Getting the Most from Lantica's Sesame Database Manager
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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 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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January 2004 issue summary. . . [order code JAN 04]

The 20-Minute Q&A Post-Translation Makeover

Once you've translated a Q&A database in Sesame, what have you got? For one thing, a smaller form with the fields and rows kind of squished together. It doesn't look very pretty. (In the case of Q&A for Windows databases, you might not even be able to see your fields.) Here are a few easy things you can do in under 20 minutes to make your translated form not only look good, but be easier to use.

Importing Fixed ASCII Files
Sesame imports Standard ASCII type files, but not Fixed or Table ASCII files. Although Fixed ASCII files are less often used these days, there are still plenty of applications around that output nothing but them. Here's an inventive workaround for importing them into your database quickly and safely.

Pick Your Dates (Review article)
Got date fields? Never enter another date manually. This add-on pop-up calendar lets you pick your dates from a real mini-calendar that easily scrolls between months and years. You simply click a little button on your form to bring up the graphical calendar, click on the date you want, and Sesame drops it right into your date field in the correct format.

Your Current Working Directory — What Is It and Why Do You Care?
Advanced know-how for the serious Sesame user looking to boost productivity and better control the way Sesame works. Learn how to set up multiple icons to launch Sesame and open different applications. Find out about all the Sesame start-up switches you can use, including running auto-start macros and replacing Sesame's graphical splashes with your own image files. Get the lowdown on how your current working directory affects where your Sesame output files are stored.

_______________You ask. We answer.

  • Converting Q&A databases. What's the best way to proceed?

  • How to fix "reserved" ("illegal") field names in your Q&A databases.

  • What causes the navigation in a form to behave erratically and how to fix it.

  • How many computers can you use a single-user copy of Sesame on?

  • Why your form displays without all the fields showing.

  • Watch out for those Number fields when translating Q&A databases!

  • When the data in your export file isn't formatted like you want it.

  • Where does Sesame put your export files?

  • What's different about setting Initial Values in Sesame?

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • How to make your form larger to accommodate more fields & gizmos.

  • How to make the cursor blink for the current session — or always.

  • The trick to mass updating Boolean field check boxes.

  • Using Form Events to trigger programming when any form element changes.

  • Using Mass Update to generate informative pop-up mini-reports.

February 2004 issue summary. . .[order code FEB 04]

Editorial — Sesame 1.0.1 was released January 26, 2004 with new and enhanced features as well as fixes, including fixes to FileReadLn() and PrintString(). There's a new No Background option for form printing, and a new ThrowFocus() command that runs another element's program then completes the calling program.

Precision Check Printing with PrintString()
This in-depth article shows how to achieve precise print positioning of data onto blank pages, or forms such as 1099s, W-2s, checks, and other "fill-in-the-blanks" type forms where you need to print your data with absolute precision. If you come from a background in Q&A for DOS, you might have used a Coordinate Print Spec or carefully-crafted merge document with embedded printer control codes to achieve precise printing. These tools are not available in Sesame. But you can get all the precision using PrintString() in a program, along with a "Print Form" button on your form. You simply click the button, and the current record, all the records in the result set, or just the checkmarked records (your choice), emerge from your printer with all the data perfectly positioned just as you like it.

Designing Forms with Tab Pages
This introductory how-to article shows you how to take a lengthy form with lots of fields, and divide it up into Tab pages, giving you a tabbed interface where you simply click on the tab to view all the fields in that section of the form. It's the ultimate in form navigation simplicity.

Time for a Static Element Attack?
Sesame offers four kinds of static elements you can use to dress up a form — text, line, box and graphic image. This introductory how-to article shows you how to make use of these static elements to quickly and easily add pizzazz and functionality to those otherwise drab and lifeless forms.

Form Navigation Problems — Who's the Culprit?
After you or someone else created or redesigned a form, you might find that the form's navigation is all screwed up. Tabbing from field to field doesn't take you in a smooth left-to-right, top-to-bottom progression through the fields as it should. Instead, the cursor bounces around between fields in a seemingly haphazard manner. How did this happen? How can you fix it? These questions — and more — are answered in this article.

_______________You ask. We answer.

  • What to do about "Error messages" (that are actually data validation warnings) that Sesame springs on you when you attempt to save a record.

  • How to place a static image (such as your company logo) on a form.

  • The three types of graphic image file formats supported by Sesame.

  • To add a subform to a form, the form you are adding must be "eligible." What does this mean, and how to you make a form "eligible" to serve as a subform?

  • When you translate a Q&A for Windows database in Sesame, why is the translated form so ugly? How do you "pretty" it up with minimum effort?

