This chapter introduces basic database concepts, including the following sections:
What is a Database?
Managing Database Records
Protecting Your Database
See “Designing a Form,” for detailed information on defining fields in a form so that all your records contain the proper information.
See “Using Calculations,” for detailed information on using calculations. Calculations automate data entry and reduce potential user errors.
A database is a collection of information stored as individual records. Each record uses the same form design but can contain different information in its fields.
iDocs automatically creates a database when you scan in or import a form. As soon as you fill in the form, it becomes the first record in a new database. Any user of this database can create a new, blank form using the record as a template and then filling in new information to create another record. This makes it possible to store a large amount of similar information and retrieve it quickly and easily.
This section tells you how to create a database of records and manage its information. It contains the following topics:
The form you open or scan in becomes the first record of a new database as soon as you fill in a field. You can then create new records with the same layout and fields and fill them with different information. See “iDocs Procedures,” if you do not know how to open or scan in a form.
For step-by-step instructions on creating a database and performing basic functions, see the online tutorials.
As long as you have a form open and fill at least one field in the current record, you can create new records.
You cannot create a new record if data protection is turned on. See “ Protecting Your Database” for more information.
To create a new record:
iDocs cannot create a new record until you fill at least one field in an empty form. A form with fields filled only by automatic calculations (such as a date field) is still considered empty by iDocs. You must fill at least one field manually before you can create a new record.
You can duplicate any record in a database as long as it has information entered in at least one field. This is useful if you want to create records that will contain much of the same information.
A form with fields filled only by automatic calculations (such as a date field) is still considered empty by iDocs. You must fill at least one field manually before you can create a new record.
You cannot duplicate a record if data protection is turned on. See “ Protecting Your Database” for more information.
To duplicate a record:
To change an entry in a filled field, tab to a field or drag your cursor over the entry to highlight it and then type a new entry.
Once you have multiple records, use the Record buttons in the fill toolbar or the commands in the Records menu to move through a database.
Click the Previous Record button or choose Go To in the Records menu and Previous in its drop-down menu to move to the record that is before the one you are viewing. If you are viewing record 3, for example, the previous record is record 2.
To move to another record:
Click the Next Record button or choose Go To in the Records menu and Next in its drop-down menu to move to the record that is after the one you are viewing. If you are viewing record 3, for example, the next record is record 4.
A database can contain a tremendous amount of information. If you had to search manually through hundreds of records in your database to find a particular record, it could take hours. A iDocs search, however, can retrieve records with the information that you need in seconds.
These retrieved records are called a found set. You can print, mail, or export the found set if you wish.
To search for information:
To simplify searches, give each field a more descriptive name. Otherwise, you will have fields named FillText1, FillText2, and so forth, making it difficult to determine which fields contain what information. “Defining Objects on a Form” for detailed information.
Be careful when selecting contains as one of your conditions. In a search for the value male, for example, your search would include any records that contained the word male. It would, therefore, also include records for female.
The Value text box is disabled if this is selected.
iDocs searches for and retrieves all records that contain the information you specified in the Search dialog box.
Under the fill toolbar, iDocs displays the search information and number of records in the found set. If you need to narrow the search further, choose Search… again.
You might, for example, want to search the Franich & Halsey record set for invoices from a specific month. You can search each new subset of records as many times as you need to find the specific information you want. iDocs maintains the current found set if it retrieves no records during a search.
You can sort records in iDocs in ascending, descending, or original order entry. This is useful for many situations. If you wanted to export mailing information, for example, you could sort records by postal code to reduce bulk mailing costs. Or, you might want to sort invoices by date to find the most delinquent accounts.
You can print, mail, or export this information in the order in which it is sorted.
To sort records:
To make sorting as easy as possible, give each field a unique name after it is created. Otherwise, you could have fields named FillText1, FillText2, and so forth, making it difficult to figure out which fields contain what information. See “ Defining Objects on a Form” for detailed information.
Recalculating records applies any new or changed calculations to selected records in a database. Until you use the Recalculate… command, new or changed calculations apply only to new records.
See “Using Calculations,” for detailed information on creating calculations.
This command reapplies all existing calculations to the selected records. You may not always want this to happen.
For example, suppose you changed the mileage calculation in an expense form to reflect the latest rate. All new records would use the new calculation and reflect this rate. You do not want older records to use the new calculation because the original rate was correct at the time.
If you recalculated all records after adding the new calculation to the expense form, the mileage rates on your old records would also change. They would then be incorrect. To prevent this, you could search the records for those records newer than the date that you changed the mileage calculation, and apply the new calculation only to the newer records.
See “ Searching Your Database” for information on searching.
You cannot recalculate records if data protection is turned on. See “ Protecting Your Database” for information.
To recalculate records:
This section describes how to delete one or more records in a database. Use this command to get rid of old, unwanted, or duplicate records.
