You don't want to include a name field as part of the relationship. That won't work and if it did, it defeat the purpose of using the serial number field for a student ID.
There are any number of ways to select a student by name in order for the student ID number to be copied over to a new record in your contacts table. Here are just a few:
- Easiest is to establish a portal to contacts on a layout based on the students table. If you enable "allow creation of records via this relationship" for parentcontacts inside this relationship, you can simply start entering data in a blank row in the portal and a new record will be created in ParentContacts and this new records will automatically receive the student Id number.
- You can also format the ParentContacts::StudentID number on your Parentcontacts layout as a drop down list or pop up menu of StudentID's from the Students table. You can specify a field from Students to be listed in Field 2 of this value list. If you do that, you can pull down this value list and use the text in field 2 to select a student but the student ID is the value that will be entered into the field. Note that the data listed in field 2 should be unique. You may want to combine a student name and address or other text from the student table in a text field by setting up an auto-entered calculation for this and then this field would be used for the field 2 list of values.
- You can also use script triggers and global variables or fields to "synchronize" your student and parentcontacts layouts. Use OnRecordLoad on the student layout to copy the studentID to a global variable or field, then define the ParentContact::studentID field to auto-enter the contents of this field or variable. With this approach, you can perform a find in students to find the student you want, then click a button to switch to parent contact where you can create a new record in Parent Contacts which will automatically be linked to the current record shown on the students layout.
- There are also ways to use portals and/or drop down fields with auto-complete enabled lists of student names. This requires scripting to set up, but can make managing long lists of values much easier to work with. Here's a demo file that illustrates several such approaches but don't try these out unless you have a decent grasp of scripting: http://www.4shared.com/file/plr_jbkk/EnhancedValueSelection.html
Thanks for the feedback. I realize my question is very basic in the grand sense, but was a primary issue for me as a novice user. Your pointers are right on to what I need. I used your suggestion from # 2 and it works very well.