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How to manually order entries in a database?

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(The following is not strictly find-related, but I couldn’t find a better place ...)

Hello everyone,

I have been working with trusty old FileMaker 3.06 for, well, since the Stone Age, and it has always served me well. I miss very little. It’s fast, reliable and intuitive.

There is one thing, however, that I cannot get to work and that forces me to use other apps such as outliners and text editors.

I have several (relatively simple, i.e. non-relational) databases where I need to have the entries (mostly text snippets) in a particular order (*not* sorted alphabetically). Often, there are many such snippets, and I need to order them quickly.

In a text editor, you would just move around your paragraphs as selections using drag and drop.

In outliners, there are often keyboard shortcuts for moving the currently selected item or parts of the outline.

As it seems, there is no easy way to do something similar in FileMaker. When I want entries in a certain order (other than "unsorted"), I have to assign numerical IDs and have FM sort the list by that. This is not very intuitive to say the least.

I looked at the manual for the recently released version 9.0, and it seems this feature is still not present.

I am aware that FM is a database, not a Word processor/Outliner, but this feature would be incredibly helpful for several projects. I am absolutely willing to spend money on a solution (new FM version, third-party add-on) and/or learn new tricks. However, since I have dozens of databases where I could use this feature, the solution should be fairly easy to implement.

I am the point where I see few alternatives to paying someone to develop a PHP/MySQL based FM rip-off where I can use drag and drop entries in a nice AJAX GUI, but this seems like overkill.

Any ideas?

Thank you.

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You could implement something like this in Filemaker, though it's never going to be as slick as drag'n'drop.

What you can do is write a couple of scripts to facilitate either a swap or move up/down. Roughly, the procedure would put the priorities of both the source and the target records into two global fields, then do a swap and sort.

BTW, if you're willing to move to another application, why not indeed use an outliner?

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Hi Wintermute,

I am not familiar with FM3 and so cannot advise you with your existing work, although if it can do relationships, scripts and portals I think it might be possible.

FM9 on the other hand does have the above functions and so I think can be programmed to do what you want....but you are right it does not have this functionality built in to the native structure. That is why word processors exist



ps I did not intend this as an addition to what comment said. His post wasn't there when I started replying.

Edited by Guest
see the ps
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I have a devilish question here, would it be posible with repeating fields the behaviour you're after, I mean with drag and drop in a layout, I'm aware that if you allow drag and drop, will the original remain where it used to reside, and a copy will be ushered to the new position. so it's a matter of housekeeping to remember to clear the spot where they originated from.

However if it does, would your relational structure under fm9 probably best be served by adopting the calculated approach of this:


Where the dates as easy as ... could be changed to pagenumbers in this editorial.


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I don't think so

Neither do I, but I wish to know where these outa-realm-wet-dreams originate from!

one of the JavaScript/PHP plugins to make Filemaker conform

Indeed the tecniques demonstrated here are stunning:



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BTW, if you're willing to move to another application, why not indeed use an outliner?

Because FileMaker has about everything I love and need, as I am working with structured data.

Most outliners, however - at least on the PC - are a joke if you go beyond structuring a few ideas. I have tried a lot of them, and entering, formatting and outputting structured data is either impossible or a pain you-know-where.

So - I would love to stick with FM and have just this one missing function (drag and drop sorting) instead of re-inventing/re-learning everything in a second-class tool.

But I am aware that this might be impossible.

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While this is not perfect (= dead-simple, built-in), either, traveling through a web front was indeed one of the things I had thought about.

I wasn’t aware though, that this stuff has matured to what we see in the video dug up up by Søren. This is indeed *very* interesting.

And as there are so many AJAX drag & drop libraries these days it should be possible to build a simple drag & drop web viewer with the sort order stored and updated within the DIVs - which this plug-in might then read and update.

(I am totally incapable of building something like this, but I may be able to afford paying someone for doing it. :

Thank you, guys. That was very helpful.

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