One of my clients just called today about a simple error that caused a lot of upset. Someone had accidentally erased the first and last name out of an employee’s record. My client thought that the employee’s data had disappeared completely because a Find didn’t turn up the employee anymore.
The erasure might have occurred when a user thought they were in Find mode and overwrote the name and then realized they were in Browse mode and erased their mistake not quite putting it together that they needed to retype the original name which they may have not remembered.
At least that is how we guessed the problem occurred. In FileMaker 6 and earlier, you needed to either leave data editable so that Finds could be done on those fields, or you needed to create a calculated field for each of the fields and display the data with the calculations except on a protected layout where data entry could actually occur.
There’s still an issue here, but we now have a new and very handy tool in our toolbox. The Field Behavior command. We can now turn off the ability to Browse in a field while allowing the ability to Find. All those layouts where data entry is not needed should have the fields set with the “Allow field to be edited in Browse mode” unchecked. When you do that, the user can’t click into that field in Browse mode anymore.
The issue I have is that I don’t want to have to lock all fields on non-data entry layouts or create special data entry layouts that are unlocked to avoid this problem. It seems like a lot of extra work. Probably the best bet is to reserve this extra work for situations where there are many inexperienced users using a particular screen and likely to use that screen to do finds as well as data entry. In those cases, you could lock the user out of data entry and display a custom message directing them to another screen for data entry only.
Here’s what I tried: In Layout mode, I selected the approximately 25 fields that I wanted to lock and set the field behavior to not allow modification in browse mode. Then I made all those same fields into a single button by choosing “Button…” from the Format menu. I then created a script with one step: Show Custom Dialog and worked a bit on wording. Then I tried it in browse mode. When I clicked in any of the protected fields, they all highlighted at once and the message appeared. Very impressive.
In Find mode, the button effect was non-existent and the Find worked like usual. Just what I wanted. By accident, I discovered the drawback of the button with the custom message when I tried to move one of the fields on the layout. I was told that the field was part of a button and couldn’t be moved without removing the button. Assigning a button to a set of fields like this isn’t very flexible. You’ll probably want to avoid this technique with a layout that you expect to modify fairly frequently.