Getting the Most from Lantica's Sesame Database Manager
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . November 19, 2017  5:57 pm. 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.
 

Ordering Back Issues...
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/February 2015 issue summary. . . [order code JAN 15]

Whodunit?— Build a Pretty Good User Changes Log
More companies these days want to know if Sesame can track changes to their database records. (“Where’s the switch for that?”) So when bad data turns up, the what, when and who can be traced back. The problem has always been that tracking changes to records can add enough overhead to slow users down. Until Now, that is. We make change logging easy and fun.

Create a Custom Autocomplete Add-in
Sesame's Autocomplete feature works pretty well, but for many does have a sticking point or two. Well, why not just build your own autocomplete system and make it more powerful — even picklist-driven to optionally give you choices when exact or partial matches are what you're after? One enterprising Sesame developer did and we think you'll find it rather extraordinary.

Custom Table View Column Headers
Ever wished you could create custom column headings at the tops of your Table Views? Now you can. And it's pretty easy once you know the trick.

'When Speed Matters' Revisited — Stealth Mode
Last month we slashed a multi-stage 10-minute procedure down to 30 seconds by using saved form specs in place of certain XResultSet commands. Since then we discovered something you probably didn't know — we call it stealth mode. It's a way to run saved specs in forms from elsewhere, without the forms themselves ever showing. So a programmed procedure that includes running some form specs can be started and finish at a main menu without the screen ever changing.

Trap Potentially Duplicate Records Across Multiple Fields
In some types of databases, the same data values in the same fields in more than one record might indicate a duplicate record. Sesame's Unique feature is fine for a single field, but you might need a broader definition of what constitutes a duplicate record.

Before Monday — A Date-Calculating Shortcut
For planning pickups and deliveries, a transportation company's scheduler needed some fancy date math in order to see the big picture on upcoming requirements. 


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Locked Application — Easy Unlock — The simple steps to unlock a Sesame application.

  • What Week of the Month Is It? — Think it's easy? Not so fast.

  • Alternate Form Auto-Print Bug — Programming to automatically print from another form can be problematic unless you're up to speed on this handy workaround.

  • Restrict Field/Value Lengths — Program a text field to permit no more than a specified number of characters.

  • Combine Report Columns  — Stacking fields just like you did in the old Q&A report designer — but even easier.

  • Copy a Record Like in Q&A — Simple and intuitive once you've done it.

  • More Tips on Tab Groups  — Three of the most common questions & answers on making tab groups look better and easier to navigate.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • How to Sort Word's Merge Fields List — You've probably been there — working on a merge doc with hundreds of fields on the list. If only you could see them in alphabetical order.

  • Graphic Command Buttons — Easy! Dress up those buttons with eye-catching graphical icons.

  • Beware of Sesame's Split Command — This handy programming tool parses delimited text files at lightning speed. But it can catch you out if you're not careful.

  • Don't Forget the Basics When Working With Multiple XResultSets — A common mistake discovered and corrected.

  • Use @FormFieldValue Wisely — Or "Why are the parent key values in my subrecords disappearing?"


March/April 2015 issue summary. . . [order code MAR 15]

'Looping’ With RunEntryOnInterval
(Or How to Get Website Data Into Your Database)
Websites often have a page where visitors can fill out and submit a form to indicate interest in a product or service, give feedback, sign up for something or the like. If your company has anything like this, you might have wondered if there's an easy way to capture that data into your database. What’s easier than automatic?

Dot Dot Add Mode Range Lookups
Former Q&Aers are right at home with Sesame’s compatible dot dot-style search syntax. But in Sesame, XLookup and @XResultSetSearch support it as well. Bridging the gap between Search/Update and Add Data, you can leverage the power of dot dot to generate helpful data entry picklists with ranges of matching lookup values.

Styling Static Text and Box Elements
Create some dazzling effects for box-type elements like static text, boxes, tabs, radio button groups, command buttons and list boxes.

Copy a Record with a Subform to Another Database
You might have a Quotes database and want to copy a record to your Orders database once the customer accepts. A clean and fast way to do this — particularly if some of the field names differ and both databases use similar subforms that require reparenting — is to do it under the hood with XResultSet.

