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Mertging FM 5.5 DBs into one FM 8 File


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  • Newbies

Hi:

To start, I'm a newbie to Filemaker, so thanks for bearing with me:

My department has a little server holding several one-file 5.5 databases which we have to 1) convert to FM 8 and 2) move to a server controlled by IT. IT charges for hosting by the file, and allows us a limited number of FM files in any case.

The question: Can these separate databases be converted to 8 and all be housed in _one file_ (with a front end of some sort slapped on it)?

Could this be done as a more or less straight conversion, or would we have to create a new file in 8, set up the tables and layouts from scratch, and then import the data? Or something in between?

Would appreciate any help. Thanks in advance!

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You can either start from scratch, or something in between. First you have to convert the older files. It is possible to take parts from the result, to put into a newer file (or a few files). Basically you are starting over, but reusing selected pieces from the old files, to save time.

One thing you certainly do not want to do is just import the scripts from the old file. Because many if not most of them will either need to be, or could be better rewritten in 8. You no longer need to have your scripts jump back and forth between files, for example.

As far as fields, you will likely be able to dispense with most of your "constant=1" fields and relationships; and some of your globals also; using Script Parameters and Variables instead.

Layouts, yes, you may want to copy/paste some, to save time, especially those tedious "print" ones. But you will want to rethink your data-entry screens entirely, considering the advantages of the new Tab Object.

Basically you can do a lot more with less in 8. And the worst thing you can do is to clutter up your new files with obsolete and unnecessary debris from old files. Remember it is usually harder to delete something you don't need than it is to add something you find that you need.

Relationships, you should start practically from scratch. You'll have to anyway, as you can neither copy or import them. Relationships are so much more powerful and flexible in 7/8. While it may first seem more confusing, you'll find that it is actually simpler; no more need for concatenated fields, no more "tunneling" to see data from further down the line.

You must understand the way layouts belong to a particular table occurrence. It's best to learn something about the "anchor buoy" method of structuring table occurrence "groups." You must must must (and that's an understatement) use a logical and consistent naming scheme. FileMaker has a good long document about this.

Tables you can copy/paste. But I would advise stripping down a converted file to its basics first.

I've done this several times, and feel you can get good results. But only if you keep in mind that you are building a new structure, in the best way possible, not trying to cobble together a bunch of obsolete stuff, just to save a little time in the shortrun; you will quickly lose that time later, when you either try to repair or extend the file. It's very hard (and annoying :)-) to logically analyze something which was not well-designed to begin with.

Read the migration documents; especially the chapter on record ownership, by Ilyse Kazar; or it will bite you. It's a good idea to learn about the new security also.

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Of course, we don't really know how complex your current files are. But mention of "department" and "IT" makes me think they are not all that simple. In any case this is a good time to analyze and rethink your structure. One thing I didn't mention is that the "copy/paste" tables requires FileMaker Pro Advanced; it is really a necessity for serious development in any case. The Script Debugger can really help. The Database Design Report can show you the overall structure of your files. If you add a tool like Inspector ($400) you can quickly see even more, and pinpoint problems.

Yes, the cost of these things is much more than just plain FileMaker Pro. But one must consider: 1. How much of your time they save (a lot), and 2. What the business cost is of clunky, inefficient and downright buggy FileMaker solutions.

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I really want to thank you for your input. I had a feeling it wouldn't be simple.

Just for clarification: the 5.5 databases are all single-file, single-table databases. They are not complicated at all: two of them track membership/participation in certain alumni groups (we're a university), one is a contact list, and so on. And we have no reason to relate them even once they're in one file. The only reason for putting them in one file is because of IT policies.

Knowing that the DBs are very simple and will not relate to one another, does your assessment of the situation change at all.

Thanks again to both of you so far for feedback.

JJ

(Edit: I don't have FileMaker Pro Advanced now, but I might be able to get it.)

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