Starting

Hereís how to handle databases by using Q&A versions 3 and 4 for DOS. (Version 5 resembles version 4. Versions 1, 1.1, and 2 resemble version 3.)

Prepare yourself

Before using Q&A to handle databases, practice using Q&A to handle word processing, by reading pages 178-182. For example, I assume youíve followed the instructions on page 178 about how to "Make Q&A act better".

The main menu

By following the instructions on page 178 about how to "Run Q&A", make the computer display this Q&A main menu:

Q&A MAIN MENU

F - File

R - Report

W - Write

A - Assistant

U - Utilities

X - Exit Q&A

If youíre using version 4 and have a mouse, youíll see a small red rectangle in the middle of the screen. Move that rectangle out of the way ó to the screenís top right corner ó by rolling the mouse toward your deskís back right corner.

The file menu

To make Q&A handle databases, choose "F - File" from the main menu by pressing the F key. (That works if you followed the instructions on page 172 about how to "Make Q&A act better". If you did not follow those instructions, you must press ENTER after pressing F ó and you must press ENTER after choosing any item from any menu.)

The screen shows the file menu. In version 4, it looks like this:

+─────────────────────────────────────┐

¶ FILE MENU │

├───────────────────┬─────────────────┤

│ D - Design file │ R - Remove │

│ A - Add data │ M - Mass update │

│ S - Search/update │ T - Post │

│ P - Print │ U - Utilities │

│ C - Copy │ │

└───────────────────┴─────────────────┘

(Version 3 lacks "T - Post" and "U - Utilities". You see "B - Backup" instead.)

Whenever youíre done filing, you should return to the main menu by pressing the Esc key several times. Then you can exit by pressing X. Thatís the only correct way to stop using Q&Aís database. Do not just turn off the power! If you turn off the power without pressing X first, you might wreck the data files you created.

Field commands

While using the filing part of Q&A, you can give these field commands:

Field command Keys to press

Add new records Ctrl F6

Calculate F8

Calculate mode Shift F8

Customize file Shift F9

Date Ctrl F5

Delete field/line Shift F4

Delete field/line end Ctrl F4

Delete record F3

Delete word F4

Ditto field F5

Ditto record Shift F5

Edit field F6

File menu Shift F10

Help F1

Macro Shift F2

Macro run Alt F2 just in version 4

Mask override Alt F4 just in version 4

Next record F10

Previous record F9

Print record F2

Print remaining records Ctrl F2

Reset @NUMBER Ctrl F8

Retrieve spec Alt F8 just in version 4

Search for records F7

Search options Ctrl F7

Table Alt F6

Table definition Shift F6

Time Alt F5

Undo edit Shift F7 just in version 4

Values permitted Alt F7 just in version 4

Put that chart (or a photocopy of it) next to the computer.

The rest of this chapter explains how to use the file menu and the field commands.

Design file

Hereís how to design a new file. From the file menu, choose "D - Design file" (by pressing D).

That makes the computer show the design menu. In version 4, it looks like this:

DESIGN MENU

D - Design a new file

R - Redesign a file

C - Customize a file

P - Program a file

S - Secure a file

A - Customize application

(In version 3, the bottom three choices are missing.)

Look back on page 148, at the sample file of students in the School of Life. Letís create that file and call it STUDENTS. To do that, press the D key (which chooses "D -Design a new file" from the menu), type "students", then press ENTER.

Type the form

Most of the screen will become blank. On the blank screen, type a form, which youíll fill in later. For example, if you want to store each studentís last name, first name, age, and class, plus comments, type this form:

Last name: First name:

Age: Class:

Comments:

Hereís how. Type the word "Last", then a space, then the word "name", then a colon. Move to the right (by holding down the right-arrow key or space bar or TAB key), then type the phrase "First name", then a colon. Press the ENTER key, and type the lines underneath.

That form creates five fields: last name, first name, age, class, and comments. Each field name ends with a colon.

When youíve finished typing the form, copy it onto the hard disk, by pressing the F10 key.

Examine the T screen

On the screen, youíll see the form you typed. The computer automatically puts a T in each field, so your screen looks like this:

Last name: T First name: T

Age: T Class: T

Comments: T

 

Move the cursor

The cursorís at the first T. To move the cursor around the screen, you can use the arrow keys.

To move the cursor faster, use the TAB key (which is next to the Q key). When you press the TAB key, the cursor moves to the next field.

For example, if the cursorís at the T for "Last name", and you press the TAB key, the cursor will move to the T for "First name". If you press the TAB key again, the cursor will move to the T for "Age".

Experiment! Try moving the cursor around the screen by using the TAB key.

Unfortunately, the TAB key is hard for your fingers to reach. To move the cursor more easily, tap the ENTER key instead. (While youíre manipulating a form, the ENTER key imitates the TAB key.)

So to move the cursor ahead to the next field, tap TAB or ENTER. To move back to the previous field, tap TAB (not ENTER) while holding down the Shift key.

