Wednesday, July 13, 2011

FileMaker Tip: Live Summaries

NOTE: This tip requires FileMaker 10 or higher

I don't know about you - but I get a lot of requests from users to create exports to Excel. They have their reasons - but mainly it's because they want to see data a certain way, or they've used it for so long it's the only software they feel they really "know", or they want to do unholy things with the data, etc., etc.

So rather than just create a whole bunch of export scripts (usually one per person per set of data - since no two people want exactly the same data) - there's a much simpler way: create a table with a couple of sub-summary parts. Now, it won't completely replace exports to Excel, but it will get you most of the way. Here's a simple example (but you can get much more sophisticated and complex!).

 Here's some simple data. It has a category, an item and a vendor:

I wanted to show this same list summarized by either Category or Vendor. So, I created two Leading Sub-summaries - one for Category and one for Vendor. Then, when you click either the Category or Vendor header -you get a live sub-summary report:

How cool is that? Plus, you get what I call the "awesome" feature - notice the little "Modify..." button in the upper right of the screenshot above (right above the "Vendor" heading) - this one button will make you (and your users) smile. It will save you hours of work and keep layouts named "Export 1000 - Bill", "Export 1000 - Tammi" etc from cluttering up your file.

The "Modify..." button allows the user to add/remove fields - without you having to create a new layout! In Browse mode!

Clicking the "+" button will let them display fields that aren't even on the current layout - with no need for them to go into Layout mode:

I'll leave you with a screen shot of the layout, and how simple it is. I hope you enjoy this tip!

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