4 Replies Latest reply on Feb 25, 2014 1:41 PM by MikeMcKay

    Baffling Windows font problem on Mac-created FMP database



      Baffling Windows font problem on Mac-created FMP database



                               Grateful thanks in advance to those with the patience to wade through this story. I'll try to keep it as succinct as possible.

                               1) I set up a database in Filemaker Pro for one of our clients, which happens to be the Catholic high school the owners of my company are alumni of.

                               2) This database, intended to track recruitment efforts aimed at prospective students and their families, was populated from two sources: a purchased list, and the school's existing database of elementary and middle-school students.

                               3) Getting the purchased list into the database was no problem. The school's student list, however, was maintained in an ancient and long-orphaned proprietary database system. All efforts to pry the data out of that system and export it into something that could be used in the new database failed.

                               4) So in desperation, I printed out a list of the students and their addresses, scanned all 32 pages into .pdf documents, performed OCR and ultimately prepared a text file that could be imported into my database.

                               5) This I did successfully, and on my Mac system, everything in the database I created looks and works just fine.

                               6) However, when I put the FileMaker Pro database on the school's Windows system, a portion of the records from the school's database (the ones I scanned) appeared with gobbledegook (nonsense characters) on some of the school's PCs. On others, the info is there, but there is a space between every character in each field of each record.

                               7) Changing the font as it applies to the fields in the Layout section of Filemaker has no effect on this.

                               8) What's especially weird is that this problem occurs in only a subset (about 540 records) of the school's records I scanned and imported. The other entries from the school appear normally on the school's PCs (and remember, EVERYTHING appears normal on my Mac). I double-checked the source files, and ALL of these entries were scanned and prepared in exactly the same way, and appear to be uniform on my Mac.

                               9) I re-exported the faulty records from my database into a plain text file, which again appears normal when I open it up on my Mac system. But when I opened it in NotePad on the school's system, I again saw the same weird font with spaces between every character. So I didn't even bother to import this back into the school's Filemaker database. 

                               Is there some sort of Character Set setting or something like that on a PC that would account for this? I've been unable to fix this by doing anything within Filemaker Pro.

                               Any other ideas? 

                               Thanks again for any help.
                               P.S. I should point out that the school had different versions of FMP on the three machines I tied into this database. I don't recall which PC has which, but I think they may include FMP 7, 9 and 11. Could this account for why some PCs display complete gobbledegook, while others have the weird font spacing on the faulty subset? (On the other hand, the exported plain text file also appears weird when opened in NotePad, which leads me to believe this has nothing to do with FileMaker.) The Mac I created the database on is running FMP 11.


        • 1. Re: Baffling Windows font problem on Mac-created FMP database

               Do the different PC's all have the same fonts configured/installed? (In the formatting tool bar there's a drop down for selecting a font where you get a choice to add more fonts so one copy of FileMaker may not be configured for the same set of fonts as another.)

               I'm curious. If you go to a layout based on this table, put the cursor in this field and use replace field contents using the calculation option with TextFormatRemove to strip out all text formatting, does it make a difference?

          • 2. Re: Baffling Windows font problem on Mac-created FMP database

                 Well, I've answered my own question, or at least, I understand somewhat what is actually going on here. (Obviously I should have done a bit more experimentation before posting, but this was driving me crazy!)

                 It turns out that the faulty subset of records really DOES have spaces between the letters...it's just that in certain fonts, this isn't apparent.

                 I verified this by placing the cursor in a field and using the arrow keys. The spaces are real...you just don't notice them in the font I used.

                 In the font I applied to the layout on my end (12-point Gil Sans), the records with spaces are indistinguishable from those that have no inappropriate spaces. If I change the Layout font to Arial or Times Roman, voila — the spaces are apparent.

                 There doesn't seem to be any particular rhyme or reason across fonts. They can appear right or wrong in both serif and non-serif fonts. 

                 Until a moment ago, I thought this must have been due to some kind of OCR error when I originally scanned these records, and the OCR program inserted spaces between letters in some of them. But this is not the case. I went back to the original .txt files I imported into FileMaker Pro, and the spaces are NOT present in these files. In both the records that appear correctly and those that don't, there are no extra spaces between characters.

                 So now I know the nature of my problem, but I still don't know the source of it! Why, when importing .txt files that are identical in nature, would some end up with spaces between characters, while others would not?

            • 3. Re: Baffling Windows font problem on Mac-created FMP database

                        In the font I applied to the layout on my end (12-point Gil Sans),

                   This is a font that is not likely to be found on the Windows machines. I recommend a "plain vanilla" font such as Arial or Times New Roman.

                   You can probably come up with a calculation that you can use with Replace Field Contents to remove the extra spaces from these records.

              • 4. Re: Baffling Windows font problem on Mac-created FMP database

                     Mystery solved!

                     It turns out there WAS some kind of OCR error after all. At someone else's advice, I looked at the original .txt files that resulted from the OCR in a hex editor. The "good" file looked normal, but the spaces were seen in the "bad" file, and appeared to correspond to "00" characters in the hex code.

                     When viewing this file in a regular text editor though, as I mentioned, no spaces were apparent...and furthermore, if I put the cursor between letters and moved it with the arrow keys, they moved from letter to letter with nothing in between.

                     So the only remaining question now is why the OCR program suddenly got a bug up its backside and put the spaces in one group of records but not another, when all were output in the same way from the same printer.

                     But it's an academic question only, as I've fixed the problem. I exported the faulty records out of Filemaker, diddled with them in Pages using Find and Replace to get rid of the extra spaces, exported as plain text and reimported them into Filemaker. Everything has been put right again.

                     Thank you for your help.