Change T to N

Each T on the screen is a format code; it stands for "Text". If you want a field to contain a number instead of text, change that fieldís T to an N.

For example, since you want the personís "Age" to be a number, you must change Ageís T to N. To do that, move the cursor to the Ageís T (by pressing the TAB key), then type N.

You can type either N or n. The computer doesnít care about capitalization.

Also change Classís T to N, so your screen looks like this:

Last name: T First name: T

Age: N Class: N

Comments: T

That tells the computer that the personís age and class are Numbers, and everything else about the person consists of words and other general Text.

Use the N code just for numbers that are simple (such as 0, 7, 2150, .2, .09, and -31.8).

Use the T code for numbers that contain dashes (such as phone numbers) and for long numbers that can begin with 0 (such as ZIP codes). Use the T code for social security numbers, since they contain dashes and can begin with 0.

Finish

Press the F10 key. The computer will say GLOBAL FORMAT OPTIONS.

Press F10 again. Youíll see the file menu again.

Congratulations! Youíve created a STUDENTS database on your hard disk! That database consists of two files (STUDENTS.DTF and STUDENTS.IDX) in the QA subdirectory.

Add data

Youíve seen how to make the computer put a file called STUDENTS onto the disk. Although the file is organized so that each record will consist of five fields, the file doesnít contain any records yet, since it doesnít yet contain the names and data about any specific students.

To add the names of specific students and the data about them, choose "A - Add data" from the file menu (by pressing A). Press ENTER.

The screen will show the form you designed:

Last name: First name:

Age: Class:

Comments:

Then fill in the blanks.

For example, suppose one of the students is Suzy Smith. Fill in the form to look like this:

Last name: Smith First name: Suzy

Age: 4 Class: 12

Comments: Though just 4 years old, she finished high school because she's fast.

Hereís how. Type Smith, then move the cursor to the next field by pressing ENTER (or TAB). Type Suzy, then press ENTER. Type 4, then ENTER. Type 12, then ENTER. Type the commentary sentence.

When youíve finished filling in Suzy Smithís form, say "Next record" (by pressing F10). Then the computer will show a blank form again:

Last name: First name:

Age: Class:

Comments:

Fill in the blanks again, for the next student (Clara Bell).

Repeat that process for each student. As you type the studentsí records, the computer automatically copies them to the STUDENTS.DTF file (which is in your hard diskís QA subdirectory).

Move the cursor

To move the cursor a short distance, use the arrow keys. Hereís how to move the cursor farther:

Keys you press Where the cursor will move

TAB the next field

Shift with TAB the previous field

HOME the beginning of the field

END the end of the field

HOME HOME the first field on the screen

END END the last field on the screen

F10 the next record

F9 the previous record

Ctrl with HOME the first record you added during this session

Ctrl with END the last record you added during this session

Delete

If you make a mistake, point at it (by moving the cursor there), then tell the computer how much to delete.

To delete just one character, press the Del key. To delete a whole word, say "Delete word" (by pressing F4). To delete everything you typed in the field, say "Delete field/line" (by pressing Shift with F4). To delete everything you typed in the whole record, say "Delete record" (by pressing F3); when the computer asks "Are you sure?", press Y.

Ditto

If you move the cursor to a field and then say "Ditto field" (by pressing F5), the computer will make the data in that field be a copy of the previous studentís. To make the entire record be a copy of the previous studentís, say "Ditto record" (by pressing Shift with F5).

Edit (just in version 4)

If you have version 4, try this trick: while youíre typing words in a field, say "Edit field" (by pressing F6).

A gigantic box will appear at the bottom of the screen. The words you typed appear in that box. Since the box is big, it can hold lots of words. Type as many as you wish! You can even type a long essay about the student! When you type near the boxís bottom, the text in the box automatically moves out of the way, so you can type even more! You can type many pages! While youíre typing them, youíre using Q&Aís word processor, so you can use all the word-processing tricks you learned: press ENTER at the end of each paragraph, press TAB to indent a paragraph, and use page 154ís table to give advanced word-processing commands (such as "Spell" and "Thesaurus").

When you finish typing in the box, press the F10 key.

In the future, whenever you want to see or edit that boxed essay again, move the cursor to that field and say "Edit field" (F6) again.

Finish

When you finish typing the last studentís record, and you still see that record on the screen, say "File menu" by pressing Shift with F10 (instead of saying "Next record"). Then the screen will display the file menu again (instead of waiting for you to type another record).

Search/update

To search through the file to find a particular student, choose "S - Search/update" from the file menu (by pressing S). Press ENTER.

The screen will show the form you designed again:

Last name: First name:

Age: Class:

Comments:

If you fill in a few of the blanks, the computer will fill in the rest. For example, if you fill in just the last name (Smith) and press F10, the computer will find everybody whose last name is Smith. It will show you each Smithís record, one at a time.

Whenever the computer finds a Smithís record, the computer pauses to let you look at the record and edit it. (Editing is also called updating.) To edit the record, move the cursor to the field you want to revise (by pressing TAB, ENTER, or arrow keys), then retype that field. (To hop to the screenís bottom field, press END twice; to hop back up to the screenís top field, press HOME twice.)

