The same basic technique would be used today. The key question then and now is whether your excel file contains the needed data to correctly link your imported data to the other tables in your system. If the data is in your excel file, you can import it along with the other columns that contain data for your portal's table. If it does not, then you need to use one method or another to update the portal's key field(s) to that the imported data is correctly linked. A script is one approach, replace fields with the calculation option is another.
yes the names in Excel match the names in FM. Although I do use "People ID" numbers in FM in my join table and as the used values in my value list (while the full names are the displayed, 2nd value), I can easily convert the full names to the appropriate FM "People ID" number in my excel sheet.
DO you mind walking me through this(im shameless)? I have no idea where to start, and even if I knew how to "set variable", im pretty sure that's not the first step. I'm guessing this is writing a script, but which script step do I choose?
The join table implies that you have a many to many relationship between notes and people. Is this the case with your imported data?
Do you have one research note and a list of people to which it must be linked or just a single "people" record?
Right now, in Excel, I have a row of "Research Notes" data, which includes 6 columns of "People" names per "Research Notes". None or all of these columns can be filled for each "Research Note" row.
I guess I will just import the rest of the "Research Notes" fields to the main table in FM, then convert this excel sheet to look like an FM join table: giving each "People" name per record its own row (record) and match these rows with the correct "Research Notes ID" that has just been created, then import these two columns to the join table (thereby bypassing the portal).
Unless this is a fairly small spreadsheet, that sounds like a lot of work and it might not be much more work to copy and paste text from the spreadsheet one cell at a time directly into your database.
You may want to set up a table with fields to match your spread sheet as it now exists, then import the spreadsheet into it. Once imported, a script could loop through these records and use the data in the fields to create both research note and join table records with the appropriate links to connect them.
Say your temp table has the fields: Note; People 1, People 2, People 3... People 6 defined.
After importing into this temp table, the following script should do the job:
Go To Record/Request/Page [first]
Set Variable [$Note ; Value: Temp::Note ]
Go To Layout [ResearchNotes]
Set Field [ResearchNotes::ResearchNote ; $Note ]
Set Variable [$ResearchID ; Value: ResearchNotes::ResearchID ]
Go To Layout [Temp]
Set Variable [$PRep ; Value: 1 ]
Exit Loop If [$PRep > 6]
Set Variable [$Name ; Get Field ["Temp::People " & $PRep ]
If [ Not IsEmpty ( $Name ) ]
Go To Layout [People]
Enter Find Mode 
Set Field [People::Name ; $Name]
Set Error Capture [on]
If [ Not Get (FoundCount ) ]
Show custom Dialog ["Error " & $Name & " not found in People table"]
Exit Script 
Set Variable [$PID ; Value: People::PeopleID]
Go To Layout [Research Notes_People]
Set Field [Research Notes_People::PeopleID ; $PID]
Set Field [Research Notes_People::ResearchNotesID ; $ResearchID]
Go To Layout [Temp]
Set Variable [$PRep ; Value: $PRep + 1 ]
Go To Record/Request/Page [ Next ; Exit after last ]