5 Replies Latest reply on Jun 18, 2015 1:52 PM by philmodjunk

    How to list students' typed comments in FileMaker Pro report?



      How to list students' typed comments in FileMaker Pro report?


      I'm a tech person, but a newbie at FileMaker, and everything seems to be counter-intuitive and perplexing in this software!  I've tried The Missing Manual, but it rarely answers my questions.

      I have a database of students' responses to a questionnaire about each class and teacher.  Let's say I sort my records for one class, with 12 students.  For a text (comment) question, let's say only 5 students type a response and the others leave it blank. 

      How in the world can I LIST those typed responses (like "This is my favorite teacher" and "She should speak more slowly") and omit the blank fields on a report?!

      Also, I'd prefer to have the comments listed AFTER some subsummary numerical averages bar charts.  Is that possible?

      I'd appreciate any help on this.  Also, if there's a MUCH better book on FM Pro 12, please let me know!

        • 1. Re: How to list students' typed comments in FileMaker Pro report?

          Well my crystal ball is out of commission again. wink

          So I'd need to know how you have designed your system of relationships, tables, records and fields before I could assist you with an answer. What you want to do should be very easy and straightforward to do, but the underlying design may be what is making this difficult for you to do.

          • 2. Re: How to list students' typed comments in FileMaker Pro report?

            Okay, let's simplify the situation. I have one table.  There was a student question like "What is the best quality of this teacher?"  It's not a required question.  So, maybe 5 students type a response out of 12, like "He's a good listener" or "She is very helpful".

            My question is, how do I list - one on each line below each other - these 5 typed responses on a printed FileMaker Pro 12 report, and without 7 blank lines for the empty fields of the other 7 students?

            It should be very simple, of course, but I can find absolutely nothing in the Missing Manual book about how to even begin to do this.

            I have 3 questions in the survey that students can type responses to, and I want to list those questions with their typed responses on the report.



            • 3. Re: How to list students' typed comments in FileMaker Pro report?

              But you still haven't explained what each "line" represents in your database. Those 12, lines could be twelve records, or twelve fields in the same record or twelve repetitions (ick) of the same field. The second and third design options will not work well for what you want to do, which would appear to be summarizing and analyzing survey results.

              They should be 12 separate "response" records linked to specific question records and specific student records (if you need to know which response was by a given student...)

              In such case, you can perform a find that omits the records where this answer field is blank. and a list or table view can then list the remaining responses. In other cases if you have the correct relationships in place, a portal with a filter to omit records where this field is empty could be used. The first option is better for printing out reports or saving PDF's while the second may be better for "browsing" the data on your computer screen.

              For some suggestions on how to structure a questionnaire or survey database, see this thread: Need aid on generating a report from a survey layout.

              • 4. Re: How to list students' typed comments in FileMaker Pro report?

                Okay.  I have a database with a record for each student's responses to an online PHP survey (it will be about 400 records total for each of two schools).  Each record includes an ID field, an IP address-from field, a date field, a class/teacher field, 13 scaled question fields (most are 1-2-3-4-5 choices), and THREE question fields (named q14, q15, and q17) that are either blank or contain a typed student text comment, like "This teacher is the most helpful" or something like that.  I also have calculated 'average' fields related to each scale-question (for example, q01 and q01avg fields), and another calculated field that totals how many students responded in that particular class (i.e., how many student records show up in the list).

                For my printed and emailed report for each class, I will sort for one class, and get maybe 5 to 15 student response records in my sort list.  I think I can do everything I want for the report layout - bar charts, sub-summary part, etc., EXCEPT the typed student comments part.

                I hope that's enough detail.  So, for a report layout for ONE class, say 15 students, maybe 3-7 students have typed comments in fields q14, q15, and/or q17, and the others left them blank.  WITHOUT HAVING TO DO A SEPARATE SORT ON THE NON-BLANK TEXT FIELDS FOR A GIVEN CLASS, how can I get the 3 or 5 or 6 or whatever typed student comments onto my report, each on a separate line?  That's my question.

                After I get the report layout set as I need it, I hope to do script(s) to automate it for dozens of class reports at each school.

                I'm a teacher, so what I was hoping for from someone is an explanation of the PROCESS for this, which is sorely lacking in the books on FileMaker Pro 12 (the version I'm using -  the way).  Thanks in advance!


                • 5. Re: How to list students' typed comments in FileMaker Pro report?

                  To explain the PROCESS, you have to first tell us what you have set up in your database design. As I suggested from the beginning might be the case, Your database design makes what you want difficult. One record for each response to a single question would make what you want simple to do. Combining all the responses from one student into a single record is what makes this difficult.

                  I'm not at all sure what you want your emailed report to look like and that can make a very big difference as to what possible approaches might work for you. Best guess is that You want a single page listing all results--including  lists of the typed in responses from the students. One approach would be to set up a self join relationship linking your responses table to another Tutorial: What are Table Occurrences? of the same table that matches records by School. Then a portal or a list calculation field could be used to combine the student responses over all response records for the same school:

                  Set up your self join like this:

                  StudentResponses::School = StudentResponses 2::School

                  Then a calculation field in StudentResponses can be given this expression:

                  List ( StudentResponses 2::q14ResponseFieldHere )

                  You can set up one such calculation field for each question that uses narrative responses. The fields can then be placed on a layout based on StudentResponses to list all narrative responses for a given question all in one large field. Blank responses will be omitted automatically from this list function result.

                  But please note that this is a bit of a "patch job" to get a far from ideal database design to work for you. It may be better in the long run to work out a way to get the data model described in the link that I provided earlier, even if you have to take the data as downloaded from your web page and use a script to parse the data into these separate records.  (I have to do something similar to parse school attendance data in order to run more efficient analyses on the data in a System that I help support.)

                  For an explanation of the notation that I am using, see the first post of: Common Forum Relationship and Field Notations Explained