FileMaker as player piano:

taming complex data migrations through abstraction and automation

I used to accomplish a complex data migration in moon-shot fashion, clearing my schedule and working non-stop (overnight as necessary until it was finished) to help me keep the whole project "in RAM" from start to finish.

For several years now, I have a more comfortable and reliable approach: I feed a detailed planning document into a migration automation utility (built in FileMaker) that allows me to run simulations, reiteratively refine the migration process, and painlessly repeat the whole migration as many times as necessary to get the desired outcome. Music to my ears! (Sample file here)


We'll look at a production version of my utility, currently configured to migrate c. 600 flat-file fields into a normalized structure of 19 tables, and we'll see how a simplified version of the tool (pictured above) can be set up in minutes to accomplish a more approachable task, migrating one table into three with data transformations and clean-up along the way. Come join this session if you're interested in exploring how data migrations can be made more accurate and efficient.

About Allen Poole: I've been building FileMaker systems since 1994, and making a living helping people develop and use databases since 1999. I have a particular interest in process efficiency, and enjoy leveraging data abstraction techniques and scripted automation to build flexible tools that accomplish complex and tedious tasks with minimal instruction sets. My first Pause session, on automated testing for quality control, explored an earlier application of this same interest.

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