Dealing with scattered information? The first step…

Macworld Australia Staff
2 August, 2014
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Hints & Tips

Unfortunately most of us don’t work in a paperless office. Having files and documents spread across a number of computers, portable devices and hardcopy printouts makes it hard to find certain pieces of information in a hurry. FileMaker can help you deal with scattered information.

According to data from The Paperless Project, a collation of companies seeking to reduce the paper usage in the enterprise, typical employees spend 30 to 40 percent of their work time searching for information in their email, filing cabinets, printed documents and shared storage devices. This is a figure, which consumes, on average, 15 percent of an organisation’s revenue, the coalition states. Collecting these documents in an easily accessible place would see a significant boost in productivity.

Not to mention provide a backup in case the worst happens, and the files are accidently deleted – a scenario that The Paperless Project says can be blamed on user error 67 percent of the time.

So, what should a business do when it has a number of different departments, with varying data and varying methods of storing and accessing that data? An all-encompassing database is a great way for a business to integrate scattered information from accounts to admin.

Moving files already stored on devices is a simple process with FileMaker, but data contained in print documents can be a little trickier. Scanning those files with an OCR (optical character recognition) can be a painstaking option, but it does offer users with editable documents the ability to back them up on hard drives and online, and import them into a FileMaker database.

Starting from scratch?

FileMaker is an exceptional database solution for business, and the latest edition, FileMaker 13, which we gave five-out-of-five in our review in December, offers a number of new security features, barcode scanning, popovers and WebDirect.

In order to import data into FileMaker, it must fall into one of the following file formats:

  • Comma-separated text format (.csv or .txt)
  • FileMaker Pro format (.fp7)
  • HTML Table format (.htm)
  • Merge format (.mer)
  • Microsoft Excel format (.xls or .xlsx)
  • Tab-separated text format (.tab or .txt), or
  • XML format (.xml).

You can also import photos and from Bento data sources.

If your files are applicable, your next step is open FileMaker Pro, select File from the menu bar and choose New Database. Select Create a database from an existing in the Quick Start Screen that appears, click on the type of data file you wish to import and choose OK.

If the Quick Start Screen doesn’t appear, head to FileMaker Pro in the menu bar, select Preferences and click on Show FileMaker Quick Start Screen. And repeat the process in the previous paragraph.

In the Open File dialogue box that appears, click on the specific data file you wish to import and choose Open. If you can see the First Row Option dialogue box, define whether the row contains field names or the first record of data, and choose OK.

For those who are importing an Excel document and the Specify Excel Data dialogue box pops up, select the correct worksheet or named range from the file, choose OK.

Before your file begins to convert into a FileMaker database, you will need to name your file in the Create a New File Named dialogue box, then select Save.

Wait for the import process to complete and you are done. Any further data can then be easily added to the database via input fields.

Importing data in an existing database?

Whether you have just created a new database, or wish to import files into an existing FileMaker file, the process is a simple one.

Before reading on, make sure you save a backup copy of the file you are adding to. It is always better to be safe than sorry, in case the worst comes to pass and your original file is damaged by the imported data.

Open the file you wish to add to. If the file has multiple tables, select the table you wish to import the data to from the Layout pop-up menu.

If you are updating your records, make sure the new data only contains the data you wish to alter.

When you are satisfied, head to the menu bar, select File, choose Import Records, then File. In the dialogue box that opens, select the file you wish to import and click Open.

A target dialogue box will appear. Choose the table of data you wish to update or add to, and click Import.

If you wish to start a new table, choose New Table from the Target drop-down list, and click Import. You can modify the fields after you have imported the file by heading to File in the menu bar, choosing Manage and then Database.



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