Better FileMaker Portal Sorting

How do you offer your FileMaker users the ability to sort portals?

One method that’s been around a long time is to create a calculated field in the “child” table (the table whose records appear in the portal). This calculation is used as the portal’s sort field. The formula can become somewhat complex if it needs to account for a mix of data types, e.g. fields for date, text, number, etc. And if you want to sort by multiple fields, it gets even messier.

Another method has gained traction since the advent of tab objects (in FileMaker 8), and that is to create multiple copies of your portal. Each copy is placed on its own tab and given its own sort order. The addition of object names (in 8.5) and zero-width tabs (in 9.0) further refined this technique.

The problem with both of these methods is maintenance. In the first method, the calculation has to be revisited any time you change the fields in the portal. And in the second method, making changes to multiple copies of a portal is just a pain.

The method I’m going to show you does use a calculated field, but it’s relatively easy to grok and you never have to change it. Sound interesting? Stay tuned!

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