Master DataTables Series: 3.4 Column Searching & Ordering

by Jody Barney - Application Developer

Welcome to the multi-part video series that will teach you how to implement DataTables in your Claris FileMaker Pro solutions effectively. If you’re new to this series, we recommend starting from the introduction to maximize your learning experience. You can access the complete series here: Master DataTables with Claris FileMaker Pro.

In the previous post, we focused on the essential aspect of data reporting—column visibility. The settings involved effectively control which columns are displayed to your users and how they are arranged within your report. 

In the final post of this series on modifying columns we’ll delve into the important world of column searching and ordering using the Columns Builder tool. 

Column Setting Behaviors

We have already learned about column visibility, but there are two other attributes we can set for each column that affect the way a user interacts with the reports you build.

These settings are: “Searchable” and “Orderable.” These settings determine how columns behave when users interact with the search and sorting features of your DataTables.


When this option is checked for a column, it means that users can search for values within that column, even if the column is not visible on the screen.


Similarly, when “Orderable” is enabled for a column, users can sort the table based on the values in that column. They’ll see those familiar sorting icons (usually ascending and descending arrows) to help them organize the data.

It’s important to note that you might not want every column to be searchable or orderable, especially if it doesn’t make sense for your data. Let’s explore how to fine-tune these settings.

Customizing Column Behavior

To access and adjust these settings, we’ll use the Columns Builder tool within the DataTables Builder (download the demo file below).

  1. Open the Columns Builder: Navigate to the Columns Builder tool, which allows you to manage the behavior of individual columns.
  2. Toggle Searchability and Orderability: Inside the Columns Builder, you’ll find a list of columns. Here, you can enable or disable the “Searchable” and “Orderable” options for each column.


If you want users to search within a specific column, ensure the “Searchable” checkbox is ticked. Conversely, uncheck it if you don’t want users to search within that column.


Similarly, you can control sorting by toggling the “Orderable” option. If it doesn’t make sense to sort a particular column, feel free to turn this off.

Remember, these settings should align with the preferences and needs of your users. Sometimes, you might need to make decisions based on common sense and best judgment.

Addressing Stakeholder Requirements

In our case, we’ve been working on a project with stakeholders who have specific requirements. However, in this series, we couldn’t find explicit instructions on whether certain columns should be searchable or orderable. Therefore, we’ve used our judgment to configure these settings appropriately.

Once you’ve adjusted the settings to your satisfaction, it’s time to consider the final touches and meet any remaining stakeholder requests.

Creating the Perfect Report

In our case, our stakeholders requested a report containing only active contacts with a customized title. To satisfy this request, I demonstrate the steps to take by modifying an existing report. We use what we have learned up to this point in the series to pull everything together for our stakeholders. We practice colleting different data, modify our report settings and locking the report from have any further changes made.

With these steps completed, this series on modifying columns comes to an end. We are one step closer to understanding all that we can control and do with DataTables.

What’s next?

In the next series, we’ll explore integrations in DataTables. This important functionality allows you to trigger FileMaker scripts via on-row-click or on-cell-click in your DataTables reports. This is an essential feature for most developers. Without integrations, we merely have a pretty list. We will bring the power of both DataTables and FileMaker together for the best possible user (and developer) experience.

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