Getting the Most from Lantica's Sesame Database Manager
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . September 23, 2017  5:40 am. PST

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 is 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 2012 issue summary. . . [order code JAN 12]

Search All Your Phone Fields From One
For databases with multiple phone number fields, searching across them for the one you're after can take too much time and effort. We give you a way to search across all phone fields from just one with the click of a button. Our technique will even find matches on phone numbers that aren't formatted the same way.

Overview of a Sesame Dashboard
Do you need to view key data in your application in an organized manner? Do you want a comprehensive visual view that summarizes the key metrics of your organization? Check out this Sesame Dashboard.


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Automatic Form Label Update — Make static text on your forms (such as the year) automatically change when you need it to.

  • Size Your Form to Your Display — Optimize your form for the amount of screen real estate you have available.

  • Mass Update and Searching Issues — That old ampersand strikes again.

  • Find Non-Matching Data in Multiple Fields — How to find records where the contents of two fields don't match.

  • Server Connection Problem Solved — Ever hear of "Name Resolution Services"? Neither did we, until it turned up that a problem with it was preventing a Sesame client from connecting to Sesame Server.

  • See What Tabs are Filled Without Opening Them — A nifty way to know whether certain tab pages are filled without having to click them open to find out.

  • Fix Click-to-Change Programming — Corrects an oversight in a Help Desk answer from last year.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Debugging Lengthy @XLookupSourceList Commands  — A single Q&A XLookup command can perform an unlimited number of lookups. Sesame’s XLookup command can’t, but @XLookupSourceList usually fills the bill. Problem is, a lengthy one with lots of fields can all too easily fail and be hard to debug when it does. There's gotta be an easier way — and there is.

  • Quick — What's Your Current Retrieve Spec? — A busy form with a complex Retrieve Spec spread across several tabs pages makes it hard to remind yourself what criteria you might have specified for the current search. This little program displays your current retrieve criteria on a convenient popup that works in either Search or Update mode.

  • Popups Popping Up Too Soon? — Oddball popup behavior resolved by switching from On Element Entry to On Reveal programming.

  • Fix Sluggish Table View Navigation — Is record navigation in Table View too slow for your liking? Here's what you can do about it.

  • Filling a Table Subform Conditionally Following Translation — When populating a line-items-type table subform with a mass update after migrating from Q&A, you might wan to tie what goes into the subrecords to the contents of certain fields in the parent record. We show how to do that.


February 2012 issue summary. . . [order code FEB 12]

Checking for Dupes Across Multiple Fields
It's easy to find out if there's another record in the database where the same field has a duplicate value. But what if you need a broader check, such as other records where several fields have the same entries as the record you're working in? We show you how to do it.

Archiving Database Records
Do you have a large database that grows so fast that it needs periodic trimming or archiving? We show you how to archive just one database within a multi-database application, along with any subforms it might contain. This customizable routine simplifies archiving, whether you need to archive weekly, monthly or annually.


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Update Records From Startup Menu — Need to periodically update a group of records without having to go into the database? Here's our solution.

  • Control Unwanted Pop-Ups on Tabs — Under certain conditions, a pop-up can keep popping up when not wanted and for apparently no reason. We explain the problem and offer a few workarounds.

  • Flip Table View Subform to Form View — Got a Table View subform that you occasionally need to switch into Form View. Here's one way to do it.

  • Remote Access and Port Forwarding — What you need to know in order to access your Sesame applications across the Internet


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • One Click — Multiple Reports — Run two, three or more reports back-to-back with one click of a button, and have them appear on separate tabs in your browser.

  • Slow Down, Buddy! — Computers are fast. Sometimes too fast. Here's how to make your Sesame program pause a bit to let other impacted programs catch up.

  • Keep Child Records Bolted to Their Parents — If you include the unique parent key value in your naturally-linked subforms, that advantage breaks down if the parent key value somehow gets changed. Here’s a little program that automatically keeps your subform keys in sync with your parent keys.


March 2012 issue summary. . . [order code MAR 12]

Bound Popup Forms
Do just about anything from anywhere. With this powerful technique you can popup any form for any database in the app, add a new record or whatever, then put the popup away and be right back in the original form. Speed, ease and efficiency. Say hello to Detached Forms.

Use 'Static Draw' to Chart, Draw and Display Images
Did you know that Sesame can dynamically display seven different graphical charts to show relationships in your data, as well as draw shapes and display custom-scaled images anywhere you might need them? You'll get an eyeful in this comprehensive introduction to Sesame's charting/drawing capabilities.


