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Part IV: Printing, Networking, & the Web > Exchanging Data via ODBC

Chapter 17. Exchanging Data via ODBC

Open Database Connectivity (ODBC), first added to FileMaker in version 4.1, has been greatly enhanced in version 5. This mouthful of an acronym allows FileMaker to easily exchange data with giant enterprise-level databases such as those created by Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server.

The great thing about FileMaker now handling ODBC data sources is that it lets you sidestep an all-too-common dilemma: either stick with FileMaker and forego connecting with corporate-level databases or give up FileMaker's simpler interface for the complications of using ODBC-based programs. Now you and your co-workers can have the best of both worlds. Those who prefer the scale and power of enterprise-level database programs can still tap your FileMaker data and you can use FileMaker to query the big databases. In either case, of course, you'll need to work with your network administrator to make sure you follow your network's procedures and guidelines. As a FileMaker user always stay on your network administrator's good side.

No matter which route you take, the process is roughly the same: You turn on FileMaker's Data Access Companions, configure the ODBC Control Panel for the particular data source, connect to the data file, and then construct a query (search) of that data. There are a lot of steps involved, but you'll find the process pretty straight-forward once you walk through it. If you're not familiar with Structured Query Language (SQL)—the programming language that controls corporate-level database management systems—find someone within your organization to lend you a hand building those initial queries.

To turn on the Data Access Companions

1.
Choose Edit > Preferences > Application (Figure 17.1).

Figure 17.1. To turn on the Data Access Companions, choose Edit > Preferences > Application.


2.
When the Application Preferences dialog box appears, click the Plug-Ins tab (Figure 17.2).

Figure 17.2. Click the Plug-Ins tab and check Local… or Remote… depending on where the ODBC-enabled database resides.


3.
Check Local Data Access Companion if you want to share FileMaker data with an ODBC-enabled database on the same computer. If you want to share FileMaker data across a TCP/IP network, check the second choice, Remote Data Access Companion.

4.
Click OK and the Application Preferences dialog box will close.

5.
Now open the FileMaker file you want to share and choose File > Sharing (Figure 17.3).

Figure 17.3. Open the FileMaker file you want to share, then choose File > Sharing.


6.
When the File Sharing dialog box appears (Figure 17.4), first choose Multi-User in the FileMaker Network Sharing panel. Within the Companion Sharing panel, make the same choice you made in step 3: Local Data Access Companion to share the file with an ODBC-enabled database on the same computer; Remote Data Access Companion to share the file across a TCP/IP network.

Figure 17.4. Choose Multi-User to share a file, then check Local… or Remote… in the bottom panel to match your choice in Figure 17.2.


7.
Click OK and the File Sharing dialog box will close. The FileMaker file can now be reached by an ODBC-enabled database. For more information, see To use FileMaker data from an ODBC application.


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