File Manager 22.2 Getting Started Manual

Contents > Chapter 7

Chapter 7: More Inquire and Print Options

Remember Inquire to File Entries? We discussed it briefly in Chapter 5, essentially showing how to get a quick report by accepting the defaults. You can, of course, do more with this option, by responding differently to the prompts.

If you remember, here’s how we selected the file and records we wanted to see:

Select OPTION: INQ <Enter>

Another one: HAYDN, JOSEPH
Another one: BACH <Enter>
Another one: <Enter>
Standard Captioned Output? Yes//

We took the default for that last question in Chapter 5, but what happens if we say NO?

Standard Captioned Output? Yes// No <Enter>
First print field:

Hey, look! We know that prompt! We can enter the name of a field to print, and Fileman responds by asking us “then print field,” just as it did in the Print File Entries option. Or, we can use a Print template; it will work here just as it works in Print File Entries. We can even use the [CAPTIONED template.

Why would we use the [CAPTIONED template instead of answering “yes” at the “standard captioned output” prompt? Answering “yes” at the prompt means not only accepting the template, but also accepting the default device (your computer screen). If you wanted to print out your report on a printer, you would need to say “no” at the prompt, even if you wanted the standard captioning.

Computed Fields

Once you have chosen your print fields (whether in Inquire or Print), you are asked about computed fields. Until now, we have just accepted the default of “N.” Here are your other options, and what they mean.

You can answer “Y” to see all computed fields. This might include totals, subtotals, averages, and so on.

You can answer “R” to see the record number. Every record in your file has a record number (also called an Internal Entry Number, or IEN), even though you normally do not see it. Fileman assigns these record numbers automatically every time a new record is entered. If you would like to see these record numbers, but not the other computed fields (averages and so on), this is the option to choose.

You can answer “B” to see both the computed fields and the record number assigned by Fileman.

What if you only want to see some of your computed fields, but not all of them? The place to handle that is not the “computed fields” prompt. You would want to select those fields at the “print fields” prompts, and create a Print template if you believe you’ll need to select the same fields again.

Choosing a Device

After choosing your print fields and answering the “computed fields” prompt, you are next asked for the output device. The default is your HOME device, which is usually your computer screen. You can, however, enter the name of a printer if you want to print out your report. You can also send your report to a spooler so that you can print more than one copy. If you type a question mark at the “device” prompt, you will see a list of possible devices. If you are not sure which one you are supposed to use, contact your supervisor or IT department.

One device that may be available to you is the Browser. The Browser is a different way of viewing the data on your screen, which gives you more options and more flexibility than the simple “print to screen” we’ve seen so far. We discuss the Browser in greater detail in Chapter 9.

More Sorting Options

We’ve learned the basics of sorting, but Fileman has a lot more sorting tools at your disposal. There are control characters you can enter at the “sort by” prompt to further refine your sort so that it comes out the way you want it. A complete list of these sort qualifiers can be found in Appendix A. For now, here are a few of the most commonly used.

As we mentioned, Fileman sorts in ascending order. However, you can specify a reverse sort—that is, sort in descending order. Before you get too excited about this, we should mention that it only works for numeric and date/time fields. To sort our COMPOSER file by birthdate, in descending order, we would enter:

Sort by: NAME// -BIRTHDATE <Enter>

The minus sign in front of the name of the field tells Fileman we want a reverse sort.

We can also select entries by criteria without sorting from them. In one of our examples from Chapter 6, we selected composers born after 1900. In order to do this, though, we sorted them by birthdate, so they were printed in birthdate order. We didn’t actually have to do that part; we could have simply extracted composers born after 1900, without re-ordering them by birthdate. To do that, we type an apostrophe before the field name, like this:

Sort by: NAME// 'BIRTHDATE <Enter>

Another handy qualifier lets you suppress the subheads when you don’t print the sort field. In our subhead example from Chapter 6, our subheads were reasonably helpful, dividing composers into eras. But what if we’d tried to sort by birthdate without printing the BIRTHDATE field? We’d end up with something like this:

COMPOSER   NOV 20, 2012   08:39   PAGE 1
  BIRTHDATE: FEBRUARY 17, 1653    
  BIRTHDATE: MAY 2, 1660    
  BIRTHDATE: MARCH 4, 1678    

Yuck. Those subheads aren’t helpful at all. Fortunately, we can tell Fileman not to print them, by putting an @ before our field name, like this:

Sort by: NAME// @BIRTHDATE <Enter>

Now, Fileman will not print subheads, even if we don’t choose BIRTHDATE as a print field.

These three examples are among the more popular sort qualifiers, but they are not the only ones. Appendix A gives you a complete list.

Just as there are special sort qualifier characters, there are similar print qualifiers. A complete list of print qualifiers can be found in Appendix A. For now, here are some of the most commonly used.

To format your report, you can specify where you would like a particular field to begin. For example, you could enter:

First print field: NAME <Enter>
Then print field: ERA;C20 <Enter>
Then print field: BIRTHDATE;C-15 <Enter>
Then print field: <Enter>

These commands are asking Fileman to print the ERA field starting 20 columns from the left margin, and to print the BIRTHDATE field 15 columns from the right margin. The “;C” after the field name tells Fileman we want to designate a column. We follow that with a positive integer to count from the left, or a negative integer to count from the right.

In this example, what would Fileman do if the NAME field for a particular record was more than 20 characters long? It would print out the entire NAME, then print the ERA and BIRTHDATE for that composer on the next line down. That’s probably not what we want.

