How can I include a defined field that will store email addresses- exactly as they need to be used to successfully email a client? I want to be able to sort, search, etc this field. Help!
It's just a regular text field, what you need is a validation on the field that ensures whatever entered is a valid email address format.
First off, start with the documentation: Defining field validation
Then consider the calculation you'll need to validate an email address. Since FileMaker doesn't have a native function for it, you'll either need a custom function (like this one: FileMaker Custom Function: IsValidEmailFormatƒ ( _email ) ), or utilize a plugin or even a webviewer that allows for something like REGEXP validation (regular expression pattern matching).
The custom function is probably the easier route and can be done without plugins or external services/plugins.
I like using a related table to store phone numbers, emails and web addresses. It makes it easy to store and search. It also makes for a tidy presentation. There are various ways to do this, but here's the one I like. Others can chime in with their preferences too.
I create a table related to my Contacts table. Let's call it Communications (Comm for short). The Comm table is very simple, with a data field, a label (Main Phone, Direct Phone, etc.), and a Type (voice, email or URL). For an example, a record would have a RecordID field plus
Type - Email
Label - Work Email
Data - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Label field is a value list with all the possible labels. I include things like LinkedIn profile, company profile, blog, etc.
The purpose of the Type field is twofold. First, I have a script to take action on the data, for example to call a phone number, to create an email, or to go to an URL. I want my script to have three sections, one for each action, and the script simply reads the Type field to choose the action to match the type of data. The other purpose is that the Contact layout will have a portal for the Comm entries. By having a value list with the Types (voice, email or URL) I can specify that the portal will sort in the order of the value list. I choose to have phone numbers first, emails second, and URLs third. Since it's a portal it can be as long as I want, or even scroll if a person has a lot of entries.
The portal layout is simple too, just the label field and the data field.
Searching is simple because FMP is looking at only one data field for the information. It's then easy to search, sort, or do anything else with your email addresses.
Would this work for your needs?
Retrieving data ...