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Creating FileMaker Pro Layouts

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Learn how to customize the appearance of your data for specific tasks and users through FilaMaket Pro layouts.
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FileMaker's layouts allow you to vary the appearance of your data without changing the data itself. This gives you the freedom to create layouts tailored to specific tasks and users. Workers entering orders into a database, for example, probably will find it easier to use a layout that mirrors the sequence of information they get from customers. Sales managers, on the other hand, may need layouts that help them spot what's selling well. Day-to-day tasks need a different layout than big-picture analysis demands. Remember: You need not show all of a database in a layout. In fact, the more you can pare down a layout to just the essential information, the easier it will be to use.

The Layout status area (Figure 10.1), runs down the left side of your screen when you're in Layout mode. The status area includes all the tools you'll need for adding text, graphics, fields, and parts to a layout and then applying colors, patterns, and lines to make them attractive.

Figure 10.1Figure 10.1 All the tools for creating layouts reside in the left-hand status area whenever you're in Layout mode.

You don't necessarily need to start from scratch in creating layouts: FileMaker includes dozens of built-in templates. Some you may want to use as is, others may provide a starting point for creating your own custom layouts. For more information, see Using Templates and Scripts on page 209.

Choosing a Layout Type

When you first define fields in a database, FileMaker by default generates a standard layout, which lists the fields and their labels in the order they were created (Figure 10.2). You're free to modify that default layout any way you like. Or you may save yourself some trouble in generating a new layout by choosing from the predefined layout types built into FileMaker.

Figure 10.2Figure 10.2 When you first define fields, FileMaker by default generates a standard layout with fields and labels listed in the order they were created.

Use the New Layout command for creating standard, columnar, table, label, envelope, and blank layouts. For information on label and envelope layouts, see Using Label and Envelope Layouts on page 149.

Here's a quick comparison of each layout type:

Standard: Nothing fancy here. This layout displays all the database's fields in the order they were created. The field labels for each field appear just left of the fields (Figure 10.3). It includes a blank header and footer.

Figure 10.3Figure 10.3 The Standard layout displays fields and their labels in the order they were created.

Columnar list/report: This layout places the database's fields in a row across a single page. The labels for the fields appear in the header above the body of the record (Figure 10.4). (The footer is blank.) You determine the order of the fields when creating the layout or you can go back and rearrange them any time. Columnar lists and reports make it easier to compare one record to another or to squeeze multiple records onto the same screen.

Figure 10.4Figure 10.4 The Columnar list/report layout places fields in a single row across the page.

Table view: This isn't actually a layout as FileMaker usually defines the term. Instead it (Figure 10.5) is an automatically generated view of your data, though a very useful one for seeing and sorting multiple records on a single screen. For details on using tables, see pages 44 and 46. For details on controlling the layout setup for tables, see page 148.

Figure 10.5Figure 10.5 The Table view is automatically generated and helps you inspect multiple records on a single screen.

Labels: Use this layout only for labels: you can't enter data into it directly (Figure 10.6). The dialog box that appears lets you choose from dozens of pre-set Avery label styles. For more information, see To create a label layout on page 149.

Figure 10.6Figure 10.6 The Labels layout will handle dozens of preset mailing label styles.

Envelope: This layout is tailored for printing on regular business envelopes and includes main and return address areas (Figure 10.7). Like the labels layout, it's not used for entering data directly. It includes a header and body but no footer. For more information, see To create an envelope layout on page 151.

Figure 10.7Figure 10.7 The Envelope layout takes the hassle out of generating addressed envelopes.

Blank: This layout is entirely blank—nothing appears in the header, body, or footer (Figure 10.8). If you want to start with a clean slate and only add fields as you're ready, this is the layout for you.

Figure 10.8Figure 10.8 The Blank layout is exactly that—a blank slate if you want to start from scratch.

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