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Chapter 4. Calculation Fields

Chapter 4. Calculation Fields

As you gain more confidence with FileMaker, you'll begin to notice that there doesn't seem to be a way to do some tasks that might be useful, from formatting text to merging fields to grabbing system information like date and time. But in fact, there is a very powerful method of performing these functions: the calculation field.

Although a calculation field may seem like a lot of trouble initially, it's actually an elegant time-saver. For example, calculation fields offer powerful formatting capabilities for everything from labels and envelopes to form letters.

Once you've created a calculation field you can place it in a layout like any other type of field. But that's where the similarities end. For frequent bulk mailings like monthly statements or special price promotions, a calculation field can make FileMaker a considerably better choice than other programs. Because a calculation field always refers back to the original fields for its information, addresses, area codes, and other all-too-changeable data will always update automatically once edited into the original record.

In this chapter, we concentrate on the most accessible uses for calculation fields as a formatting tool. But calculation fields will resurface in many other chapters, particularly in combination with creating scripts. Once you see how flexible and powerful they are, you're sure to start thinking creatively about ways they can work for your solutions.

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