movies in this chapter, we're going to create Detail layouts for each primary table, and then a corresponding List View, and then in the Reporting section, we'll create reports. In order to create a report, you must do so when you're in Layout mode. Once in Layout mode, you'll see that the Records menu changes to Layouts, and allows you various different options where there used to be options for your Records. Here, you can create a new layout, duplicate a layout or delete a layout, or even navigate to the various different layouts that you currently have. You can restrict a user's ability to access Layout mode by changing the settings in his or her privilege set.
For more information on this, see Security under FileMaker Help for details. As a FileMaker developer, you'll spend a lot of time going between Layout mode and Browse mode, modifying your layouts. There are a couple of different ways that you can do that, first of which, you can go under the View menu, or you can use one of the shortcuts that's available to you, or you'll notice on the very bottom of your layout, you can toggle between the modes by simply choosing the mode that you want to navigate towards. However, you'll find that probably the most efficient way is by using a keyboard shortcut.
Now, you see that we have four different layouts already created in our database. We haven't created any of those layouts, but what we did is we created new tables in this database. Every time you create a new table, FileMaker will automatically create a form layout for you. If you create all the tables at once and define all those fields, it will also place all the fields onto that layout as well. So, you see we have the four default Form View layouts created already for us. If you want to create a new one, you go into Layout mode and create new layout.
In the following movies, we're going to explore how to create List layouts for each one of our primary layouts, as well as some specialty ones, like Mailing Labels and Envelope layouts. Because layouts are the primary way of presenting and organizing data in FileMaker Pro, and layouts serve both as user interfaces as well as areas for design and development, you'll spend a significant amount of time working with layouts, and you'll want to be familiar with the concept of a layout.
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