Experiences of a FileMaker Pro Database Developer

Helping our Soldiers Quit Smoking, Part 1

*This is part 1 of a case study that will follow how we get organized and setup a relational database with FileMaker Pro.

Today was an interesting day and one that makes me a bit more proud to be an American. Although I have relatives and friends that serve in our armed forces, at times I, and we all do, tend to take them for granted. We forget that they are defending our great country.

I started my day as usual by reading email. I received an inquiry asking for help with FileMaker and how to get started setting up a database. This request was from a Commander in our Navy, CDR Alfred “Devil Doc” Baker, MD, MC, USN. Below is our email transcript. I have asked CDR Baker to share this as a case study in order that it might help others when they begin a database. To me, this is more than just a case study, it reminds me how I first started but more, it enforces why I love developing and why I use FileMaker Pro. And, maybe in some small way, I can do something to help our soldiers.

CDR Baker: Greetings from Afghanistan.  My name is CDR Alfredo Baker.  I am presently deployed to combat operations to Afghanistan with the Regimental Combat Team 2 as a psychiatrist.  I recently purchased FileMaker Pro 11 because I wanted to learn how to use a database for first time and this software was highly recommended especially to those using a Mac.  I have a question.  I recently started a Tobacco Smoking Cessation Program for my Marines and Sailors and I would like to gather not only their information (no personal ID) but their amount of tobacco used, type, years, quitting times, etc., so I follow their progress and probably gather enough data to publish my findings later on.  Where do I start?  Could you be kind in guiding me on the basics steps in building a database and relational tables? Thanks.


Matt:  I’d be honored to help anyway I can. Let me formulate an outline along with a few questions and I will email you again later today or by tomorrow. I will even put together a starter file for you in the next few days in order to help get you going.

Would you mind if I make this a case study on my blog, FMPro Database? It might help others like you that are beginning a database for the first time as well. However, I understand the privacy if you’d prefer not to.

One question before I get started, if you are not going to store a personal ID, how are you going to keep track of your Marines and Sailors? Just by their name? If you can send me a list of things (fields) that you want to track both for the personnel data (First Name, Last Name, DOB, etc.) and the tobacco data (type, amount, year started, total years using, how many times try quitting, etc.), I will use these fields in my starter file.

Thank you for your duty and service to our country. All that you and your men do is appreciated beyond what words can express.


CDR Baker:  Greatly appreciate you words of support.  The attached document have the list of the fields I am using as part of the registration to the tobacco cessation program but also as to the determine their specific treatment based on the amount of tobacco consumed.  I can use their last 4 of their social as ID or I can assign a random number as their ID that I will give each of them.  These kids are smoking so much and some of them are dipping as well (40%).  In addition, their spouses are also smokers with little kids at home.  This is a way for them to deal with the every day danger they are exposed to. The good news is that I am having over 90% success rate although it is still in early phase but these Marines and Sailors are determined to stop.  These young men are indeed working hard to preserve freedom and they do it with a smile int their face.  That is one of the many reasons I enjoy taking care of them besides that I am serving this wonderful country of ours.  That is the reason we deploy overseas so nobody will come to our country and tell us how to live our lives or take our freedoms away, I will be fighting to death before that happens.

Again, thanks for your kindness.  I downloaded their user manual and it was not as helpful in explaining how to set it up.  Do you have any recommendation in terms of something that I can read to better understand this software?  I don’t mind at all if you use my project as to teach others how to set up a database in this situation. Thanks.

Very respectfully,

CDR Alfredo “Devil Doc” Baker, MD, MC, USN
Operational Stress Control and Readiness Team Psychiatrist
Regimental Combat Team 8
Delaram, Afghanistan
“With My Marines and Sailors, to the Gates of Hell and back, anytime, anywhere…” Iraq, circa March 2003

In my next post, Part 2, I will answer CDR Baker’s request for recommendations that will help better understand how to use FileMaker Pro. I will also share my outline and questions.

Part 2, Recommendations for Resources: Where to start with FileMaker Pro

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