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[FAQ] FileMaker Pro - database for Macintosh and Windows
Section - 5 Repeating Fields

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5.1   Convert repeating fields to non repeating fields
 * Import all data in a clone of the database, splitting repeating fields
 to single records.
 If repeating fields don't seem to split properly, check that they are
 real repeated fields. Contents that are separated by <returns> may look
 like separate repetitions, but are in fact within the same field.
 (by Steve Rothman <>)
 * Create a script to copy from repeating field entries to separate
 * Create the single fields as calculation fields from the repeating
 fields, change the format from calculation to the format desired.
 the Contents of a Repeating Field into Separate Fields>
5.2   Convert nonrepeating fields to repeating field
 Create a script:
 Data to Repeating Fields Using a Script>
 * Export as text, convert record delimiter to repeating field delimiter
 (ASCII-29) and reimport.
 The fields of comma-separated text will be stored in a way like:
 repeatingfield 1<ASCII-29> 2<ASCII-29>3
 To move separate fields A, B, C to a single repeating field,
 - export as text: A, B, C
 - use a standard text editor or a conversion utility to replace the
 comma with <ASCII-29>
 - reimport to a repeating field
 This works with merge format and tab separated text as well.
 * Use commercial software (MakeRepeats)
5.2.1  How to create ASCII-29
 The character ASCII-29 is not on the keyboard and is invisible most
 often. However, some editors will display it, e.g. as a small box.
 Editors like MS Word or Alpha allow for input of decimal code to create
 this character.
 The easiest solution is to open any exported database with a suitable
 editor, copy the ASCII-29 character and paste it where necessary. For
 reusage it's appropriate to put it in the scrapbook.
 The very easiest solution is to select this "" - if you are lucky, it's
 still there.
5.3   Merge separate records to a single repeating field
 * Create a script to copy from several records to a repeating field.
 * Export as text, convert delimiter to ASCII-29, reimport
 The procedure is similar to merging separate fields, but requires some
 additional effort.
 Consider a database with the records spearated by Carriage Return <CR>,
 exported as comma delimited, with fields: Name, Text
 It should be merged to a database
 This can be done by sorting the records and replacing the <CR> with
 <ASCII-29>. To separate between the records A and B some additional
 criterion is required.
 Unfortunately FMPro doesn't allow the comparison of a record with the
 previous one. So one chance is to make this comparison externally, e.g.
 via a spreadsheet application.
 Another solution is:
 create the fields:
 serial number SN (number): Auto-enter serial number
 serial number lookup SNL(number): Copy SN if Name matches
 mark record MR (calculation): If( SN = SNL, Name, "")
 The sorted database now looks like this: fields:
 Name, Number, SN, SNL, MR
 Export the fields MR and Number, replace <CR>," with <ASCII-29>" and
 import. Further more you can find all non-blank MR, sort them similar
 and import all other fields.
 For further improvements think about "replace all with new serial
 number", "relookup" and "sort, import to clone".
5.4   Removing duplicates or Sychronizing databases
 First, you should make sure what a duplicate is.
 FMP2.1 may treat "firstname lastname" and "lastname, firstname" as
 duplicate since both entries contain the same words. Even a later record
 that only contains "lastname" may get recognized as a duplicate of the
 first ones. Check the sections for indexing to understand why.
 FMP3 introduced another type of relation that is based on lines (total
 max. 60 characters) instead of words (multiple, up to 20 characters
 each). A find for duplicates is still based on the indexed words.
 In order to remove duplicates, you have to identify them as a duplicate.
 You can do so on a single field that should be unique (such as the
 Social Security Number), a combination of multiple or all fields (e.g.
 FirstName & LastName) or a combination of all (e.g. LastName &
 Left(FirstName, 3) & Length(comments))
 This is a "duplicate key" suitable for comparisons. You then may
 identify all records by a find for "!", a lookup or a FMP3 relation. A
 further step may be the comparison whether the other fields are really
 identical, e.g. by comparing all fields by calculation or script.
 Here is a simple example to mark every record that has a matching
 duplicate record with the value "1".
 * use a key field "serial number" (number):
   auto-enter serial number
 This field holds a unique identifier for every record
 * define a lookup field "unique lookup" (lookup, number):
    if "duplicate key" fields are equal, then copy the serial number
 This will copy the serial number of the matching record. If there is an
 already existing record, it will get another serial number than the own
 one. Due to the indexing mechanism it will return for newly created, not
 yet matching entries a zero value (nothing, 0 or a dummy value when
 defined so).
 * define a calculation field "unique calculation" (calculation, number)
   if(serial number = unique lookup, 0, 1)
 Thus every record gets flagged by a number or any other specified text
 that there is another, duplicate record. You may use this flag to find
 and remove duplicates or to display a warning. Original and duplicate
 may be within the same or different files.
 Lookups only show proper values at the point of creation. They get
 updated if the actual record is modified or a relookup is performed, but
 not if the first, original record is removed. For FMP3 one may use
 relations instead.
5.4.1  Removing duplicates - another approach
 Here's a more detailed description by Jason Hirschhorn
 <> that uses the "!" as find duplicate command
 FileMaker Pro 2.x
 Removing duplicate information from a database is frequently necessary,
 especially after updating a central database from another database. Here
 is a method to remove duplicate records from a FileMaker Pro 2.0 file
 that takes advantage of the new ScriptMaker features of FileMaker Pro
 Before you begin, save a copy of your database as a backup and make a
 clone as a working copy of the database. Fill the working copy with
 several duplicate records. Read the User's Guide and, using the working
 copy, practice making scripts until you understand and are comfortable
 with using ScriptMaker. You will also need a field with a unique value
