External data sources

What are external data sources in FileMaker?

In FileMaker, an external data source is defined as a database that comes from external sources, such as another FileMaker file or an ODBC data source. Any number of external data sources can be defined for each FileMaker database, from which new tables can be added later in the Database Administration under [Relationships]. The setup of external data sources is done under the menu command [File > Define > External data sources].

Set up external data sources in FileMaker

Add an external data source

To set up a new external data source, click on the [Manage External Data Sources] button in the [New…] dialog.

Add FileMaker data source

Add FileMaker data source

Enter a unique name for the data source in the first field [Name]. If no name is entered, FileMaker automatically enters the name of the selected FileMaker file. To select a FileMaker file, click on the button [Add file] or enter a file path in the text field [Path list] as described in the lower part of the dialog. This dialog does not support the specification of dynamic paths with a global variable.

Add ODBC data source

To add an ODBC data source, select [Add Data Source] as type [ODBC] in the dialog, whereupon the dialog displays additional fields for the ODBC data source. Please note that before adding a new data source, ODBC with a correspondingly configured data source must be installed on your system.

Set up new ODBC data source

Select under [DSN] your desired ODBC data source, which you have previously set up in the ODBC Manager.

Select ODBC data source

Enter the access data for the ODBC data source in the area [Authentication]. In the area [Filter tables] you can optionally enter criteria for filtering tables and activate or deactivate the respective options.

Edit data sources

To edit external data sources, select the menu command [File > Define > External data sources]., click on the desired entry and then on the button [Edit]. An entry can also be opened by double-clicking on it.

Dynamic external data sources from FileMaker 16

Starting with FileMaker 16, external data sources can also be specified dynamically as variables. In this way it is possible, for example, to use different SQL servers or data sources with dynamic user paths that can be edited in the FileMaker software without the user having to manually adjust the external data source in the dialog. Please note that the variable is defined before corresponding objects of the data source have been accessed, whereby the use of a global variable is preferred. FileMaker writes about this:

Variables are supported in FileMaker data source references. Define the variable before accessing objects that use the reference. Once the reference is resolved, it will not change if the variable is changed..

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About Author

Markus Schall
Development of FileMaker databases since 1994, modification and extension of FileMaker solutions, conversion of FileMaker databases from .fm, .fp3, .fp5 (FileMaker 2-6) or .fp7 (FileMaker 7-11) to .fmp12 (FileMaker 12-17), interfaces to third-party systems such as online shops, CMS or other databases. Development of individual FileMaker database systems based on the gFM business framework with personal advice from Oldenburg. Operator of the online specialist portal goFileMaker.de, developer of the CRM and merchandise management system gFM-Business. Member of FileMaker Business Alliance, FileMaker Developers Subscription and FMM Expert. Winner of an FMM Award 2011, awarded by the FileMaker Magazine.