Getting the Most from Lantica's Sesame Database Manager
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Inside Sesame Issue Index
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As issues of Inside Sesame are published, their contents are added to our Keyword/Topic index and Issue (this) index. The Issue index is organized by year and month of issue and includes a description of the contents of each issue. The Keyword/Topic index is organized by keyword, much like the index in the back of a book. A special Subscriber Express Search Index also available to Inside Sesame subscribers. This database can be searched by keyword, topic, article title, author and various other criteria to locate the issues in which the search criteria occur. Subscribers can then view those issues immediately.

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Back issues are $25.00 each. (Current subscribers receive a 20% discount.) Note the order code(s) of the back issue(s) you wish to order. At the Order Form, you will be able to select them from the Back Issue pick-list.

January 2011 issue summary. . . [order code JAN 11]

An Alternative Form Printing Method
Struggling to find the most sensible way to print your forms? Do WordMerge, MergeFilePrint and those other fancy methods seem like overkill? We introduce you to an often-overlooked internal form-printing method that offers tremendous versatility and simplicity.

Use Query Options to Boost WordMerge Flexibility
Did you know that you use can use Word itself to filter and sort your WordMerge print jobs? It can greatly simplify what you have to do on the Sesame end. Here's everything you need to know about this powerful but underutilized Word capability.

_______________You ask. We answer.


  • Speed Up Your Application — Change Programming Events — Here's how we speeded up programming execution in a translated Q&A database by a factor of 100.

  • Hide Selected Elements When Printing Form — Need to prevent those buttons, lines and boxes from appearing on your printed forms? Here's how to make them disappear only when you print.

  • Align Form Elements for Correct Navigation — Is your cursor jumping to the wrong fields following a form redesign? We show you how to restore control.

  • Set Up a Birthday Field for Easy Birthday Reports — Need a simple report (or an easy way to search) for upcoming birthdays. Take your pick from these two methods. Sample application including in this month's download file.

  • Check Source Element Names if XLU Fails — The first thing to check when your X (external lookup) commands are bombing.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Align Multiple LEs Following a Duplicate Me  — When you do a Duplicate Me on a group of layout elements, you can be left with a new group of duplicate LEs that don't line up the way you need them to. Here's the trick.

  • Easily Keep (Some) Reports Off Limits — Putting your sensitive reports off limits to everybody but you is so easy to do that it’s hardly worth not doing. A simple program can hide all your reports except for those you want to remain public.

February 2011 issue summary. . . [order code FEB 11]

Attaching Retrieves to Reports — A Third Option
To attach or not to attach — that is the question. A Sesame report without an attached retrieve uses whatever records you’ve retrieved. With an attached retrieve, it gets the records on its own. Add a human, and it means reports can get goofed up vs. they can't. So which to choose when designing a report? In this article, you'll discover a third way that helps ensure that reports without attached retrieves include the right set of records every time.

WordMerge to a Free Word Processor
Believe it or not, there are a lot of smaller companies out there still plugging along without MS Word or another modern major word processor on all their computers. It doesn't make sense when they could be using Open Office Writer. It has the advanced features of a top-notch word processor, doesn't cost a penny and, as we show, is eminently WordMerge-able.

_______________You ask. We answer.


  • Change the Size of Sesame's Window — Set the size and location of your Sesame window to fit your monitor. And have it stay that way.

  • Multi-line Text Fields and Navigation — There are certain frustrating aspects to working in normal multi-line text fields. But you can smooth out the action by making such fields behave more like independent text editors.

  • XResultSetValue Returns 'No' From Empty Boolean Fields — You have to be careful when dealing with Boolean values in XResultSet commands. Here's why.

  • Create On-Demand Custom User Messages — For many, Sesame's Custom Help implementation leaves something to be desired. We show you an alternative.

  • Print Multiple Records On a Page and Other Tricks — Take advantage of the unexpected power behind Sesame's out-of-the-box form-printing features.

  • Determine If All Check Boxes in a Group Are Checked — without having to resort to a host of If/Then statements. Sample application included in this month's download file.

