Using container fields to store reference documents of different types

Discussion created by JoeSand on Apr 22, 2018
Latest reply on Jul 16, 2018 by jbrown

I see, searching the archives, that I'm not the only one who has banged my head against the wall trying to make container fields do what they should be able to do.  I didn't find an answer, so rather than try every possible option I thought I'd first see if anyone else has successfully done what I want to do...

The limitations seem to revolve around these things:

1. There's no single step for entering any type of file... you have a different insert command for pictures, PDF files, multimedia, and other things, just called "files."

2. There are two different configurations of container fields, depending on whether or not they will be "interactive."

3. Containers sometimes have limitations, such as in portals.

4. The documentation for containers is so spread around within the documentation that it is hard to get the whole picture what they can and cannot do.


My basic wish is to be able to "attach" files to a record.  This record is an automotive repair order, and the documents are anything that I want to archive with the job, most commonly photos, images taken from the internet, and PDF files (user manuals, installation instructions, etc.).  U-tube videos might find there way in also.   I have related the "files" table to the "repair order" table using a join table (many to many), since it's very likely that an individual file would be useful for many jobs.


I would like to be able to add related files of any type, be able to bring up a list of files related to any repair order, see thumbnails, and easily open them for reference.


I typically show a list of related records using a portal where you can add new records and have the relationships taken care of for you, except PDF files can't be entered via a portal, and no thumbnail will display, only an icon.  If I could make the file open with a "click" so it could be quickly inspected, this might be OK, and I don't necessarily need them to be "interactive", but viewing a file seems to be a multi step process!?  For this reason, it seems the only user friendly way to view pictures, PDFs and video files is within filemaker, and all other files need an employee to call the IT department (me).

Also, PDF's don't want to "thumbnail". When you reduce an interactive field to thumbnails size, the scroll bars take up most of the image.


Anyone already slid down this particular razor blade?  I'll keep pecking, and I expect I'll hear the terms "card" and "magic key" used here, the former I'm going to try next, and the latter I sort-of understood when last I read about it, but I haven't used yet... don't know how my join table might complicate it...