Beginning FileMaker 01 - Designing a Database

The web offers many sources for FileMaker training, including books, videos, and blog posts. However, the concepts can be overwhelming for newcomers. In this series of posts I’m going to document my thoughts on what order makes the most sense to me, and link to some resources that I’ve found useful. Please feel free to add your thoughts, comments, and edits.

To begin, I found this article on designing a relational database very useful for explaining the concepts of tables, attributes, and relationships.

The info below is adapted from comments by @planteg:

Before you create anything in FileMaker, use sheets of paper and a pencil to map out your database design and build an Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD).

  1. Figure out which tables (entities) you need; for example “people” and “courses” would be needed for a database for students.

  2. Then determine the properties (or attributes) of each entity; these will be fields. For example, a “people” table may include the attributes “nameLast” and “nameFirst.”

  3. And finally, explore how these entities will connect together — these are relationships.

You will find this process is iterative; for example, connecting tables (entities) together may require you to create another table. Once you are satisfied with your database design you can create the appropriate tables, fields and relationships in FileMaker.


It is a good starting point, indeed.

From there, we can explore the concepts of normalisation & de-normalisation. The latter brings us to performance core principles, which are expanded here: