In the first post of this series we wrote about cleaning up the files associated with DB/TextWorks and in the second we covered rationalizing your textbase elements.The third post discussed some steps you can take to protect and maintain your textbases in good health.
In this last part of our Spring cleanup series we will discuss renaming fields. This requires the most caution and forethought, but is also advisable to ensure that new users can understand your textbases. All too often we find clients who have maintained the same textbases for years and years and see no problem with fields named AU, TI etc. It’s pretty easy to guess that these stand for Author and Title in a library catalogue, but what about some of the other abbreviations that may date from much earlier versions of Inmagic when there were limits to the field name length. We came across a client with an LCCN field, i.e. Library of Congress Control Number. A new non library person started data entry and guessed that this field was an abbreviation for their shelf location, thus creating a horrendous mixture of entries. (We always recommend adding Automatic Date type fields for RecordCreated and RecordModified which can make cleanup of this type of mistake a bit easier.) Field names in the current version of DB/TextWorks have a 20 character limit which is usually ample to describe the contents. We recommend not including any spaces, but visually separating words with caps or underscores as in PublicationDate or Project_Number. If you have several databases with similar fields, you should consider giving them consistent names.
If you make changes to a field name, all DB/TextWorks query screens and form boxes simply use the new values and continue to function. Any box labels that were taken directly from the field names will however continue to show the old values.
As a precaution we always recommend making a backup or copy of the textbase before making any significant modifications. Next, determine if there are any textbases linked to the one you wish to change. Linked fields in a Secondary textbase can be identified by viewing the Textbase Information under the Display tab, but the fields that are linked to are not shown in the primary textbase information, so you do need to understand if there are relationships between your textbases before renaming fields.
As mentioned in Part 2 on changing textbase elements, extra care must be taken if you have WebPublisher PRO, as query screens or canned searches will reference field names and will not update automatically if you edit these. Changing field names may also break forms or query screens with embedded scripts. Scripting capabilities were introduced in DB/TextWorks version 4 so pre 2001 textbases are not likely to include any. More recent textbases from Inmagic such as those in the Library Module, and those provided by Andornot will include some scripting.
If your textbases don’t have linked textbases, scripts or web access, then renaming fields can be straightforward and a great way to rationalize your textbase to make it easier for others to understand.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing this renaming cleanup yourself, contact us and we can help you on a consulting basis.
We hope you have enjoyed this four-part series on spring cleaning your databases – please let us know if there are other topics you would like us to cover!