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Before we start working with a database it's important to understand a little bit about what a database actually is. By definition, a database is a collection of "like" information with underlining attributes. Now you've probably already seen databases in forms of things like Address Book applications on your computer. In these cases, you have bunch of different individuals that are being stored inside of your database. You're storing information on a bunch of different individuals and the "like" information that you have, or different attributes about them like their phone number, address, or IM and that type of thing. You're probably already familiar with databases from your Web experiences, as well; for example, lynda.com is just a huge database system.
It's a database of different titles with information about those titles, and links to the videos that you can watch for training. And having this database of these products allows the user to search the databases and give them back results that make more sense to the user experience that they're looking for. The role of the database is twofold. First, the database will physically store the data that's contained within it. So it acts as a place where you can put different pieces of data and then retrieve that date if necessary, but in addition to storing the data, it also contains, or describes the information that's been stored within it.
A good example of this is in a spreadsheet. So here, in this case, a spreadsheet is the database, and more specifically this spreadsheet is going to be storing information about individuals, or let's say customers more specifically in this case, but it also describes the information. For example, you see here that we've got different rows inside of the spreadsheet. Each row represents a different individual and in FileMaker, those rows are referred to as records, and that's terminology that I'm going to use from here on out in this title. But in addition to the rows, or the different iterations of a person stored inside of this spreadsheet database, you also know that we have columns, and these columns are attributes about the different customers that we're storing in our spreadsheet.
In FileMaker we call these attributes fields. So, for example, we would go into our FileMaker database and define things like a First name field or a Last name field, Title, Status, Start date, that type of thing. So here not only are we storing information about customers, but we're also describing the information that's been stored, so here clearly we're saying, what is this information I'm looking at here? This is the Title or the Title of each of the individuals that are stored inside the database. So the important thing to remember here is that in FileMaker our rows will become records and our columns will become fields.
Hopefully a little background on databases that you're already familiar with will help you understand the concepts that we're going to discuss later in the title.
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