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Help with an odd database design problem


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Hi, I'm new to this forum and I've just recently learned to use FileMaker Pro to solve database problems. I have made one simple database that involved a simple script and I have some working knowledge about defining fields, value lists, and relationships for portals, but not much past the very basics. I have some programming experience.

Basically, the database I'd like to design would be used to keep track of some biological samples that are stored in freezer boxes. These boxes are in the form of a grid, and thus have rows and columns which can be used to identify the position of a single sample. I'd like each sample to have its own database entry.

My question is, how do I go about creating a report that allows me to display all the samples in one box? Is there any good way to arrange a grid, so that the samples appear as they would in the box, i.e. if a samples is in column A, row 1, then it shows up in the top left corner of the grid?

So far, my only idea has been to create a series of column portals that would sort the samples that are in that column by row, but this creates the problem that empty rows would screw up the grid. Also, I was thinking I could nest them in another box portal, so I could select which box to display, but can you nest portals like that?

My last question is, how do you create a portal which doesn't have a relationship to a variable field? I.e. in my column portal idea above, each column portal would just display all entries with the same column number (show all samples in box 3, column A, for example, and I have 9 of these because each box has 9 columns). So I don't want to have a field where the user enters a column number to display, I just want each column portal to always show the same column and all of them to show columns in whichever box is chosen.

Sorry for the long question, I hope it's all clear. Really, any help or advice anyone can offer would be very much appreciated.

Many thanks,

Max

BTW - Please be gentle, I'm not familiar with much of the FM terms or advanced techniques beyond the most basic. Examples would be helpful!

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The best advice is to upgrade to 8 (7 would do, but 8 is better). Because (among many other things) it allows you to specify the rows of a portal to display. So you can do multiple columns of the same portal, which would completely solve your problem (portal 1: rows 1-10, portal 2: rows 11-20, etc.). There may be ways to do this using version 6, but showing the above would be very difficult (I think).

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So is it possible to make nested portals? Because if so, then I could use one portal to filter all samples that are in the same box, and then another portal inside that portal that filters all samples that are in the same column. The only problem is getting that column portal to show only samples in that column, from that box. I can't figure out how to do that one.

I think I could solve the empty slots problem by having empty records for the empty slots. These records would still have a "box position", and therefore would show up on the report, they just wouldn't have any contents and would show up as blank samples.

The other possibility is to write a script that executes when the box is selected that puts the necessary column into a container that is ordered and inserts empty positions, then displays the container. That requires a lot of script writing and I think my head might split in half before I get that to work.

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