The iPad version of the database looks vastly different from the desktop. We stripped all but the essential fields from the database in order to speed it up and make the syncing go faster. The elements here are all designed for the iPad, with larger text fields and elements such as radio buttons and checkboxes. We also made use of drop-down menus for dates and a few other fields.


The list view of SUs lets you browse through the list, but it isn’t a real list view. In FileMaker terms, it is a portal, and doesn’t sort properly (for instance SU 50010 is in the database but doesn’t show up in this list). We found a work-around by viewing the SU table in a table view (see below). The scripting engine in FMTouch isn’t as robust as the FileMaker itself, and while the FMTouch database knows which SUs are fills and which ones are wallSUs, it can’t go to a layout based on that data, so there are buttons for both Wall and Fill and you have to tap the right one to see the right screen.

This is our standard SU Form for fills and features. The Finds list is also a portal and is related to the Finds database table. An unlimited number of finds can be entered here. The Soil Sample fields relate to a separate SoilSamples table so that the environmental team has an inventory ready for them.

The WallSU table is similar. Samples are usually not taken but finds can be embedded in the walls, so the finds portal is here as well.

Once the soil samples are entered, the environmental team takes the iPad to the wet sieve station to record weight, volume, and the date that the sample was processed.

FMTouch has a built-in table view. This is a table view of the SU table. Here you can sort by any field, which gives us the ability to check that we aren’t missing any SUs and makes up for the lack of sorting of the SUs in the trench layout in the first image.

FMTouch has a built-in sketch area mainly intended for signatures. We incorporated that into a sketch layout but it wasn’t used. The tools don’t allow for different pen sizes, colors, and there is no erasing or undo.

While FMTouch can handle syncing container fields (a FileMaker field type that can hold binaries, usually photos), we found that we took too many photos for this to work well and it was slowing down the sync rapidly. So we had to come up with a different method for handling photos (I will describe that later).

We synced the databases with the master desktop database twice a day, at lunchtime and at the end of the day. So while there was no live connection between the desktop and the iPads, the data on the desktop was no more than four hours old. Each trench had their own iPad, and there was no reason for one trench to edit the records of another trench. Therefore we didn’t run into a problem of multiple sync issues with two iPads having edited the same record.

Next I will upload this database as well as the necessary files to install it on the iPad.