  • You need to make your form area larger so you can add more fields or other layout elements to it. How do you increase the form's overall size?

  • After you've translated a Q&A database in Sesame, you find "gibberish" (garbage data) in one or more areas of the application. What causes this and what you can do about it.

  • When translating a Q&A database, Sesame may encounter translation errors that you will need to fix, and will refer you to the Server Administration log. How do access this log so you can find out what needs fixing?

  • How do you clear a Server Administration Log file and start over with a new one?

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • How to make Sesame capitalize each word in a field (Initial Caps).

  • Preventing blank/junk records from being added to a database.

  • Using the portability of Designer (DSR) files to your advantage.

March 2004 issue summary. . .[order code MAR 04]

Special 18-page issue

Your Basic Order Entry/Invoicing System, Part 1
Invoices, sales orders and the like can be tough to design. They are generally comprised of data from a variety of sources (external databases), they must be expandable to accommodate any number of items ordered, they often require sophisticated calculations, and they normally need to be printable in an invoice document that's presentable and informative to the customer. This in-depth article covers the key components common to most any basic order entry/invoicing application, including Customer, Products and LineItems databases, as well as the Invoice database and data entry form itself. It demonstrates how to make the process of entering orders (using lookups and point-'n'-click data entry) and printing invoices easy, fast and reliable.

Inside the Property Editor, Part 1
When designing forms and reports in Sesame Designer, the tool you use most often is the Property Editor. It's the Control Panel that lets you select and change properties and settings for any layout element on your form, for groups of elements, and for the form itself. The Property Editor can do so much, so efficiently, that it's practically impossible for the average Sesame user to grasp the whole of it and take advantage of the powerful shortcuts it offers. This in-depth article takes you through the Property Editor from top to bottom, covering everything it can do to help speed the form design process and make your forms more attractive and easier to use. With 17 supporting graphics supplementing the discussion, it's a highly informative read and excellent reference, as well as a superb tutorial.

_______________The basics for those just getting started

Getting More Help from Sesame Help
Sesame's built in Help screens are context-sensitive, meaning that the help screen that displays when you press the F1 key is related to the particular task you are performing at the time. But there is more to Sesame Help than meets the eye. In this article you'll discover ways to "stretch" Help to give you more than just instructive text, particularly when adding programming to a form or preparing to mass update your records.

_______________You ask. We answer.

  • Data Typing Too Tight? — A reader complains that she used to be able to type anything into her Q&A database fields. But after translating the database in Sesame, some of her calculation programming no longer worked. What can cause this? The answer might surprise you.

  • Retrieving 'Earlier Than' Dates — When you type an "earlier-than" (date) retrieval parameter into a date field, Sesame retrieves not just the records with earlier dates, but also the records where the date field is blank. Here's a handy workaround that excludes those blank records.

  • Sesame and Novell — Why Sesame won't run on a Novell "server," and what you can do about it.

  • Remote Access to 'Compiled' Databases — What 'compiled' databases are and why Sesame doesn't support them for remote access.

  • Field Mix-up During Translation — After translating a Q&A database in Sesame, you might wind up with a field converted to static text, and a new field added that wasn't there before. What causes this and how you can prevent it from happening.

  • Label Printing — The easiest way to print mailing labels using your Sesame data.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • After Deleting a Form Element, Don't Leave an Orphaned Field — The steps you need to take after you've deleted a bound element on a form.

  • Form Events Give Broader Coverage — In Sesame, you can program the form itself. What advantage does programming the form have over programming the individual layout elements on the form?

  • Always Specify a Path in @Macro — Why you need to specify the macro file path and what can happen if you don't.

  • Make Table Subform Column Widths Stick — You've adjusted your Table view subform columns so you can see more data. But as soon as you move off the record, the columns just return to their old default widths. How do you make your adjustments permanent?

  • Save Time When Previewing — There's a little-known feature in Sesame Designer that enables you to quickly switch between Design and Preview modes without having to re-open the form you're working on.

  • Limit the Length of an Entry — You want to limit a field to only so many characters. Here's a little program that does that, as well as alert the user, before they've exited the field, when they've typed one too many characters.

A reader responds to a January 2004 issue article on importing Fixed ASCII files, offering some helpful suggestions on what you really need to find out about these types of files before importing them into a Sesame database.

April 2004 issue summary. . .[order code APR 04]

Special 18-page issue

Simplify Data Entry with Sesame XLookups
Did you think that external lookups were only for use with flat-file databases like Q&A? Think again! Not only can you use XLookups in Sesame, for certain kinds of operations — including in subforms — they're the optimum solution. But there are some key differences between Q&A-style XLookups and Sesame-style XLookups. This review brings you right up to speed on what those differences are and how to get Sesame XLookups (both the external and internal variety) working for you.

