How To Create a DB/TextWorks Menu Screen

by Jonathan Jacobsen Thursday, November 15, 2018 10:36 AM

For some reason, DB/TextWorks menu screens are a little used feature. We often meet clients with many databases, but without a convenient way of seeing and accessing them all at a glance. Adding a menu screen to DB/TextWorks is quick and easy to do, but makes using your databases so much easier.

The screenshot above shows the menu screen from our Andornot Library Kit, with links to each of the many databases it includes. The one below shows one from one of our clients' systems.

What is a Menu Screen?

Like a Query Screen or Report Form in a DB/TextWorks database, a Menu Screen is a screen layout you create using the WYSIWYG designer in DB/TextWorks. You would usually add to it links to each of your databases, for searching or data entry. You might also add your organization's name or logo, contact or support info for anyone who might be using the system, a brief description of each database, etc.

Having links to all your databases on a single screen saves time and helps new users find their way around your collection of databases without having to hunt for them in folders on disk. It also allows you to specify, in each link to a database, which query screen and reports to load for that database. 

One way to create menu screens is to have different menu screens for different kinds of users. For example, in an archives or museum that relies on volunteers to help with data entry, you could have a menu screen for volunteers that only lists the Accessions database, and pre-loads a simpler query screen and data entry form designed specifically for volunteers. A more extensive menu could provide the archivist or curator with links to all databases, pre-loading the more sophisticated query and edit screens for their use.

Unlike a Query Screen or Report Form, the menu screen isn't stored in any one database, but rather as a separate file on disk (with a .tbm or .cbm extension). You would usually store it in the same folder as all your database files.

How do I create a Menu Screen?

  1. Open DB/TextWorks but don't open a database.
  2. Select Menu Screens > Design from the main menu.
  3. Choose "Create a New Menu Screen File."
  4. Browse to the folder where your databases are stored to save the menu screen in the same location, and give it a name.
  5. In the WYSIWYG Menu Screen Designer, you may now add links to textbases, your organization's name or logo, and other information. Use the examples above for ideas, or come up with your own design.
  6. To add links to textbases, choose Edit > Add > Textbase box.
  7. In the Textbase Properties Dialogue, select the textbase to link to, then on the Initial Elements tab, pre-select the query screen and forms to use by default. Note that these override the default screens and forms set in the textbase, and that in either case, users may still change to other screens and forms once they are in the database.
  8. On the Initial Action tab, be sure to select which window to open. For example, if your link is one such as "Search the Database", select a Query Window. If your link is "Add a New Record", select Edit New Record as the window to open.
  9. Save your new menu screen when your design is complete.
  10. If you ever create more than one menu screen, you can even add links from one to another on each of them.

How do I use a Menu Screen?

  1. On each PC that has DB/TextWorks, open DB/TextWorks but don't open a database.
  2. Select Menu Screens > Select from the main menu.
  3. Choose "Use the Menu Screen in a File", then browse to and select the Menu Screen file (ending with .tbm or .cbm) that you created earlier, usually stored in the same folder as your databases.
  4. Close and re-start DB/TextWorks and your menu screen will now automatically load, ready for use.

See this blog post from earlier this week about two other helpful but little used features of DB/TextWorks: Sets and Record Skeletons.

3 under-used DB/TextWorks functions that you might find useful

by Kathy Bryce Tuesday, November 13, 2018 9:28 AM

A recent project has reminded me that many clients are not aware of the power of these three functions that have been available in DB/TextWorks for years, and which can potentially streamline and speed up your workflow.

The first is Menu Screens.  Many clients have a menu screen that loads up when they open DB/TextWorks but usually the ones we see are either the default from the old Inmagic Library Module, or rudimentary boxes linking to their databases. However they can be so much more useful! Here is an example from a recent project.

CLGA menu

A menu screen is super easy to set up and we’ll be posting a detailed guide here in our blog soon.

However first we need to discuss the other two functions, as they can be used separately or in conjunction with your menu screen.

