Text Parsing with FileMaker – Chivalry Software

FileMaking 6: Text Parsing with FileMaker

Originally published in May 2006

Text Parsing With FileMaker

Pardon my extended absence from this column. Life just has a way of getting away from one at times, and the work load piles up. But hopefully I’m back to a normal schedule again.

As mentioned in the last column I wrote regarding the direction of this tutorial series, we’ll now cover some basic text parsing functions. For beginning FileMakers, parsing text is one of the most useful skills to have as well as one of the first that questions are asked about.

What Is Text Parsing

Text parsing is the process of applying a calculation to a string to pull out some other string within it that is useful or to determine if some condition is true regarding the string.

This comes up many times in FileMaker, or for that matter, any database application. I’m currently working on a project where data is received from an outside vendor as a text file, where each line is a record and each field in the record is a particular number of characters in the line (such as, characters 13 through 20 store the creation date of the record, 21 through 30 the product ID, etc.). This format is called a fixed format file because each field is stored in a fixed number of characters. Text parsing calculations allow me to extract the data into separate fields in my database.

Name Extraction

For example, proper database design dictates that information about people should have their different names (first, middle, last, etc.) separated into different fields: FirstNameMiddleNameLastName. However, perhaps you need to import data from another system where all three of these pieces of information were placed in a single field and you want to break them out to their individual components.

FileMaker includes a wide range of text functions that can be used to help with such chores. You can view a list of these text functions by creating a calculation field and choosing “Text Functions” from the View menu.


more… Chivalry Software – FileMaking 6: Text Parsing with FileMaker.

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