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FileMaker Pro 9: The Missing Manual by Susan Prosser, Geoff Coffey

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Modeling Your Database

When you set out to design a relational database, you need to do a little upfront planning. You need to decide what entities you'll be tracking, which ones deserve a table, and how they relate to one another. It's easier to create the right tables and connections the first time than to go back and change them. You can create your own "blueprint" to follow as you build your database—what the pros call an entity relationship diagram.

Choosing Entities

Your first step in designing the database is deciding what tables you need and how they fit together. Since every table holds data about a single entity, you normally start by figuring out all the entities in your system. You probably won't be able to list them all in one shot. Everybody forgets some that are less obvious, so start with blank paper or a word processor, and list all the things the database will need to do. This list will help you identify entities.

Now's the time to stretch your mind and think of every possibility. What tasks do you do every day? What do you wish you could do—and what information do you need to do it? What do you want your computer to show you when you sit down first thing in the morning?

When your workflow hits a wall, what piece of information would get you moving again? What questions do people keep asking you—and how could FileMaker answer them for you? The more your initial plan matches your real needs, the more quickly you'll be up and running. You can see a list like this in ...

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