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Firstly, I beleive that there is no such thing as a "really dumb question", as I beleive all questions are a sign of intelligence, so it's never dumb.
Now, as for what you're doing and what tools you're using... FileMaker is an excellent tool for manipulating data, especially Excel data and producing it into many formats for displaying more meaningful information. If you have an understanding of importing from Excel, then this is a great start.
... as for layouts, most layout design is pretty straight forward, so I'm sure you'll go far.
A lot of this may depend on how are you delivering the data to others, if you are using filemaker to create nice reports, then pdf or print them... then I would say, the most important part of your database design may involve creating report layouts from within FileMaker Pro. The "wizard" that FileMaker provides for creating new layouts for reporting is a pretty good start, but it would probably benefit you if you are to learn a little about creating summary fields, using them in sub-summary parts on a layout etc... some books or on-line resources might help you there.
if you are just using filemaker to then export the data out to Excel again, then I would say that most of what you need to do is creating fields, then learning the import/export options is what you'll need to focus on.
Feel free to add any more info, then I could suggest some techniques that may help, good luck!
I do find it easier to "browse" thru data sets, when they are in FileMaker
and quickly do complex "finds", to narrow a search
and import data into a second "related" table, to see which items are common ( or missing )
> Does it make sense to use FMP when I'm not creating data with FMP?
It sounds as though you may need to bring data in from Excel and push it back out there frequently, all the while sharing it with others (who may be modifying it). If that's the case, tracking what's current may become a bigger issue. Meanwhile, a few FMP features you may want to examine further:
* Recurring imports - automating import from same Excel file into FMP (http://help.filemaker.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/7532/~/setting-up-recurring-imports-in-filemaker-pro)
* Table view - can be manipulated much like Excel, as far as dragging to re-order columns and re-size them
* Modifying table view in Browse mode - adding columns that are not on the layout, hiding columns that are, re-ordering columns (use the button at the right side of the screen)
* Export options - File > Export Records.. requires that you specifiy fields and their order using a dialog, but File > Save/Send Records As > Excel just pushes out all the fields in their current order (GREAT from Table view)
Great pointers Peter. Understanding summary and subsummary parts are key to breaking down relavant data, now for the tricky part of actually applying them in a layout...
Here's a more specific question to what I'm trying to do:
I need to take this data (sensitive data removed):
SKU MANUFACTURER MODEL DEPARTMENT AVAILGROUP REPORTGROUP EXCHANGEGROUP INVSUBCATEGORYDESC CATEGORYDESCRIPTION DEPARTMENTDESCRIPTION INVIID ASSETID DESCRIPTION DATERECEIVED STATUSDATE ASSETSTATUS COST SELLPRICE SHELF BINNUMBER RETIRE CURRENTLOCATION BASELOCATION LOCKEDTO LOCKED DAMAGEDFLAG AVAILABLE SERVICESTATUS WEIGHT LIFE SALVAGEVALUE LASTORDERUSED LASTORDERDESCRIPTION LASTORDERCUSTOMER CONSIGNED PONUMBER BATCHNUMBER VENDORNAME NETBOOKVALUE DEPRECIATEDDATE ACCDEPRECIATIONAMOUNT REMAININGLIFE LTDREVENUE RENTALDAYS TIMESRENTED YTDREVENUE CUSTOMERID COMMENTS DAMAGEDLOSTCOMMENTS DEPARTMENT MFGSERIALNUMBER KITDESCRIPTION ASSETCOMMENTS SECONDARYSERIALNUM REPORTGROUPID REPORTDESCRIPTION MANUFACTURER MODEL SITEREPLACEMENTCOST BASEREPLACEMENTCOST COMMISSIONGROUP PODATE APPROVED RECEIVEDBY SOLDPRICE POSTED #### DELL LATITUDE E6400 COMPUTERS LAPTOP CPU LAPTOP PC Laptop Computer Computers Computers 36540743 AAAA### Dell Laptop Core 2 Duo / 2.26 Ghz 19-Aug-09 15-Jun-13 IN ####.## 0 NO A# A# NOTDAMAGED AVAILABLE NORMAL 36 0 AA##### AAAAA### AAAAA#### NO ID36669933 0 6280 717.5836227 91 2065 571746 WHITE TAPE COMPUTERS AA#A##AA# LAPTOP Laptop DELL LATITUDE E6400 0 Yes F.T. 0
and turn it into something like this:
(image pulled from a google image search)
I need to do this for all of the different categories pertaining to my Video Department. Screens, Projectors, Cameras, Video Switchers, etc.
A template would help but I think I'm trying to swallow this whole and it tends to get a bit overwhelming. Perhaps I'm approaching this all wrong?
Thanks for looking!
Hint: in FileMaker, this is bacsically a mailing label layout. Just need to make sure that the item descriptions fit within the space allowed.