  • Get Actual Counts in Reports — You'd think this would be a no-brainer. But it takes a bit of doing to get right.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Resolve Field Color/Form Print Conflict  — When printing your records using Sesame's built-in form printing feature, you might need certain form adornments like field coloring to disappear in the printout. How do you do that?

  • Give Users Feedback on Button Click — For tasks that don't produce a clear visual confirmation, add a momentary color change to your custom command button to let users know their click actually did something.

  • Personalize Your App with a 'User Parameter' — Since you're the one who designed your shared application, why shouldn't you be able to make it do or not do certain things only for you, regardless of whether it's password protected?

March 2011 issue summary. . . [order code MAR 11]

Restrict, Manage, Simplify Routine Data Exports
Why bungle in the jungle with routine exporting tasks when they can be goof proof and easy as pie. Sesame has the tools. We've got the know-how.

Find Faulty Records with a Mass Update
Instead of complicated data validation programs that are never right and aggravate users; instead of poring over records that might have incomplete or otherwise faulty data — you can perform a mass update that lists the errors and gives you a simple way to retrieve those records right away or when you have the time.

_______________You ask. We answer.


  • Entering Date and Unique Number Initial Values — @Date, @Time and @Number won't work as Initial Values in your database. Here's your best alternative.

  • Copy and Add External Records to a Database — Two easy methods for copying individual records to make new records.

  • Turn Off that Pesky List of Previous Files — Why your recent files list shows the same application name twice, and what you can do about it.

  • Move Your Sesame to a New Computer — A handy primer for migrating Sesame on a client or server machine — along with all the necessary files — to a new computer. Can you say e-a-s-y?

  • Search for Numeric Ranges in a Text Field — If your data is well-structured, it's easy to do.

  • Maintain a History Tracking Field in an External Database — It's like having a form/subform arrangement without the subform. Makes searching even easier.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Simplify Q&A Migrations with a Composite Lookup Table  — A Sesame application can contain only one Q&A-style Lookup Table supporting Q&A-style Lookup programming. So, when migrating a group of Q&A databases to a single Sesame app and there’s more than one Lookup Table among them, well, you’ve got a bit of problem. This might help.

  • Calculate Someone's Age — Databases about people often have a date of birth field along with an age field. Dates of birth are fixed. Peoples' ages aren't. But no problem — just click here.

April 2011 issue summary. . . [order code APR 11]

Simplify Migration with a Combined Lookup Table
Sesame supports just one Q&A-style Lookup Table per application, which you might think means that only one database can access it. The fact is, one Lookup Table can serve as many database as you need, if you know how to turn it into a compound Lookup Table.

Sort a Report On a 'Derived Column'
Q&A can do it. Can Sesame? We bet you already know that answer to that. After all, you're reading Inside Sesame.

Reports and Temporary Changes
We set out to make the process of running Sesame reports as close to Q&A for DOS as possible. And we found ways to make it even easier.

_______________You ask. We answer.

  • Don't Forget to Revert Programmed Read Only — Be careful how you use the ReadOnly command in programming when you need the field to be conditionally writeable.

  • Show Record Changes in a 'History' Notes Field — A handy way to track changes to a field, as well as whodunnit.

  • String Numbers and Words Together — A mini-primer on creating a string value in programming that consists of numbers and text.

  • Internet Explorer 9, Google Chrome 10 and Sesame — We look closely at these new browser versions to find out how well they work with Sesame.

  • Manage Your Application Security — You don't have to go into Sesame Designer to update your security. You can do it right in Sesame runtime while users are busy working in the application.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Improve the Look of Report Column Headings  — A trick that aligns multi-line column headings to make your reports look cleaner.

  • Programmed 'OR' Searches — Q&A vs. Sesame — A particular programmed retrieval expression used in Q&A doesn't yield the same results in Sesame.

  • Change Report Font and Size at Runtime — We show you a little report design trick that lets you change the report's font and font size when you run it.

