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    Learning Filemaker 11

    dougcummings

      Title

      Learning Filemaker 11

      Post

      I have been using Filemaker for several weeks now, probably about two months, and so far so good. Up to a point. A few items have appeared to which I cannot find the solutions. 

      a) Merging files. I used dBase for years and when I first started doing data entry, in the early days of DOS, computers could not accept large files so I had to create and use a lot of smaller files. Over time many were merged into larger files but I still have several hundred files most of which should be merged into fewer but larger files. The problem is how to do it. The Missing Manual book on Filemaker 11 and the Filemaker 11 manual do not offer any clues on how to do this. Or if they do it is well hidden and I have been unable to find it. Can anyone help on this?

      b) The Find/Replace command. Again with dBase the Microsoft alternate keyboard codes that I used are completely different from the alternate keyboard codes used in Filemaker 11. As an example, alt + 171 used to be the code for 1/2. It is now alt + 0189. Every fraction and every foreign letter and many symbols have changed as a result. The result is a lot of changes have to be made in the Filemaker files. I have used the Find/Replace command successfully to do this numerous times, with no problems. But I have encountered some instances where it just does not work. I have two at the moment which are a problem, and a big problem, as if I was to do the changes manually (as I would probably do if there were only a few to do) it would take hours and hours as there are over a thousand records that would have to be changed in some files. In particular the ü completely disappears when a file is converted from dBase to Filemaker. I have tried using the Find/Replace command and it keeps coming back saying no files changed, unable to find (or words to that effect). So what should be Hütte appears as Htte, and Münster appears as Mnster, etc. This is not the only letter affected like this. One or two disappear completely and a blank space appears where they should be. It is hard to issue a Find/Replace command for blank spaces. 

      Any suggestions on solving this one?

       

      Doug

       

       

        • 1. Re: Learning Filemaker 11
          philmodjunk

          a) import records can import records from one file into another. This tool can be used repeatedly to pull the data from you individual files into a single combined table of info. The details of how you'd do this depend a lot on the structure of your data in your source files and also the structure of the data in your target table. Scripting can be used to automate the process to make it run more smoothly with less time taken to manage the imports of data.

          b) I suspect that what looks like "mnster" in your database field is really: "m<invisiblecharacter>nster". Thus using find/replace to find all instances of "mnster" are failing to find any records where this text occurs because there are no records where such text occurs. Try copying one such instance of your problem text to the clipboard and then paste this copied text as the text to be found to see if that works. (Don't know that it will, but it's worth a try.). Given the number of such fixes you appear to need to do, I have to wonder if maybe exporting the data into a text file, then using a text utility to make a batch update of the problem characters might be a better way to fix the problems.

          • 2. Re: Learning Filemaker 11
            dougcummings

            a) If you are talking scripts you are way over my head. I have no idea what they are and have never used them and am not a programmer. As for the files, the structure is the same for each and every file. The only thing that differs is the name of the file and the contents.  

            b) You may have the answer. Your solution may be very workable but again it is not something I am familiar with and I have no idea how to go about what you propose. As I said, I am not a programmer. I consider all of these files to be text files, but then my terminology may be different from yours. 

            So far the two cases I quoted are the only two I have found where something has disappeared in the conversion process. In one case the á disappears but a space is left where it should be. In the case of the ü the letter disappears completely and the next letter moves ahead to where the ü should be. All other instances I have found so far are where one letter or symbol is replaced by another. When I look at it what is showing up is what the new alternate keyboard figure is for the code that was originally used. In those cases it is quite easy to fix the problem using the find/repair feature. I will try using the find/replace feature to make a change the next time I find a record where the á has disappeared and see if I can fix it that way. Another thought I have is that possibly if m<invisiblecharacter>nster is how the computer is reading it perhaps if I back space I can eliminate the <invisiblecharacter> as well as the initial m and then try using find/replace and see if that works. It may not fix the problem but at least it might prove if your theory is correct. 

            Doug

            • 3. Re: Learning Filemaker 11
              dougcummings

              I think I may have found a solution to at least one of these problems. On a whim I tried the Find/Replace command only this time using the full entry, rather than just the segment I wanted to change. It worked, so far anyway. 

              Doug

              • 4. Re: Learning Filemaker 11
                philmodjunk

                If you are talking scripts you are way over my head. I have no idea what they are and have never used them and am not a programmer.

                Scripts in Filemaker are pretty easy to work with for the newbie. I recommend that you learn how to create them as using FileMaker without scripting is a bit like trying to row a boat with only one oar.

