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need help with old flat file db


wvdb

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I'm new to filemaker most of my experience is with other dbs. I recently got a job working with a filemaker 9 db. It was just upgraded from version 3 or 5.

The db has one table with 95 layouts. The table has 494 fields some of these are repeating fields. I would like to break this table into 6 smaller related tables.

How should I start? Are there 3rd party tools that would make this job easier? This db is a real mess.

I'm currently mapping the thing out in a spread sheet. I've put all the fields on the left side and the layout names on top. This way I can see visually which fields are actually being used and by by which layouts. I found a good bit of errors like this so far, and it's giving me a better understanding of their data, but man is it slow.

Thanks in advance

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If you're new to filemaker I'd probably not invest in other software but try to learn how filemaker in general and figure out how your specific database works. If you really want to spend money then I'd check out Filemaker Pro Advanced and consider whether the additional features are worthwhile.

The adage that comes to my mind is "if it ain't broke then don't fix it". It sounds like your database has a very primitive design but does it actually have functional problems or limitations?

It is clear that there are no relationships since, in earlier versions of filemaker, this would have required multiple files. My guess is that, had relationships been defined, so many fields would not have been necessary.

You may be better off redesigning the database from scratch. Since there are relationships to speak of, you'll be doing the equivalent of this anyhow. Filemaker Pro Advanced has some features, such as copying scripts which may make this easier.

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Thanks for the help. I'll take a look at both products.

I have thought about leaving it as is since it does work. The problem is every year they will need to add more and more fields. I'll know if this is possible after I document which fields are in use.

I will take the time to learn filemaker, but I don't want to do it on their dime since this is a contract job for a non profit. I don't mind charging them for improvments and corrections, but it doesn't seem fair to charge for learning the dbms.

Couple other questions:

1. Can I use repeating fields in a relational filemaker db? I would like to get rid of these at some point but may need to keep them for a while.

2. Can calculations and summaries be done without a field? Many of my fields are calculations and summaries that either total numbers or string together text. If I could do some of this in the layout and not the table it would help me shrink the size of the table.

Thanks

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