Unfortunately that approach is not possible in FileMaker.
You can set your fields to be very large and specify that they slide up/resize enclosing part. That is used for printing, not for browse mode, however.
You can also specify a scroll bar for your text fields--again not what you want, but best I can suggest for you.
Helen - I noticed your post and thought I would add some support. This seems to me to be a pretty fundamental requirement for producing reports and forms.
I have a similar requirement. The notes field in our database can be very long and each time we view them on a form or report we would like to see the whole of the field. If we create a field size as big as the largest possible note this makes the report huge and ugly, and if we produce a report with a small field we only see the first few lines of the data in the field in question.
Surely there must be a way of showing all the data - even if it is in the report format? I have not been able to find it if it is possible - FM Pro seems to make you define the field size in advance even in reports. In forms I can sort of see the rationale as you should be able to scroll, but in reports, particularly those that are designed to be printed this seems horribly illogical.
Am I missing something! Thanks!
I'm going to try to resurrect this post to see if anyone has any new suggestions. It seems crazy to me that there isn't a solution for this, so maybe the newest version has a solution? Or a work around?
Maybe this will help. I have an Employee file which contains a field for Notes. Every time I create a note it timestamps the entry and puts it in a related table of its own linking each to to the Employee ID and sorted by time stamp. I also have a filed int he note for subject.
In my browse mode layout I have a portal that shows the date and subject of the note(s). If I want to see the whole note, I click on it and it opens a script which opens up a new window with a scroll bar. I can have as many notes in that portal as I want (or at least as big as the number of records FMP allows).
When I print, I print from a layout designed to show the relevant employee info, appending the page to a PDF. If there is a note, I move to another layout which lets me print a note as big as a sheet of paper. Anyone writing a note about an individual that needs more space than that should be sent to memo writing class. Anyway, I append these pages to the PDF. When I am done, I print the PDF and I have every employee followed by the notes.
I've added more logic around this, like print or don't print notes, limit notes to a date range, etc.
Hope this helps.
Here's the thing: expanding/contracting a field is done in the layout, so doing it in response to the amount of text in the field on a particular record would change it on that layout for every record; it might fit for one record, but would not fit for any of the other records. However, you can change the font size and the font (perhaps to a condensed font), in response to the amount of text in the field, by using a trigger; that won't change anything for any other records. You can also set up several almost-identical layouts, with the only difference being the size of the fields, and then select the preferred layout (by a triggered script) in response to the amount of text in each field. Or use a Tab Control with various-sized fields on different tabs on a single layout to do much the same thing, or use a combination of layouts and Tab Controls. Or use Russ's method. I think almost any solution to this is going to be kludgy, because of the basic problem I mentioned in my first sentence.
If you really need something like this, the only way I can see natively is to add maybe 2-3 of the same field to the layout that are different sizes and hide the objects that do not fit well based on field length. Not the best solution but it is a step in the right direction visually.
The other option (likely better) would be a web viewer.