Your Basic Order Entry/Invoicing System, Part 2
Last month, In Part 1 of this article, we covered the design elements of a basic order entry/invoicing application using an invoice form linked to customer, products, and line-item databases. In this concluding Part 2, we focus on the invoice printing part of the application, including a technique for successfully printing the invoice's line-items table view subform.

Inside the Property Editor, Part 2
When designing forms and reports in Sesame Designer, the tool you use most often is the Property Editor. It's the Control Panel that lets you select and change properties and settings for any layout element on your form, for groups of elements, and for the form itself. Last month we covered most of the Property Editors facilities. In this concluding Part 2, we look at the Property Editor's Format and Other tabs which, for some types of applications and preferences, are the most important tabs of all.

_______________You ask. We answer.

  • The Dark Side Printing — Are your Sesame forms printing with an all-black (or too dark) background? Here are your options for remedying the problem.

  • Losing Saved Report Specs — You had a report spec all worked out and saved, but now it's gone. What happened?

  • Date Retrieve Syntax — Having trouble getting Sesame to retrieve records based on date ranges or partial date values? You may be using Q&A-style date retrieval syntax that isn't valid for Sesame. Fortunately, the remedy is simple.

  • Maintaining Healthy Databases — Q&A's Recover feature offers a way to keep your databases slim and trim and working smoothly. Does Sesame have a similar feature?

  • Repairing Database Corruption — Will translating a corrupted Q&A database to Sesame fix corruption problems?

  • Clearing Date and Number fields — What you have to take into account when clearing (blanking) Date and Number fields.

  • Splitting Reports Across Pages — Remember Q&A's "Split Report Across Pages" option? How do you do this in Sesame?

  • Q&A-Style Print Specs — Sesame doesn't support Print Specs, but offers an alternative that can give you even greater printing precision.

  • Running Sesame Full Screen — How to get Sesame to start in full screen mode rather than in a smaller window.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • GOTOs Behaving Badly — GOTO commands work in Sesame and have even been improved in version 1.0.2. But you might still be bothered by some odd GOTO behavior. This brief treatise on the topic should set you straight.

  • Custom-Size Your Report Column Widths — Need to set custom widths for your report columns? Here's how.

  • Word 2003 and Sesame ODBC — Changes to MS Word 2003's interface make setting up a Word document to merge via Sesame ODBC a bit trickier. Here's the scoop.

  • Word XP and Mail Merge — Word Office XP's Mail Merge wizard differs from earlier versions of Word and is not as intuitive. If you're supplying Word with a data source (merge) file generated in Sesame, here's how you go about it.

May 2004 issue summary. . .[order code May 04]

Special 20-page issue

The Makings of a Contacts Application, Part 1
Your contacts database — whether it's for customers, clients, donors, vendors, patients or prospects — is probably among your most valuable and often-used files. In Sesame, you can turn it into a sophisticated contacts application that does a whole lot more than merely store names and addresses. In this two-part article, you'll discover how to add powerful features that can perform a host of tasks from vastly simplifying searching to tracking follow-up dates, storing contact notes and even sending emails and printing merge letters.

Handy Searching and Sorting Options

Here, in one entry-level article, are the searching and sorting options you're most likely to need in Sesame, include performing a Universal search and specifying a default sort so that your records are in the order you like every time you browse the database.

Programming the Retrieve Spec
That's right — your Retrieve Specs are programmable. What does this mean? Power, simplicity and options galore. Now, for example, you can have Sesame pop-up a list of your customers as soon as you hit the Retrieve Spec, saving you from having to type a single character.

Picklists in Sesame
Picklists are tremendous time-savers. They offer a way to simplify and control your data entry. Sesame supports all the Q&A 5.0-style picklists, and has a few new ones of its own. In this article you'll learn how to choose the right type of picklist for the purpose you want it to fulfill. You'll also get some useful tips, tricks and caveats to get the most from your picklists. (Sample picklist application in subscriber download file.)

Create a Survey Summary Report
There's nothing like a survey or questionnaire to find out peoples' likes and dislikes. How do you design a form that makes entering survey responses no harder than  clicking your mouse? And how do you get a quick printout of the tallies? It's all covered in this article. (Sample survey application in subscriber download file.)

_______________You ask. We answer.

  • Open Multiple Records Simultaneously — How can you compare two or more records in a Sesame application without having to start multiple copies of the program? How does the amount of server RAM affect Sesame operations?

