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Fundamental Database Design Question

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I am not exactly sure where to put this question, or maybe even how to word it .

I am building a database for my cabinetshop and it has a lot of different components (existing & yet to exist). My objective right now is to develop small stand alone solutions with the ultimate goal of weaving and interconnecting them later.

This database makes extensive use of container fields. In order to keep the file size manageable, these container fields typically just store a reference to an image, rather than the image itself.

I have, for example, a file that tracks job costs. This file includes references to vendor files and labor files. The material files contain images of the material in question. etc.

MY QUESTION IS: how do you keep track of the path of all these references? In the process of making backup files I end up renaming files. Often times when I try to run a file that contains a reference to a renamed file my computer starts spitting out error messages.

Are there any discussions anywhere about development strategy?

I just know I am stuck right in the middle of the forest and I could use some help with perspective.

I'm apologize for the ramble. I probably didn't ask this question in a way that any one could answer it......

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One of the keys to using references to images is to, in a sense, "lock in" the file path. If, for example, you've got your images in some Images folder somewhere, and your database in your FileMaker folder, you can be pretty sure you won't be able to back the database up and preserve the correct file paths.

However, if you put your solution (all your databases) into one folder, and put a folder for your images in the same folder, you at least know where they should be in relation to one-another.

On the other hand, if the problem is with renaming the image files, well, you've got to know you just can't do that, and still expect the references in FileMaker to work. FileMaker has no way of knowing what's going on in your operating system. Once you've put a reference to an image file into FileMaker, you've got to be sure to not move or rename the file...

With that said, you may want to try storing your images in their own related database (just images, image names, serial number and relationship data) and see if the file remains manageable. It all depends on how large the images are, of course.

As far as strategy is concerned, I'll leave that for another time. It's one am where I am, and too late to think deeply.


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Jarvis, this jumps out as a problem:

"In the process of making backup files I end up renaming files. Often times when I try to run a file that contains a reference to a renamed file"

I don't know what you're doing opening "backup files." This is just not something you do with Filemaker. A backup file is just that, a copy saved for a rainy day. If it must be used to replace a damaged active file, then the active file must be renamed or trashed, and the backup file renamed to its original name, before opening.

You can't often open one of these copies as is and expect all the relationships, etc., to work correctly. Often many of them they do, if it's in the same location (like side-by-side) as the original; but that could get messy. But if it's a different folder forget it. They would need to be redirected. Image references would definitely break.

If, however, you're using this "backup file" as an "archive file," that's a different matter. An archive file is used to store old no-longer-edited or regularly accessed records; and only done when the size of the original file gets completely out of hand. In that case the image references would be transferred.

To tell the truth, I've never tried importing an referenced image from one file to another. It seems it would work if the relative path to the image remains the same. Just never tried it. Interesting question. I have a project where I may need to move image references from one file to another, in slightly different locations. I bet that doesn't work. I'm planning on using Troi File plug-in and/or Applescript B)-]

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