I do not clearly understand your problem but updated version contain the same fields, or not?
Anyway, I typically do 2 things (or write a script ): backup file (so if something go wrong customer easy can continue until bugs are fixed and customer doesn't call me AM :)) and make a clone copy (mainly for me to remember development history).
Clone copy contain all drop-down menu information for all fields. This info must be moved to update.
I'm not sure but probable templates can solve problem on some level.
This is not a "fields" problem. It is a "value list" problem (and old one at that). Your customer has created and/or modified Custom Value Lists. It is a somewhat thorny problem. There are a few alternatives.
1. Give them a separate file for their Custom Value Lists. Then, in your file, point each of existing value lists to "use value list from another file" (do they have that in 5.5? I thinks so, but can't remember). Let him keep the file; or swap it with you if you need to add some more.
2. Create a file/table with a text field for each value list. Set up the value lists to "use values from a field," pointing to the appropriate one. Then import that file/table like any other file/table. You would have to build some kind of interface, as the built-in "Edit" for a value list would no longer apply. A dialog could add items however.
3. Leave the structure much as is. But run a fancy script to Loop thru each Value List, and its values, in each file, using the Design functions, to compare. It would not fix anything, but could tell you which ones you need to edit for him. Yeah, PITA, hence 1 or 2 are a better long-term solution.
4. FileMaker 7+: Move to a Separation of Data method, and perhaps still use 1 or 2 (the Data file would work much like 1). That is the best method if you frequently update client files, especially relationships and scripts (but not often data). Let him usually keep the Data file.
Hi Peter and Fenton
Thanks for the input. I am not sure there is a very good solution but I am going to follow some of the leads you mentioned and see what happens.
Appreciate your time in thoughful responses....