You can specify that Fileman should cut off, or truncate, a field value at a specific length. That would look like this:

First print field: NAME;L18 <Enter>
Then print field: ERA;C20 <Enter>
Then print field: BIRTHDATE;C-15 <Enter>
Then print field: <Enter>

The “;L” after NAME specifies that the NAME field should be left-justified. Of course, NAME is a free-text field, which is going to be left-justified by default. However, we can also enter the maximum number of characters we want to see. In this case, we’re asking Fileman to cut off the name after the first 18 characters, which should give us a nice two-column cushion before the ERA field begins.

You can also use this command to left-justify fields that are normally aligned differently, such as numeric fields. You must always enter a number after the “;L” to tell Fileman the size of the field you want to see.

If one of the fields you want has kind of an awkward name, you can specify a different field label on the printout. Here is how you would do that:

First print field: NAME <Enter>
Then print field: BIRTHDATE;”Date_of_Birth” <Enter>
Then print field: BIRTHPLACE;”Place of Birth” <Enter>
Then print field: <Enter>

The specified label, enclosed in quotation marks, is what Fileman will put in the header, instead of the field name. Notice how we used underscores in “Date_of_Birth;” this ensures that the label will be printed on one line and will not wrap.

Please see Appendix A for a complete list of print qualifiers.

Editing Templates

Each time you retrieve a template, whether for printing or sorting, Fileman asks if you want to edit the template. If you answer “yes,” Fileman first asks about the name of the template:

Sort by: NAME// [PRACTICE SORT <Enter>
  (Nov 26, 2012@13:43) User #XX File #YYY
Want to edit 'PRACTICE SORT' template? YES// <Enter>

If you press Return here, you accept the default and keep the template name the way it is. You can also enter an @ at this prompt to delete your template altogether.

If you type in a different name, you will be changing the name of your template; the old name will no longer be used. For example, you could enter:

Want to edit 'PRACTICE SORT' template? YES// <Enter>

If you did this, then when you were finished editing, you would have a Sort template named DEMO SORT, but you would no longer have one named PRACTICE SORT. If you asked Fileman to use your PRACTICE SORT template, you would get an error because it would no longer exist under that name.

For this example, let’s keep our template name the way it is.

Sort by: NAME// [PRACTICE SORT <Enter>
  (Nov 26, 2012@13:43) User #XX File #YYY
Want to edit 'PRACTICE SORT' template? YES// <Enter>
Name: PRACTICE SORT// <Enter>
Read access: <Enter>
Write access: <Enter>

What’s that about? Read access? Write access?

You can use these prompts to allow some of your co-workers to access your templates. There are several options here, some of which depend on what kind of access you yourself have. For now, we’ll just accept the defaults. More information on this feature can be found in the Fileman Advanced User Manual.

Next, Fileman brings up the fields you selected, one at a time. (Again, this applies to both print and sort templates.)

Sort by: ERA// <Enter>
Start with ERA: FIRST// <Enter>
  Within ERA, sort by: NAME//

You can change any of these parameters, and Fileman will save your changes when you are done.

First print field: NAME// <Enter>
Then print field: ERA// <Enter>
Then print field: BIRTHDATE// ^BIRTHPLACE <Enter>
Then print field: BIRTHDATE// <Enter>

When we use the caret with BIRTHPLACE, Fileman inserts that field before the BIRTHDATE field, and keeps the BIRTHDATE field as the default for the next field to print. By contrast, if we didn’t use the caret, we would see this:

First print field: NAME// <Enter>
Then print field: ERA// <Enter>
Then print field: BIRTHDATE// BIRTHPLACE <Enter>
Then print field:

We’d have to type BIRTHDATE in the last field. In this example, it wouldn’t be a big deal. If, however, you were trying to insert a print field in, say, the second position when you had five more fields to all those fields would get a little tedious. Using the caret to insert a field can save you time.

Once you have finished updating your fields, Fileman gives you another prompt:

Store in SORT Template:

There is no default answer here, for reasons we’ll explain in a moment. You can, however, use spacebar recall to bring up the name of your template, or the new name of your template, if you changed it at the “Name” prompt. Alternatively, you can type a different name for your template. Typing a new template name here works much like the “save as” option in many commercial software packages. You will have a new template with the new name, but your old template will still be there.

Creating a Temporary Edit

You can edit a Sort or Print template, and use the template one time, without saving the changes. You might want to do this if you have a one-time need to create or print a report that is similar to a template you have saved, but would require a few changes.

To do this, enter “yes” at the “want to edit?” prompt. At the “Name” prompt, keep the template name the way it is. Then make whatever changes to the fields you need in order to create your one-time report.

After you finish with the fields, you will see the “store in SORT template” prompt. Press Return here without entering any information. This is how you tell Fileman, “actually, don’t save my changes; just use them this one time but keep my template the way it was.”

This feature is why there is no default at the “store in” prompt. If there were a default, you wouldn’t have the option of pressing Return to not save your changes; Return would instead accept the default answer.

Sharing Templates

Let’s suppose your department needed to produce a weekly report. Let’s also suppose that the VISTA packages your department is using don’t allow your users to generate that report.

So, you go backstage in Fileman, using your super-user access, and you create Sort and Print templates that will pull the information you need, format it the way you want, and print it out with custom headings and footers. Your report is a thing of beauty.

Of course, you’re the only one who can use the darned thing! What you want now is to make your templates available to other users. And not just super-users; you want the regular users in your department to be able to generate this report whenever they need to, using your templates. Is there a way for you to do this?

Not exactly. There isn’t a way you can do this; however, somebody with programmer access can do it pretty easily. Once you have your templates the way you want them, you can ask someone from your IT department to create a new option for your users, which uses your templates to generate the report that you need. Even if your IT department is pretty busy (and most of them are), this should be about a 15-minute job.

Creating custom reports is one of the ways you can help your team make the most of VISTA.