6 Replies Latest reply on Oct 22, 2016 3:43 PM by NorthernData

    HELP!! Design Question!



      HELP!! Design Question!



           Hey there! Im new to this forum and with Filmaker Pro. Im currently still watching some tutorials I grabbed from lynda.com


           My boss wants me to make a database for incoming calls to the office, where when someone calls, we launch the database and start entering information about who called, when, what they said, etc etc.

           I think making this is fairly simple, just make the appropriate fields right? But the key thing he wants from me is to make the database so that you cant continue to enter data into the next fields until you've inputed something in the given field. Kinda like popup messages: Type First Name, then Type Last Name, then Type What they said, etc. So you cant move on to enter data into the next fields UNTIL you've filled in the field you are first presented with. Is this possible to design with Filemaker Pro 12? Can someone please explain to me how? It would be very appreciated!


           Thank you!


           ps. sorry if Im posting in the wrong section here I just figure this would be something customy :P

        • 1. Re: HELP!! Design Question!

               Yes, there are many ways to achieve what the Boss wanted.  The methods i would suggest would depend on the number of "forced entry order"
               fields.  I understand the phone caller inquiry is worthless without his contact information.

               If there are just 2 or 3 fields that require this, then i would use a series of Layouts which contains the previous entered fields plus revealing the next required field.  [Kinda like a power point presentation that prevents audience read ahead when a talk is given].

               There are many ways to do as you ask.

               But remember the phone assistant can go back and delete a field after proceeding.


               PS: The forum is the place plus many more answers will give other options

          • 2. Re: HELP!! Design Question!

                 The database can be viewed in an unlimited number of layouts.

                 Most common are Data Entry, List, Table, Print layouts.  Dashboards are becoming more common.

                 The Data Entry Layout for unsophisticated data enterers can be made less prone to errors.
                 A calculated field next to the NameFirst and NameLast field can be a RED icon or symbol when the related field isempty.
                 Phone Number that allows only numbers to be entered and then auto formatted to taste.
                 The ZIP field can be validated to contain only numbers.
                 The State field can be a drop down of State abbreviations that does not allow random entries.

                 The data entry can be done into Global Fields with validation that will not allow committing the record until the validation is met.

                 There are many options. Some easy, and easily worked around, some complex, safe, and a pain to setup and maintain.

                 A list of helpful links    http://forums.filemaker.com/posts/39ab6dcf1c?commentId=217671#217671

            • 3. Re: HELP!! Design Question!

              It may be best to gently persuade the boss not to implement this rigid solution. Surely at a file could be written that would demand for its fields to be completed absolutely in order, refusing any data one attempted to enter otherwise, but it will likely be a liability in use. People are messier than that. The phone rep is asking how the customer spells a complex name, when, suddenly, the customer segues to something critical, that needs to be noted in real time. If the rep is locked out of the necessary field for entering this important note, a battle ensues, with the rep distracting the customer with demands for many fields worth of data, prior to asking the customer to repeat the essential information that the customer just struggled to explain. At best, this frustrates everyone. At worst, it angers the customer, who now feels that the rep was not listening. 


              The boss is likely tired of having reps fail to collect essential data, but it may be better to train the reps more carefully than to try to use the software to hobble the natural flow of a conversation. Software is better written to hint and prod at omissions, than to exercise tyrannical control over humans. People hate having the human touch lost. Not everything that can be written into software is necessarily a good idea. In comparison, the idea of coloring empty fields red is excellent! Letting software help the rep is great. Letting it cause a fight it not.

              • 4. Re: HELP!! Design Question!

                You could do what you want using the script triggers for each field, like ObjectExit. If you tried to leave the field with nothing in it, the little script ObjectExit calls would put you right back into the field. (THIS APPROACH IS NOT A GOOD IDEA.)


                I would argue, however, and you may need to consider this as well to opt for Form (layout) validation instead of this overly strict field validation approach.


                What will probably happen "in the real world", if you actually try this rigid field validation, is that you don't get information as linearly as you expect. There may be a time, for example, where an expected piece of data doesn't exist for whatever reason. Then, you're stuck. What do you do then?


                Much better to have a custom SAVE button and have the script that button runs validate the form overall (at the end of data entry).


                So, I would avoid the strict field validation your boss is asking for.


                What looks "good on paper" often does not hold up in the real world.


                HOPE THIS HELPS.

                • 5. Re: HELP!! Design Question!

                  There you are: two for two on not being so rigid about data entry.


                  I came to FileMaker while managing my own business. I was both the programmer and the person working the telephone. Conversations always wander. Something is lost when a customer is forced to repeat something that may have been difficult to describe the first time. Generally, a rep has no trouble beginning a call by obtaining a name and what is requested as, "a telephone number for calling back if the call is disconnected." Everything else can be completed later, after the important data is gathered when it is first offered. Addresses and credit card numbers are all trivia, easily stated at any time. How the customer feels about the reason for calling is far more important. Let your software help you to seize opportunity. Don't use it to bludgeon the rep and customer off topic, even if the boss (who, forgive me, may know no better) so requests.


                  The cool thing about using conditional formatting to color empty fields is that it may satisfy your boss's demand never to forget to complete a field, even while allowing the rep to better follow conversations while completing any field at any time.

                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                  • 6. Re: HELP!! Design Question!

                    Sorry; I think you wanted not just philosophy, but actual instructions! These will not be 100% step-by-step. If you can not follow these, download and study FileMaker's training program.


                    In Layout Mode, select all of the fields that the boss says must not be empty. Then, in the menu bar, select:


                          Format > Conditional...


                    Click the "Add" button, then set the conditions to be:


                          Value is     empty


                    Click the "Fill Color" box, and choose a bright color, perhaps yellow or red, whatever screams against the background. Empty fields will now be that color, but will politely change to their normal color after data is entered.


                    Something not to do if it's not needed: You could add a script to proofread for empty fields. Reps would be trained to close calls by saying, "Before we hang up, let me check that I have all the information I need to help you best." That will keep the caller on the phone long enough for the script to confirm that all the required fields have data in them, and to move the cursor to empty fields (perhaps changing the color again!) to be completed if necessary. You may want to do that, for example, only if the data fills many layouts, so that the yellow, empty fields can not all be seen at a glance.


                    In general, in designing your solutions, be simple and elegant. Nudge the user when necessary, but avoid being overly controlling. A stubborn computer can be maddening! The less programming there is, the less time you have spent creating more flexibility for more users to like what you have created. FileMaker can do amazing things, but always think not of going wild with the technologies available, but of what serves the users best.