Setting up an ESS table


The External SQL Source (ESS) of FileMaker Pro allows you to view and update data in an ODBC database without writing any SQL code. This technical note will describe the steps involved.

These instructions assume you have already downloaded and installed the appropriate ODBC driver for your database, you have configured a System DSN (data source name), and that you have purchased a license key (or registered for a 30 day trial key).

These instructions also assume you will be creating a new, empty database. You may also add ESS tables to existing databases - the steps are the same.

Please contact us at if you have any questions or suggestions regarding these instructions.

Create a FileMaker database with a placeholder field

To begin, launch FileMaker Pro and create an empty database:

create an empty database

Give your database file a name.

Select File->Manage->Database..., then select the "Relationships" tab.

manage database relationships

Now press the Add Table button add table and then select Add ODBC Data Source... from the Data Source popup menu:

Add ODBC Data Source

Then select the DSN you configured previously using the ODBC Manager:

Select DSN

You can just accept the default values for the "Edit Data Source" dialog:

Select DSN

Enter your database User ID and password at the prompt. You will then be presented with a list of tables from your database:

Specify Table

Select the table you would like to view and press OK. The table will be added to the Relationships tab:


ESS tables have their names displayed in italics. Press OK to dismiss the Manage Database dialog and return to the Browse view.

Finally, you can view your ESS table by selecting its layout from the Layout list:


You will then see a form with a default layout containing all the fields from your table. You can then browse and search data from the ODBC database. Any changes you make to the data, including inserting and deleting records, will be automatically saved to the database.

ESS record

For more information

To learn more about the FileMaker database connectivty, return to our FileMaker Resource Center.