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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 of the key requirements of any data storage application is data retrieval. FileMaker provides this via its Find mode features. Now we've been covering a couple different modes throughout this title, and those of course can be found under the View menu. We've worked with Browse mode, which is the default mode, allowing you to enter data, edit data and just read data. Then of course, Layout mode, which helps us design our Layouts and make modifications to existing designs, and then there's Preview mode, which basically allows you to see what your prints are going to look like. What we're going to focus on in this chapter though is Find mode, and this is the mode where you perform Find requests.
When you perform a Find request, FileMaker Pro searches through all the Records in a table, comparing the criteria you specify with the data that's in the table. Records with data matching the criteria become the found set, which is the subset of Records being browsed. Records that don't match the criteria are then omitted. So nothing happens to the total number of Records that are found in your database when you're searching. You're just getting any responses to your search as part of something that's called a Found Set, and the concept of found set is going to be very important moving forward. Once you have a found set, you'll work then with only those Records.
For example, found sets can affect editing, sorting, printing, deleting, exporting, saving snapshot links; those types of things are all affected by a found set. So let's open this Customer List Layout in our Exercise File, and I'm already in Find mode, but in case you're still in Browse mode, there's a couple different ways you can get into Find mode, first of which of course is under the View menu, choosing Find or choosing Command+F, or Ctrl+F on Windows. Also, down in the bottom left-hand corner, you can choose and toggle between modes through clicking on, in this case it says Browse, so whatever the current name of the mode, is you just click on that and choose another one. Or you can enter Find mode by going into your Status toolbar and pressing the Find button.
The first thing you'll notice is that everything onscreen goes blank, and this should not alarm you, or your users; all your data is still in the database. What this is doing now is clearing out all the fields, allowing you to type in search criteria into them appropriately. Once you're in Find mode, pick a field that you want to add criteria, and type values into those fields. Then when you perform a Find, FileMaker is going to search for any Records that match the criteria from the field that you just entered the data into, and this set of Matching Records will replace any previous found set. So let's take a look at this. So in Find mode, you'll also notice that in addition to the fields being empty, you've also got these little magnifying glass icons in each field.
This is to further remind you and your users that you're in Find mode. This way users don't get confused in thinking they're in Data Entry mode, because of course when you hit New Record in Browse mode it also presents you with a blank Layout onscreen. So now FileMaker Pro is waiting for you to enter some criteria, and you'll notice that your Status toolbar has also changed to allow a Perform Find and Cancel Find button. Of course, if you hit Cancel Find, it'll take you back to Browse mode. Perform Find will initiate the Find based on the request you've entered, but first you have to enter some in. For those of you that are familiar with the Web, this sort of behavior might initially throw you, because instead of offering you a single search field, like in Google for example, and then having another page or a Layout that you can see your found set or results displayed, FileMaker simply allows you to use the fields placed on any given Layout and then perform searches based on those fields.
So you'll see when you're in Find mode you can go to Customer Detail > Products, whatever you want to do. Any Layout that you've created in FileMaker can be used to enter Find Requests, which is actually a strength of FileMaker Pro. So now once you're in Find mode, let's do some practices here. Let's click into the City field. Let's type the word Los, and now we're going to hit Perform Find, and you'll notice that when we go back into Browse mode, you'll see something here in the upper left-hand corner on our Status toolbar; we see that we've now got 4/1523.
This indicates that we've got 1523 Records in the database, and only 4 match the criteria that we just entered. So 4 are in our Found Set. You see that we can navigate through the 4 Records by using the book icon and also this pie chart-looking icon here indicates that our Found Set takes up about this percentage of space in the overall amount of Records in the database. Now the important thing to note here is just because I've created a Found Set doesn't mean that all the other Records in the database have disappeared. As a matter of fact, I can see all of the eecords that don't match any of the search criteria by going under Records and choosing Show Omitted Only, and now you see that our Found Set has become 1,519 Records out of 1,523, and our pie chart has changed so the light area, which represents our Found set, is now inverted from what we saw earlier.
At any given time, you can reset the view by selecting this Show All button. There's also a Show All option that you see is currently grayed out now under your Records menu, but it's grayed out because all Records are showing. So now you see our Found set has been reset. Sometimes you may have more Records in your Found Set than can be seen on one screen at a time; in this case you may just have to scroll through the List View to be able to see all of them. This is also a big reason why you even have a List View in the first place, because the more Records you can see onscreen at any given time, the more of your Found Set you'll be able to work with.
Now let's look at the way that the Find is actually working. Let's go back into Find mode. You saw when I typed in "Los" into the City field and hit Perform Find; let's take a close look at what's coming back as our results. None of these contain just the value Los, for starters. That's the first thing that we're noticing here. And also, even though the word Los is contained in Record number 2, only the characters Los, are contained in three out of the 4 Records in our Found Set. So what it's doing is finding the Los part inside of each of these Records, and because what it's doing there is doing a search based on the field's Index. Click inside of one of these fields and hit Command+I on Mac, or Ctrl+I on Windows.
You'll be able to see the Index. A field index is something that's created by FileMaker. Anytime you search inside of a field, what it does is goes and takes every single record in your database, and it grabs every unique value that appears inside that field and adds it to an Index. So, for example, if the city Acosta is in here 50 times, FileMaker is only going to add it to its index once, and it also is going to note which records actually have the value Acosta in those fields. That way if I type in Acosta, for example, it doesn't have to go check all 1500 Records.
It can just go check its Index, and its Index will tell it which Records should be part of the Found Set. FileMaker does two different types of Indexes: first a Value Index, which just indexes all the characters up to the first 100 characters in your field. A Word Index is used in some other types of functionality within FileMaker, and that just breaks up the different words. But in a search we're using a Value Index, so Los just happens to be one of the characters in the 100 characters that it's indexing for any given field. So that's how it's finding matches for us.
So let's do another search, for example. We'll clear these out by going into Find mode again, which gives us another place to enter data, and we'll enter the word Angel and hit Perform Find. Now you'll notice here that we get Los Angeles and Angels Camp, so what you're seeing is we're getting that Value Index again, the A-N-G-E-L is coming as part of the second word in Los Angeles and the first word in Angels Camp. This is something to keep in mind when you're working with FileMaker, or when you're training your users, so make sure to set these expectations with them, so they're not surprised with the results that they're getting. These are the basic ways to find data inside your FileMaker database.
Keep in mind that in addition to FileMaker's ability to be able to create the data storage mechanism and provide a user interface, it also does provide this very powerful data retrieval tools, as well.
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