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Chapter 20. Getting Data Out of FileMaker > Fixed-Length Field Exporting

Fixed-Length Field Exporting

FileMaker users often have to exchange data with other database systems. Some older systems, especially governmental systems, still use fixed-length records. A fixed length record is one in which each field has been allotted a certain number of characters, and the combination of all fields in a record always results in a record that is a fixed number of characters long.

For example, suppose that a payment database has a First Name field that requires 10 characters, a Last Name field that requires 15 characters, and a Payment Amount field that requires 8 characters. Typically, number fields that hold currency values do not permit decimal characters. In this case, if a payment amount is $123.43, the properly formatted number value is 00012343. Notice that any blank spaces need to be padded with zeros, and notice also that currency symbols, commas, or decimal characters are not included. The system that receives this record will know that it needs to divide the number value by 100. Just as number values are typically padded with zeros, so text values are typically padded with spaces. The first name of “Gilbert” would use the characters of the name “Gilbert” and then follow that with three space characters. Text values are usually followed by the padding character, whereas number values are usually preceded by the padding character.


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