Depositphotos 6608652 l 2015

FileMaker 18: Improved Data Importing

The FileMaker Pro 18 Advanced import dialog provides a clearer, more intuitive workflow that will make data importing more accurate and efficient. The Import Dialog interface has had virtually the same interface and functionality since version 7. This article shows many animated screenshots from FileMaker Pro 18 Advanced to introduce the interface and behavioral changes.

User Interface Improvements

The images below speak for themselves. FileMaker Pro 18 Advanced’s import interface clearly has more visual appeal than previous versions. The ingredients of the new interface are the use of space, color, and the placement of tools.


Updated user interface in version 18

Use as Field Names selector

Say goodbye to the Don’t import first record (contains field names) checkbox because it was removed from the interface. The only option offered in previous versions was the option to ignore the first row of the source file (the source file contains the data to be imported). The first row was assumed to contain field names. The row selector feature has been improved in version 18 now that developers specify the Field Names row. All rows that precede this designation will be excluded and those that follow are considered data rows. FileMaker, Inc. should still address the issue that while the data might start on a row other than 1 or 2, there might not be a row representing field names.


Improved data row selector

Field delimiter options

Say hello to FileMaker Pro 18 Advanced’s custom delimiters. This feature drastically simplifies the delimiter-handling process. A fixed list of delimiter types in version 17 and earlier sometimes limited developers. This often presented a post-import process to handle special delimiters. When the data source’s delimiter isn’t Tab, Comma, Semicolon, or Space, enter a custom delimiter in the field titled Other.


The | (pipe) character as a custom delimiter

Type-ahead search box

FileMaker Pro 18 Advanced leverages a type-ahead search box to find fields in the import interface. Tables that contain a long list of fields are more manageable. In contrast to other versions, target fields can easily be found. There is no need to scroll through long lists of fields.


Animated GIF: Using the type-ahead search box to find a target field

Field-level Auto-entry On/Off Controls

At times, a developer needs to import data from a source and wants some (not all) auto-enter options to be triggered. Examples include serial numbers, creation/modification timestamps, and creation/modification account names. FileMaker Pro 18 Advanced has the ability to turn on and off auto-enter options for individual fields. This flag determines whether field data should or shouldn’t be incremented or modified during import. So now, for example, serial numbers can be incremented while timestamp and account names are retained. Allow all or allow none were the only auto-enter options in previous versions.


FileMaker Pro Advanced 18 auto-entry options

Other Features

While noteworthy, these two items may not be apparent at first.

Batch Field Selection/Action

Developers can now select all or select multiple fields in order to batch change the import behavior to and from Import or Don’t import this field. This feature will save a lot of time and frustration. Tip: Click on the source or target’s field name column first, then use the operating system’s select all command.


Select all fields and change action: Cmd + a (macOS) or Ctrl+a (Windows)

Relocation of Add/Update/Replace

The Add/Update/Replace options are located in the screen’s top-center between the words Source and Target. The three options Add, Update, or Replace appear in a visually appealing and informative pop-over when the blue word and arrow are clicked. On a side note, this doesn’t follow FileMaker design patterns. The use of color more clearly indicates the different actions, on a field-by-field basis. Note how the blue-colored highlight and the words Match Field stand out when the Update action and the match field have been selected.


Action popover for Add, Update and Replace. Match field too!


Jay Sayers is a FileMaker Certified Developer at Skeleton Key in St. Louis, MO.

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