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Using Variable Fields

FileMaker's Insert menu includes a great feature that lets you insert field data that is automatically updated. There are two types of fields in the Insert menu: fixed and variable (Figure 10.52). Fixed data fields—Current Date, Current Time, and Current User Name—paste information that is current at the time it is entered. Once pasted into a file, the data remains fixed and is not updated. In contrast, the variable fields—Date Symbol, Time Symbol, User Name Symbol, Page Number Symbol, and Record Number Symbol—are updated when the file is viewed or printed.

Figure 10.52Figure 10.52 The Insert menu contains two types of fields: fixed and variable.

These variable fields are particularly handy for form letters because a letter can be prepared in advance, yet contain the dates and times reflecting the time when it's actually printed out. This trick, by the way, need not be confined to form letters. Use it in any layout where you need updated information to appear—including onscreen forms.

To insert a variable field:

  1. Make sure you're in Layout in Windows, in Windows, on the Mac), Type tool from within the status area, and click in the you want the variable data

  2. Choose Insert and then the type you want: Date Symbol, Symbol, User Name Symbol, Number Symbol, or Record Symbol (Figure 10.52). sor and a placeholder symbol inserted (Figure 10.53). For more on what will appear in the layout, especially the placeholder symbols, see Table 10.1.

    Figure 10.53Figure 10.53 When you choose Insert > Date Symbol, a double forward slash (//) acts as a placeholder within the layout.

    Table 10.1 Variable Field Symbols

    To Use

    Choose Insert And :

    Inserts (Symbol

    Fixed date

    Current Date

    Date at time field created

    Fixed time

    Current Time

    Time at time field created



    Name of person

    user name

    User Name

    creating field

    Variable date

    Date Symbol

    Placeholder (//)

    Variable time

    Time Symbol

    Placeholder (::)

    Variable name

    User Name Symbol

    Placeholder (||)

    Variable page

    Page Number Symbol

    Placeholder (##)

    Variable record

    Record Number Symbol

    Placeholder (@@)

  3. Return to Browse mode and the placeholder is updated to reflect the most current data (Figure 10.54).

    Figure 10.54Figure 10.54 When you switch from Layout to Browse mode, the date symbol is replaced by the current date, which will be continually updated.


The formatting for dates, times, and numbers inserted with variable fields is controlled like any other date, time, or number field. For example, you can have dates appear as 5/6/2002 or May 6, 2002. For more information, see Formatting and Graphics in Layouts on page 183.

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