  • How Many Sesames Do I Need? — If you have a number of users on your network, but only a few of them needing simultaneous access to your Sesame applications, what determines how many licenses you need?

  • Loading Large Applications Takes Time — Here's the lowdown on how to vastly speed up access to very large databases.

  • Spruce-Up Translated Databases — Why your translated forms don't look just like your original Q&A databases, and what you can do to adapt them to your comfort zone.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Checking for Blank Values — Sesame has strict data typing, so you'd better not use something like If InvoiceAmount = "" in your programming. Here's a new way to check for empty form layout elements no matter what type of data they store.

  • How to Backup a DSR File — Sesame Designer gives you no way to make a backup copy of that critical DSR file — or does it?

  • Return Multiple Values from an SBasic Procedure — A user-defined function or subroutine can return just one value — Right? Wrong. Here's the trick.

  • "Unattach" a Report Spec— The Sesame User Guide shows how to attach  Retrieve and Sort Specs to a report. What it doesn't show is how to unattach them. Now you'll know.

June 2004 issue summary. . .[order code JUN 04]

Special 21-page issue

The Makings of a Contacts Application, Part 2
(The 'Merge Letter Machine')

Last month in part 1 of this article we looked at the design of a sample contacts application. We covered the main form that stores the basic contact information, the table view subform for contact notes, the Find buttons that simplify retrieving a contact by his or her name or company, the follow-up scheduler, and the facilities for sending email from the contact’s record. Here in this concluding installment we showcase our "merge letter machine" — the feature that prints good-looking merge letters on demand for the current contact or all the contacts in the result set, without going outside of Sesame to do it. (Fully working Contacts application in subscriber download file.)

Copying Database Records

How do you go about getting Sesame to copy records from one database to another, such as when you want to remove a batch of older records from an "active" file and move them to a "history" or "archive" file? In this basics article, you'll discover your options and get specific how-to information on several kinds of record copying jobs.

Picklists in Sesame, Part 2
Picklists can help simplify and control data entry. In last month's Part 1, you learned how to choose the right type of picklist for the purpose you want it to fulfill, and got some tips, tricks and caveats to get the most from your picklists. In this month's concluding installment, you'll discover some of the advanced picklist options available to you, and the amazing things you can do with them to further simplify and better control data entry. (Sample application that demonstrates the picklists featured in this article is available from the author.)

Validating Form Data in a GUI Environment
In the DOS environment you had a lot of control over your users. You could force them from field to field in a predefined order, move them where you wanted them to go on the form, and trap them until they complied with your demands. Now, with Sesame, you’re in a graphical user interface (GUI) where users have multiple windows, a mouse, and an operating system that's on their side when it comes to randomly moving around the screen. The old DOS control techniques, if they work at all, are likely to create new problems in a GUI environment. Here's the new way to prevent bad data from creeping into your applications.

_______________You ask. We answer.

  • Translation Errors Everywhere — You've just translated a Q&A database and find that Sesame has generated a host of translation error messages. What's the most likely cause of these errors and the best way to fix them?

  • Can't Select Text on a Form — After translating a Q&A database, you want to pretty-up your form a bit in Designer. You click on a label for a layout element only to find that Sesame won't let you select it. How did this happen and how do you correct the problem?

  • Printing Wide Reports — You've got a wide report that looks scrunched and is hard to read when printed in Sesame Report Writer's default portrait mode. Here's how to make that report "breathe easier" by printing it in landscape mode instead.

  • Images Not Appearing on Forms — Have you been trying to add image links to your database records and running into messages such as "The image file does not exist..." when you know the image file does exist? Find out what you're missing.

  • Mass Update Programming — With a Q&A Mass Update you have the option to execute calculation statements as well as on-record-entry and on-record- exit programming. Does Sesame have these options?

  • Custom Menus — Looking for a way to create a custom menu system in Sesame? Here's the starting point.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Printer Control Codes Are Back — In Q&A for DOS you can add raw printer control codes to your Write documents to merge-print complex forms containing lines, boxes and shaded areas. A recent discovery by Lantica's development team shows how, with a little programming, you can do this in Sesame, too.

  • Table View to Record View — In Q&A, while working in Table View, you could press F10 from any record to switch to Form View with that record displayed. The F10 key doesn't do this in Sesame, but another key does.

July 2004 issue summary. . .[order code JUL 04]

Special 16-page issue

Merge Print Using Programmable Docs
Here is the third of the three primary document merge printing alternatives you can use with Sesame. Remember how you created merge docs in Q&A for DOS? This method uses the same type of field name (element name) merge tags. It also lets you program your merge docs with @XLookups as well as prompts to insert variable text at printing time. Sample application and pre-designed merge docs included in subscriber download file.