  • Quick 'n' Dirty Report Double-Spacing — Change a normal report to double-spacing in a couple of minutes. Plus a one-click way to choose single- or double-spacing whenever you run the report.

May 2011 issue summary. . . [order code MAY 11]

Fast Fixed ASCII Export Spec Fix
Sesame doesn't translate Q&A Export Specs, but they're usually easy to reconstruct. That is, unless they're the Fixed ASCII variety with data formatting requirements. Here's what you need to know to make Sesame generate most any kind of Fixed ASCII file. 

Fun with Form Events
When it comes to the form itself, Sesame offers a variety of powerful programming events. Here's how they break down, what they they're for, and what, with a little imagination, you can do with them. Sample applications included in this month's download file.

_______________You ask. We answer.


  • Mass Updates to Replace Abbreviations — Suppose you want to replace all instances of "Corp" with "Corporation". Easy, right? Not so fast.

  • Popup a List with Another DB's Data — Simplify and control data entry more than ever with these kinds of custom pick-lists.

  • Firefox 4.0 and Sesame — What does this next generation Mozilla browser do to simplify Sesame report previewing and printing?

  • Change Report Headers On-the-Fly — More ways to make Q&A-like "Temporary Changes" to your reports.

  • New & Improved Command Buttons — We receive countless calls and questions about the command and navigation buttons shown at the top of most of our Help Desk sample files and illustrations. How do you make them? Is there a standard set you can just import into your forms? How do you make them appear only when necessary? This extended Help Desk discussion reveals how to smartly "buttonize" your forms without having to do the grunt work. Sample applications included in this month's download file.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Q&A vs. Sesame Restrictions  —  Instead of excluding those troublesome data restrictions when translating a Q&A database, keep them in and redo them to be more user friendly in Sesame.

  • Subtracting Dates in Reports — Subtracting a later date from an earlier one can produce strange results. Here's the workaround.

June 2011 issue summary. . . [order code JUN 11]

Feeling a Little Insecure Lately?
If you've backed off from securing your application because it seems too complicated, we tell you what you're missing out on. This article bypasses all the technical jargon and heady concepts and cuts right to the chase in a way that even those new to security or Sesame can understand. 

@Numbers Everywhere
If you have multiple Q&A databases destined for a single Sesame application, you could come up against an @Number dilemma. Here's a smart, time-saving way to deal with it.

Improving Form Navigation
We look at common record navigation techniques that might have been right for Q&A but aren't so right for your Sesame forms.

_______________You ask. We answer.


  • Save Your Original Q&A Translation Form for Later Imports — An inventive and utterly sensible way to work with translated Q&A databases whose data will need to be re-imported into Sesame later.

  • Convert Q&A Docs for Use with Sesame Apps — If you'd really like to stop using Q&A altogether, what do you do with those Q&A Write docs you still need?

  • More on Internet Explorer 9 and Sesame — Something is missing from the new IE9 that you might have come to rely on. If you like to open some reports in Excel, you need to read this.

  • Stop Using Multiple Databases for Different Classes of Records — Sesame doesn't suffer from certain Q&A limitations, so why not combine those structurally identical databases into a single one and enjoy more data management advantages.

  • Change Field Colors Based on Contents — Want to "light-up" a field when certain conditions prevail in a record? Even dopey users won't be able to ignore this action.

  • Temporarily Turn Off AutoCalc Programming — Need to run a program but don't want the On-Form-Change programming to fire as a result? Here's your solution.

  • Counting Subforms — An easy way to get a reliable count of the child records in a parent form.

  • Show Running Balance in Subform Records — A sensible approach  to maintaining a live balance between debits and credits in subform records.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Data Corruption and Import Failures  —  A Q&A database might not only be structurally corrupted, its data can contain junk as well. Here's what can happen if you attempt to import such data into Sesame, and a handy tool you can use to clean it up before importing.

  • XLookups and Whatnot in WordMerge — If Q&A merge docs can lookup and merge external data, shouldn't WordMerge at least have the same capability? Now it does.

