The main point of having a database is to be able to question it and get answers. FileMaker is a great tool to create rapidly powerful solutions for data mining, standardized data to support operations, meaningful data to make business decisions.
But reporting is not just processing and extracting the information; it is, as importantly, communicating it to the target that needs it. A human target.
Being able to communicate the response should not be a luxury. Yet, the request has been made by developers in all forms and shapes since 1995 to improve the functionalities needed for reporting.
The word processing desktop publishing functionalities (WPDP) required for efficient pertinent and usable reporting, either on screen or on paper, are numerous. Let's examine the tools the FileMaker plateform provides for that purpose. I am sure my list below is far from resuming all related ideas that have already been suggested. If people add some, I will add it to the table.
|Reporting||Exploration of the tools and functionalities to support that aspect||What's missing or not really working well, suggestions,|
Dictionary - Inspector Data Tab Data Formatting settings
ability to set forced or conditional page break or column break in a text field
ability to choose how to handle Leading and trailing summaries that are at the end or beginning of a page e.g. force on the other page from: last record of the break field or last corresponding leading summary group (orphan trailing) or from widowed leading summary or from beginning of last group of widowed's parent summary.
You may have to link this to a style rather than to a part: when defining a style, add an option to make this style a page break trigger (if at beginning or end of page). That way, when putting a merge field on a Leading or trailing summary, the printing engine would know where to start forcing content to the other page if it encounters a widow or orphan.
Merge fields should be shapes, so that they can be put inline with other elements and locked for autosizing.
|Enumerating||List view, portals||Horizontal portals|
|Resuming/summerizing||Layout Summary and Sub summary parts, summary field type||Matrixes, pivot tables, better flexibilities for summary parts (make them floatable objects, repeatable within the same report) More than one body part|
|Formatting and organizing the information||Layout Themes, styles and objects (shapes, fields and controls)|
Portal row number setup,
Portals accordion capability,
Vertical tab control,
Portal column header first row option or proper title, header, optional integrated basic sort functionalities (ATM everyone has to script that function which is a basic need)
offer a new control shape: a list view header bar with integrated sort options,
Implement Parts Templates,
The ruler should be toggle-able between points and cm or inch in a layout displayed in Document view (see below)
|Displaying||"Hidden when", print preview, Layout Form and Table views, Cards|
Make Portrait and Landscape document orientations linked to layout not to printer, so that various previews of document layouts can have different orientations. ATM you must make a script trigger for the display in browse or preview but you can't do that in Layout mode.
Add a fourth view to layout views: "Document "view where the layout boundaries are those of a page of a printable document (preview on steroids).
Add a setting option for the form and list views: fixed size scrollable body or "infinite" body part.
And make Edit box fields extensible or collapsible when the setting infinite body part is selected
Page numbering and page break: Part setups
Printer setup handling: make it a preserved layout bound parameter, not file bound or last selection dependant. The issues with printing have been abundantly presented..