 that will uniquely identify an individual or item and its duplicates but
 will not find non-duplicate records. Some examples of this are:
 * a field with a social security number (unique to an individual and
 will find all duplicate records of the person)
 * a field with a unique code number (unique to an item and that will
 find all duplicates of a part, customer or other item number; do not use
 record number as this is a changing value)
 * a field that combines the contents of several fields to create a
 unique value. (this unique value must identify duplicate records without
 finding any other records.
 A word about the unique field If you do not have a field that already
 contains a value unique to the individual person, company, or item, you
 will have to create one. For
 example, if you have an address book database you would not want to
 remove all the people that share the last name "Jones," just duplicates
 of each individual. And, if the database contains the fields FirstName,
 LastName, Address, City, State, Zip, and PhoneNumber, you can create a
 calculation field that concatenates (combines) two or more of these
 fields to create a unique field. You can call your new unique field
   DuplicateCalc (calculation, text result) = FirstName & LastName & Zip
 The result will be a single text string that looks this:
 FirstNameLastNameZip. Some examples might look like this:
 JohnSmith10825               MadelineKwan60610
 This approach works well for most databases, but it's still possible to
 have more than one "John Smith" in the same zip code. In this case you
 may want to add another field, such as a phone number, to be sure that
 this DuplicateCalc field will always be unique und
 er any circumstance. Just make sure the maximum length of the unique
 field is less than 20
 characters; FileMaker Pro 2.x does not index any single text string
 beyond that limit.
 This limit of 20 characters is for every single word. You may use
 multiple words, but both "word1 word2" and "word2 word1" get indexed the
 same, and "word1" alone may relate to both. FileMaker Pro 3.0 takes
 instead a line of 60 characters as index for relations and lookups.
 Setting up the scripts
 Now that you have a field you can depend on to match duplicate records,
 you are ready to set up the scripts that will delete duplicates. In your
 working copy of the database create a new layout (call it "Find
 Duplicates") that will show only the unique field and the fields used to
 define it.
 Advantages & Disadvantages
 The advantage of this process is that it automates the task of removing
 duplicates by using the scripting capability of FileMaker Pro. The
 drawback is that it slows down as the database increases in size and the
 first occurrence of a record is retained and all others are deleted, not
 necessarily the one with the latest entered information. Duplicate
 with spelling errors will NOT be found using this method.
 Creating the scripts
 The scripts must be created from the last to the first. The script that
 finds and deletes the duplicates must be created before the cleanup
 script. If you must edit the scripts after creating them do not replace
 the "Find Requests" or repeat step 1 before editing the script.
 1. Choose Find from the Select menu, and type an exclamation point (!)
 into the "DuplicateCalc" field created above, and click Find. Review the
 records to confirm that only duplicates have been found. To fully review
 the records go to a layout that shows all the information in each
 record. Be sure to return to the "Find Duplicates" layout before
 2. Open ScriptMaker from the Scripts menu and create a new script called
 "Delete Loop". This script should have the following steps:
 Perform Find [Restore]
 Go to Next Record/Request [Exit script after last]
 Go to Next Record/Request [Exit script after last]
 Go to Record/Request [No dialog, 1]
 Copy [Select, "DuplicateCalc"]
 Enter Find Mode [ ]
 Paste [Select, "DuplicateCalc"]
 Perform Find [ ]
 Delete Found Set [No dialog]
 Perform Script [Sub-scripts, "Delete Loop"]
 With that script completed, now create the second script Remove
 Duplicates. This script will perform some setup work for the "Delete
 Loop" and do some clean up work afterwards. This script is the one that
 you will select from the Scripts menu to perform the remove duplicate
 [Note: For FMP3 you may use the newer loop functions instead]
 3. Open ScriptMaker from the Scripts menu and create a new script called
 "Remove Duplicates". Include this script in the menu. For convenience
 wehave used the name "First Field", which is the first field that shows
 in the Find Duplicates layout, but it cannot be the DuplicateCalc field.
 This script should have the following steps:
 Enter Browse Mode [ ]
 Go to Layout [Find Duplicates]
 New Record/Request
 Go to Field ["First Field"]
 Paste Literal ["ABC123"]
 Duplicate Record/Request
 Perform Script [Sub-scripts, "Delete Loop"]
 Enter Find Mode [ ]
 Go to Field ["First Field"]
 Paste Literal ["ABC123"]
 Perform Find [ ]
 Delete Found Set [No dialog]
 You have now successfully created a set of scripts that will delete all
 the duplicate records in your database. Note: using the value "ABC123"
 will work even if the "First Field" is defined as a number.
 [Note: For FMP3 you do not have to create a dummy duplicate record
 "ABC123" but may check whether 0 records were found]
 Before testing the script, make sure you have a backup copy in case
 something goes wrong, then choose "Remove Duplicates" from the Scripts
 menu. FileMaker will begin identifying and removing duplicate records
 from your file.
 You are now ready to work on the data from the original database.
 1) In your working copy find all records.
 2) Delete all records (use the Delete Found Set option from the Edit
 3) Import records (it does not matter if you replace or add to an empty
 database) from the original database.
 4) Choose "Remove Duplicates" from the Scripts menu.
 Review the data to confirm that no valuable information has been lost,
 i.e., that the deleted records did not have more information than the
 saved record. If you have lost information do steps 1 through 3 listed
 above and verify that the information was there in the first place. Then
 manually find the duplicate(s) of the full information record and delete
 them manually. You can now choose "Remove Duplicates" from the Scripts

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Top Document: [FAQ] FileMaker Pro - database for Macintosh and Windows
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Next Document: 6 Find

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM