Information can be:
Data in fields
text on the layout that only changes manually or with merge data (fields, variables, symbols).
What on your layout is NOT data (fields & records)? Because duplicating a layout is rarely done if yearly DATA changes. You can change a title with various means without creating entirely new layout, for example.
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Building on what Beverly has said, you're suffering from two basic misunderstandings:
1) That a layout is intrinsically tied to the data based on how you name it.
2) That you need a new table / layout / object for each year or other subdivision of data.
(I run into this all the time. The worse version of this is the new database for every year. See that one all the time, too. But I digress.)
There are several layers in the FileMaker model. Starting at the bottom (with some omitted), you have:
Table Occurrence (Relationships Graph)
A layout is nothing more than a means to display the data from the underlying table occurrence (which itself sits on the data table). You can have any number of layouts that point to the same data - but creating a new layout doesn't automatically create a new view into the data. All it does is create a new way to display the data that are already there.
So in your particular case, what you want is not a new layout. What you want is the ability to display data for a particular year. This is accomplished in a number of different ways:
1) Find the data via a script (which you can trigger using the OnLayoutEnter Script Trigger or by other means).
2) Use a portal to display the data that fits the search criteria (via a relationship).
3) Use accounts and privilege sets to restrict the user's view.
4) Use a new table for each year (not preferred).
5) Use a new database for each year (really not preferred).
What I would suggest is basically what Beverly has suggested: Create a script that finds the data you want (the particular year) and then set the display on the layout to match that. You can use a global field, displayed as a merge field, a merge variable, or some other means to insert particular data.
Perhaps if you give us some more detail on exactly what your desired workflow is, we can give you more specific advice.
here's the long version
the company sells directory listings to our advertisers we call "source guide".
Every year we work on this directory and update, add or delete listings.
Our advertisers are in a Filemaker database called "companys"
I don't know how to create a 2017 version of the layout that we use to keep track of the listings.
I duplicated 2016 just to get going. But I'm wondering if there's another way.
What is different about the 2017 layout (other than it says “2017”)?
What may change is the start and end date, the status of the listing (for instance, if we need a logo, or links to complete the listing, the listing itself may have edits from last year's listing, contacts, email addresses and phone numbers.
None of that has anything to do with the layout. That’s all in data, which is what Beverly and I were explaining earlier.
I think you probably need to pick up a copy of the FileMaker Training Series (free on FileMaker’s web site) and go through it. You’re missing a lot of the basics, and that will help you start off on the right foot.
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