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Pushbutton Retrieve For Dates — Auto-filling Retrieve Spec date fields with variable dates isn't so easy. We show you the trick.  Sample application included in this month's download file.

  • Backup Your Sesame Files to a Thumb Drive — Looking for a simple way to backup your application to a removable storage device? Here's what it takes.

  • Get Rid of Recent Applications List — Tired of seeing that growing list of rarely-used apps every time you start Sesame? You can lose that list for good.

  • Spaces and Punctuation in Names of Things — How certain "legal" keyboard characters can get you into trouble.

  • Where'd I Put that Programming Statement? — Quickly find any word, phrase or reference in one shot no matter where it might be hiding in your code.

  • Stop Form Jumping When Moving to Tabs — When you tab out of the last field to a tab page, the whole form jumps. Fortunately, it's correctable.

  • Easy Application Unlock Shortcut — Give key personnel a way to instantly unlock a locked application without sacrificing any security.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Quick-Search a Favorite App — Got a database in another app that you'd like to make instantly available regardless of what else you're working on? Try this shortcut.

  • Self-Reference Application Objects for Convenience and Portability — You're probably aware of the advantages of @Filename over hard-coded filepaths in programming. Sesame offers other such tools to simplify your programming.

  • Danger! Dollar Signs in Element Names — Unexpected things can happen in WordMerge if a layout element name contains the "$" character.


April 2012 issue summary. . . [order code APR 12]

Add a Dropdown Updater to Your App
Sesame Combo Boxes (aka "dropdowns") simplify and standardize data entry by reducing typing. The keys to maximizing their utility are the options lists you attach to them. But when it takes a trip to Designer followed by a Reconcile to update one, it can be more bother than it's worth. What if you could update any dropdown right from the runtime data entry form, with such updates instantly available to all users? Now you can. Sample application included in this month's download file.

Retrofit Subrecords with Parent IDs
Got some naturally linked databases that you'd like to relationally link as well? Find out why this can be a good idea and how to simplify what it takes to get it done. We even provide a program that does it for you.


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Formatting Special 'Number' Fields — First, a quick primer on the three most often misunderstood and misused field types — Keyword, Boolean and Number — followed by a technique to fill a field with tightly-structured alphanumeric value.

  • Formatting Floating Point Decimal Point Numbers — Remember in Q&A how you could format a number field with a simple N and it would maintain numbers entered with however many decimal places you needed? Those days are gone, but here's the next best thing.

  • Make Text Field Act Like a Boolean Field — Unless you know what you're doing, Boolean fields can be a pain to live with. In many cases, a far simpler text field designed to work like a Boolean simplifies things and provides more flexibility. Sample application included in this month's download file.

  • Toggle Between Forms and Subforms — A subform in table view can make it easy to spot essential information, but fields you can't see without horizontally scrolling can make it hard to live with. How about a subform you can toggle between table view and form view?

  • Use Sesame Slate to Find Programming Errors — Of all the programming helpers Sesame provides, this one can prove time and again to be the most essential.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • 'Genericize' Your Calendar Popups — Got a dozen date fields to fill using Sesame's @Calendar popup? You don't need a dozen programs — just this one.

  • Save All Forms with a Click — So your parent form contains subforms, and those subforms contain subforms. Here's how to save them all in one fell swoop using a simple generic program invoked with a single click.

  • Send a Personalized Email with @ASynchshell — Launch your email program with the recipient's name and email address from your database record already filled in.

  • Convert Uppercase Text to Uppercase — We're talking about a way that really makes it stick.

  • Suppress Repeating Values in First Report Column — The easy way to keep those sorted values in the first column from unnecessarily repeating.

  • Partial Record Copying — Another technique we like and think you will, too.


May 2012 issue summary. . . [order code MAY 12]

Archiving Subdatabase Records
Got an application that grows subform records by the hundreds or thousands each month? Check out this nifty pushbutton technique that migrates the older subrecords to a separate archive application. This keeps the active app trim and efficient while still allowing easy access to the old subrecords as needed.

Sesame Startup Options — Using the Sesame.ini file
Would you like to change the default size of your F6 field editor, make Sesame's scrollbars wider, change Sesame's startup window size and location on screen, or customize Sesame's look and feel to accommodate different users' monitors or preferences? You can! And it isn't as hard as you might think.


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Replicate Numeric ID and Add Alpha Suffix — How to have Sesame automatically add the next alphabetic suffix (A, B, C, etc.) to a sequential job or ID number.