When you finish examining and revising the record, choose one of these actions:

What you want to do next What to say

see the next Smith "Next record" (by pressing F10)

see the previous Smith "Previous record" (by pressing F9)

see the first Smith Ctrl with HOME

see the final Smith Ctrl with END

see the file menu "File menu" (by pressing Shift with F10)

delete this Smith & see the next Smith "Delete record" (F3) then Y

undo the revisions "Undo edit" (Shift F7, just in version 4)

undo the revisions & see the file menu press Esc, then usually Y

search for other records (not Smiths) "Search for records" (by pressing F7)

create other records & add them to file "Add new records" (by pressing Ctrl with F6)

If the computer canít find who youíre searching for (because there arenít any Smiths or there isnít any "next Smith" or "previous Smith"), the computer will say "No forms" or "No more forms" or "No previous form". Press the Esc key, which makes the computer show the file menu.

Fancy search techniques

If you tell the computer to search for "smith" instead of "Smith", the computer will still find all the Smiths, since the computer doesnít care about capitalization.

If you tell the computer to search for "S.." instead of "Smith" (by putting "S.." in the last name field), the computer will get everybody whose last name begins with "S". Saying "..th" gets names ending with "th". Saying "..m.." gets names containing an "m". Saying "S..h" gets every name that begins with S and ends with h. Saying "S????" gets every name that contains an S followed by exactly 4 more letters.

Not The symbol for "not" is "/". For example, saying "/Smith" gets everybody whose name is not Smith. Saying "/..m.." gets every name not containing an m.

Or The symbol for "or" is ";". For example, saying "Smith;Bell" gets everybody named Smith or Bell.

Unsure of the spelling? Suppose you want to find Kosinskiís record, but you canít remember how he spells his name. You donít remember whether itís "Kosinski", "Cosinski", "Kozinski", "Kosinscki", or "Kosinsky"; you remember merely that it includes the letters "in". If you put "..in.." into the last name field, the computer will find everybody whose name contains "in" ó and it will find Kosinskiís record.

Suppose somebody phones to ask you about a student; but the phone connection is poor (with lots of static) and the person also mumbles. You think heís asking about somebody named "Cuzomskuh", but youíre not sure. Tell the computer to find all the students that sound like "Cuzomskuh". To do that, put "~Cuzomskuh" in the last name field. The symbol ~ means "sounds like". (On the original IBM keyboard, itís next to the ENTER key; on the new IBM keyboard, itís next to the 1 key; on the Leading Edge keyboard, itís next to the BACKSPACE key. While typing it, you must hold down the Shift key.) The computer will find Kosinski and any other students that sound like "Cuzomskuh".

Search on age If you fill in just the age, the computer will find everybody that age. For example, to find everybody whoís 10 years old, put "10" in the age field.

To find everybody whoís less than 10 years old, say "<10". For greater than 10, say ">10". For greater than or equal to 10, say ">=10". For greater than 10 but less than 18, say ">10..<18".

To find the oldest student, say "max". To find the youngest, say "min".

To find the 3 oldest students, say "max3". The computer will show you the oldest student, then the next oldest, then the 3rd oldest.

In the age field, if you say just "=" (instead of "=10"), the computer will find everybody whose age is equal to nothing: it will find everybody whose age was left blank. To find everybody whose age is not blank, ask for "/=".

Alphabetical order The computer understands alphabetical order ó the order in which words and names would appear in a dictionary.

For example, if you ask for the names that are "<Smith" (by putting "<Smith" in the last name field), the computer will find all names "less than Smith", which means all names that come before Smith in the dictionary. Asking for ">Smith" gets you all names that come after Smith in the dictionary.

Search through comments If you search for "..slow.." in the comments field, the computer will find everybody whose comment mentions "slow". It will find Clara Bell (whoís "Super-slow!") and also find Heinz Ketchopf ("the slowest Ketchopf in the West").

Unrestricted search If you leave all the fields blank so that youíre not telling the computer to search for anything particular, the computer will show you all the records in the file, without any restrictions.

Expand a field If a field is too narrow to hold your search request, type as much of the request as fits in the field, then say "Edit field" (by pressing F6).

The computer will let you type the rest of the request at the bottom of the screen; do so. When you finish typing the request, move on to the next field (by pressing ENTER) or make the computer start searching (by pressing F10).

Multi-field search

Suppose you want to find everybody whoís old and stupid. Specifically, suppose you want to find everybody whose age is over 40 and who still hasnít finished the second grade. Put ">40" in the age field, and put "<3" in the class field.

The computer will find Heinz Ketchopf (whoís 57 years old and in the first grade) and Russy-poo Walter (whoís 44 years old and whose class is 0). Theyíre the students who are old and stupid.

Suppose you want to find the students who are old or stupid. To do that, put ">40" in the age field, put "<3" in the class field, then say "Search options" (by pressing Ctrl with F7). Move the cursor down, then across to the word ANY. Press F10. The computer will find Buffalo Bob Smith, Heinz Ketchopf, Tricky Dick Nixon, and Russy-poo Walter, because each of them is either old or stupid.

Sort

When youíve told the computer which records to search for, you normally press F10, which makes the computer start searching.

Instead of just pressing F10, try doing the following: say "Calculate" (by pressing F8), then type "1a" in the field that interests you most, then finally press F10.

That makes the computer display the records in alphabetical or numerical order. For example, if you put "1a" in the last name field, the computer will display the records in alphabetical order, by last name. If you put "1a" in the age field instead, the computer will display the student records in order of age, starting with the youngest student.

Putting the records into alphabetical or numerical order is called sorting.

The usual kind of sorting is called ascending. When you type "1a", the "a" stands for "ascending".

If you type "1d" instead, you get the opposite kind of sorting, which is called descending. For example, if you put "1d" in the last name field, the computer will display the records in reverse alphabetical order, beginning with any Z names and ending with A. If you put "1d" in the age field, the computer will display the student records in order of decreasing age, starting with the oldest student and ending with the youngest.

Suppose you put "1a" in the last name field and "2a" in the age field. The "1a" makes the computer sort by last name. If several students have the same last name (such as the Smiths), the age fieldís "2a" makes the computer "break the tie" by using the age: the computer will show you the Smiths from youngest to oldest. In that situation, the last name field is called the primary sort field; the age field (which is used only for breaking a tie) is called the secondary sort field. The "1a" means "primary ascending"; the "2a" means "secondary ascending".

Table

Suppose you search for youngsters (by saying "Age: <18" and then pressing F10). When the computer shows you the first youngsterís record, say "Table" (by pressing Alt with F6). The computer will display this table, which shows the records of all youngsters simultaneously:

┌───────────────┬───────────────┬───────────────┬───────────────┬──────────────┐

│ Last name │ First name │ Age │ Class │ Comments │

├───────────────┼───────────────┼───────────────┼───────────────┼──────────────┤

│Smith │Suzy │ 4│ 12│Though just 4

│Smith │Buffalo Bob │ 7│ 2│Boringly norm

│Kosinski │Stanislaw │ 16│ 11│He dislikes P

└───────────────┴───────────────┴───────────────┴───────────────┴──────────────┘

In that table, each row is a record. The top row is Suzy Smithís record. The bottom row is Stanislaw Kosinskiís record.

Each column is a field. The left column is the "Last name" field. The last column is the "Comments" field.

Since the screen is narrow, it shows just 5 thin columns. Look at Stanislaw Kosinskiís "Comments" field. Since the columnís too thin to show his entire Comments field ("He dislikes Polish jokes"), the column shows just the first few characters ("He dislikes P") and a right-arrow (which tells you that the field contains more characters). Version 3 doesnít bother to show the right-arrow.

If youíre using version 4, you can edit the table while you stare at it. Just move the cursor down to the row you want to edit (by pressing the down-arrow key), and move the cursor across to the field you want to edit (by pressing the TAB key). Hereís what to do next:

If you want to retype the fieldís info completely (and itís short), go ahead: retype it!

If you want to edit the fieldís info slightly (and itís short), just press F5 and then edit.

If the fieldís info is long (so you see " "), do this: press F6, then edit, then press F10.

If a file contains more than 5 fields, the table usually shows just the first 5 fields. If youíre using version 4, you can see the other fields by pressing the TAB key several times.

Hereís another way to see 5 different fields (in both versions 3 and 4). Say "Table definition" (by pressing Shift with F6). In the five fields you want to see, type the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Make sure those numbers arenít in any other fields. Then press F10.

The screenís tall enough to show 17 rows of the table. To see other rows of a long table, press the PgDn key.

After viewing the table, move the cursor to the row that interests you most, then press F10. The screen will show all details of that rowís record.

Print

Whenever the screen shows a studentís record, you can print that record on paper. Just say "Print record" (by pressing F2), then press F10.

To have more fun instead, say "Print remaining records" (by pressing Ctrl with F2), then press F10. The computer will print the record, then print all subsequent records in the bunch you were examining or adding.

The print menu

To do fancier printing, get the file menu onto the screen, then choose "P - Print" (by pressing P). Press ENTER.

The screen will show the print menu. From that menu, choose "D - Design/redesign a spec".

Invent a name for the printout youíll create. The name can be up to 31 characters long, and it can even contain blank spaces. Type the name, then press F10.

The computer will show a blank form. Fill in the blanks to tell the computer which records to print. For example, to print all the Smiths, put "Smith" in the "Last name" field; then press F10.

The computer will show another blank form. Choose one of these three strategies.Ö

Strategy 1: leave the form blank. That tells the computer you want standard printing. The computer will print all the recordís fields, in the same positions that they appear on the screen.

Strategy 2: give coordinates. For example, if you type "2,10" in the last name field, the computer will print the studentís last name on paper, 2 lines down from the top margin, and starting in the 10th space from the left margin. If you omit a fieldís coordinates, that field will be unprinted.

