Chapter 15. Reporting and Analysis

A database excels at keeping track of things—itsy bitsy, teeny tiny details about hundreds, thousands, even millions of little things. But people aren’t so good at dealing with all that detail (hence the invention of the database). They like to see the big picture. If you want to understand your customers’ music tastes, then a report of 200,000 individual MP3 sales doesn’t do you much good: The information is in there somewhere, but a feeble human brain stands no chance of ferreting it out. A report that divides that information into 25 music genres, each with sales totals, both in aggregate and by gender, would help you interpret all those reams of data at a glance. In other words, a well-designed report like the one you saw on Creating a Dynamic Report with the Assistant, summarizes the data for you. FileMaker’s not only fantastic at showing you information, it also excels at helping you see what it all means.

Summary Fields and Subsummary Parts

The very cornerstone of high-level analysis in FileMaker Pro is the summary report. To boil the values in a set of records down to totals, averages, or one of several other aggregate measures, the Summary Field is your tool. But hand in hand with the Summary Field are the Subsummary and Grand Summary layout parts. A single Summary Field placed on a single Subsummary layout part can, for example, form a report that displays one line for each city that appears in your address book database and a count of ...

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