In the preceding chapter, we discussed how to define fields for holding the data you want to store in your database. In this chapter, we discuss the tools at your disposal for creating user interfaces to manage that data.
You use layouts to create user interfaces in FileMaker Pro. Layouts are similar in some ways to web pages, though they're structured quite differently. A layout is a collection of graphical objects that a user interacts with to view and modify data. These objects include things such as fields, buttons, static text blocks, graphic elements (such as lines or rectangles), and images. FileMaker Pro contains a rich set of tools for manipulating these objects, allowing you to create attractive and functional interfaces for your users easily.
You can create many kinds of layouts in FileMaker. Form layouts are useful for data entry; list layouts are generally used for reports and often contain summary parts. Some layouts may be designed for system administrators to clean up data quickly. Still others can serve as user navigation menus and contain no data at all.
One of the things that makes FileMaker unique among database products is that the layouts themselves are stored in a file, right along with data, scripts, access privileges, and other elements of application logic. Every FileMaker Pro file must have at least one layout; there is no practical limit to the number of layouts a file can contain. It's not unheard of, nor undesirable, to have anywhere from a dozen to a hundred or more layouts in a file.
Layouts are created and managed in what's known as Layout mode. To get to Layout mode, choose View, Layout Mode, or simply type (L) [Ctrl+L]. Almost all the material in this chapter deals with tools and functions that require you to be in Layout mode to access them, but for simplicity and brevity, we will not specifically mention that fact in conjunction with every tool and tip.
In this chapter, we take a top-down approach to learning about layouts. We begin by discussing layout creation and layout configuration options. We then move down to the level of the part, and finally down to the level of objects. Learning about layouts can entail "chicken and egg" problems: Most topics are intertwined to the extent that there's no convenient linear approach through the material. We therefore encourage you to skip around from topic to topic as necessary to fill out your knowledge.
Finally, this chapter does not comprehensively cover every layout tool or configuration option. Rather, our approach is to cover details that you might not otherwise discover on your own, and to present what we consider to be best practices for working with layouts.
Creating and Managing Layouts
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