Strategy 3: use + and x. For example, if you type a "+" in the last name field, the computer will print the last name. If you type an "x" in the last name field, the computer will print the last name and then automatically do a carriage return, so the next field it prints will appear underneath. Any field you leave blank will be unprinted.

When youíve chosen one of those three strategies (and filled in the form appropriately), press F10.

The computer will say "FILE PRINT OPTIONS". If you want the computer to print the field labels (so that the computer will print "Last name: Smith" instead of printing just "Smith"), move the cursor down to "Print field labels?", then move left to "Yes".

Press F10 again, then ENTER. The computer will print the records you requested, then show you the print menu again.

If you want to repeat the printing, choose "P - Print records" from that menu. (In version 3, choose "P - Print forms".) Move the cursor to your printoutís name. Press F10 then ENTER. The computer will repeat the printing and show you the print menu again.

When you donít want to do any more printing, press Esc. youíll see the file menu again.

Report

To print a fancy report, get the Q&A main menu. (To do that, get the file menu, then press Esc.) From the Q&A main menu, choose "R - Report". The screen will show a report menu. From that menu, choose "D - Design/redesign a report" (by pressing D). Press ENTER.

Invent a name for the report youíll create. The name can be up to 31 characters long, and it can even contain blank spaces. Type the name, then press F10. (If youíre using version 4, then choose "C - Columnar report" by pressing C.)

The computer will show a blank form. Fill in the blanks, to tell the computer who to report on. For example, if you want to report on just the Smiths, put "Smith" in the "Last name" field. To report on everybody (which is what I suggest), leave the form blank.

Press F10. The computer will show another blank form. This report will consist of several columns. Put 1 in the field that you want to be the leftmost column, 2 in the field that you want to be the next column, etc. For example, if you want the personís last name to be the leftmost column, the first name to be the next column, and the age to be the third column, type this:

Last name: 1 First name: 2

Age: 3 Class:

Comments:

Better yet, put an "as" in the last name field, and put an "a" in the age field, like this:

Last name: 1,as First name: 2

Age: 3,a Class:

Comments:

In the last name field, the "as" stands for "ascending sort"; it forces the computer to print the last names in alphabetical order. In the age field, the "a" stands for "average": it makes the computer print the average age.

When you finish filling in that form, press F10 twice, then ENTER. The computer will print this report:

Last name First name Age

--------- ----------- -----

Bell Clara 21.00

Ketchopf Heinz 57.00

Kosinski Stanislaw 16.00

Nixon Tricky Dick 78.00

Smith Suzy 4.00

Buffalo Bob 7.00

Walter Russy-poo 44.00

========= =========== =====

Average: 32.43

Notice that the computer alphabetizes the left column, clumps the two Smiths together, and prints the average age. The computer automatically makes each column wide enough to fit even the longest names and numbers.

When the computer finishes printing the report, it shows the report menu again.

If you want to print the report again, choose "P - Print a report" from that menu (by pressing P). Press ENTER. Move the cursor to your reportís name. Press F10 then ENTER. The computer will reprint the report and show you the report menu again.

When you donít want to print any more reports, press Esc. Youíll see the main menu again.

Fancy codes Instead of saying "as" (for ascending sort), you can say "ds" (which gets you a descending sort).

Besides telling you the columnís average (for which the code is "a"), Q&A can also tell you the columnís total ("t"), count ("c"), largest number ("max"), smallest number ("min"), and all subtotals ("st"). To make Q&A do so, just put those codes in the blanks.

Mail merge

Suppose you want to write a personalized letter to each student, so that Suzy Smithís letter will say ó

Dear Suzy,

Come to the party for grade 12 on Saturday.

and Clara Bellís letter will say ó

Dear Clara,

Come to the party for grade 10 on Saturday.

Hereís how.Ö

First, get into the word processor. (To do that, get to the file menu, then get to the main menu by pressing Esc, then choose "W - Write" from the menu, then choose "T - Type/edit" from the next menu.)

Type this form letter:

Dear *First name*,

Come to the party for grade *Class* on Saturday.

To type it, begin by typing the word "Dear", then tap the space bar once.

To create the "*First name*", do the following. Say "Field" (by pressing Alt with F7). The computer will ask you for the name of the file; type "students" then ENTER. The computer will display this list:

FIELD NAMES


Age

Class

Comments

First name

Last name

Move the cursor to "First name", then ENTER. The computer will automatically type "*First name*" in the middle of your memo.

Then type the rest of the form letter. Remember to type the comma after *First name*, and remember that you can make the computer automatically type *Class* for you, by pressing Alt with F7.

When you finish typing the form letter, say "Print" (by pressing F2). Then press F10.

Youíll see a blank form. Use it to say which students will get the letter. (For example, to send the letter to just the Smiths, put "Smith" in the last name field. To send the letter to all the students, leave the fields blank.) Press F10 then ENTER.

The computer will print the letters to all the students you requested. That massive printing is called a mail merge, because the computer does it by merging the form letter with the mailing list of students.

