Getting the Most from Lantica's Sesame Database Manager
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . September 21, 2020  5:40 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.
 

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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 2019 issue summary. . . [order code JAN19]

Streamlining WordMerge For Big Databases (and Other Tricks)
WordMerging in databases with an exceedingly large number of fields can have unintended consequences. Problems that might not be immediately apparent but might very well come back to bite. Fortunately, an easy tweak or two in the WordMerge program can protect against failures and dramatically improve mail-merge performance.

Exporting By Checkbox
A company needed a custom export solution ― a gizmo in the INVOICES database that enabled them  to browse invoices and selectively mark them for export for periodic focused snail mail promotions. The tricky part was preventing the same Bill-To company from winding up more than once in the export file.

Customizing the WordMerge Docs List
Documents can be excluded from the WordMerge Select Folder or Document picklist without having to remove them from the usual default C:\Sesame2\ Docs WordMerge docs folder. Or, the opposite — only the specified docs can be allowed to show on the picklist. All it takes is a little string array magic and knowing where in the WordMerge program to work it.

Tracking Groups of Related Dates
A company needed to track four critical dates. Not their own dates. Their vendors’ dates. The approach here can prove useful when (1) there are multiple date fields in a record related to one another in some way, (2) the dates require periodic updating, and (3) an easy way is needed to find records where one or more of the dates is approaching or has passed.

Hassle-Free Price Hiking
A company selling high-volume small-ticket products to the trade was looking for a way to simplify its price updating process. Prices on several hundred products needed to be upped a bit at year end. With 8 quantity pricing tiers per product, it promised to be an agonizing and error-prone exercise. In Q&A they had no choice but to do it manually. in Sesame, they were looking for some magic.

Exporting Potential Dups to Excel
Check out this handy click-'n'-go routine that scans a 50,000-record database for potential duplicate records (based on your custom criteria) and shows the results in Excel in under 20 seconds.


_______________You ask. We answer.


  • Translated Programming Not Working — Disaster struck when a company's Q&A Read-Only fields contained programming.

  • Translated Programming Not Working 2 — Revisiting the Auto-calc phenomenon.

  • No Main Form? — What happens exactly when Sesame translates a multi-form Q&A for Windows database?

  • Use Data from One Database as a Retrieve Spec in Another — Find the equipment, get the account numbers, retrieve the customer records with those accounts, and print a report. The only tricky part about this is working with two separate databases.

  • Double-Duty Search — an Any Restrictions search followed by a Search in Current Results was the only way to tackle this thorny problem.

  • Replacing a Sesame Client  — A user's computer dies. What's the easiest way Sesame-wise to get that user back in the game on his or her new box?

  • XLookup Data and Allow Changes — Correcting a couple of thorny issues when relying on a large zipcode lookup database to auto-fill fields.

  • Combine Multiple Database Translations — When it's possible to combine two databases into one for the sake of efficiency.


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Express Export to Excel ― Using a custom data export program instead of Sesame’s own export facilities, you can have the results automatically pop up in Microsoft Excel  with no additional steps or questions asked.

  • Is .doc Dying in WordMerge ― You're liable to get this error message one of these days. What to do about it when you do.

 

April 2019 issue summary. . . [order code APR19]

What's Up With That 'Save Current Record As HTML' Option?
It's been staring at us from the  Commands panel since day 1. There’s even a programmable @PrintAFormToHTML version in the Sesame Programming Guide. Never used either one? Us neither — until a need came up. Turns out there's a whole lot you can do with this feature. Portable database records are just one example. Get a preview here: Print Records to HTML

Lock Him Up!
Naturally, a security services company had tight security on its own database. The salesman was another story. Good at sales, but not so much with a database. The boss didn’t want him anywhere near it. So when sales-related notes needed to be added to a customer’s record —and the office gals got tired of doing it for him — a little Sesame magic made everybody happy.

