FileMaker 17 Master Detail in Action

FileMaker 17 Master Detail

The new FileMaker 17 Master Detail feature allows developers to easily add what took  fair amount of work before.

What is Master Detail?

Simply put, Master Detail describes a single layout with list of records on one side of the layout–the Master list–with a single, detailed record on the other side of the layout.  Clicking on a given record on the Master list loads that record in the detailed portion. A nice, easy concept, right? It turns out it was not quite so simple to do.

Before the FileMaker 17 Master Detail feature existed, there were several ways to do this, all of them incorporating some combination of a global field, a relationship, scripting to select and load, and refresh portal options to keep everything up to date. Marc Larochelle, of Productive Computing, shows us one  way to build a Master Detail layout in the pre FileMaker 17 days in the video below.  He also shows how to build the new Master Detail feature:

As you see, the new Master Detail feature is powerful and easy to build.  It's quick and pretty painless, and works very well.  But there are times you want or need something more:  a filtered portal.  A filtered portal allows the user to select a value from a custom list and have the portal show all related records–something the older style automatically did.  The FileMaker 17 Master Detail feature disabled sorting and filtering in the portal it uses, forcing the user to use the Find feature to filter the Master list.

Filtered Master Detail

Martha Zink, of Soliant Consulting, already found one solution to this problem.  Check out her simple, yet effective way to add portal filtering to the Master Detail feature:

Pretty clever, and fairly simple.  And the tricks she uses to make the portal better looking with high contrast labels and highlighted selections is worth your time, too.

The Next Level

Will M. Baker, of Beezwax, expands the Master Detail concept by combining it with several existing tricks:

  • Displays 'flattened' values from different tables into one table into the portal:  Things.fmp12
  • Shows how to better visualize data using sub summaries in different tabs:  MCU.fmp12
  • Record level sorting, including drag and drop: Manual Sort.fmp12
  • Custom clickable and manual sorts:  Clickable Column Headers.fmp12
  • Sliding, hide-able panels

And yes, those links are downloadable free FileMaker Example files, and there are more files at this link, along with a lot more detail on implementation.  I highly recommend getting all the downloads and studying Baker's techniques.


Thanks and kudos to these developers for the time and effort they put into making these videos and/or example files.


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. 
-Albert Einstein

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