The second function is Sets. Whenever you do a search you can choose to Save the Set from the top toolbar. Sets are a great way of providing quick access to a search with several parameters to save you from entering them each time using the query screen. So for example, find all records with a Review date in the next 30 days; or find digital image records that have been entered but not checked yet; or find all books that are not on permanent loan and that have been out for more than 60 days. You can use the @date variable in the search strategy without needing to actually input an actual date each time. Never used the @date function? It can be very handy especially when combined as in @date-7:@date which retrieves all dates within the past week.   A Sets box can be added to your query screen to give you quick access to running these searches or they can be embedded in your menu screen.

The third function is Record Skeletons. You may have a student or volunteer adding records for reports in particular series; or images in a photographic collection; or documents in a fonds. You can create a record skeleton to prepopulate the edit screen with publication or descriptive data that is common to all these new records. You can find Skeletons under the Records menu. Note that once you select a skeleton to use, it will be the default until you re-set to none, or choose a different one.

In the menu screen example above, every database has a link to the search screen plus a link straight in to a new record edit screen. If your database has several edit screens these can be specified on the menu screen too, as well as specifying a skeleton appropriate for these new records. It may not seem like much, but this can save a couple of extra clicks and let you get straight to work. This screen also has Sets specified to prepopulate the query screen with the value for a particular collection. So easy to set up and a great way to ensure people can search quickly and effectively.

Check out more tips and tricks for getting the most out of DB/TextWorks in our blog archive:

We are always available to help you with updates to your databases. No project is too small!

Manitoba Law Library Launches New Catalogue, including Collection of Historic Judgments

by Jonathan Jacobsen Thursday, October 11, 2018 8:56 AM

The Manitoba Law Library has launched a new online catalogue featuring not only their print and electronic library resources, but a collection of over 17,500 judgments from Manitoba courts spanning 1970 to 1998. 

The new site is available at https://catalog.lawlibrary.ca and is powered by our Andornot Discovery Interface on top of Inmagic DB/TextWorks databases.

While Manitoba judgments made since 1998 are already available digitally in CANLII, the historic judgments in this collection were not previously available online or in any electronic form. Law Library staff scanned print copies of these judgments, then turned to Andornot to create a search engine for the collection.

"The Great Library has long been known to have this "secret" database of unreported judgments. Our goal was to make this collection available to everyone who wanted it, and to be able to retrieve it themselves."

-- Karen Sawatzky, Director of Legal Resources, Manitoba Law Library Inc.

Andornot created a DB/TextWorks database of judgment records out of a combination of a spreadsheet of metadata, listings of the scanned judgment PDF files on disk, and custom programming to extract additional metadata, such as Court Name, from acronyms in an Accession Number.

As the scanned print copies had not yet been OCRd to convert the images to text, we ran a process to do so for all 17,500 files. This allows the full text of the judgment to be indexed and made searchable in the new site.

This Judgments database, along with a library catalogue database also now managed with DB/TextWorks, is indexed in the https://catalog.lawlibrary.ca site.

This new site offers users the features they expect from library catalogues and all search engines: spelling corrections, "did you mean" search suggestions, relevancy ranked results powered by sophisticated algorithms, and facets such as subject, name, date and type of material to quickly and easily refine a search. When searching the historic judgments, users can also refine their search by Court.

If any search words were found in the full text of a judgment, a snippet of the relevant passage showing the words in context is display in search results. The user may then click a single button to open the judgment in their browser, showing the original scanned document, but with their search words pre-highlighted, where ever they may appear in the document. This feature saves the user from having to download, open and search all over again within the PDF for the relevant passage.

"We wanted to make it easier for our users to find material, whether it is an e-book, a print book, or a report, as well as upgrade the look and feel of our catalog. This system also allows us to create useful reports that help us demonstrate the value of our collection."

-- Karen Sawatzky

Contact Andornot for information management and search solutions for your legal or unique collections.

Inmagic Releases DB/TextWorks Version 17

by Jonathan Jacobsen Wednesday, September 19, 2018 7:11 AM

Inmagic has released version 17 of the its popular desktop database management system, DB/TextWorks, with several new features, such as:

1. Undo Record Deletion

Ah, we've all done this... deleted a record we didn't mean to, or worse, clicked Batch Delete instead of Batch Modify and wiped out hundreds or thousands of records. Oops. Of course, we all have robust backup systems (right?) so we've been able to recover from our mistake without too much grief.