Lengthy Table Subform Entries
Long data values — extended product descriptions or follow-up notes — can be a little awkward to work with in table view subforms:

  • Table subform fields are only one line high.

  • You have to limit the number and widths of the fields or the embedded subform won’t fit within the parent form’s width without requiring horizontal scrolling.

Our unique approach handles both issues — and then some.

Another WordMerge Mod?
We've had it with opening Word merge docs to a pageful of Error! MergeField not found in header record of data source. But what to do about it? Turns out that a one-line addition to the WordMerge program does the trick. Revised WordMerge program included in this month's download file.


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Restrict Certain Users from Doing Certain Things — We compare aspects of Q&A's security model with Sesame's, and give you some options for keeping certain operations off limit to everyone except you and your admin people.

  • Temporarily 'Unlock' Records — Good protection from personnel who are supposed to use the database just for follow-up calls or marketing. Sample application included in this month's download file.

  • Better Control Over WordMerge Docs — Storing your merge docs in folders grouped by database keeps users from trying to merge to the wrong doc.

  • Better Looking Form Section Titles — Using layers to make a static text box sit on top of a solid divider line instead of looking like it's impaled by it.

  • More Text Editor Tips  — In praise of one of the best layout elements in all of Sesame land. Bet you didn't know you could navigate a text editor field this way.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Find the Longest Values in a Field — Useful when you need to know how much info a merge field or report column might need to accommodate.

  • Positioning Things in WordMerge Docs — How to plant a merge field (like a Total field in the bottom right corner of the doc) where it'll stay put no matter what.

  • Secret Keys on the Startup Menu (Or 'Press F4 to Change Your Settings') — Enable a form to detect a particular keypress and do something nifty with it.

  • Hide Subforms on Sesame's Default Application Menu — In a budget migration, you might forego a custom startup menu. But you don't want subforms exposed.

  • Take Care With TrimString Behavioral anomalies that could leave you scratching your head or glaring at a locked-up application.

  • Automating a Complex 'Or' Search — Two Ways — You'll just have to read this to find out the kinds of search problems it solves.

  • Alternate Ways to Get an Element's Name — Three ways your program can identify and operate on a layout element by name.


May/June 2015 issue summary. . .[order code MAY 15]

Simple Sesame Search Support & Other Context-Sensitive Help
Picture a little Help button on a Sesame form. You click it and get a picklist of 20 available help topics from Searching and Sorting and Duplicating Records to Mass Updating, Printing Forms and Creating a Quick Report. You click on your topic of choice and up comes the Sesame User Guide to the first page of that topic. Add this powerful feature to any form in about 10 minutes. (Supporting files in this month's download file.)

Dynamic Attributes for Editable Elements
Everything there is to know about creating exceedingly cool look-and-feel effects for bound (data) form elements. This study starts with adding prominent visual cues on a busy form (highlighting the current field, for example) and opens the door all kinds of possibilities for improving the data entry experience.

'Servo' Database Solves Report Problem
There's an old adage about designing a database to its reports. This isn't always possible, particularly when multi-level subforms are in play. If you're still scratching your head after several days over a new report users are clamoring for, you might want to consider the 'servo' approach. They won't know you cheated.

Form Printing and Multiline Fields
Sesame's Print Form and @PrintAForm commands print a "screen shot" of what shows on the form. If the contents of a multiline field extend below it's visible text box, the printout will come up short. Our replacement technique works like Q&A's F2/F10 with Print Expanded Fields set to Yes — with a few enhancements.

Get Subform Names, Elements and Attributes On-the-Fly (Or How to Print Everything)
Can a program in a top-level (parent) form find the names of its subforms? Can it get the names of the elements in those subforms? What about their data types and other attributes? Where could any of this possibly be useful? Well, suppose you needed to print out everything. (Supporting files in this month's download file.)

User Changes Logging Revisited
We've updated our January/February 2015 article to include logging subform changes in an application like CharityDonors that comes with Sesame. We've also upgraded CharityDonors itself by further simplifying how subrecords are selected for editing. (Application included in this month's download file.)


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Popout Your Database Pics — Got smallish pictures in your records? Click a button to display them at full size.