Tweak a Fields Text Size On-the-Fly
An office equipment/IT services company had a large multiline field for Systems Engineer Notes at the bottom of their Q&A invoice form. The maximum text volume in Sesame's counterpart accommodated the same volume. The problem in both was that more than 19 lines triggered an unwanted page break in the invoice printing. We fixed this in a way that allowed even more notes in the field without any spillover.

A Database of Databases
A company worked its inventory system in Q&A by creating a new directory each year with a bunch of starting databases. Records were copied and moved between these annual  databases and new records added. Given Sesame’s “Q&A compatibility,” they expected to continue doing things the same way they always had. But 100+ databases to begin with and another 10 to 15 every year wouldn't do. Time to change the whole thing.


_______________You ask. We answer.


  • Custom Fixed-Length Export File — This one goes way beyond a normal export routine. Something only a government agency would love.

  • Import Bombs in Newly Translated App — The #1 reason why imports fail and how to remedy the situation.

  • Searching on Parts of Numbers — Unique record-numbering in a database calls for some expert know-how when portions of those numbers have special meaning.

  • Sesame Opens the Wrong Database — Certain kinds of backup routines done a certain way can leave users scratching their heads — or worse.

  • Sesame Looks Different on Identical PC's — What could account for that?

  • Command Menu Mishap?  — Seemingly out of the blue the bottom of the Sesame Commands Panel became unusable. How'd that happened and what fixed it?


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Easier Global Values Updates ― A simple method admin personnel can use to update Global Values in Sesame Runtime.

  • PDF995 and @SendMail It’s All In the Timing ― What can happen when sending an @SendMail email with an attached PDF file that hasn't been completely rendered.

  • Simple Soft Restrictions — There’s a gentler middle ground that’s easier to implement, less intrusive and genuinely effective for normally conscientious data entry personnel.

  • A Fresh Take on Initial Values  ― Sesame doesn’t have the behavioral equivalent of a Q&A Initial Values spec, though it comes close. We show how to smooth out the rough edges.

  • The Strange Case of the Missing Data ― Following a routine Reconcile, it looked like all the data in the database had disappeared. Where'd it go? 

 

July 2019 issue summary. . . [order code JUL19]

Natural or Relational Linking? ― Or Both?
When designing a relational parent/child database, it’s usually best to go with Sesame’s default natural or automatic linking to keep all the child (subform) records attached to their respective parent records. But it can pay dividends to add the rarer relational linking to the mix as well.

Label Sheets that Really Aren't ― A Trashy Tale
A county agency charged with overseeing trash collection printed out weekly lists of residents qualified for special services. But these weren't your everyday lists. Designed like mailing labels sheets, Sesame had to follow the exact same Q&A pattern to prevent any confusion during the transition.

Follow the Flashing Arrow
There are many ways to draw attention to something on a data entry form when conditions warrant ― making something change color, flash, pop up or move in a way that can’t escape notice. An old standalone Q&A database in a town’s building department came with handwritten instructions (taped to the computer monitor, no less) for running a particular report several times each day. All that would change in Sesame.

Everything on Tabs ― Except...
When using a tabbed interface on a Sesame form, it makes sense to place the primary or most often used search fields above the tab group where they will always be in view. Here's why.

Custom Letterhead on Reports
A special report required the city’s letterhead at the top of the first page only. They hadn’t been able to do that in Q&A except by putting a single sheet of letterhead paper into the printer tray prior to printing. In Sesame they wanted the report— letterhead and all — to print to plain paper. Sesame prints reports to the default browser. And browsers all have their quirks. Here's how we made all the major ones behave in the same predictable way.


_______________You ask. We answer.


  • Navigating Tabs — GoTo, ThrowFocus, GotoTabPage. What a mess we can get into when all we want is a navigation scheme that makes sense for recurring  tasks.

  • Where are My WordMerge Files? — The boss takes home a copy of the database on a portable drive each night and wonders why the WordMerge won't work.

  • Save Temporary Values for Later Use — When variables and the like need to persist during a Sesame session.

  • Moving Sesame to New Computers — A full rundown on how best to go about it.