  • Export Your Data with a Click — Got a recurring export? Automate it!

  • Work Around Initial Value Issue — If your initial value is a telephone area code, you can make the cursor land in the fourth character position by default, ready for you to type the rest of the number.

  • Add Space in the Middle of a Form — A little-known technique that lets you create some vertical space anywhere in the form without having to select and drag all the lower fields down.

  • Merge 'Last' Entries from Multiple Lineitems — Make sure your merge letter uses just the most recent entries in a lineitems field array.

  • Word Loses Link to Sesame Merge Data File — If you've ever had a WordMerge doc forget where its merge data file is, help is here with this inventive way to  hardcode the link right into the doc.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Quick, Compact Extended Notes View — If you're cramped for space on your form and need to keep multi-line notes fields to a minimum size, here's way to give users easy access to all the notes without having to fumble around in the smallish fields.


June 2012 issue summary. . . [order code JUN 12]

Beyond Bound Popup Forms
Starting with Erika Frankel's trailblazing "Bound Popup Forms" technique in the March 2012 issue, we take it to another level to simplify a tough recurring data entry task. Our advanced detached popup boasts a table view subform with quasi checkboxes serving as a smart interactive worksheet that keeps the underlying database up to date.

Simplify Searches on a Complex Form
Is retrieving records too complicated? Should beginning users be expected to understand and remember to use ".." and "<" properly? How will they remember which fields to enter search criteria into for the best results? We look at three methods to simplify retrievals, including an innovative @FormAsDialog approach.

Improving Table Subform Functionality
You can’t just drop in a table subform and expect users to know how to work with it. "Managing Table View Subforms"  in the May 2007 issue offers a solution reflected in the sample CharityDonors application that comes with Sesame. But there's a glitch in it, which we've identified and fixed. Sample application included in this month's download file.


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Tickler Reports — How to have Sesame remind you when things are due.

  • Add PopupChoiceList to the Dropdown Updater — The April 2012 issue shows how to make combo box lists updatable on-the-fly in Sesame runtime. Now you can adapt the technique for popup choice lists, too.

  • Reconcile Local Changes to App on Server — After making design changes at your workstation, what's the best way to reconcile the Designer file to the application on the server? We give you three methods along with a few tips.

  • Change Report Design On-the-Fly — You can't update a programmed report column without opening that report in Designer. Or can you?

  • Conditional Element Highlighting — A couple of cool techniques for making fields needing attention stand out without having to resort to workflow-stopping field restrictions or @Trap programming.

  • Automated Drill Down (Decision Tree) Searching — Complex retrieves can benefit greatly with this "keep-it-simple-stupid" technique.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Create a Simple Follow-up Facility — Need to know when it's time to check on something? Here's a basic follow-up feature you can have up and running in no time.


July 2012 issue summary. . . [order code JUL 12]

Custom Header Text for Every Report Run
Enjoy complete header flexibility every time you run a report. Whether it's variable text you need, custom word spacing, unlimited report header lines, or adding boldface or underline, you can do it all with our surprisingly simple solution.

Sesame Startup Switches
Sesame developers routinely use the Sesame.ini file to tailor applications to users’ needs and preferences. But their toolbox isn't complete without the companion Sesame startup switches — 28 commands and subcommands that shape the way Sesame and Designer run. Sesame.ini or Startup Switch? Or both? With this overview you'll be in a better position to make the call.

Improving Table Subform Functionality II
A follow-up (with even more improvements) to last month's article on simplifying user interaction with Table View subforms. Sample application included in this month's download file.


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Popup Menu Misbehavior — A solution to the problem of a pop up menu continuing to pop up on tab pages even after you've dismissed it.

  • Rounding Money Values — Why money/number calculations in a report don't always round correctly and what you can do about it.

  • Add Line Numbers to Reports — No rocket science required.

  • Open Windows Explorer From Your Records — That's right. You don't have to go outside of Sesame to find and open files on your computer or network.

  • ZipCode Lookup Problem — Got a mix of five-digit Zips, ZIP+4 and Canadian postal codes to lookup? No problemo with our drop-in programming.

  • More on Dropdown Listings — A nifty technique that provides different lists for the same field depending on who's using the application.

  • Restrict Users from Entire Databases — You can tweak your application to put selected databases completely off limits to some users or groups. And they'll have no way to know what they're missing.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Dropdown Dementia Add-in for Similar LE's — If you have several combo boxes on a form that all need the same, updatable, default choice list, here's how to keep it simple. Sample application included in this month's download file.