  • Missing Report Data Problem Solved — Data could be missing from your reports and you might not even know it. Sesame isn't doing it; Internet Explorer is. Here's the fix.

  • Improve Your Timing — When it comes to programming references to times of the day, Q&A permits a syntax that Sesame doesn't. If your time of day programming isn't cutting it, check this out.

  • XLookups on Yes/No Fields Fail After Translation — It worked in okay Q&A. It doesn't throw an error on Test in Sesame. But it still doesn't work. Here's why.

  • Translation, App Merging and Duplicate Report Names — A duplicate report name can stop an application merge cold. We show you an easy way to head this problem off at the pass and save yourself some time and irritation.

  • Use SetThisElement() with @Error to Find Bad LE References — Did you know that SetThisElement() will throw @Error if the layout element doesn't exist? You can use this to debug routines that use custom LE lists.

July 2011 issue summary. . . [order code JUL 11]

Build an Advanced Customer History Popup
How about a popup — not a report — that reveals things like the dates and amounts of the customer's most recent orders, any outstanding and past due invoices, which products and quantities the customer has bought lately, whether the customer is spending less or more than previous years, the customer's buying pattern by quarter? We show you how to build an advanced customer history popup that shows all the above with supporting bar graphs and other gizmos. 

Learning to Loop it Up
Loops make your programming run faster and more efficiently and help you get more done in fewer lines of code. If you've shied away from them, there's no better time time to buck up and take the plunge. We show you how to get started with loops.

_______________You ask. We answer.


  • Database vs. Application vs. Filenames — If you don't know the words, you can't sing the tune. We define some of the most important Sesame terms.

  • Better Form Navigation Redux — More on making your forms simplify your work.

  • Using the Sample ZipCode Database — Didn't know that Sesame comes bundled with a ZipCode database? Here's how you can can use it to dumb down data entry and help prevent address mistakes.

  • Popup State Listings — Build yourself a handy popup that that shows full state names and returns the official state abbreviations. (Sample state/abbreviations file included in this month's download file.)

  • Autostart After Reboot Issues — Making Sesame Server start automatically after a server shutdown or reboot.

  • Make Report Header Span Columns — Have you tried to create a long report header only to have it make the first report column way to wide? Here's the fix.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • @AppendStringArray Snag  —  If you use this function to collect data from fields and rely on a count of the resulting array, there's something vital you should know.

August 2011 issue summary. . . [order code AUG 11]

Make Transformed Text Case 'Sticky'
Ever wonder why the text values in your reports and XResultSet output aren’t always formatted the same way they are in your forms? It’s a long story — but not that long. Now, with a subroutine and simple program, you can have Sesame put text in any element in lowercase, uppercase or all caps and make it stay that way for all of your output.

Create Naturally-Linked Subrecords by the Thousands
There might come a time when you need to make Sesame automatically create dozens,  hundreds or even thousands of subrecords all naturally linked to their parents. We showcase an application where there was simply no other way to get the job done.

Where Oh Where Is My Popup Popping Up?
For popup pick-lists, Sesame gives you the option to pop them up exactly where you want. We explore the PopupSelectPosition() command in search of popup position perfection.

_______________You ask. We answer.


  • Exploring the Various Search Options — Sesame offers a host of search methodologies from Alternate Search to Universal Search. Here's a terrific primer for those who want a quick overview or refresher.  

  • Fast Access to Your Past Sesame Reports — Where do all those reports go after you've run them? They're right there on your computer where you can bring them up them at any time  from a handy desktop shortcut.

  • Sort Report Columns by Month — Need a proper year/month sort in a report? Here's how to get it.

  • Copy Part of a Record to Make a New Record — with a click of a button.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Strip Digits from a String Value  — You probably know how the @Num() function strips all non-digits from a string. But what about a companion function that does the opposite — strips all digits from a string?

  • Client/Server Mismatch Catch  — When it comes time to prepare for a Sesame upgrade rollout, here's a smart way to check the Server from each client to ensure both are running the same version of Sesame.

