More than once I got a phone call from my clients with a cry for help: “Yesterday I entered a lot of data, but today everything is gone! I do not know what happened.”
Of course I tried to recreate the situation in my database but fail. All the data I entered was there. Next I visited the client and he showed me how he entered the data. Only this time everything was saved in the table, no data loss at all. Without any clue what happened I had to drive home. A couple days later I received a similar phone call and I tried again my best to find the source of the problem.
It was just by chance that I found out what happened. From a distance I watched the user doing his daily work. He was updating some address records on the database. At one point he entered Find mode to search for a customer. He looked into his handwritten notes for the right spelling of the customer name and realized that this must be a new customer. He entered the customer name, address and contact data. Then he added a new record and typed in another new customer.
At that time I realized, the user was not aware that he entered the data in Find mode. He totally forgot that he had switch to that mode and never returned to Browse mode. So all the data he entered were used for a search request and got lost when he closed the database. And that was exactly what had happened before. He had entered the now missing data at the end of the day. In the rush to leave the office he forgot about a switch into Find mode, entered all the data and closed the database without realizing that the data was never saved to a table.
FileMaker offers by default only few indicators about the current mode. For the Find mode these indicators are:
- Find mode specific toolbar
- Find symbol (gray magnifier symbol) in search fields
- Find mode indicator in status bar at the bottom of the layout
But these indicators might be not visible. For example, the Status Toolbar might be turned off for the current window and the gray magnifier symbol is only visible when the Layout Setup option “Show field frames when record is active” is checked on. Even then is the magnifier symbol only visible if a field is activated. But it is not displayed in the active field, only in all other fields enabled for find mode. And finally, the mode indicator in the status bar is so small and usually far away from the focus of the user, that almost no user has ever recognized it.
In bad circumstances it might (and will) happen that the user thinks he is in browse mode when actual the find mode is activated. Any data entered now is only placed into a search request and is not saved into the table.
The solution is a visual reminder that is emphasized enough to grab the attention of the user. Usually I use a header line, especially when I turn the Status Toolbar off, that will turn light green when the Find mode is activated. In all other modes this header line is not visible or is formatted in a way I like to show my normal header line.
This object is easily added to the layout. It is a simple text object with the text “FIND MODE” in a large font. The background fill is set to transparent. Then I add two Conditional Formats to the object:
The first condition will turn the text object green when the layout is in Find mode. The second condition will hide the text by turning it white. If you use a different background color for your layout, adjust this color accordingly.
With this easy fix the user will see right away when he enters the Find mode. At least with my client I never get a phone call about missing data again.