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Chapter 6. Creating Relationships > About Repeating vs. Related Fields

About Repeating vs. Related Fields

Many FileMaker users are excited when they discover the FileMaker repeating field. It seems to save time while you're defining fields—a boring stage for many in creating a database. A repeating field allows you to group multiple entries into one field, but have them appear on a layout as if they were separate entries. One practical use for a repeating field might be for people with more than one email address. Repeating fields allow you to avoid the tedium of making several fields labeled “email 1”, “email 2”, etc.

On the other hand, most accomplished FileMaker developers use repeating fields sparingly or not at all, because you can accomplish many of the same things much better through the use of related fields. Repeating fields have significant disadvantages. In general, they are treated as one indivisible unit. You can only sort repeating fields by their first entry and you can't create subtotals for particular entries. Although there is a calculation formula to pry out a particular repetition from the rest (GetRepetition), in general individual items in repeating fields are very difficult to extract for a report.


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