When the computer finishes, youíll be using Q&Aís word processor again. To leave the word processor, press Esc twice; if the computer asks "Are you SURE?", press Y. Youíll see the Q&A main menu.

Mass moves

Hereís how to manipulate many records at once.Ö

Mass update

Suppose Mr. Smith ó the father of Suzy Smith and Buffalo Bob Smith ó dies. His wife, Mrs. Smith, remarries and changes her name to Mrs. Finkelstein. She also changes the names of her kids, so that "Suzy Smith" becomes "Suzy Finkelstein", and "Buffalo Bob Smith" becomes "Buffalo Bob Finkelstein".

We must tell the computer to turn the Smiths into Finkelsteins. Since Suzy and Buffalo Bob are such wonderful kids, weíll also move them into super-advanced classes that are ten times their ages: weíll move Suzy (who is 6) into class 60, and move Buffalo Bob (who is 7) into class 70. Hereís how to do all that.Ö

From the file menu, choose "M - Mass update" (by pressing M). Press ENTER. Youíll see a blank form.

Tell the computer who to search for. Since you want the computer to search for all the Smiths, type "Smith" in the last name field, then press F10.

Youíll see another blank form. Tell the computer how to change the Smithsí records, by typing this:

Last name: #1="Finkelstein" First name:

Age: #2 Class: #3=10*#2

Comments:

Notice you must put #1, #2, and #3 in the three fields involved (Last name, Age, and Class). To make field #1 (which is Last name) become Finkelstein, say #1="Finkelstein". To make field #3 (which is Class) become 10 times field #2 (Age), say #3=10*#2.

When you finish typing all that, press F10 then N. The computer will change the Smiths to Finkelsteins and make their classes become 10 times their ages. Then youíll see the file menu again.

How to make the whole school skip Suppose all the schoolís students are doing so well that you want to skip them ahead 5 years. (Youíll move all the first graders to the 6th grade, all the second graders to the 7th grade, all the third graders to the 8th grade, etc.) Hereís how.Ö

From the file menu, choose "M - Mass update". Press ENTER. Youíll see a blank form. Without typing any restrictions, just press F10 (since you want to update all students).

Youíll see another blank form. Since you want to increase each studentís class by 5, you should make the class be called "field #1" and add 5 to it. To do that, say "Class: #1=5+#1", which means "the Class is field #1; and field #1 will become equal to 5 more than what it had been." Then press F10.

The computer will increase each studentís class by 5. Then youíll see the file menu.

Remove

Suppose all the Finkelsteins are murdered. Letís remove them from the file.

To remove the Finkelsteins, choose "R - Remove" from the file menu by pressing R. Press ENTER. (If youíre using version 4, then choose "S - Selected records" by pressing S.)

Youíll see a blank form. In the last name field, type "Finkelstein".

Press F10 then Y. The computer will delete all the Finkelstein records. Then youíll see the file menu again.

Backup

Hereís how to make the second copy of STUDENTS.

If youíre using version 3, choose "B - Backup" from the file menu by pressing B. If youíre using version 4, choose "U -Utilities" from the file menu by pressing U, then choose "B - Backup database" by pressing B.

Press ENTER.

The computer will say "Backup to:". To copy STUDENTS to the disk in drive A, put a blank formatted disk into drive A, say "Delete line" (Shift F4), type "a:students", then press ENTER. The computer will copy STUDENTS from the hard disk to drive A.

If youíre using version 4, press Esc to see the file menu again.

Copy

Letís create a DOGS file about a dog-obedience school. We want the DOGS file to contain the same design that we used in the STUDENTS file, so a sample DOGS record will look like this:

Last name: McGregor First name: Lassie

Age: 2 Class: 12

Comments: She's a brilliant collie. Named after her grandma, a TV star!

Hereís how to create the DOGS file, so it uses the same design as the STUDENTS file but doesnít contain the names of humans.

From the file menu, choose "C - Copy" (by pressing C). Press ENTER.

Youíll see a copy menu. Tap the D key (for "D - Copy design only"). Type the name of the new file youíre creating ("dogs"), then ENTER.

The computer will create file called DOGS, having the same design as STUDENTS but without any data in it.

Youíll see the copy menu again. Press Esc, to see the file menu again.

Customize

You can customize Q&A to meet your personal needs.

For example, letís create a database of all your friends and customers around the world. Letís store each personís address and phone number (to replace your phone book and Rolodex and create a mailing list). Letís also store comments about each person and date the comments, to make the file act as a diary.

Suppose some of those people occasionally send you money. Letís record how much each person sends and make Q&A compute the totals, so Q&A does your accounting.

Suppose youíre in Massachusetts, and some of the money you receive is for goods you sell. Letís make Q&A compute the 5% sales tax, so Q&A does your taxes.

Hereís how to make Q&A do all that.Ö

Type the form

From Q&Aís file menu, choose "D - Design file" (by pressing D). When you see the design menu, tap the D key (to choose "D - Design a new file"), type "friends" (which will be the name for the file), and press ENTER.

