It's an oft-requested feature, and as far as I know can't be done. Best I've ever come up with is repeating the names etc every screen's width, but that can be seen as making the problem even worse.
Do users really need to see every combination of all the columns? In other words, are there some users (or uses) that use these 4 columns, and other users or uses that use these other 5, and you could pull them into groups and have a layout for each, and make navigation easy between them?
Thank you Sorbuster.
I had a feeling this might be the case (unless anyone else out there cares to surprise us).
At the moment I am using the technique of repeating the name fields but wanted to get away from that.
I will be thinking laterally of alternative layouts, thanks for your suggestions.
Or, if your list generally isn't that long, you could have a screen which is actually in form view, with 4 tabs, say. The tabs would be as deep as you need you list to be, maximum.
Let's say you have two 'fixed columns': Name First and Name Last. Then you have 20 more columns you want to scroll across. You could put a portal down the LHS, beside - not in - the first tab. It is also as deep as the max list you would expect to view. It would contain only Name First and Name last.
Copy the portal on to the first tab and make it the width of the rest of the screen (same thing as the width of the tab) and put the first 5 fields of the 20 in it. Duplicate the portal, put it in the 2nd tab, and place fields 6-10 in it. Likewise the 3rd and 4th tab. Do not show a scroll bar in any portal or things will get really hairy.
Either this will create the effect you want as you click from tab to tab, or: my imagination is running riot.
Obviously it's dependent upon the length of the list being manageable now, rather than the width of the list. Though as I think about it you could break the list into page-deep chunks and restart the portals from new row numbers, after a break. You could put buttons in the break area to simulate changing tabs. It must work. It really must...
Thank you very much for all the effort! Have a lie down, you deserve it.
The client needs the layout to be as simple as her normal spreadsheets and has other stipulations too so I won't be able to put your suggestions into practice this time.
When I get a moment I will ave an experiment with them for future projects.
I think it was harder to describe than to use - there will be a little bit of work on your part, but it should be intuitive enough to your user - in fact the tab layout will look very like the tabbed sheets of an Excel sheet.
Okay, if you can squint a bit and use your imagination...
Imagine this file, only several columns wider on each tab, and several more tabs. And many more records. But it should give you a flavour of what I meant.
You can also create a series of list view layouts, each displaying The same initial columns but then with a different sub set of the remaining columns. Then add a horizontal button bar across the top of your layout where the user can click to flip from one layout to the other. If you are careful, the user may not even realize that they are changing layouts if you keep all common layouts such as the initial columns and the button bar exactly the same on each layout.
Now for a brief editorial:
Moving a system from Excel to FileMaker is pretty much guaranteed to create such "teething pains" during the transition. Their interfaces are significantly different from each other. Excel has options for working with large numbers of columns that FileMaker simply does not have. On the other hand, there are reports, layouts and relationships you can exploit in FileMaker in order to manipulate the data in ways that are difficult to impossible to do in Excel. Often, the solution to this issue is not to try to mimic Excel, but restructure your tables, relationships and layouts so that this type of interface is no longer needed.
You have to weigh the Pros and Cons before you make such a move and sometimes you have to remind your end users of the reasons why you are making the change while they experience a little frustration in working with a different interface.
Thanks to you too Phil.
The client is extremely happy with the database I have set up for her and her bosses appreciate it has saved them a great deal of time and money on a day to day basis. They are all onboard with the idea that it has advantages over manipulating and tracking many, many spreadsheets.
However, the client is used to the spreadsheet look and feel so I am just making the actual interface more familiar and had come to the conclusion I will have to use various tricks with button bars and hidden, duplicate layouts etc.
I have explained to the whole company that there will be differences and each method has advantages over the other and they are OK with it. Some clients adapt better than others.
All the input I have received has been much appreciated.
Please explore the idea that perhaps your multiple columns of data might be restructured into multiple records in a related table. In addition to being able to work with such sets of data in a convential portal, it may be possible to use a series of one row portals to display the data in columns. The advantage here to you is two fold:
1) you may not need so many different layouts. (Portal filters and/or their relationship can be manipulated to display different columns of data.)
2) adding columns of data (unlike in Excel) requires making a lot of design changes to layouts and your table definition where adding new records is a much, much simpler process.