  • Copy Sesame Reports Into Excel — Not that we haven't covered this ad nauseam over the years. But there are some differences in Windows 10 with Excel and the Microsoft Edge browser.

  • Totals-Only Quick Reports  — Can you? Options?


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today
 

  • Checkboxes as Unique ― A Different Behavior. The polar opposite of setting a normal data field to Unique. But you can make the difference work to your advantage.

  • Increase Report Break Spacing ― To create some additional vertical space between group breaks in a Sesame report, you might add another Group or two. But there's an easier way to get the same result.

  • Got Some ^J's in Your Data?Yuck! How did those get there? Make them go away!

  • Clarification on Save As HTML in Last Month’s Issue.

 


October 2019 issue summary. . .
[order code OCT19]

Copying Records to a 'Matching' Database?
What qualifies as a matching database and why would a company ever need one? Think workflow. From initial order entry to production to final invoicing, it was the way they had tracked their order processing for 25 years. Why mess with a good thing?

A Brief History of Money (Check Printing)
If you printed payroll or vendor checks from Q&A back in the day (maybe you still do), chances are you got the know-how from The Quick Answer newsletter. The January 1995 issue spelled it all out. The database design and programming that made it possible was rather complicated back then. These days it's pretty much a no-brainer.

PrintString() in a Grid Structure
Right-aligning a column of fields on a Sesame form, in Excel or a Word table is easy. But Sesame's PrintString doesn’t know or care how the fields and/or data values should align. It just prints them starting at the specified X and Y page coordinates. Right-alignment — particularly within a column of numbers — takes some doing.

Default   Right Align
$76.28
$866.49
$1,024.87
$89.25
$344.15
$10,923.19
  $76.28
$866.49
$1,024.87
$89.25
$344.15
$10,923.19

Big Range Lookup Solution
The primary databases for a landscaping and sprinkler system sales and service company were PROPERTY and JOBS. The PROPERTY database stores owner address and billing details along with information on the types and features of the various systems installed at that location. The JOBS database tracks system installation, repair and periodic maintenance. Both databases had to "talk" to each other in a big way.

@Numbers for All
A handy dandy little facility that enables you to check — and optionally reset — Sesame-style @Numbers for all database that use one. The gizmo resides on the main menu in this case and requires a password to use. We show all the components, programming, and typical usage should you care to assemble one of your own.
 


_______________You ask. We answer.

 

  • Create a Sorted, Drop-down, Multi-entry Field — A tall order, but you've  no doubt seen it in many variations on websites. In this case, though, the company needed to be able to select more than one U.S. state from a pop-up list of states.

  • Restrict List Not Working — Old Mr. Ampersand strikes again! How to work around him.

  • What Time Is It at the Customer's Site? — Not very productive to make a sales call to a prospect or customer at 6:00am his or her time. Can't Sesame tell us what time it is there when we pull up the record?

  • Sesame Sometimes Not Saving Data — A mystery. Think VOIP. Think IP. Think ports.

  • Sesame Exports Wrong Number of Records — Can't happen. . . Unless. . . Be mindful of where you're getting the data you paste into your fields.

  • Design Forms for Data Entry and Printing  — An alternate form or two can do wonders for your printing needs.

  • Get More from Your Lookup Tables  — An application with multiple databases might also have multiple lookup tables. Here's how to combine them into a single lookup table that all the databases can share. Very cool. 

 


_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Find Field Data Types with a Mass Update. Run this little one-record mass update to get a list of all the fields and their bound-to data types.

  • Translated Reports and Data Types ― Sesame's Translator  might occasionally fail to properly bind a report column to its correct data type. Here's a quick and easy fix.

  • Quick-Select All Elements in a Report Design — Do you really need to Shift-click on 20 report elements just to apply a different font or font size? Of course not.

  • WordMerge to No Records? Fix WordMerge so it doesn't try to run a merge in Search mode.

  • How to Output All Field Restrictions  ― Got lots of Restrictions in a database. This one-record Mass Update will list them all so you can decide what they're worth and how you want to invoke them in runtime.