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Working With Saved Finds

A feature introduced in FileMaker Pro 10 puts recent finds right where you need them - no experience necessary.

By Jonathan Stars


Previous to FileMaker 10, in order to have quick access to any finds you created, you would need to make a script for each find. For many freshman users scripting is a scary place to work. FMP 10 introduces a very helpful feature called Saved Finds, which puts finds at the fingertips of even absolute beginners. More advanced users can always recall one of the finds and turn it into a script. It does come with some limitations, but let's look at the good stuff first.

Go to the Records menu and come down to Saved Finds. You'll notice that FileMaker remembered what you were looking for under the Recent Finds heading. Depending on what you've been doing on your own, your menu may or may not look like the one in Figure 1. Your Recent Finds appear in the lower half of the dialog and FMP retains up to 10 Recent Finds.

The first item listed under the Recent Finds heading is considered the Current Find. You can save it more permanently by clicking the Save Current Find menu item, which will bring up the dialog you'll see in Figure 2. The default name relates to how you ran your find in the first place. You can change the name to something easier to remember. About 65 characters will show in the Saved Finds list, but you can type more than that if you like.

Figure 1: The Saved Finds menu

Notice the Advanced button in the lower left. Clicking it brings up the Specify Find Requests dialog seen in Figure 3, where you can edit the find in as much detail as you like.

Figure 2: The Specify Options for the Saved Find dialog

The final part of the Saved Finds dialog is the Edit Saved Finds item. Clicking it brings up the dialog in Figure 4. It lists all saved finds for the account under which you're logged in and allows you to edit them by calling up the dialog in Figure 3. The finds listed are regardless of the Table Occurrence with which they're associated. Once the find is saved, it will show up at the bottom of the Saved Finds list (rather than at the top as happens with Recent Finds). You can reorganize the Saved Finds using the double arrows in the Name column as in Figure 4. You don't get that kind of control over Recent Finds. Once you've turned a Recent Find into a Saved Find, it goes to the bottom of the list of Saved Finds, just above the Recent Finds heading.

Figure 3: The Specify Find Requests

Figure 4: The Edit Saved Finds dialog

Saved Finds will appear for all other users of the file who are logged in with the same account name, and they will come back even after users close and reopen the file. If you are the host of the file, you retain your Recent Finds even after you close and reopen the file. However, guests of your file do not see your Recent Finds. A guest of your file will have their own set of Recent Finds, which will disappear when they close the file. If FileMaker Server is hosting the file, Recent Finds will disappear for each user when they close the file.

Saved Finds Details
Now let's look at some fo the finer points of Saved and Recent Finds.

* All Recent and Saved Finds will only appear for users logged in under the same account (although again, it appears that Recent Finds do not). If you want to make a find available to all users regardless of account, run the Saved Find and then immediately create a script that includes the Perform Find script step.

* Recent and Saved Finds are tied to the Table Occurrence Group (TOG) in which they're created. That means if you switch to a different layout attached to a different TOG, you won't be able to see or use any of the previous saved finds. It could be confusing to have created a special find and not be able to get to it because you don't remember what layout/table you were in at the time. Again, for more flexibility, make your find into a script that will automatically switch to the layout and perform the find. For more on Table Occurrence Groups see Chapter 14 in my book Learn FileMaker Pro 10, "Automating Your Database with Scripts."

* The Recent Finds menu even remembers attempted finds that turned up zero records and they can be turned into Saved Finds.

* There is a menu choice to Clear All Recent Finds, but you cannot delete recent finds one at time. Clearing your Recent Finds has no effect on other user's recent finds list. Regardless, if you really intend to keep a recent find, make it into a Saved Find.

* When a script performs a find, it does not appear in the Recent Finds list.

* If you want to make one of the recent finds into a saved find but it's not at the top of the recent finds list, just click on it so it runs and becomes the most recent find. Then choose Save Current Find to make it permanent.

* If you perform a Modify Last Find (Records, Modify Last Find) and add or subtract from your search, the updated and renamed version will appear as a Recent Find.

* Saved Finds will not remember the inverse group of records that result from using the Show Omitted Only menu.

* The generic names the menu creates can be confusing in some circumstances. For instance if you performed a find for zero or more characters (*) in the Last Name field and then performed a similar find for in the Company field, you would have two Recent Finds named "*," which is not very helpful. There are two ways you can discover what any Recent Find was; Perform it and then choose Records, Modify Last Find to see what criteria were used, or perform the questionable find, choose Save Current Find, and click the Advanced button to look at the details. To avoid actually saving the find click Cancel and Cancel again.

* After you edit a Saved Find, the name will change to reflect the change, but only if it still has the automatically assigned name. However, if you have already given your Saved Find a specific name, that name will not be overwritten.

* If you click and hold the Find icon in the Status Toolbar in Browse mode (assuming that button hasn't been removed through customization), you can see the Saved Finds menu. You can also add a Saved Finds button to the Status Toolbar. When you're already in Find mode, one of the default icons is Saved Finds.

* There is a script step called Open Edit Saved Finds. You can use it to allow users whose privileges wouldn't normally allow them to open that dialog to edit the finds.

* Saved Finds are tied to the Table Occurrence Groups rather than a specific base table. Since I use the Anchor-Buoy development standard, which is covered in Chapter 6 of Learn FileMaker Pro 10, every layout is tied only to a base table. That should help keep saved finds from being a confusing issue. For more about Table Occurrence Groups see Chapter 14, "Automating Your Database with Scripts."

* Saved Finds for users who log in using external authentication are stored in the file. When an account is no longer active, you might want to delete those saved finds. You would choose File, Manage, Accounts & Privileges and edit the account. Click the User Data button in the lower left corner. You can then selectively clear data based on user name.

* If you run a script that begins with Set Error Capture [On] (and isn't followed by Set Error Capture [Off] later, it disables the Saved Finds menu items during the time the script is running. This can be important since you may not want the user to override what's happening during the scripted process. Once the script has run its course, the error capture state is automatically restored to "on," which reactivates the Saved Finds menu.

Saved Finds is/are a great tool. It puts Finds right at your fingertips. Give them a try. I think you'll find them fast, intuitive and useful.

J **

 

© 2009 Jonathan Stars

 

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