  • Making Alternate Applications Distinctive — Whether it's a prototyping app that looks like the real one, or an app that archives previous years' records, you don't want your people unwittingly using it as the live application. We show you a few ways to ensure it doesn't happen.


August 2012 issue summary. . . [order code AUG 12]

Build an Employee Time Clock
Find out how to design a simple, easy-to-use clock-in / clock-out database for employees that not only tells you who's in the office and who's not at any given time, but generates an export file that you can hand off to your payroll department or outside payroll service. Sample application included in this month's download file.

'Trust But Verify' — Sesame Style
You're proud of the application you designed. But how do you know your reports are being used or information is being properly entered? Who’s doing what and when? Are some important parts of the app being underutilized? Should you just trust that that your people are taking full advantage of the application? Or should you verify? Here's how one company manager uses the application itself to tell him how his people are using it.


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Design Changes/Reconciling — A Mini-Primer — If more than one person will be working on the application design, here's where things can quickly go south if you don't have sensible checks in place.

  • Exclude Certain Days Every Month — A reader needs to retrieve records where a particular date falls on any day of the month except the 10th and 25th.

  • Page Breaks in Reports — Are your reports still not properly page-breaking in browser Preview mode or when you print them? Here's what you're probably missing.

  • Keep Changing Values Out of Programming — In their Q&A databases, people often included rates like sales tax right in the database programming calculations. When the rates changed, they changed the programming. Here's why that's a bad idea (particularly in Sesame) and what a more sensible approach would look like. 

  • Quick 'n' Dirty Yet Good Lookin' Forms — You don't have to be a graphics designer to make your forms easy on the eyes and easy to use.

  • Copy Existing Records to Create New Ones — A simple two-step approach that copies your records for you.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Centering Report Columns — You'll search in vain for a Center Align Text option in Report Designer. So just how do you tell Sesame to center the data in a report column?


September 2012 issue summary. . . [order code SEP 12]

Create Custom Popup Picklists
Sesame offers several stock picklist types. The thing is, none of them allows any customization. You can’t tweak their look, specify a preferred default height and width, or use different fonts or font sizes or text and background colors. If you’d like to have some control over the look of your picklists like you do over your forms, the fusion of two Sesame features can do the trick. Sample application included in this month's download file.

Build an Employee Time Clock, Part 2
Builds on last month's article of the same name. In this follow-up, we simplify the time clock from a user interaction standpoint while beefing it up to allow for working time periods that cross midnight into the following day. Sample application included in this month's download file.

Programs that Run Themselves
Sesame programming is almost exclusively event based. Almost. Event programs are triggered by user interaction with the application. But there's another type of programming you can set to run quietly in the background on a timer that you control. This can come in handy for a variety of purposes, such as periodically displaying an up-to-the- minute status or tickler report.


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Records Not Missing, Just Misplaced — The new records were there for sure, but now they're not. How can this happen?

  • Cryptic Sesame 'Socket' Message — What it means and what you should do if you ever see this weird error message.

  • Hide Tab Pages in Certain Records — Need to hide a large number of fields from specific users, in certain records, or under certain conditions, here's the easy way.

  • Mask Credit Card Numbers When Printing Forms — A reader needs an easy way to print just the last four digits of the card number when printing counter receipts via Sesame's built-in Print Form command.

  • Get Version 2.5.3 Update — A rapid-fire rundown of some of the new features and fixes in the latest maintenance release.

  • Create New Copies of DBs with Empty Records — A reader asks for an easy way to copy his application and have certain databases within it cleared of all records.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Q&A-Like Field Restrictions — The big difference between how Q&A and Sesame deal with unmet field restrictions is that Q&A flags them when you leave the field and Sesame doesn't flag them until you leave the record. Pay as you go vs. bill me later. If you're partial to the former, you'll want to check this out.


October 2012 issue summary. . . [order code OCT 12]

Q&A for Windows-Style Freeform Reports
Well, the title might be stretching it a bit. But for some types of common Q&A freeform reports — such as those that print multiple records per page in a custom form-like layout — we show how to get the same output with Sesame and WordMerge.

Avoid the XLookup Trap
There's an XLookup programming technique common to many Q&A databases that could botch your Sesame data. We describe the issues along with the options you have to prevent inadvertent XLookups from wrecking your records. Sample application included in this month's download file.