You can export information from a record first if you want to delete a record but save its data. See “ Exporting Information” for instructions.
You cannot delete a record if data protection is turned on. See “ Protecting Your Database” for information.
To delete the current record:
To delete all records:
To delete a found set of records:
You refresh records to see if records have been updated. You can refresh records in a form that is currently open. This option is available only in fill view and when the form has sharing properties.
For more information about how to create a form with sharing properties, see “ Setting Attributes for a Form”.
To refresh a record or records:
You can save your current record anytime during the filling-out process. This option is useful when you are filling out long forms. You do not need to finish filling out a form before you can save a record of it. Records are automatically saved when you move from record to record.
To save a record:
This section explains the benefits of exporting information, how to prepare for export, and how to export information from an open iDocs form.
See “ Importing Information” for information on how to import information into a database.
The Benefits of Exporting Information
Export information from records to:
Preparing for Export
During import, you will link field names in the exported data file to field names in the import database. This tells iDocs where to place the field information. If possible, try to:
This makes it easier to figure out which information will go in which fields when you link the fields on import.
For example, suppose you export information in the fields Customer, Title, and Product, in that order. You have the same field information in the import database, but the fields are named What Bought, Name, and Position, in that order. You could link CustomerName/TitlePosition/ProductWhat Bought easily but importing hundreds of fields with different names and field order would be difficult and time-consuming.
See “Designing a Form,” for information on naming and reordering fields.
To export information:
All the fields in your currently open database appear in the Fields in list box.
Otherwise, iDocs exports all records by default.
Installed ODBC database drivers appear in the Available Data Sources list box when you select ODBC Database in the Export To drop-down list. Depending on your database driver, you can export up to 255 fields at a time.
To export your data to an available data source:
This section explains how to use iDocs Data files to open shared forms and how to set up a shared form location. A shared form is one other users can access.
When you export iDocs data from a form, the form’s file name is stored inside the Data file. iDocs uses the file name information as well as pathway information in the Options dialog box to locate and open a copy of the original form. The form automatically imports information from the Data file. This is useful for sharing data, especially if you want to send another user just part of a database.
To set up the shared form location:
All iDocs users must type the same pathway in the Options dialog box to use shared forms in that location.
To export the data:
To use a iDocs Data file to open a shared form:
A copy of the shared iDocs Form from which the iDocs Data file was exported opens. iDocs automatically imports the information in the iDocs Data file into the form.
This section explains how to import field data (information) into a iDocs database from another database source. You can import data from four sources:
Data consists of information entered in fields, such as text, check marks, and calculations. Importing data saves you the time of entering the same data manually and allows you to share data with other database users.
You must first export data from another database in order to import it into iDocs. See “ Exporting Information” for information. See your database documentation if you are exporting from another database program.
You cannot import information if data protection is turned on. See “ Protecting Your Database” for information.
To import field information:
The type of dialog box that appears next depends on the type of database file you have selected. The Select Import Files dialog box appears if you have selected iDocs Database.
A iDocs Data (OFD) file has a different icon than a Form (OFM) file. The first New Address file in the picture above is a data file.
It is important to protect information and form design in your database. This section describes how to use the iDocs protection options to protect both your data and form design from potential deletions or changes, as well as the benefits of using the iDocs Filler program.
If your iDocs database has an administrator, check with the administrator first before making any changes.
Many databases have multiple users. Until a user is familiar with database concepts and how to use iDocs, you may want to protect the information (data) entered in fill view from deletion or change.
To protect your data:
Users can export data or copy text in protected mode but cannot alter form information in any other way such as by filling fields or importing data.
Repeat steps 1–4 in the preceding instructions but deselect Protect Data in the Protection dialog box to turn off data protection.
The form layout you create in design view is used by every record in a database. Any change made in design view affects all records in fill view. This is important to remember if the database has multiple users.
Deleting a fillable field in design view deletes all information entered in that field in fill view.
To protect your form:
Users can change viewing preferences and use most basic file commands such as Print and Save but cannot format or redesign the form in any way.
Repeat steps 2–4 in the preceding instructions but deselect Protect Form in the Protection dialog box to turn off form protection.
iDocs Filler is an easy-to-use version of iDocs that contains a fill view but no design view. Therefore, iDocs Filler users can open and fill forms created in iDocs (without having iDocs installed on their systems), but cannot edit the form’s design in any way.
The data protection option, when set for a form in iDocs, is also enabled for that form in iDocs Filler. It cannot be turned off in iDocs Filler.
See “ Protecting Data” for detailed information on the data protection option.
iDocs Filler is included on your iDocs CD-ROM. However, before you can use iDocs Filler you must purchase an unlock code. To obtain an unlock code in the U.S. or to purchase additional versions of iDocs Filler, please call (800) 858-5544.