Sometimes, the data you need is already somewhere else. You just need to get it into FileMaker. Before you start lamenting your lackluster words-per-minute typing skills, consider doing an import. Chances are FileMaker can load the data directly into its tables with just a little help from you to tell it where things go.
FileMaker can handle the most common data types—and quite a few lesser-known ones—with a straightforward process. You tell FileMaker which file contains your incoming data, and then show it how you want to match the incoming data (the source) with the fields in your file (the target). This procedure is called field mapping, and it's the only time-consuming part of any import. See Figure 17-8 for a preview of the Import Field Mapping dialog box.
This window lists all the fields in the source file on the left, and the fields in your table on the right. FileMaker will transfer the data, field by field and record by record, into your database. The first field in the Source Fields list goes into the first field in the Target Fields list.
Unfortunately, FileMaker can't always tell which fields match. You might be importing records from a system that uses different field names, for example. How is FileMaker supposed to know that t_fname is the First Name field in your old contact manager software? Worse still, many data formats have no field names, so all you have to work with is the data itself.
Figure 17-8. Use this dialog box to tell FileMaker what data to ...