Layout design is definately not my strong suit, so I'm looking for some help/suggestions on how to proceed with what I consider some more complex formatting issues (I've struggled quite a bit to get this far and have a couple of more big hurdles to overcome).
As a hobby I participate (both as competitor and organizer) in TSD (Time Speed Distance) car rallies, which is a precision (not speed) course following "sport". For a number of years I have been working on expanding a rather complex excel spreadsheet that we use to produce materials for these events. This involves some rather complex time calculations, precise mileage measurements and lot of different graphics. A couple months ago I started development of a filemaker version of this, primarily driven by the desire to be able to enter data in the field (a single event may require 2-3 survey trips, to figure out the right roads, speeds, and get a final measurement) on an ipad (and get GPS location information) and remove a lot of paper from our various survey trips.
Over the years we've received a number of complements on the clean, easy to read format we use (compared to what some other clubs use) so it's important to try and maintain as much consistency as possible with the current format.
I've attached two files, one is a single production page from our last event (done in the excel version) and the second a single page done in the filemaker version from the planning trip for our next event (it contains instructions which may be important to organizers and workers but would not appear in a public version). Each column is a different field.
What I'm trying to do is maintain a minimum row size (50 px). The problem is with the instruction/reference text. If there is a small amount of text in that field (less than the minimum row size) I would like it to be centered vertically. If there is a large amount in the field then it can be aligned to the top. The field is currently set to slide up (and resize enclosing part) with top aligned text. This works great for fields with large amounts of text but not for fields with a small amount of text. If I center the text vertically then the field does not slide. The instruction field actually occupies the whole width of the layout with enough left indent to place in on the left half of the print out. This was the only way I could get the side borders to work properly with sliding.
My current thinking for solving the problem is that I'll have to create a calculation version of the text which tries to figure out how many lines it might occupy (length and number of soft returns) and pads the begining if necessary. I'd appreciate any suggestions for accomplishing this without the calculation, or suggestions/comments on how to such a calculation.
As an additional complication, my second big hurdle is to be able to combine graphics and text on the print out. The attached excel version of the PDF includes an example of this, where the text references a + (intersection ahead) road sign. I think it makes more sense to post about that as a separate discussion.