Fix Program Execution Order Problems
With general or calc-type programs in Sesame, your programming can produce wrong results if you're not careful to establish the correct execution precedence in a way that makes it bullet-proof. This article shows you what to watch out for in this regard and how to set things up so your form calc programming produces correct results no matter how the form may be redesigned.

Picklists Are Popping Out All Over!
Use the techniques in this article to create pop-up picklists with selections that display pop-out sub-lists. You'll also find out how to defeat automatic sorting so you can have a list that displays "Small," "Medium," "Large" in that order.

Copying Records — Addendum

Last-minute changes in the Sesame 1.0.4 release necessitate this addendum to last month's "Copying Database Records" article.

_______________You ask. We answer.

  • Can't Make XLookups Work — Here's the corrective to the most common mistake people make when programming XLookups in Sesame.

  • Combo Box Color Settings Don't Stick — Right, they don't.

  • Translation Issues Revisited — A quick summary of the vital steps you must take before translating your Q&A databases in Sesame.

  • Solving Server Lockups — Getting a Server lockup when running Sesame in Client-Server mode? What's the problem — and the solution?

  • Looked-Up Data Keeps Changing — Your XLookups seem to be working okay, but the data they retrieve keeps changing (or disappearing). Here's why.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Ensure Unique Values Stay that Way — In Q&A you have your Speedy/Unique (SU) feature to help ensure that duplicate values aren't entered into a field. Sesame doesn't have "Speedy" fields, but here's how to get the same result in a way that's even more sure-fire than Q&A.

  • Quickly Navigate Lengthy Picklists — Very long picklists can be a pain to use. Here's the trick to making them much more user friendly. Sample application included in subscriber download file.

  • How to Avoid Orphaned Subform Records — Subrecords that no long have a parent record linked to them are more than just useless — they drain resources. Here's how to prevent ever having to deal with orphaned records.

  • A Comprehensive Data Dictionary — A powerful new program that enables the busy application developer to find out everything he or she needs to know about the layout elements on any form in any application.

  • How to Trash Your @Number Sequence — If you have an application that relies on @Number for unique record numbering, that application may be skating on thin ice. Here's the lowdown.

  • Use Variables Liberally — SBasic variables are faster and safer than acting directly on form element values themselves. Here's why, with realistic examples.

August 2004 issue summary. . .[order code AUG 04]
(417K; dial-up 45 secs*; broadband 5 secs)

Special 15-page issue

Working with Batches
Sesame is "batch-based." When you export, mass update, sort, and run reports, you are dealing with the current batch — or result set — of records, whether you just retrieved them or added them. This article covers the basics of batches and the most common operations you can perform on them.

All Those Date Fields!
This article shows how to write one program that works for multiple fields (such as date fields) and call that program from any of the other fields. In this case, an application with many date fields requires an option to display a pop-up calendar, so the user can simply click on the date and have it automatically inserted into the field.

Announcement / Review
Retrieve Your Data from Elsewhere
Lantica Software has released a new standalone utility program you can use to extract data from your Sesame applications from outside of Sesame itself. Here's the lowdown on the new Sesame Extractor.

Unlock the Power of 'X' Commands
XLookups have always been a handy tool for retrieving data from external files. But now there are some new 'X' commands that go way beyond what simple XLookups can do. Find out what they are and how you can best take advantage of them.

Speed Up Your Multiple XLookups
This companion article to the one above provides some great tips — and real-world examples — on making your external lookups as efficient as can be.

Make the Menu Tree Disappear
Some folks like to work on their records with the menu tree out of the way. Here are a couple of ways to make it disappear and bring it back as needed.

_______________You ask. We answer.

  • Dates in Text Fields — Big mistake — particularly if they're in a Q&A database that's destined to be translated to Sesame. Here's the corrective.

  • Forms Printing Too Small — Here's the most common reason why Sesame forms print so small and what you can do to fix the problem.

  • Shortcuts and Paths — Why is it that one PC can run XLookups using just @Fn as the "external" file parameter, while another PC on the same network requires the full path to the file?

  • Sorting a Combo Box — When you populate a Combo Box using programming, you may not get your items in the sorted order you want. Here's the trick.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Moving Elements on Tab Pages — Ever try to "rubber-band" a bunch of elements on a Tab page and drag them to another location? The entire Tab group goes right along with them. Here's the missing technique.

  • Right-Align Fields, Left-Align Labels — Here's the trick to adding some breathing space between your labels and the fields they're attached to.

  • Keep That Lengthy Picklist Open — Many of the picklists you need to work with in Sesame Designer snap closed when you'd really like them to stay open a while. Here's how to keep them open until you're ready to close them.

