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Printable "table based" forms using FileMaker layouts

Question asked by PeterThorton on Apr 17, 2012
Latest reply on Apr 27, 2012 by philmodjunk


Printable "table based" forms using FileMaker layouts



I've been tasked with creating forms to be printed out (invoices, order sheets and such) The forms will display data from the company database (which I'm also designing, but that's not the issue rihgt now). The original forms which I'm to emulate were probably made in Excel, they are very "table based", by tables in this instance I don't mean database tables, but rather tables as visual elements. The picture will make clear what I'm trying to achieve and how far I got (kindly disregard the strange language and characters)

As you can see, it's all about simple black frames. But they need to be perfectly aligned, text within them centered. Since FileMaker doesn't seem to facilitate input of visual tables (other than tables representing portals), I've been trying to make do with rectangles, lines and labels. This approach is, as you can imagine, extremely tedious. Getting the rectangles to align is not so difficult. However, getting the vertical lines to be the correct size is pain. I'm using all the functions of the Arrange menu, they are somewhat helpful, but it's still a lot of work and the results are not the best. Then comes trying to center the labels in the handmade 'cells'. I've given up on this for now, since it seems impossible to center them precisely by moving them around with the mouse.

Yes, I'm aware that all the sizes and positions can be set precisely using the Inspector window. But that's even more tedious, and what's more, in my experience the Inspector likes to defy me when setting precise values. eg. I set the size of an element to 6,11cm, it will reset to something like "closest acceptable value", which is 6,22cm.

Then there is the portal, which needs to stick to the header row seamlessly, like they're a single table. I suppose I can achieve this by making the fields in the portal the same height as the portal row height, make the widths identical to the columns in the header row, and give the fields borders. Again, lots of resizing, centering and aligning, which doesn't seem to work too precisely in FileMaker.

Since I have no ruler to work with, no predefined sizes, I just try to guess the correct sizes and ratios. If it doesn't look the way it's supposed to, I resize. But resizing in this situation is even more pain. If I'm resizing the width of the columns, I need to move the vertical lines, and then re-center the labels. If I have to change the row heights, I have to resize the vertical lines on top of that, which is even more annoying. And then it's time to resize the portal fields.

Is there a better way of doing this?