See "Auto-complete Value Lists II" in "Adventures in FileMaking #2 - Enhanced Value Selection". You'll find a working example of what you describe along with a detailed description of how it was set up and how it works.
Thank you PhilModJunk for the file. I looked through that and saw a lot of great stuff. I tried working on the setup that was in there for my file. I do believe it could work, but however I am still running into a snag. When the list comes down and I select a name from the list, it creates a new blank contact. Instead of selecting that contact. I may need to keep playing with it. There are a lot of scripts that go along with it and I could be overlooking something.
Sounds like you have set this up on your Donations layout, but set up the Name field from contacts as your drop down list field instead of using a text field defined in Donations.
Note: this method kinda "inverts" the standard "pick by name from a value list but have the value list enter an ID number" method seen in most tutorials for new users of FileMaker. That option doesn't allow you to use a value list that auto-completes as you enter the first few letters of a name.
This method requires that you add a text field to the file (to use with the drop down list) that you would otherwise expect to be a field in the related table from which you are looking up information. It takes a bit of extra work to set up and keep updated, but allows you to much more easily select from long lists of names and yet still link records by ID numbers. It also allows you to have more than one contact with exactly the same full name without requiring users to edit additional instances of the same name to make them unique for each donor.
Thank you PhilModJunk for all the help. I wanted to let you know I did get what I needed to work, but not by this method. I tried this method but still had not success. How I did get it to work though was using the drop down value lists. This worked also with the typing of the name. The one thing I had to add for the field to be used for the drop down list was the last name, first name and ID. So I created a new field with a calculation to add everything, but use the last name first so it went like this:
lastname & ", " & firstname &" | " & ID // i just used the vertical line after first name just to separate the name form the ID a little.
This worked perfectly. The list updates as new people are added, and keeps the IDs linked to the member. Thank you again for all of your assistance.
But how does that keep everything linked by ID?
And note what happens if you get two or more individuals named "John Smith". The only way to tell them apart with your method is if your user has memorized the different ID numbers--an approach that seem unnecessarily vulnerable to data entry errors.
You are welcome to continue asking questions if you decide to take another swing at the auto-complete value list method demonstrated in that exploration file.
This does link by ID. From my main contact table, is where the Last, First, ID calculation field is created. In the contributions table I use the contacts foreign key as the drop down list. Make sure the calculation field is set to a text output.. this sorts it by last name and not ID. Create your drop down list value via the Last, First, ID field and its good to go.
I get your message about multiple names that may be the same. This could be fixed as well with adding to the calculation field... you could also put in the calculation after the ID maybe a phone number or street address... something else to help identify that particular person.
But how does that put the selected ID into the ID field and not a combined name and ID?
Is this combined field your second field with ID alone as the first field? That works, but you lose the ability to auto-complete--one of the original features you requested at the start of this thread.