  • How to 'Move' a Database — You can merge a Sesame application. You can trim an application. But how do you extract a particular database from an application and put it in its own application file?

  • Change Stacking Order with SBasic — Does your form design call for elements stacked on top of other elements? Sesame Designer might not let you get away with it, but SBasic can do the trick.

  • Save Your Layout Before Previewing — Common sense, you'd think. So why are you previewing an earlier version of the form with the earlier programming?

  • Simplify External Program Launching — Using batch files or @Shell to launch external programs on-the-fly? Here's how to keep it simple.


Drill-Down Picklists — A reader wants to know how to create a sequence of picklists where he can first select the state, followed by the cities in that state, then get a final picklist of all the customers in that city and state. We've got the code for you. (Sample application included in this month's download file.)

September 2004 issue summary. . .[order code SEP 04]

Special 16-page issue

Managing Monster Picklists
Very long picklists that extend down past the bottom of the screen. Very wide picklists where selections can be 40, 60, 100 or more characters in length. These are monster picklists. What can you, the developer/designer, do to make such lists more manageable and usable? This article gives you a host of techniques, including grouping picklist selections, breaking picklists down into multiple contiguous "pages" with <<< BACK and MORE >>> "buttons," specifying how many selections appear on each page, adjusting picklist length to accommodate various monitor sizes and resolutions, and controlling which users can access which picklists. (Sample application included in download file.)

Fine-Tuning Batches
Sesame is "batch-based." When you export, mass update, sort, and run reports, you are dealing with the current batch — or result set — of records, whether you just retrieved them or added them. Last month, in Working with Batches, we covered the basics of batches and the most common operations you can perform on them. In this month's concluding installment, we show you how to fine-tune that batch of records so it contains exactly the records you want, without having to deal with complex Retrieve Specs or resort to programmed retrieves.

Designing Reports with Subreports
For applications that utilize subforms, Sesame supports a report layout option called a subreport, letting you design a report that displays data from the main records along with their related subrecords. Once you've done it, you'll see how easy it is. In this article, you'll get an overview of subforms and their function, then step-by-step instructions on how to design a report with two subreports based on the GEMS sample application that comes with Sesame. (Sample application — a modified version of GEMS with the reports built in — included in this month's download file.)

_______________You ask. We answer.

  • Back Up to an External Drive — A reader wants to know how to back up his Sesame files to an external ZIP drive so he can take them home.

  • User Level Restrictions — We answer several questions from a Q&A user about Sesame's capabilities when it comes to user-level restrictions.

  • Simplify Post-Translation Programming Revisions — After Q&A translation, you might want to revise and streamline your programming to take advantage of Sesame's support for variables, loops and subroutines. Here are a couple of tips to simplify that process.

  • Q&A Programming Goofs Snagged by Sesame — Q&A lets you get away with certain slipshod programming syntax that Sesame will stop you cold on. Sesame is much stricter than Q&A, but rewards you with more accurate calculations and more predictable results.

  • Problems with Programmed Form Navigation — When you start mixing Sesame's ThrowFocus command with Q&A-style Goto, CNext, and the like, your programmed form navigation can start going haywire. Here's what you need to know.

  • Calculation Errors, Divide by Zero — Q&A lets these go by putting "ERR" in the result field, even when it's a number field. Sesame isn't so careless. How can you prevent a divide by zero from knocking you out of the record?

  • Using Sesame Across the Internet — We answer a question about logging into a Sesame database across the Internet.

  • Q&A Write Documents in Sesame — Here are some of the options you have for getting those old Q&A for DOS Write merge documents converted to a format that makes them usable with your Sesame data.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Create a Custom Password Box for Admin-Related Record Tasks — How do you temporarily make read-only fields editable, invisible fields visible, and manually lock and unlock a record? You can add a little administrator-only password box right to the form. Here's how.

  • @Msgbox and @Askuser on Steroids — In Q&A, the limit in these commands is 45 characters per line for up to three lines. Sesame gives you a total of 1024 characters for the three lines.

  • Using Sesame in XP SP2 — The release of SP2 for Windows XP does affect how Sesame runs. Here's what you need to be prepared for if you're upgrading to SP2.

  • Redesign a Bit Faster and Safer — Sesame Designer's F5 Grab key can make your redesigns go faster and help cut down on design goofs.

  • Where's My Recently-Used Files List?  — You'll search in vain for a list of recently-used files on Sesame's File menu. But there is such a list. Here's how to find and use it.

