Just as the functional side of your solutions has to be intuitivenavigating from layout to layout or window to window, gaining access to various functional buttons, and interacting with FileMaker's Find processesviewing data needs to be so as well.
We don't need to cover some of the basics, such as differentiating between fields and field labels, or logically grouping information together (as in a company's street address, city, state, and zip fields), but you should take note of FileMaker's capabilities to auto-format data and manipulate text style formatting.
By using the text formatting functionsRGB, TextColor, TextFont, TextSize, TextStyleAdd, TextColorRemove, TextFontRemove, TextSizeRemove, and TextStyleRemoveyou can precisely control how information is displayed in your database solutions. Consider that a field showing payment status (current or overdue, for example) could convey additional information through different color and text style applications. You could use FileMaker's layout-based formatting options (Format, Text in the menus) to cause numbers to change color when negative; by using the text formatting functions, they could also take on shades based on how close to, say, a quota they are. You might color-code the names of regions in a geographical area or want to highlight certain keywords within a body of text.
To learn about the basics of calculation functions, see Chapter 8, "Getting Started with Calculations," p. 217.
For detailed examples of text formatting functions, see Chapter 14, "Advanced Calculation Techniques," p. 391, and Chapter 17, "Debugging and Troubleshooting," p. 501.
For a complete reference to all calculation functions, refer to Chapter 6 of our companion volume, FileMaker 8 Functions and Scripts Desk Reference.
Auto-Formatting Data to Provide Visual Cues
Just as you can apply text formatting functions by using a script or through calculation fields, your database can automatically change text formatting on entry. Both Chapter 3, "Defining and Working with Fields," and Chapter 8, "Getting Started with Calculations," have covered this functionality. This auto-entry capability to reformat data on entry enables you to capture information on the way in and impart additional meaning through making it bold, red, and so on. Note that you will be changing the data in question; more than simply a display technique, this modifies the data itself. One application of this technique could be changing your text to red if some validation condition fails. Another example is to color-code or to apply bold and italic styles to a status field. For example, note in the example shown in Figure 13.17 that the status of various to-do items is immediately apparent.
Figure 13.17. The text is formatted as users enter it using the Auto Enter By Calculation field options.
Although this is hardly an advanced technique from a technical perspective, it's important to learn how FileMaker's capabilities can be used to make data and information more accessible.
Part I: Getting Started with FileMaker 8
Using FileMaker Pro
Defining and Working with Fields
Working with Layouts
Part II: Developing Solutions with FileMaker
Relational Database Design
Working with Multiple Tables
Working with Relationships
Getting Started with Calculations
Getting Started with Scripting
Getting Started with Reporting
Part III: Developer Techniques
Developing for Multiuser Deployment
Advanced Interface Techniques
Advanced Calculation Techniques
Advanced Scripting Techniques
Advanced Portal Techniques
Debugging and Troubleshooting
Converting Systems from Previous Versions of FileMaker Pro
Part IV: Data Integration and Publishing
Importing Data into FileMaker Pro
Exporting Data from FileMaker
Instant Web Publishing
FileMaker and Web Services
Custom Web Publishing
Part V: Deploying a FileMaker Solution
Deploying and Extending FileMaker
FileMaker Server and Server Advanced
Documenting Your FileMaker Solutions