On the blank screen, type this form:

┌──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┐

│First name: Last name: │

│Department: > │

│Company: > │

│Address: > │

│City: State: Zip: > Country: │

└──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘

Phone numbers: >

┌───────────────────────┐

│Price: │

Sales tax code (T=Taxable, R=Resale, N=Nonprofit): │Sales tax: │

│Total: │

└───────────────────────┘

Comments<

 

 

 

 

>

Group code: Date: >

Boxes Notice that the form includes two boxes. The top box contains the fields for the mailing label. The bottom box contains the money fields.

Hereís how to draw a box. Place the cursor where you want the boxís upper-left corner. Give the word-processing command for "Draw". (To do that in version 3, press F8 then D. To do that in version 4, press F8 then L then D.) Move the cursor towards the right; as you move it, youíll be drawing the boxís top line. Draw the boxís other three lines by moving the cursor down, then left, then up until youíve returned to the upper-left corner. Then press F10.

The computer doesnít care whether you draw the box. The boxís purpose is just to beautify the life of your data-entry operator (the person whoíll be staring at the screen for many hours while entering your data).

Six parts Like most good forms, that form consists of 6 parts in this order:

a box containing the mailing labelís fields, in the order theyíll appear on the label

other fields that the operator must fill in (phone numbers, price, and sales tax code)

fields that the operator will skip because theyíll be filled in by computer (sales tax and total)

a big space where the operator can jot comments (such as "this guy is a jerk" or "treat her nicer next time" or "oops ó we goofed" or "discuss this tough order with the boss" or other comments that are more specific)

a field for inserting a GROUP CODE, which is a code to generate selective mailings; for example, you can browse through all the records, put "p" in the ones that look interesting, and then tell the computer to send mail to each person whose group code is "p"

a field to hold the date (weíll make the computer insert the date automatically, but weíll also let the operator change the date to handle special situations)

Shortened fields Look at the "Department" field. It begins with the word "Department", then comes a colon, then 42 blank spaces, then the symbol ">".

Later, when the data-entry operator adds new records to the file by typing in data, the computer will permit the operator to "fill in the 42 blanks" by filling in 42 characters. The computer will prevent the operator from typing on or past the ">".

That prevents the operator from being too long-winded and typing too much to fit on tiny mailing labels.

Multi-line fields Look at the "Comments" field. It begins with the word "Comments", then comes the symbol "<" (instead of a colon), then several blank lines. At the end of the last blank line, youíll see the symbol ">".

The symbols "<" and ">" surround the area in which the operator can type comments. If you omit the symbol ">", the computer will restrict the operator to just one line of comments.

When you create a multi-line field, Q&A prohibits you from having other symbols nearby. Specifically, you canít put a multi-line field in a box, and you canít put two multi-line fields side-by-side.

Final step When you finish typing that form, press F10.

Change the format codes

Youíll see the form you typed (except that the symbols "<" and ">" are hidden). The computer automatically puts format code T in each field, but you must change some of those Tís to other codes instead. To do so, move the cursor to each T (by pressing TAB, ENTER, or arrow keys), then edit some of the Tís, to make your screen look like this:

┌──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┐

│First name: T Last name: T │

│Department: T > │

│Company: T > │

│Address: T > │

│City: T State: TU Zip: TU > Country: TU │

└──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘

Phone numbers: T >

┌───────────────────────┐

│Price: MC JR │

Sales tax code (T=Taxable, R=Resale, N=Nonprofit): TU │Sales tax: MC JR │

│Total: MC JR │

└───────────────────────┘

Comments T

 

 

 

 

>

Group code: TU Date: D >

Hereís why.

Uppercase The stateís format code should be TU instead of just T. The U means "Uppercase". It makes the computer automatically capitalize what the data-entry operator types.

The format code for Zip should be TU because some of the customers are in Canada, where Zip codes have capital letters in them.

Use T for phone numbers The format code for phone numbers is T (not N), so that the phone number field can contain more than just numbers. T lets you include phrases such as "home number", "work number", "extension", and "call after 4:30PM". T also lets you include parentheses and dashes, like this: (617) 666-2666.

Money For money, the best format code is "MC JR", which means "Money with Commas and Justified Right". For example, suppose the operator types this price: "42831.7". When the operator finishes typing it and moves to the next field (by pressing TAB or ENTER), the "MC" code makes the computer automatically insert a dollar sign and comma and put 2 digits after the decimal point, so the screen shows "$42,831.70" instead of just "42831.7". Then the computer slides the $42,831.70 toward the right edge of the screen (because of the "JR" code), so that the decimal point is directly above the decimal points of numbers underneath.

If you like all that but want the computer to omit the dollar sign, replace the "M" by "N2" (which means "number with 2 digits after the decimal point").

Time The format code for date is D. (A similar format code is H, which means "hours and time of day".)

Finish When youíve finished typing the format codes, press F10. If the computer says GLOBAL FORMAT OPTIONS, press F10 again. Then youíll see the file menu.

