Build Your Own – Overview

I have used two excellent database programs for years, Filemaker Pro and Panorama. From time to time I build my own solutions to things I want to do if I cannot find a builtin, canned solution from these developers. Recently I decided to start a planting guide for our gardening projects. My wife and I are really into gardening, but when I searched for a gardening solution within the apps themselves or online I found almost nothing.


I guess gardening is not a very high profile pursuit. All of the Filemaker Pro canned solutions (templates) were for business and lots of other stuff, nothing on gardening. I did find some really old examples online of homemade databases on gardening which provided a few ideas. So, in the end I decided to make my own “Garden Planting Guide.” If you are not a gardener, no worries! You can use a database program like Filemaker ProPanorama or Panorama Sheets (a very cool database app suitable for many people’s needs) to build your own solution for just about anything. This is not intended to be a complete review of Filemaker Pro. Just going to go over this gardening project to wet your appetite. Once you start a project file in Filemaker Pro you need to select a layout template. In other words, what do you want your project to look like and on which devices do you want it to work.


Filemaker Pro has a bunch of layout templates you can use for your project. You just select “New Layout and Report” from the Layouts menu and you get this window (click on the image for a larger view):

There are a lot of things happening here. As you can see, you can have several layouts inside of your project. All you are doing is presenting the data (the information) that is in the database in different ways that suit your needs. Filemaker Pro allows you to design a layout for the Computer, Touch Device or for Printing only. Once you select the target device for this particular layout more choices are presented in the bottom of the window. For my needs, I designed my gardening project for the computer, don’t need to see it on my iPad. I started with the “Form” offering. After naming the layout (upper right corner of the window) I ended up with this window:

All well and good, but I did not like that theme (color and design) so I went to the Layouts menu and selected “Change Theme”. I was taken to this window:

Filemaker Pro allows you to apply several different color and design themes for a particular layout. You can scroll through and look at the various themes. Notice that some of them end with the word “Touch”. Those themes are specifically for a touch device like an iPad. You can have different layout themes for different devices and/or different purposes in any given project. Once you find a theme you like just hit OK. You will end up with the theme of your choice:

For my garden project I chose this green and tan coloration. Thought it kind of fit the gardening motif if you know what I mean. 

One more thing here. Look at the left side of the above window. Each theme has a “Header”, “Body” and “Footer”. Kind of like a typical word processing document. In Filemaker these are called “Parts”. You can add other types of “Parts” depending on the functionality of your layout. 

Next article I will cover what goes into actually planning and designing the database, how to set it up. There is no way I can cover all of what programs like Filemaker Pro or Panorama do. You can download a trial version of these apps to get a feel for them. Hopefully, in this overview I can give you a taste of how powerful and really cool they are. Until next time . . .