  • How to Copy a Database — Sesame Designer doesn't offer a Copy Database option. But you can do it with one of these three methods.

  • Windows Update Warning Redux — One of the three Windows Updates options is practically guaranteed to play havoc with your network card and connection to Sesame Server.

  • Money to Text and Vice Versa — A reader absolutely must have fields that support both text and money entries and still work with math functions. (Sample app included in this month's download file.)

  • Special Field Expand Button  — This gizmo automatically expands overfilled fields without having to navigate to them and press F6.

  • Report Headers Not Printing on Every Page  — It's Google's Chrome.

  • New Phone Number Formatting  — Format a phone number field without a template — even when the number includes an extension. (Sample app included in this month's download file.)


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Precision Popups in Table View — No Combo Boxes in table view? Make that picklist appear precisely at the table view/table subform field you click on.

  • Find the Record With the Most Subrecords — Just for fun.

  • Centering the Whole Report — Make that report and its header come up already centered in the browser window.

  • Using @AsFormattedByLE in Reports — Yep. It works there, too.

  • Using Indirection with X-Commands Do big things with groups of sequentially-numbered fields with a lot less code.


July/August 2015 issue summary. . .[order code JUL 15]

Extra-Sesame Perception — A Brief How-To on QR Codes
QR or Quick Response barcodes are all the rage these days. How would you go about creating a QR code from the information in a database record? Can you link the QR code to the record so it’s printable via Print Form or a report or merge doc? What about getting the information from a QR code into a database record? (Sample application in this month's download file.)

(Hyper)Link External Files & Websites to Your Records
A reader wants to know how to design a widget that will enable him to add and run  live links to external files and websites in his database records. We go the extra mile on this one. (Sample application in this month's download file.)

Quicker Reports
Sesame has a Quick Reports feature. But can you do quicker for the regular Designer reports already in the system? Is there a faster, easier way to run reports, particularly those used repeatedly throughout the day? How does click / F10 from the application’s main menu sound? We redefine 'normal' when it comes to Sesame report running.

Make Normal Sesame Reports Go to Excel
When running a report in the usual/default way, Sesame doesn't reveal the report’s filename until it appears in the browser. There’s no easy way to get that filename beforehand — but you can get it in a roundabout way. And it can prove useful.


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Where Are My Manuals? — Good question. They're right there where the Sesame installer put 'em.

  • Derived Columns in Reports (and a Secret) — A brief overview (along with a caveat) on adding calculated columns to a Sesame report.

  • Move Sesame's License File — Suddenly you've lost all but one of your licenses.

  • Translated Reports and Saved Specs — What to do when a report pulls up the wrong records.

  • Quick Reports Redux  — A terrific little tutorial on creating a Sesame Quick Report.

  • Mange On-Form-Change Programming  — Avoid problems when migrating a Q&A database loaded with OFC programming.

  • Check for Duplicate Entries in Imported Records  — Tricky but doable.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Power-Sort Table View Subrecords — Need to run a table subform sort from a button or picklist on the parent form? You’ll save yourself trouble by working around what you might expect to be the way to do it.

  • When Was the Server Last Rebooted? — Try NET STATISTICS SERVER

  • Quick 'n' Easy Dropdown Updater — Want to let users update their own Combo Box lists? Here's how

  • Drag 'n' Drop Filepaths into Your Database Records  — It’s easy. Easier than Sesame’s @LocalFileDialog or @ServerFileDialog and takes just a minute to try.

  • When You Need to Sync a WordMerge Data File — Adding lookups to a WordMerge program? This debugging tool could come in handy.


September/October 2015 issue summary. . .[order code SEP 15]

Artful Archiving
"Thanks for doing the archiving. Our Sesame system is blazing fast now," said the plant manager. With such a hefty application (21 databases, 220MB, 20 years of accumulated data), they were looking for ways to make it as responsive as possible for users accustomed to Q&A’s agility. How to streamline the app without sacrificing any databases or records? We offer a mostly generic archiving routine for multi-database apps.

Record-Locking in an Unsecured App
You don't need application security to enable an administrator to lock and unlock records in a database. In this case, admin people needed a fast and easy way to make quotes/proposals temporarily change-proof (except by them) while reviewing them for pricing and shipping costs.

