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Repeating Field Relationships

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FAQ: I'm having a problem setting up a relationship using a repeating field as one of the match fields.

A: Repeating fields are (in computer years) an ancient holdover from the days of FileMaker Pro 2, before FileMaker was relational. It was often used to simulate what we might currently use a line items file for, storing similar information (such as quantity, price and cost in an invoice solution) in a single record. They allowed much of the flexibility of a relational database without actually providing relationships.

After FileMaker Pro 3, however, repeating fields were mostly rendered obsolete, but they have been kept around so that if you bring a flat-file (non-relational) solution from Pre-3 days into version 3, 4 or 5 of FileMaker, the solution won't break, but will still work. However, if you're using repeating fields in a new solution that you are creating with a version later than 3, then it would probably be wisest to use a relationship to another file.

If you do use a repeating field as the basis for a relationship, only the value in the first repetition will work toward providing a pipe for data between files.

If you have a repeating field in your database that is used to store actual user data (as opposed to being used to store global variables for developer use, which is a separate topic), consider taking the data into a related file, which is probably where it would best be kept.


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