Besides just knowing the raw statistics and capacities of your software tools ("speeds and feeds," as the machinists like to say), it's wise to understand the basic data formats with which your database software can work. In this chapter we give a brief overview of each of the underlying FileMaker field data types, and we also discuss the various data formats available for import and export.
First, a word about data types in FileMaker: Unlike certain other database engines, FileMaker is somewhat forgiving about data types. You can add text characters to a number field, for example, without being stopped by FileMaker. The price you pay for this flexibility is the possibility that you'll make a mistake or permit something undesirable to happen. So it's necessary to have a firm grasp of FileMaker's data types, and how each of them works and relates to the others.