                In this specific case, you can manually use Import Records to import your data. I mentioned scripting as it can automate the process to make it happen more quickly and with less need for you to sit in front of the computer and repeatedly select new files from which to import your data. It's an option, not a necessity in this case.

                • 5. Re: Learning Filemaker 11
                  dougcummings

                  I spoke too soon. It does not work all the time, in particular with the missing ü character. This leads me to another question. . . .

                  Is there a command in filemaker where you can say replace "xxxx" with "yyyy" next 50 (or whatever number), as there is in dBase? 

                   

                  Doug

                  • 6. Re: Learning Filemaker 11
                    philmodjunk

                    Take a look at replace field contents. You can use this tool with the calculation option to modify data in a specified field for all records in your current found set. Since you can't undo this and will be modifying large numbers of records, make back up copies before trying to use this tool so that you can discard your current copy and revert to the back up if you get results you did not expect.

                    • 7. Re: Learning Filemaker 11
                      dougcummings

                      I am afraid I do not understand what you are saying when you refer to "the calculation option".

                      I find the find/replace command quite simple to use and 99% of the time it works just fine. The instance I am refering to is the one exception. One fix is copy and paste, but I wish there was a way to do to more than one record at a time. 

                      As far as experimenting, I have no problem with that. I can make an extra copy of a file and play with it and test things out, nothing lost if something unforseen happens. 

                      As far as scripts are concerned, I have never worked with them and really have no idea what they are, or what they do, and it does not make sense to spend a lot of time learning them just for a one time use. As I have said several times, I am not a programmer and really have no desire to learn programming. I have enough on my plate all ready and that keeps me far busier than I would really like to be. 

                      Doug

                      • 8. Re: Learning Filemaker 11
                        philmodjunk

                        Pull down the RECORDS menu instead of EDIT. Select Replace Field Contents. This is an older "batch operation" tool for modifying data in your database. It is different from Find/Replace. It is also documented in FileMaker help so you can look it up to learn more about how it works.

                        and it does not make sense to spend a lot of time learning them just for a one time use.

                        It does if if saves you hours of time sitting in front of your computer doing the same thing manually. And trying to create a FileMaker databas without learning basic scripting will severely limit what you can do with this product. There are any number of training tutorials that can help you learn scripting and we will be glad to answer questions here in the forum to help you when you get stuck.

                        • 9. Re: Learning Filemaker 11
                          dougcummings

                          Two factors here with respect to scripts is a) It is a short term problem and b) in the index of the Missing Manual the subject of scripts takes up almost an entire page. The more I read the more confusing it becomes. The Filemaker manual itself has less than one page on the subject and basically it tells you nothing. So basically I can make no sense out of this subject (Scripts) whatsoever. 

                          Besides the only reason I have this problem is the conversion from dBase to Filemaker and the alternate keyboard code differences. I can make 95% of the changes relatively quickly using find/replace, the other 5% are far more time consuming but once done that task should be finished. Although it may take several months to work my way through the files. It would take a fraction of that time if I could combine the several hundred files into fewer but larger files. But it sounds like it would take me several months just to learn about scripts, and by then I could have the whole job completed even doing it the hard way. 

                          On the subject of using RECORDS instead of EDIT, the Replace Field Contents is feint and thus not useable. I use the delete record command as and when necessary, but it only affects one record. If I want to replace field contents of one record it is quite easy to do a type over, but I often just use a cut and paste, depending upon what has to be changed. If it affects more than one record then it is easier to do a find for those records that need to be changed and then type over one and then cut and paste that one over all of the others. If there are a lot of records then the find/replace command is faster. 

                          Comments welcome

                          Doug

                          • 10. Re: Learning Filemaker 11
                            philmodjunk

                            As I have said previously, Importing records does not require using a script, it just can make the process easier, faster and less vulnerable to user error. If you prefer to select Import Recorsd from the File menu you are free to do so.

                            However, not learning how to script is not a "short term problem" it's long term as you are greatly limiting what you can do with this product. Sort of like buying a sports car and then refusing to shift into the highest gear when you drive...

                            Replace Field contents will not be disabled if you first put the cursor into the field you wish to modify with this tool. Replace field contents can update every record in the table in one go. There are times when it is a better option than find/replace--particularly when you need to make complex changes to data already present in the field.

                            • 11. Re: Learning Filemaker 11
                              dougcummings

                              I have three priorities right now. One is to convert the dBase files over to Filemaker. The second is to merge many of them to make fewer but larger files. Because of the system this computer works on I do not have the option of merging them as dBase files, and then converting them, they have to be converted first. The third is to make all of the changes to correct the errors filemaker is making when converting the files from dBase to Filemaker. 