  • Get User Name Without Security  — Two clever ways your programming can know who's using the application — without having to secure it first.

September 2011 issue summary. . . [order code SEP 11]

Extreme Excel Import
Q&A didn't like Excel files. Neither does Sesame. We show you how to import them anyway, without having to first open them, save them out to another format or handle them in any way? Plus, we show how to run programming during imports. Sample application included in this month's download file.

Design Faster with Default Data Formats
The Application Property Manager is an underutilized corner of Sesame Designer. You might be surprised at how much tedium an often overlooked area of the APM could save you when embarking on that next form design project.

_______________You ask. We answer.


  • Resolving Boolean Field Report Issues — Ever tried to get a count of Boolean "Yeses" in a report column? No joy, right? Here's your workaround. Sample application included in this month's download file.

  • Copy a Form to Make a New Database in the Same App — How to create a new database by copying selected (or all) layout elements from another form.

  • XLookup Issues After Q&A Translation — Getting your lookups to work now that all your former Q&A databases are cohabitating.

  • Why Running a Report Requires Saving Record — Do you ever get "The current record has ... not been committed..." message when you go to run a report? Here's why.

  • Spruce Up Reports After Q&A Translation — Five steps to make your translated Q&A reports — or any report — look more presentable.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Report Wizard Repeats Headers  — Sesame does something very different between reports created in the report designer vs. those created using the Report Wizard. It can leave you scratching your head unless you realize what happened and how to fix it.

October 2011 issue summary. . . [order code OCT 11]

Sesame's Cure for Memory Loss
The Memory Menu. It all starts with the Alt-Enter key combination. In theory, if you put your cursor in a text field and press Alt-Enter, all other prior entries in that field (in other records) will appear on a dropdown menu under the field in a combo-box-like fashion. All well and good, but in practice there's more you need to know.

How to Blend a Logo Into a Startup Form
Companies like having their logo on their software. Done right, it adds a professional and welcoming touch to a new system. We usually try to incorporate the company’s logo into a new application’s startup form, and we’ve learned a bit about how and how not to do it.

_______________You ask. We answer.


  • Search for One or Many Months/Years — A handy technique to simplify some crazy date search gymnastics.

  • Track Changes to Records — When the question is whodunit?, here's your first piece of evidence. We review several methods of tracking changes to records and give you the programming for the one we like the best.

  • Popup Lists with Combined Values — When you need a picklist of values from an external database, a single item (like a person's last name) might not be enough. Here's a way to expand your picklists so you can be confident in your selections.

  • See All Users in a App Without Designer — You don't need to open Sesame Designer to see all the security groups and login IDs. The info is right there in Runtime.

  • Fix Long @PopupMenu Scrolling Problem — If your @PopupMenu list is so long that the item you want is often beyond the bottom of the screen, that's trouble. Here's the fix.

  • How to Open Saved Reports in Excel — If you like to drag your Sesame reports into Excel to fix (or fudge) them up, this is a must-read.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • The Easiest Way to Avoid Duplicate Values  — Have you been using programming to trap duplicate values entered in key fields? Or just keeping your finger's crossed that it won't happen? Here's hands down the easiest way to prevent duplicate values.

  • Copy Reports Between Databases — Got a snazzy report that you’d like to use in another, similar, database. Fortunately, you won’t have to re-create it from scratch. Sesame gives you a way to copy it over to that other database.

  • Control PrintString Invoice Spacing — When you use the PrintString method to create documents with multiple line items (like invoices), you can control the line spacing in a way that a document with just a few items, or many, looks good on a single page. Here's a technique that does the trick.

  • Picklists for the Far-Sighted — Squinting at the fly-spec text on your picklists? Here's an undocumented way to increase the size and boldness (and thus the readability) of your @PopupMenu or @PopupChoiceList lists.

November 2011 issue summary. . .[order code NOV 11]

Copying Data from One Record to Another
Sesame has a daunting array of record copying features and capabilities. We cover them all and help you decide which one makes sense for the kind of record copying you might need to do.

