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Dave Ramsey

Default sort order override

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Hello, my ad-hoc steering committee...

I'm shortly going to be tackling allowing an override of the default sort order.  Once implemented, there would be a preference to override the default sort order for all(-ish) queries to sort alphabetically, rather than by export / creation order.  I would love to get some feedback on this idea, in particular that I'm not either targeting too narrowly or too broadly.

My thought is that this could be best implemented using 3 checkboxes.

  1. Sort almost everything alphabetically by default
  2. Sort Layouts alphabetically by default
  3. Sort Scripts alphabetically by default

I think that for most users, sorting fields, TOs, references, etc by name by default will not cause a problem.  Most of them won't even need a preference for that.  They'd like it always on.  I have, however, identified users that would like to retain general access to the imported sort order.

I've identified Scripts and Layouts as two elements that very commonly are manually ordered.  Most developers will group similar layouts and scripts, even assuming that they have a naming convention that would allow for meaningful interaction with these elements (say, Scripts) alphabetically.

I also don't think there's any value to sorting Layout Objects in anything other than import order (by default), as the import order is a parent-child aware z-order.

I'm also thinking that this will necessitate the addition of a column in the Results pane that stores the creation / import ordinal so that you have the ability to restore that order (or reverse that order) if necessary for a single query.


  1. Can you think of any other elements within FileMaker whose creation / manual order is far more important than their alphabetical order?
  2. This is oft requested enough that I'm considering changing the first checkbox (sort most items alphabetically) to ON by default.  I think I will have fewer users asking how to change it back than I currently have users asking how to turn it on.  Thoughts?
  3. While neither the Hierarchy Browser nor the Columnar Browser have a base implementation for overriding the sort order on an area by area basis, I might try to invent one if there's huge desire for it.  I still that most users will never tweak the default, but I'm willing to be proven wrong.

In a fever-dream, I thought that instead of adding checkboxes to the preferences, I would add menu items that could be toggled on and off.  This only becomes of use if somebody sees being able to override this on a document-by-document basis, and really regularly, as a critical requirement.  If this is you, I'd like to hear from you.  I'm pretty sure that the overwhelming majority of users will turn it on, and never mess with it.  Most will never even override that default sort to use the new import ordinal column.

Any other thoughts or ideas related to this topic would be most appreciated.


Thank you very much,

Dave Ramsey

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For those who were interested, version 1.2.3 has been released with support for this feature.  Thanks!

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