Welcome to FileMaker! I think you'll find the food's better here than in your Army days.
Re your question, you'll probably need to explain a bit more about what you're trying to accomplish. When you say "like Excel," it sounds like possibly you just want a single portal with 8 fields across the row, although I could be reading too much into it and perhaps you really want 8 portals (representing different ranges of a set of related records). One thing to keep in mind is that portals will only show rows where there are actual records in the related (child) table (plus an empty "virtual" row for creating the next related record, if your relationship is set up to allow record creationg through the relationship). In that way it's not like a spreadsheet where you start with a grid of empty rows and columns, ready to click and type anywhere. This may not be where your problem/question lies at all, but I thought I'd mention it, as newcomers to the database world often bring a bit of "spreadsheet-think" with them.
As for training, the FileMaker Training Series (http://www.filemaker.com/support/training/fts.html) is an excellent resource. It used to be priced at $100, but is now an exceptionally reasonable $20 (USD). Some of it is geared toward intermediate to advanced users, but some parts cover the basics. Even better for getting your feet wet might be the free tutorial guide included with FMP and available for download here (http://www.filemaker.com/support/product/documentation.html).
Hope this helps,
I am indeed trying to show 8 portals representing different ranges of related records. Generally I will only be using the first 4 portals but i need the reamaining portals to appear like a grid from excel. Is there a way to accomplish this? I believe what is happening is the rectangles I am creatng to give me the grid look are being "swallowed", for the lack of a better term, by the portals and are not showing when i print, unless one field in the row has data showing. I thought about making a straight like cross all 8 fields and having it extend out on both ends then creating a solid white rectangle to cover the over hang. And thank you for your advice Mark, it is greatly appreciated.
Thanks. I think I understand a bit better now. You probably can accomplish this with the tools in FileMaker. In the Inspector:Appearance tab, under "Line," be sure to select the "Add borders between repetitions in repeating fields" option (the button right below the line-weight field, see attached image). (I know, it's not a repeating field in this case; the button's tooltip should really also include "or between portal rows.")
As an alternative, you could put a set of straight lines across all 8 portals. As long as the left ends of the lines are barely (a pixel) outside the left edge of the first portal, they will not be treated as portal elements (which only show up in rows displaying related records), but that's probably not necessary, and could end up looking inelegant. I think the above is your solution.
[OK - trying again to insert image. ;-) ]
By the way, while your particular goal here may be an exception to this rule—every rule has them—in most cases, portals are not very optimal for including on layouts destined to be printed. On screen, they're great for showing related records, as you can scroll the portal to see however many related records there are. On a static, printed page, that possibility is obviously lost. In those kinds of scenarios, where you need to see all the related (child) records, one would usually design a print-specific (and print-optimized) layout using the child table occurence as the layout's context and showing "parent" data using any of several approaches for doing so (summary parts, etc.).
Mark Scott, MD wrote:
it's not a repeating field in this case; the button's tooltip should really also include "or between portal rows."
What you might be after is using one relationship, and multiple copies of the same portal and field(s) but setting the row start /end for each portal iteration
In layout mode, double click the portal to raise te Portal Setup dialogue. In the Fornat section, for
the first portal set initial = 1, number of rows = 12
the second portal set initial = 13, number of rows = 12
the third portal set initial = 26, number of rows = 12
While some use repeat fields, others of us avoid them like the plague.