Smart Record Copying
Here's an example of how to automate a repetitive record-copying task with a program attached it to a command button.

Make the Last Form View Subrecord Added/Edited Show First
When you retrieve a parent record with a form view subform, by default, the subrecord you see will always be the first one added. Suppose you'd rather see, by default, the last one added or edited? You can do it. Sample application included in this month's subscriber download file.

Working with Sesame's Widget Popup
You gotta love those popup dialogs. They can streamline data entry like nothing else. Here's one that that keeps popping up as long as you tell it that you'd like to add another entry to a Keyword field.

Ensure Subrecords Contain Parent Key Value
Even with Sesame's Natural Linking, it makes sense for subrecords to contain a parent key value. But the more you depend on it, the more care you must take to ensure that no subrecords are missing it.

_______________You ask. We answer.


  • Duplicate Record Reports — Need to weed out those dupes? We offer a couple of sensible approaches.

  • Mass Update to Remove Data — When you need to clear a field in a group of records, the best approach might depend on the number of records involved.

  • Tab Into Tab Group from Main Form — How do you do it? Here's the trick.

  • Tabs Navigation Mini-Primer — Find out how to place your entire form in a single tab group, how to make your cursor automatically move from one tab page to the next, and how to remove the tab labels.

  • Update Multiple Records with Multiple Values in Multiple External Records — A tricky import/mass update operation simplified.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Use String Arrays to Trim Text Files  — Sesame’s file I/O capabilities can liven up an application. But when reading and/or writing to continuously growing external text files, that advantage can have unintended consequences. Here's how to control the growth using, of all thing, simple string arrays commands

  • Hiding a Popup Password Box Until Needed — Sesame 2 brought the ability to mask entry into a text box by having the typed characters appear as asterisks. How do you display such a "password" box only when needed?

  • Scrub Subforms from @ListApplicationForms() — Need a list of all the forms in the application, excluding any subforms and the startup form? Here's a simple drop-in program that does the trick.

December 2011 issue summary. . . [order code DEC 11]

Running Account Balance in a Table Subform
During a recent Q&A-to-Sesame migration, an issue came up that centered on a capability common to any accounting program. Because such a capability could be useful in a database as well, a Sesame approach to it is worth a look. Sample application included in this month's download file.

How to Copy Partial Records Between Databases
Is automated record copying for you? With pushbutton simplicity, a targeted program can take all the guesswork out of repetitive record-copying tasks. This technique makes ingenious use of custom Copy Specs to copy partial records (specific fields) between databases — and it works in both Add and Update modes.

Simplify Migrating Q&A Copy Specs
A Q&A copy-selected-records spec normally includes a Merge Spec that specifies which fields go where. But Sesame doesn't translate Merge Specs. Here's a clever technique that makes it easier to get your Q&A copy specs up and running in Sesame.

_______________You ask. We answer.


  • Super-Size Forms for the Far-Sighted — A terrific idea for offering larger, more  readable data entry form options for users who don't see so good.

  • Programmed Buttons Instead of Macros — A terrific example of adapting a Q&A macro-driven procedure to a Sesame push-button routine.

  • Simple Remote Access Roundup — Four methods to choose from to access your Sesame apps remotely.

  • Require Password for Record Deletes — For unsecured applications, we offer an imaginative way to prevent record deletes except by authorized users.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Avoid Duplicate Report Names When Merging Databases  — This simple program can save you time and trouble when migrating multiple Q&A databases into a single Sesame application.

  • Perfect Table Subform Sizing — This simple formula takes all the guesswork out of  sizing those table subforms in the parent form.

  • Switch Between Apps with a Click — No need for your people to go through the File / Open Application steps (or heaven forbid use multiple license-eating Sesame desktop icons) to switch between applications. All it takes is a button click.

  • Get Next '@Number' for a Text Field — Sesame permits just one @Number per application. Suppose you'd like to convert an @Number to a Global Value, but it's a text field. How do you find the highest numbered record in the database?