October 2004 issue summary. . .[order code OCT 04]

Special 15-page issue (download file this month)

All About Reconciling
Reconciling is the process of integrating application design changes in a Designer .DSR file with the live application .DB file. This article covers everything you need to know about the Reconcile process, including the additional Reconcile options available in the upcoming Sesame 1.0.5 release.

Introducing Sesame Subroutines
Subroutines are user-defined procedures that you call or "branch off to" from your main program. One of the big advantages of subroutines is that you can create "generic" ones that can be used with different forms and in many situations that involve multiple layout elements. A library of generic subroutines can save you loads of programming time and make your programming more efficient. This article covers the basics of Sesame subroutines with some tips on where and how to use them. Sample application included in this month's download file.

Use Rootdirs.ini to Find Your Files Fast
Many Sesame users don't have a clue as to how the Rootdirs.ini file got into their main Sesame folder, what it does, or how to take advantage of it. Want to find your application files faster? Control which folders users can see when they go to open an app? Have different File / Open lists for different users? The key is in the Rootdirs.ini file.

Controlling Sesame's Extend Mode
In Search / Update mode, if you "F10" past the last record in the result set, Sesame  automatically switches to Extend mode to allow you start adding new records. Some like this feature for the convenience it provides. Some find it bothersome, even troublesome when it conflicts with programming and/or data entry restrictions, or lets users create new records when they shouldn't be. For those who would like to "control" Extend mode, this article covers various options for going about it, as well as how not to go about it.

_______________You ask. We answer.

  • @Error and Failure Notification — How to make Sesame tell you what caused an XLookup to fail.

  • Form vs. Element Programming — The difference between programming the Form On Form Entry or On Form Exit and programming an element for the Form slot.

  • Sesame and Novell Revisited — If you're planning to use a Novell Server for your Sesame applications, here's what you need to know.

  • .DB File Size after Reconciliation — What makes a .DB file swell to sometimes twice its size right after you Reconcile a Designer .DSR file to it, and how concerned should you be about it.

  • Q&A for Windows Translation — Depending on the structure of the Q&A for Windows database file you're translating in Sesame, expect a little more work once the translation is finished.

  • XLookups and Security — What can make XLookups in translated Q&A databases suddenly stop working in Sesame, and where the problem might be.

  • When @SelectTreeItem Won't Work — Here are the few cases when an @SelectTreeItem command won't work or will only "partially" work.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Getting a Record's Last Modified Date & Time — No need to create bound fields to store this information. Sesame automatically stores it for you.

  • Copy & Paste Form Elements — A new command in the upcoming 1.0.5 release gives you an easy way to duplicate elements when designing your forms.

  • Tracking Application Versions — Here's a handy trick for keeping track of an application file's version.

November 2004 issue summary. . .[order code NOV 04]

Special 15-page issue (download file this month)

Merge-Printing Name Tags
and Photo ID Badges
A new Sesame release is due out soon, and this article and application in the subscriber download file (Badges.db) showcase several of its exciting new features and capabilities. This month we look at an application that merge-prints your data to name tags and photo ID badges using only Sesame and Avery name badge sheets. You'll discover how to merge-print variable images as well as variable text, choose the fonts you like, print one label at a time or an entire batch, queue name tags for printing, select which position on the badge sheet to start printing, and print to any printer in your system, including a shared network printer. (Next month we cover mailing and shipping labels.)

Creative Interface Design — A 'No Navigation' Survey Form
You'll find a dramatic new form design paradigm in this compact application. It brings the fields to you instead of you having to navigate to the fields — and it eliminates typing. For unparalleled ease of use, for faster, more efficient and goof-resistant data entry, you won't find anything that beats this smooth and savvy approach to guided data entry. Application included in this month's subscriber download file.

The Well-Tempered Ampersand
Like many software products, the "&" (ampersand) character plays a larger-than-life role in Sesame. It can bite you if you don't account for it in tasks ranging from layout element label naming and populating picklists to simple database searching. Find out how and where the ampersand behaves differently in Sesame, what its distinctive advantages are, and how to use it safely and smartly in any task where Sesame is not likely to treat it as just another keyboard character.

Working with Layout Element Names, Labels and Fields
When you design a form in Sesame, you place layout elements on it. Most layout elements have a name, a label, and a database field name connected with them. But what really are the differences between these things? How do you tell them apart — and change them when needed? And what impact does the way you use them have on programming, reports and other Sesame operations? Find out in this easy introductory article.

_______________You ask. We answer.

  • Retrieve Only 'My' Records — Suggestions on configuring your application so that users such as salespeople can access only their own records.

  • Macros Messing Up? — Two things here: (1) Macros are a tool of last resort. Often you can do what you need with programming alone. (2) When using  macros that select things from lists that can change, you need a special approach.

