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Backend for Data vs Single Container?

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  • Backend for Data vs Single Container?

    Hi all,

    Question: Should an A5V9 app be written to link tables from a separate dbf? I am nervous about putting everything in one container for fear of overwriting data, or other issues with updating the application. Any thoughts?

    I have done some MS Access application development since Access version 1.1 to about 3 years ago. My method was to build the app in one mdb container and place the data files in another to facilitate updates and backups. I could send the client the updated application with no worries about overwriting precious data. I also did virtually all of the manipulations using macros.

    I note that there is a nice "send" feature that lets you send only the dynamic parts (forms, reports, scripts, etc.) of the application, so I THINK this is okay. I viewed the DVD training and noted that the single database container often can contain many files. My fledgling current project already has a bunch, and it is growing at a staggering rate! It is a little daunting when each table produces 3 files. I am using Lyzenski-Reddick naming conventions which at least aggregate the tables, forms, etc. to some extent.

    I am amazed with the drill down access to properties for each object. There are many wonderful things I have already seen in A5V9. I do miss my mixed upper and lower case field names. The only workaround I have found is to preface a word in the field name I wanted capped with an underscore.
    R. Brake
    Alpha Learner

  • #2
    Re: Backend for Data vs Single Container?

    Originally posted by rbrake3 View Post
    Question: Should an A5V9 app be written to link tables from a separate dbf? I am nervous about putting everything in one container for fear of overwriting data, or other issues with updating the application. Any thoughts?
    I would not do that just for the sake of doing it. The key is to backup, preferably rotating backups, so you don't overwrite good data with bad. Alpha makes this easy with it's built in backup routine which allows you to backup all or parts of the db with an option to have each backup be a numerical zip file, as in,, etc.
    AlphaBase Solutions, LLC

    [email protected]


    • #3
      Re: Backend for Data vs Single Container?

      Thank you for the reply, but please let me clarify my question. The issue is that I need to deploy an app to my client. This is a work in progress, so my client will be working with the developing application, and entering real data as we add features and capabilities. I want to be able to deliver updates in the form of new components (forms, reports, etc.) Without overwriting the client's data. This is done in MS Access by separating the application from the data. I don't know whether to put A5 tables in a separate container (dbf) or use the Send feature which appears to only update the application files, leaving the tables and their data untouched. I urgently need guidance. Thank for any help anyone can provide.
      R. Brake
      Alpha Learner


      • #4
        Re: Backend for Data vs Single Container?


        As Peter suggested take a look at the built in backup / restore utility. I use this all the time to backup application files only from my development machine and then restore these to the client's machine.

        IMPORTANT: If you've made changes to table structure on your dev machine you will need to make identical changes to the clients prior to restoring application files.



        • #5
          Re: Backend for Data vs Single Container?

          Hi Bob, thanks a lot. I figured there was a way that Alpha 5 did this, but couldn't decide if creating a separate db container and linking the tables would work. Frankly, the rapid amassing of files in the dbf container is a bit intimidating to me. I guess part of it is the triple table file effect. I can see the dbf container having hundreds of files in it very shortly. I did not know (being very new to A5V9) that the backup utility could selectively backup components in the way you described. By the way, I had run across mention of a "Send" utility that seemed to offer something similar, the ability to selectively "pack and go" with non-data components. Would this be an alternative solution, and if so does one method offer any advantages over the other?

          Thanks for the note on maintaining table changes on the client data set. I understand about updating table structure. Working with MS Access 1.1 thru 2007, I routinely had to add fields as my understanding of the client's needs developed, and of course sometimes I had to add tables too. These are minor service details to me, compared to the mountains of work involved in fielding the application itself. My immediate need is to be sure I can operate within the realm of Alpha Five with an understanding of how to best achieve the same data integrity while development takes place. Thanks again for your input, it is most helpful.
          R. Brake
          Alpha Learner


          • #6
            Re: Backend for Data vs Single Container?

            Provided you don't modify the structure of the tables, you need only copy the ddd, ddm, ddx or sem, set, sex files to the customer's systems.

            These are the "dictionary" files for the tables and sets. they contain the layouts and rules. There is no need to copy the .dbf files as they are the data.



            • #7
              Re: Backend for Data vs Single Container?


              After what you went through in Access I'm sure you will be surprised at how easy it is in A5 (BTDT).

              Go to the Help file and look for "Copying a Database Design" and "Alpha Five File Types" - these are both important topics to understand.

              Basically, learn what a "data dictionary" is (that topic is also in the Help file) - it contains the layouts, scripts, etc. but not the data. A data dictionary can easily be copied to the user's system and with far less hassle than Access. In A5 you just copy the modified files just like you would copy a text file from one folder to another.

              Quick examples:
              1. You modified a form that is only attached to the ABC table -- just copy the new ABC.ddd, ABC.ddm, and ABC.ddx files to the user's computer.
              2. You modified a report that is attached to the XYZ set -- just copy the XYZ.set, XYZ.sem, and files to the user's computer. (Warning - I've had two users now who "cleaned up their computer" by removing the ".sex" files. Tell them not to do that! Those are "SEt indeX" files.)

              Don't just use/modify the examples above without reading and understanding the info in the Help file. You need to understand just what is included in those files. Also, this doesn't discuss the issue of adding or modifying fields. (That issue has been discussed many times on this board as well. Do a search on a5_add_fields_to_table - including the underscores. The best one is probably here.)

              HINT: (Warning - personal preference follows)
              I have pretty much quit copying individual data dictionaries when updating a customer's application. If I update an application I give them ALL the data dictionaries. I've had too many instances in the past where I thought I gave them everything that was changed but ended up forgetting something I did earlier in the update process. Now, with very few exceptions, it's all or nothing - and I have far fewer issues now that I'm doing it that way.


              • #8
                Re: Backend for Data vs Single Container?

                Thank you all for the wonderful feedback and answers. I am hungry for knowledge in A5V9. I am still curious about the "Send" utility. Does anyone here use that as a client update tool?
                R. Brake
                Alpha Learner