The customize menu

From the file menu, choose "D - Design file" again. From the next menu, choose "C - Customize a file" (by pressing C). Press ENTER.

Youíll see the customize menu:

CUSTOMIZE MENU

F - Format values

R - Restrict values

T - Field template

I - Set initial values

S - Speed up searches

D - Define custom help

C - Change palette

(Instead of "T - Field template", version 3 has "P - Program form", "E - Edit lookup table", and "A - Assign access rights".)

Letís see how to use the most popular choices.

Change palette To change the screenís colors, choose "C - Change palette". Youíll see a blank form.

Fill in a few fields, notice the screenís color scheme, and then press F8. The colors on the screen will change. (If you have a monochrome monitor, the underlines will disappear.)

Each time you press F8, the colors, underlines, boldfacing, etc. will change again. When you finally see a color scheme you like, press F10, to return to the customize menu.

The color schemes are called palettes. Many of the palettes are humorously wild.

The bottom of the screen shows the paletteís number. The most practical palettes are #2 and #3. Theyíre the only palettes that show clearly which field youíre editing.

If your monitor is monochrome, choose palette #3. If your monitor is CGA color, choose palette #2. If your monitor is EGA or VGA color, choose either palette #3 (whose high contrast is the easiest to read) or palette #2 (whose soft blues will make you fall in love).

Initial values To let your data-entry operator fill in the forms faster, choose "I - Set initial values".

Youíll see a blank form. If you fill in some of the fields now, the operator wonít have to fill them in later.

For example, if most of your customers are in San Francisco, California (because you grew up there and still advertise there), put "San Francisco" in the city field and "CA" in the state field. Put "@date" in the date field. Then press F10.

Later, when your data-entry operator adds new records, the computer will automatically fill in some of the fields by typing San Francisco, CA, and the correct date. The operator can edit what the computer typed, when the operator needs to deal with a customer thatís not in San Francisco or not in California or whose record must be postdated.

Restrict values To protect yourself from data-entry errors, choose "R - Restrict values". Youíll see a blank form.

Type in any restrictions you want to put on the data. For example, to restrict the price to under $50,000, type "<50000" in the price field. To restrict the sales tax code to T, R, or N, type "T;R;N" in the sales tax code field (after widening the field by pressing F6). When you finish typing the restrictions, press F10.

Later, if the data-entry operator tries to bypass a restriction (by typing a huge price or typing a wrong sales tax code), the computer will type this warning:

Value not in specified range. Please verify before continuing.

Although the computer types that warning, the computer permits the operator to keep that unusual data in the file (so that the operator can handle unusual customers). The warning just alerts the operator that the value typed was nonstandard. That warning helps the operator notice typographical and clerical errors.

Speedy fields To make Q&A run faster, choose "S - Speed up searches". Youíll see a blank form.

Type an S in each field that you often use for searching. For example, since you often look up a customerís record by using the customerís last name, type an S in the last name field. I recommend that you type an S in the last name field, company field, Zip field, and data field.

Putting an S in a field makes the computer create an index for that field. The index helps the computer search on that field more quickly. A field containing an S is called a speedy field or an index field.

Although the S makes the computer search faster, the S has two drawbacks: its index consumes a lot of space on the disk, and the computer must pause to update the index whenever you add a new record.

Because of those drawbacks, do not put an S in every field! Put an S in just the three or four fields that you search on most often.

When you finish typing the Sís, press F10.

Program

To get total control over the computer, program it!

If youíre using version 4, choose "P - Program a file" from the design menu, then press ENTER, then choose "P - Program form". If youíre using version 3, choose "P - Program form" from the customize menu.

Youíll see a blank form.

Letís make the computer automatically compute the Sales tax and Total. The computation involves four fields: the Price (which weíll call field #1), Sales tax code (#2), Sales tax (#3), and Total (#4).

Make the Price be field #1, by typing "#1" in the Priceís blank.

Make the Sales tax code be field #2, by typing "#2" in the Sales tax code blank.

Make the Total be field #4 and also be the Price plus the Sales tax, by typing this in the Total blank: "#4=#1+#3".

In Massachusetts, which has a "5% sales tax", how much money should the Sales tax be? If a sale is taxable (because the Sales tax code is T), the Sales tax should be 5% of the Price. That means field #3 (which is the Sales tax) should equal .05 times field #1 (which is the Price). If the sale is not taxable, the Sales tax should be 0 instead. To explain all that to the computer, type this in the Sales tax blank (after pressing F6 to widen the field):

#3: if #2="T" then #3=.05*#1 else #3=0

When you type that line, make sure you type quotation marks around the "T". That line tells the computer that for this field (field #3), do the following computation: if field #2 (the Sales tax code) equals "T", then make field #3 equal .05 times field #1; otherwise, make field #3 equal 0.

After filling in the blanks that way, press F10. Later, when the data-entry operator enters a customerís record, the operator can fill in just the Price and Sales Tax code and then say "Calculate" (by pressing F8), which makes the computer obey your programming and automatically fill in the Sales tax and Total.