Missed the post from the mod about information.
1. The version of FileMaker Pro you are using. Filemaker Pro 11
2. The operating system and version you are using. OSX Leopard
3. Describe as much detail about your database as is pertinent to your question. Otherwise, other forum participants will have to guess and/or ask for more information. Information in my first email
4. Give examples of what you are trying to accomplish, but can't. For example, how you want a report to list information, what related information is not showing, etc. This can really help the responder(s) when they suggest a solution. Information in my first email
5. Try to indicate your level of experience with FileMaker and/or other database designs. If the person responding to your post knows that you are a newer user, they can give a more detailed step by step description. TOTAL NEWBIE
6. Please indicate whether your database file is being shared over a network, or being published to the web via either Instant Web Publishing (IWP) or Custom Web Publishing (CWP). Private Database
2 questions to start.
Where/how are you currently storing the information for your contacts?
Are you using any books or training materials?
Thanks for getting back to me. Currently the files are printed as a hard copy. They are not stored in any program. As far as training books or materials, I am currently using the trial version of the software to find out if it can actually do what I want. I talked with customer service and they couldn't give me a direct answer without purchasing a support plan or starting a one-time support time call. They recommended asking on the forums. If the program can do what I want then I have no problem purchasing it and then looking into a training manual though amazon.
The software can definitely do what you want. It's just a matter of building the solution and how much time and effort you can put into learning the software. If anything, getting your contact list from paper to a file would be a step in the right direction and relatively easy to do. If you plan carefully, you will be able to leverage the data into a more complex solution without having to make many, if any alterations. And you will be able to use it for simpler things right away.
I'm a little confused by what you mean by contact list vs email campaign.
Thanks again for the response. When i talked with customer service I explained that I had entered a few names into one of the contact list options and was wondering how I could group them later so that when I did launch and email campaign I could select certain people. They couldn't give me an answer but suggested that I should start directly in the email campaign category. I looked into that but I was still lost as to where you would enter information you could sort by.
Here is an example.
Customer: John Smith Purchase: Item A
Customer: Jane Smith Purchase: Item B
Customer: John Doe Purchase: Item A, Item B
Customer: Jane Doe Purchase: Item A
Now where do I enter the purchase information for the item. If I want to send am email to people who purchased Item B only how would i select them?
Now I understand. You are talking about the pre-packaged databases that come with the software. In that case I don't know how much use I could be as I'm not familiar with them. I find that pre-packaged solutions are not very useful when you have specific needs and that creating a new database from scratch is better than trying to re-jig an existing one. It's a lot easier than you think.
Some more questions.
How proficient are you with excel or word? Have you ever done a mail merge?
Did you try Bento?
I am okay with Word. Excel...not so much. I originally thought about Bento but after talking with the Filemaker support they said it wouldn't do what I was looking for so I turned to filemaker.
It's true that Bento will not do what you ultimately want to do, but neither will any of the pre-packaged solutions in FM. To do what you want to do you would need to build your own DB.
I asked about excel and mail merging because experience with those things would might help you pick up db concepts more easily. I have a feeling it will take you a little while to feel comfortable enough building your own solution. But that doesn't mean that you should give up on it. But after giving both the contacts and email solutions a quick glance, I would personally avoid the email one. It seems too complicated and not compatible with the direction that your solution would ultimately take. Better to start with contact, which is simpler and then add to it.
In terms of what to do about products a, b and c, the best solution would be to create a related table for the products. But in the interim, if you do not have more than 2 or three, you could fake it by adding a column for each to the table in the contact file.
To create the email, you would just create a report that works much in the same way a mail merge file works. You would just filter by the product fields.
I've never viewed the pre-packaged solutions as anything other than examples, which is what they're intended to be. However, when I was beginning to develop (?) a solution that suited my needs, I got several clues by examining the starter solutions. I wouldn't advise anyone to copy a solution and then adapt it (although this could work just fine) , but to extract ideas from the starter solutions.
The most important and difficult task involved in putting together a database solution has little to do with programming. The task: determining your needs realistically. "What do you want?" When you know what you need then it's a natural progression to discovering how to acquire the chops to accomplish your goal.
I just took a quick look at the provided solutions and given your end goal, you should probably look a the invoicing solution. Also, I would strongly suggest that you take advantage of the free month of online training thru VTC since the guy goes step by step in building an invoicing solution and the tutorials will help you understand what the prepackaged solution does. And he has tutorials on how to create a "form letter" report and how to use the email feature, which will help you set up the template for your email camping.
I still think in the end, you will want to create your own solution. But when you do decide to "upgrade" yourself to a more personalize Db, you should be able to export the data you enter into the invoicing solution and re-use it into your new db so you will not be wasting your time entering contacts and so forth.
Hope this helps.