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Fields always on top

Hello again,

Here is yet another stupid Filemaker 7 design question.

I have a layout that spans about two monitor screens horizontally. Now this is fine however my users are complaining that they forget which record they are on when they get to the second screen, also they are oilfield workers so asking them to just remember will not work.
(The first two fields have Record Number, and Serial number for that record.)

I need to make the first two fields on my layout able to always be seen. A Vertical part would be great, when my users get to the end of their screen i would like for these fields to still be seen, like a always on top or sliding field. or something :(
 I know you can do this in Excel, and YES i know i should not try to make filemaker be a spreadsheet.

But please help.

Thanks in Advance
~Criss
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criss_mce
Asked:
criss_mce
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1 Solution
 
billmercerCommented:
A FileMaker layout can't be split, so there's no way to do something like Freeze Panes in Excel. Sliding fields only apply when printing, not when browsing data, so they won't help you. You do have a few options.

One would be to simply display the field values in several places on the layout. The copies of the field should be made read-only so the user doesn't actually enter them. (A convenient way to do this is to display the fields as merge codes in a regular text box rather than as data fields.)

Another option would be to create a separate window that displays the current record number. That would allow the number to always appear in the same place, but it would require some scripting to keep everything synchronized, and would probably be more work than it's worth.

A third possibility is using a portal to display the data. If you create a self-join relationship and base a portal on it, you can scroll left to right and up and down in the portal, while still keeping the rest of the layout static. That's probably the closest you can come to something like Freeze Panes in Excel.

Probably the best solution from the design perspective would be to redesign your system so that it doesn't require such a wide layout. You can wrap the fields down to a second row under the first, or even divide up the data entry into stages, creating a sort of "wizard" interface. If you really need that many fields on one screen, you probably should consider normalizing your database to eliminate redundancy.
 
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lesouefCommented:
You can put the fields you want to see permanently in the header of yr layout. When you scroll through records, they will reflect the value of the current record, but yes, it's not like a vertical partition, but a horizontal one, but does the job, ie keeps some info permanently.
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criss_mceAuthor Commented:
i wish i could do that, however these two fields will change with the every record. :/
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lesouefCommented:
I am afraid I am not with you... It will change with every record but still show what is the active record...
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billmercerCommented:
criss_mce, perhaps you could describe in more detail what you're trying to accomplish?
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criss_mceAuthor Commented:
http://www.lippybitch.com/Example1.bmp

That is a screen shot of part of what I’m working on, at the top the Company name, Id, Date, work order and other information are all global fields that span for the entire work order that my users will currently be using.

in the middle where the actually records appear, you will notice two fields at the far left named "Number" and "Serial",
Each record represents one Joint for that work order, there can be anywhere from 1 joint to 200 joints per work order.
And the numbers and serial numbers change with the joints, as you can see there is no real pattern for the serial numbers.

Now because my users are, (lets be nice here) un-trainable. and its hard for them to remember which joint they are on, (they reference the serial numbers) they would like the "numbers" and "serials" field to always show, even if they are way on the other side of the record. (many many fields, maybe 20 across, sadly i cant change this layout, it resembles what they have been using for years. and making them relearning everything would lose us the job.)

What I’m trying to accomplish is a easy way for them to always see what joint they are on, so having those fields slide or whatever would be great. But it does not seem to be an option.  So ill add it to my filemaker 8 wish list. Unless anyone has a cheating way to do  accomplish this.
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billmercerCommented:
It sounds like your options are being limited by your client's requirements. That's unfortunate, but of course you must do what they want.

I think your best bet is probably just to repeat the number field in a few places on the layout. You could put the repetitions on the header, or actually include them in each row. Make the repeated field a different color and size to make it stand out from the other fields, and make the fields non-enterable so they don't interfere with data entry or tabbing.  

One other thing you could try would be to use a "watermark" technique. Create multiple copies of the record number field, in a faint color and arranged behind the data fields, to produce a watermark effect. Make the watermarked number larger than the regular data, and in a faint color that almost blends into the background. The number would always be visible behind the actual data, clear enough to see if you need to look at it, but faint enough not to interfere with reading the regular fields. There will generally be some whitespace around the actual text in each field. Arrange the watermarked fields behind the actual fields, positioned so that they will usually be visible in the gaps between the values. The number's always on screen, but doesn't interfere with reading or data entry - at least not much. It's not ideal, but it would allow you to keep the exact same field order you have now.

Another suggestion: add a second layout that's arranged in a more sensible way. Make it available as an option, but not required. Show it to them, then let them use the original. Maybe you'll get lucky, and someone will try the alternative and decide they like it. Then if someone complains about the current layout, you can say "Well, you could always try the alternate entry method..."

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criss_mceAuthor Commented:
My users actually liked the ghost effect.. great solution.

Thank you
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billmercerCommented:
Thanks, I'm glad I could help.
I actually learned this trick from designing paper forms, and found it translates to screen quite well.
 
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