Puff, the Magic Dropdown
How to streamline invoicing in a system with a 260,000-record Parts database? On top of that, after 25 years in a DOS-era data manager, users were accustomed to strictly keyboard navigation and data entry — and wanted it kept that way. A tricked-out combo box offered a productive solution.

Storing BIG NOTES Outside Sesame
Some early DOS databases stored freeform notes/comments in external text files to conserve memory, which was hard to come by in those days. Today’s databases don’t have the same restrictions, but all the data still has to come across the network. Since lengthy notes can easily account for the bulk of a record’s data, there might still be benefits to storing them outside.

Sesame Security — Make Read-Onlies More Readable
They were lovin' their new Sesame app. But some were having trouble reading the read-only records. Here's what we did to retain all the protection of read-onlies as set in Security while making them easier on the eyes.

F2 - Print
The most important thing in the company was its invoicing. And the lady who had been doing it all these years in DacEasy DOS was adamant about keyboard navigation and F-key printing. Who were we to argue?


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Windows 10 is Here — What's the impact on Sesame? Maybe more important, what's the impact on your data security?

  • Double-Duty Dropdowns — Yet another way to trick-out a Sesame Combo Box to meet a common data entry need.

  • Join Multiple Record Sets in One Database — Combining two similar Q&A databases into one in Sesame.

  • Migrating Old, Poorly-designed Databases — The Q&A databases were badly designed, but the info in them had to be retained at any cost. 

  • Importing External Data Into Existing Records  — Can't do that, you say? Don't give up so easily.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Reading Text Files Past the ^Z — This one stumped the developers. It took a regular genius to figure out where the problem was and how to get around it.

  • Standardize the Date Format in a Notes Field — Are the date formats in a multiline notes or comments field all over the map? Check out this clever way to convert them all to a consistent style in one go.

  • Print Reversed Text In a PrintBox — Draw attention to key sections of your invoices, billing statements or other PrintString-generated docs by printing white text on a black background.


November/December 2015 issue summary. . . [order code SEP 15]

Tweak Report Column Specs On-the-Fly
Sesame's runtime environment doesn’t give users a way to temporarily change a report’s column specs. Or does it? A usability issue came up recently after migrating a Q&A system. The company hadn’t mentioned the offbeat way some of their reports were run, and we hadn’t thought to ask. Time to get inventive.

Translations and the Sesame Log
(Or The Big Q&A Conversion Hump)
When Sesame's translator turns up a boatload of "cannot be retained" data errors, how best to handle the situation? Any number of thorny issues could be involved. Decisions to make. Here are a few things that might help.

LogIt — the WriteLn Alternative
Debugging programming with the Sesame Slate (WriteLn window) might not be enough when complex events are in motion and multiple forms are involved. It has the unwelcome side-effect of interfering with events. Here's a handy alternative courtesy of Lantica Tech Support. Sample application included in this month's download file.

Colorize Those Report Column Headings
Why settle for old black-on-white report column headings when you can have white on black (or blue, red or green)? A solid background color adds an eye-pleasing break between the report header and data, and a touch of class to the production. Try this one-minute hack and see if you don't agree.

Simple Service Reminder Alerts
The boss needed an easy and effective way to draw the service schedulers' attention to notes from the last service call that require things to be checked or done for the customer on the next service call — which might be months away.


_______________You ask. We answer.

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  • Build a Retrieve Spec Using an Excel File — A company periodically receives an Excel spreadsheet with updated prices from their parts supplier. How to get just the pertinent new data into the database?

  • Radio Button Alternatives  — Radio button groups are great for some things, not so much for others. Table view, for example. Here's a way to get radio-button like action by other means. Sample application included in this month's download file.

  • Backup Sesame App to a Thumb Drive — Convenient take-out service.

  • Open All Sales Records from a Customer's Record — Handy. And subform-free.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Get a Quick Count of Each Item in a Database — Need to find out how many instances of each unique entry there are in a database? Here’s a drop-in program that does it. Simply season the lookup parameters to taste.

  • Searching Yes/No Fields for Blank (or Not) — Sesame works a bit differently than Q&A (and what the User Guide says) here.

  • Calculating a Discount — Having a mental block? Try this.