In the Learn phase, you used the Position tab of the Inspector to position layout objects in precise locations. However, that can get tedious. Let’s explore FileMaker Pro’s grids, which help you position layout objects consistently with much more ease. They will save you a great deal of time as you assemble your layouts.
Set up your grid spacing and then use it to position layout objects.
Setting Up Grids
- Choose the View menu > Layout Mode ⌘L or Ctrl-L
- Make sure you are viewing the layout that was originally created for your main table.
In the example file, this layout is called “Contacts”.
- Use the Inspector > Position tab > Grid area to select the Show grid checkbox.
This causes the grid to be displayed. If you don’t like looking at it, just clear this checkbox.
- Select the Snap to grid checkbox.
This causes FileMaker Pro to align layout objects to the minor steps of the grid as you drag them into new positions.
- Set the Major Grid Spacing to 1, with the unit of measurement as “in”.
This establishes that the large boxes in the grid measure 1 inch across.
- Set the Minor Grid Steps to 8.
This divides each large box into 8 smaller boxes (minor steps), where each one measures .125 inches.
The key concept here is that you control the size and unit of measurement for the Major Grid Spacing, and then decide how to subdivide it with the Minor Grid Steps.
You can try other settings (for example, you may prefer centimeters) — but the above settings are widely used.
Look at the header part and notice how its height includes a partial minor step in the grid. That’s because the height of the header is not a multiple of .125 inches. Let’s change that.
- Select the header by clicking on the gray button to its left.
- Using the Inspector > Position tab > Size area, click on the unit of measurement (in, cm, pt) until it has the value “in”.
- Change the height to .75, which is a multiple of .125
You’ll see that the header is now 6 minor grid steps high.
- In the status toolbar, select the Rectangle tool.
- Click inside the header and drag to form a rectangle shape.
Observe how FileMaker Pro automatically positions the corner of the rectangle on a minor grid step, and only allows you to size the rectangle to be composed of complete minor grid steps.
Limiting your options in this way helps you to position objects more consistently with one another.
- In the status toolbar, click the Field tool and drag to bring a field into the body part.
A Specify Field dialog window will appear.
- Choose any field that you like and click the OK button.
The field you selected is added to the layout.
Now look at the width and height in the Inspector. Probably they are not multiples of .125
- Drag the handles on the field to resize it.
The width and height will snap to the minor grid steps, causing the width and height to be multiples of .125
- Try moving the other fields until they are all aligned with the grid.
Other Precision Alignment Tools
FileMaker Pro provides other tools for precision alignment as well. See the links below for more information.