I'm a Filemaker newbie myself but I think I can answer your question. I'm hoping we're talking about the same thing. The <<brackets>> you are referring to are a Filemaker feature called Merge Fields. Merge fields are a method for combining strings from multiple fields into a single, uneditable field for display purposes. In the database I help support (I didn't build it) they are used a lot for things like addresses, and on invoices and printinglayouts. Let's say you have fields on a Customers table layout for Customer::FirstName and Customer::LastName, and you need to create a layout for printing Invoices for those customers. You can then combine the the first and last names using a merge field <<Customer::FirstName>><<Customer::LastName>> and it will display the customer's full name properly no matter if their name is John Smith or Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. Since "regular" fields don't resize themselves for strings of different lengths, this is useful for diplaying information on layouts that do not require data entry.
Does anybody on this forum more experience than me have anything else to add?
You are correct they are Merge field. I wouldn't use it to combine firstname and lastname , I would use a different method.
It is also used to display noneditable fields. For Example you could display the current user logged in, you would not want the user to be able to change this, so you would use a merge field.
Thanks for the help. Both ansers are useful.
I've bee navigating the starter solutions and using the Missing Manual book to try to figure this out. What sources have you found that are especially helpful? Up unitl now, I've always worked in a corporate environment where I could just poke my head into the next cube for a quick answer.
It is tough to look up << >> when you don't know what it means.
I also have Filemaker 11 - The Missing Manual and it's been pretty helpful. I like the pop culture references, lame as they are. I literally started on page one and have been reading my way through it. (What can I say, I don't mind big tomes, used to read textbooks for pleasure) The first section of the book helps a lot to get the terminology down. It took a while to wrap my head around the whole table vs. table occurrence thing but I think I finally grasp that. Google helps a lot too. I've never really looked at the starter solutions. But I think I might be in a slightly different situation, because the database(s) I am supporting were built by others over many years and versions of FM and my job is basically to tweak and debug and to manage the planning of new features for the database, then pass it off to a Certified Filemaker Developer (outside contractor) to do the heavy lifting. I'm hoping one day I won't have to lean on him so much, as he's a busy guy, but right now I'm not comfortable enough with the system to develop new features for fear of compromising data (for instance, I mostly stay away from the Relationship Graph)
One thing I could suggest would be to just start with a totally blank database, and try to design it do something really basic, track what you eat every day for lunch. Or, create a one-table database to keep track of your projects, using separate fields for Task Description, Status of Task, person requesting the task, Priority of task, etc. Project management junk, cat pictures, doesn't matter. See where it takes you.
I don't know your level of programming experience (the only prior experience I have is Visual Basic, yikes.) I would imagine that for a person with more experience than me Filemaker would be a piece of cake. After 6 months of filemaker familiarity I can basically echo what's in The Missing Manual:
1. Plan your database before doing any programming. 2. Be consistent with your naming conventions of tables, fields, relationships, use standard primary and foreign key formats. 3. Don't attempt to write/debug scripts without Advanced, which comes with the handy dandy Script Debugger, or you'll tear your hair out. 4. When developing/experimenting, use a backup copy of your database.
I'm sorry I cannot be much more help to you as I am only an egg.
Good luck, Brian!