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Chapter 8. Planning Databases > You must remember this…

You must remember this…

  • Once you've done the planning, start listing the fields you'll need for all the information you'll want to track. If you're building a customer database, for example, you'll want the obvious fields for names, addresses, and phone numbers. You may also want a field or two or three for things like a customer's email address, pager number, and weekend message service. Don't forget that you're not limited to just fields for text and numbers. How about a picture field in the product catalog? And while you can't predict the future, the best databases anticipate growth and change. Need a crystal ball? Talk to those users again. To get started on using fields, see Defining Fields on page 99.

  • Next, list the possible layouts you'll need. Assign a separate layout to each task: mailing labels gets its own layout, so do order invoices, summary reports, etc. You should also consider creating a different layout for each type of user. The sales folks, for example, probably need to see different data than the accountants.

    All the action won't be on the screen, so you'll also need to think about layouts for printed reports, again using the layout-per-task rule of thumb. For more information, see Creating Layouts on page 129. To make layouts easy on the eyes and easy to understand, see Formatting and Graphics in Layouts on page 175. By the way, thanks to FileMaker's lookups and portals, layouts aren't confined to showing data from just one database. For help, see Creating Relational Databases on page 221.

  • You don't have to start from scratch in building your layouts. Using Templates and Scripts on page 199 shows you how to customize the many templates built into FileMaker. The chapter also shows you how to use scripts to automate multi-step actions, which makes it easier on the user. Creating scripts can also be a great way, for example, to find, sort, and highlight a group of records that show a pattern only FileMaker-savvy users could unearth without a script.

  • Finally, list the various databases you'll need, creating a separate database for each major category of information. For example, it's much better to create one database for products and another database for vendors rather than combine all that information in a single database. That's where FileMaker's relational abilities come in. Again, take your time. Building relational databases calls on everything else you'll learn in this section: defining fields, creating and formatting layouts, and using scripts. For more information, take a look at Creating Relational Databases on page 221.


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