But now we can recover deleted records with a couple of clicks within DB/TextWorks. This new feature needs to be specifically enabled for each DB/TextWorks user (in Tools > Options).

Once active, whenever you delete a record, a copy of it is first written to a CSV text file in your User Files directory. This applies both to single record deletions and to batches. The file is stored for 5 days, so you have a short window in which to realize your mistake, but there is no limit to the number of records that can be stored this way. There is then a new menu option (Records > Undo Delete Record(s)) to recover the most recently deleted records, working backwards through all deletions.

One important caveat is that fields in your textbase which are Automatic Number, Automatic Date and similar system-generated fields will most likely not be restored to their original values, but rather set to new ones. For example, if you have a field that stores the date a record was created, when you undo record deletion, the restored records will have today's date as the created date. A small price to pay for the ease of recovering from a mistake, though.

Savvy Windows users who want to rely on this as an even longer term insurance policy could get around the 5 day storage period with a script that runs nightly on their PC to copy the CSV text files to some other folder for permanent storage, where they won't be deleted. (Contact us if you need help with something like that).

2. Search for Duplicate Records

A new entry on the Edit menu, "Browse Duplicated Terms", opens the Query Choices Browser with a new radio button option, "Duplicated Terms", selected. This shows all entries in the selected field which are present in more than one record. In other words, where the Term Index shows all entries, this omits all those that appear in a single record only.

This feature is useful for fields that ought to be unique, such as Call Number in a Library Catalogue or Accession Number in an Archival Accessions or Descriptions database. You,ll quickly be able to see, find and correct inappropriate duplicates.

3. Send Report as Mail supports specifying alternative port

This feature is handy if you use a service such as SendGrid to send bulk emails to addresses stored in a DB/TextWorks databases, as these sorts of services often require that you use a specific port, rather than the email default port of 25.

Bug Fixes

Also addressed in this release are fixes several issues that appeared in the previous one:

  • Specified sort in Genie report is ignored.
  • Dead URL Link Checker: cannot handle TOC info (pound sign) in URL. The checker is more robust, but some URLs still may not be handled correctly (Due to obsolete WinHTTP stack in 32-bit window).
  • Copy Special operation may not include all data in a record.

If you upgrade from a version prior to 15 directly to 17, be sure to read the instructions about the necessary upgrade to your textbases as well as the software. If you're already using version 15, 15.5 or 16, you'll have done this already.

Customers with a current Inmagic maintenance subscription will receive emails from advantage@inmagic.com with instructions for downloading this release. As always, contact us with any questions about this new release, to check the status of your maintenance subscription, or for help upgrading.

Snazzy up your DB/TextWorks databases!

by Kathy Bryce Wednesday, July 04, 2018 10:58 AM

DB/TextWorks has been around since the late 1990’s and we sometimes come across clients with databases that were developed almost that long ago!  Two recent projects we are working on involve rationalizing older databases to modern standards.   It’s amazing how old, ugly, inefficient interfaces can be spruced up through the use of one of our kits for libraries, archives and museums.  We use these as a starting point, and after updating field names to be as descriptive as possible, we import our query screens, report and edit forms and adjust these to show the clients fields.  If you have report designs you like, you can do this too!  Under Maintain > Manage Textbase Elements you can import and export forms from one database to another.  We like to color code our databases and it’s possible to open the exported forms in Notepad or other text editor and carefully edit to replace background colors. Archives_Accessions

Inevitably requirements change over the years, so we help clients review how fields are being used, and suggest adding or deleting fields to better handle their needs.  We also make sure to add automatic number and date fields, appropriate validation and substitution lists and work with clients to clean up their data by batch modifying or updating values through the validation lists. After so many years working with DB/TextWorks we have a lot of tricks up our sleeves, and often export data, adjust it in other software and re-import to split or combine fields.

If you need assistance with your databases, please check out some of our past blog posts that provide various suggestions for improvements.  Note that some of these reference older versions of DB/TextWorks so the location of functions may not be identical.

Spring Cleanup series:

Give your databases a new lease on life and contact us for a quote to help you love them again!

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