                              When I talk about merging files I want to merge the complete file(s), not pick and chose records in it, i.e. make one file out of two, or one of out four, whatever is necessary. 

                              While I can appreciate your comments about using Replace Field Contents in preference to using Find/Replace it is more important right now to change the incorrect spellings and symbols over to what they should be. While I can still work with the files the way they come across, it creates extra work. Once I get all of the files converted properly then I can worry about improvements to the system and better ways to do things. I will not be making any complex changes to anything other than what I have all ready described. 

                              Doug

                              • 12. Re: Learning Filemaker 11
                                philmodjunk

                                When I talk about merging files I want to merge the complete file(s), not pick and chose records in it, i.e. make one file out of two, or one of out four, whatever is necessary.

                                Which is what Import Records can do for you. It can import all the data in a file into a table you specify in your database adding it to the records that already exist in that table. You can combine the data from 1, 5, 50 files all in one table if the data is structured in a way that makes that possible.

                                At your option, you can specify "new table" as the target table to create new tables within the file should you need to do so. This is an option you can select from Import Records if you want to import all records from one file at a time to pull this data into your database. Had you been willing to do so, it might have been possible to set up a script so that all such files were pulled into your database with a single run of the script--freeing you to do other things while this takes place. It may not have been simple to set up due to some limitations in FileMaker, but could have saved you a great deal of time. But that choice is up to you, either manual or script controlled data imports can be used to merge your data into a single file.

                                While I can appreciate your comment...

                                I don't think you understood me there. If find/replace works for you, use it. You had indicated that it wasn't working that well for you and asked "Is there a command in filemaker where you can say replace "xxxx" with "yyyy" next 50 (or whatever number)?"

                                I suggested Replace Field Contents as a way to do that and have then proceeded to answer your questions about it and to explain more in situations where you did not appear to understand how to use it.

                                Bottom line, it's your database project, use what you want to make it work for you. My posts have been intended to suggest ways for you to do so more quickly and with less frustration.

                                • 13. Re: Learning Filemaker 11
                                  dougcummings

                                  I can appreciate what you are saying. I just cannot figure out how to do some of it. What I do not understand is to merge files do all of the files have to be converted to Filemaker first or can I import those have have not yet been converted still in their old (dBase) format? So far I have only converted about 40 files from dBase to Filemaker. The majority have not yet been touched. 

                                  You are familiar with Filemaker, I am not. I am familiar with dBase. You when you say "new table" and things like that you are losing me. Do I open a filemaker file and then go to Import Records and specify another Filemaker file I want to import into the file have open? 

                                  Doug

                                  • 14. Re: Learning Filemaker 11
                                    philmodjunk

                                    Open Manage | database and click the tables tab. Here is where you can create as many different tables as you need for your relational database. A relational database typically has more than one table with relationships linking them together. One table might be a list of all customer contact info. A second table might be a list of all sales invoices and a third table might be a list of all the individual items listed on  those invoices. When you create a new table here, FileMaker automatically creates a new layout and a "table occurrence" box on the relationships tab, both with the same exact name as your table.

                                    I have no idea what structure you had in your Dbase files. Did you have just one table or many? Think of it this way, do all your files use exactly the same list of information with exactly the same columns of data? if so it would appear that you have just one table in your Dbase system and you can then import all of your data from your dbase files into a single table in FileMaker.

                                    You can import files of type DBF directly into FileMaker wihout converting them. As long as you did not use memo files you can probably import the data successfully without needing to convert them first. Try selecting Import records | File and see how far you can get. Import records is documented inf FileMaker help and there are many different options to select when using this tool so it makes sense for you to study up on this tool, give it a try and then report back on what happened when you tried it.

                                    Resolving the table issue will be a key part of the process--both in terms of getting this to work and in your own understanding of how relational database systems work. FileMaker imports from a source file into a target table. If you have already defined a table in your databse where you want to import this data, you can select a layout for this table and then select Import Records to start importing data into that table. You can repeat this process with any number of source files to merge your data into a single table. If you pull down the drop down of target tables, you'll find an option named "new table". If you select that option, FileMaker creates a new table (which you will see on the tables tab the next time you open Manage | Database) and imports the data into it. Much like dragging and dropping your file on the fileMaker Icon, which I assume is how you converted your DBase files, this option automatically creates a new table with a field for each column of data from your source file and imports your data into it.

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