A Better Table View Subform Editor
This could well be the ultimate subform editor. Table subforms can be tricky to use. And they're subject to user errors and omissions that can impact data. If you'd like to really simplify subform data entry and protect your information, check out this advanced subform editor add-on. Sample application included in this month's download file.


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Open Reports Automatically in Excel — Sesame reports are HTML under the hood. Excel likes HTML. This clever technique enables you to have your reports automatically display in Excel instead of your browser.

  • Bind Multiple Elements to the Same Field — A reader has fields to display the customer's name on each of his tab pages, and wants those fields all auto-filled as soon as any one of them is filled. Easily done. No programming need.

  • Use Auto-Generated Lineitems Database for Reports — A database design might not lend itself to the kinds of reports needed. One solution is an out-of-sight-out-of-mind auto-filled "shadow" database that does.

  • Using DropBox with Sesame — DropBox is a popular could-based file sharing and synchronization service.  We show how to "integrate" it with Sesame so that snapshots with handheld devices are immediately available to drop into database records.

  • Avoid 'Losing' Record Numbers — It's an old problem. In a shared application, when exactly do you trigger @Number? — knowing that the number can't be reused even if you abandon the record. If you can't afford to lose an @Number, this trick's for you.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Add Special-Use Labels to Your Forms — Got fields that don't show up in Designer because they're borderless and colored the same as the form. Here's how to avoid tripping over them or accidentally moving, reformatting or deleting them.


November 2012 issue summary. . . [order code NOV 12]

WordMerge for Lineitems Subforms
WordMerge doesn't do subforms. But over the years, enterprising Inside Sesame readers have cooked up clever ways to fill that gap. We recently cooked up an even easier way —designed for use with databases containing a table subform. Sample application included in this month's download file.

Custom Report Page Footers
A Sesame report can't print a page footer (or page header) because it has no way to know where the page breaks will occur. Only your browser knows that. But if you absolutely must have a custom page footer in a report — and you don't mind engaging in a little risky business — we've got a way to do it.

Sesame Likes Windows 8
Our first foray into installing and running Sesame in the latest Microsoft O/S. Do we like Windows 8? Not yet. Do we like how Sesame runs in it. Oh yeah.


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Keyword XLookup Solutions —  Lookups to keyword fields not working? Here's why. Sample application included in this month's download file.

  • WordMerge Dropping Characters — WordMerge will throw up a warning screen when it encounters certain character combinations, then delete them from the merge data file. We'll show you how to deal with this.

  • Easy Dropdown List Redo — A reader wants to know how to add multiple entries to a keyword field using the DropDown Updater featured in the April 2012 issue.

  • Use Visibility to Control Data Entry — Here's an elegant way to keep users from entering data in the wrong set of fields.

  • XLookup Error Resolved — Another type of lookup that works in Q&A but not in Sesame — until now.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Print Summary Data in Report Header — How to get a calculated total to print in a report's header.

  • Is Sesame Running? — A little batch file that can tell you if Sesame is running on a workstation or server.


December 2012 issue summary. . . [order code DEC 12]

Simplify Access to Application Settings
An application start-up form isn't just for easy access to databases, it can also serve as a control panel for setting/adjusting semi-static values, lists and settings used throughout an app. We show you a few gizmos you can add to a startup form to make any application easier to maintain.

Planning a Sesame Application — Look Before You Leap
A building needs a detailed blueprint. The location of stairs and hallways must be identified before a nail is hammered or a foundation poured. Entrances, the number of rooms and their basic purpose must all be pre-determined, along with electric outlets, plumbing and ductwork. In short, the basic look and feel of a structure needs to be worked out in advance — just like a database application does.


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Keyword XLookup Failure Correction —  An update to last month's report on this issue.

  • Change Value in Read-Only Field — The only way to manually update a read-only field. It's easy, but not exactly simple.

  • Hide Private Records — We're not talking about hiding private fields here, but entire records. This comprehensive approach covers all the bases, giving you a way to keep selected records off limits to all except authorized personnel.

  • Month Date Math and Other Date Issues — Need to calculate the ending month and year of a subscription that starts today and extends to X number of monthly issues? You can always count on your fingers, but this handy program will save you the trouble. Sample application included in this month's download file.

  • Sesame and Encryption — Need more security? Here's an excellent little primer on the types of data encryption/security you should take into account.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Popup Picklists and Sequential Status Codes — For databases that track the progress of something through updatable status codes, here's where a multi-part status instead of a single code makes more sense.

  • Is Sesame Running? Revisited — A revised batch file that can tell you how many copies of Sesame are running on a workstation or server.