  • Sorting Combo Box Entries — If you're populating a combo box via programming, here's how to display its items in alphabetical order and without blank lines.

  • Relational 'JOINs' — Can Sesame do 'em? Here are a few hints.

  • Network Printer Printing a Tiny Form — In this case it was a corrupt network printer driver on one PC. Deleting and reinstalling the driver did the trick.

  • 'Find First Match' — What this command really does and why it might have you scratchin' yer noggin at first.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Sizing Your Text Boxes Just Right — You've got a lot of fields to put on a form, and you don't want them any larger or smaller than they need to be. Here's the trick to optimally sizing a text box layout element.

  • Avoid Extra Semicolons in Keyword Fields — Sesame behaves differently than Q&A when it comes to extra semicolons in Keyword fields. Here's how to prevent incorrect search results when using programming to fill a Keyword field.

  • Creating Paragraphs in a Static Text Box — You're placing some instructions on a form that require carriage returns in the text, but pressing Enter  knocks you clean out of the element. What's the deal here?

  • Ensure All Fields Are Filled — Here's one little generic program that can check all the fields on the form (or just those you specify) and prevent the record from being saved if any are left empty.

December 2004 issue summary. . .[order code DEC 04]
(333K; dial-up 50 secs*; broadband 4 secs)

Special 15-page issue (download file this month)

Add an Instant Mailing Label Printer to Your Form
Last month we looked at merge-printing your data to name tags and photo ID badges using only Sesame and Avery name badge sheets. This month we take up mailing and shipping labels. The customers_labels.db application included in this month's download file is the same as the sample customers.db that comes with Sesame, but with two key additions — a Print Labels button and a program that prints labels right from the main form. We walk you through the process of adding an on-demand label printer to any Sesame form that you can adapt to any Avery or equivalent label sheet.

Creating Custom Menus, Part 1
Readers have been asking us about creating custom menus in Sesame, particularly those who used custom menus with their Q&A applications. They want a screen that serves as a control center or "home page," where they can access different databases in Add or Search mode, run reports, and perform other actions simply by clicking buttons. If you really want to simplify day-to-day Sesame tasks for yourself and others, custom menus are the way to go. And it doesn't take all that much to create them. Here's how. Design_tips.db application for Sesame 1.1 included in this month's download file.

Create a Multi-Tab Contact Manager
Need a little contact manager to track personal as well as business contacts? Here's a novel approach. This Sesame 1.1 contact manager uses a tabbed interface that
simplifies maintenance by letting you group multiple contacts in a single record, such as all members of a family or all the key people at a company. But what's amazing about this app is the way it lets you change the tab labels on-the-fly, so each record can have its own set of tab labels. This ready-to-use app also includes working Send Email and Export for Word Merge buttons for added functionality. MultiTabsContact.db is included in this month's download file.

_______________You ask. We answer.

  • Unique Field Entries — Q&A has it's Speedy/Unique (SU) feature for helping ensure that no record in the database contains an entry that already exists in the same field in another record. Sesame has no such built-in feature. How do you do it?

  • Recently-Used Applications List — A reader would like a "recently-used applications" list available in both Designer and Sesame. There is such a list, but the question is, where is it?

  • Importing Data into Tab Groups — What types of databases are best suited to a tabbed-page form design, and how do you import data into these tab pages?

  • Mass Update with a Macro — Here are the right and wrong ways to go about updating a large number of records automatically.

_______________Technical tidbits you can use today

  • Operate on Dynamic Form Elements — A simple Sesame program can tell you everything you might want to know about all the elements in the current form.

  • Exporting/Importing Programming — Sesame's Program Manger can both export and import programming to and from external files. Here's how one developer utilizes these features and what he warns you to be careful of.

  • Stuff All Your Sesame Stuff in a Folder — Here's how to make yourself more  productive by organizing all your sesame-related files — including documentation PDFs and frequently-used applications — into a single handy folder on your desktop.

Available Now for Sesame 1.1

Inside Sesame's revolutionary...
Printing mailing & shipping labels in Sesame
is about to get easy —
real easy
  • Merge print your Sesame data directly to any Avery mailing or shipping label sheet (or define your own label sheet). 60 importable label templates included

  • Add the LabelWiz printer to any Sesame form in minutes. No programming to write

  • No exporting required. No external programs to deal with. Simply choose your label from a pop-up list when you're ready to run a label printing job

  • Use your favorite font. Customize your labels with an image, border, fixed text, postal bar code

  • Print one label at a time or an entire batch

  • Start printing at any label position on the sheet

  • Print labels to any installed/shared printer

See more...