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Using alpha as front end to another program

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  • Using alpha as front end to another program

    I have another program that I use frequently, but the reporting capabilities are limited. It does however, have a feature that allows exporting the data to a dbf or text file. I was wondering whether I could write a little app in alpha that would start the other program, select their export utility from their menu, and then I could manipulate the resulting data file via usual ways in alpha. Is this reasonable?
    Gary S. Traub, Ph.D.

  • #2
    RE: Using alpha as front end to another program

    You might be able to use "SYS_OPEN". It is a new feature offered in 4.5 build 266. Checkout the readme file on B266 in technical support area.


    • #3
      RE: Using alpha as front end to another program

      While Alpha may allow you to start a different program, it cannot really control the other programs.

      To have total over another program, you might want to try a specialty program that was made just for this purpose.

      Check out WinBatch at:



      • #4
        RE: Using alpha as front end to another program

        We use alpha to fire off a number of different programs. Look at your x-basic guide and check out the DDE functions. They are VERY powerful. You can manipulate date to be used in other programs, send commands to those programs, etc. Sometimes the commands can seem strange, but once you get the format down, the commands work wonderfully. We use Alpha to populate a word template and then tell word to print the document. Alpha would have been too cumbersome to print the 6000 or so two-sided documents. In another instance, we call a communications program and pass information to it to retrieve informtion from external mainframe systems. I will just reiterate, DDE IS VERY POWERFUL!!!



        • #5
          RE: Using alpha as front end to another program

          Thanks for the comments - I will try these ideas ...

          Gary S. Traub, Ph.D.


          • #6
            RE: Using alpha as front end to another program


            alpha has the ability to export files in many formats. In addition if they need a dbf format just give them a copy of the dbf you want to provide.

            I hope this helps

            bob adler


            • #7
              RE: Using alpha as front end to another program

              The problem is not in exporting from alpha, but importing from another software program into alpha. The other program is not written in alpha and uses a data file that is propietary - and the producers of that software will not divulge the format. However, they do include withinb their software a utility that will export the data from THEIR program to a txt, dbf, etc format. I can then take that and use it within alpha. I know that. What I would like to know though is there a way to automate the process - i.e., write an alpha app that can start the other program, run its utility (which is a menu choice), exporting the data to a dbf file - so that I can then import into malpha - I think you get the idea ...

              Gary S. Traub, Ph.D.


              • #8
                RE: Using alpha as front end to another program

                Gary, here is a sample of our code to do the word prints.

                The toughest part is trying to find out what the commandstrings look like. That took us quite a while to figure out. We had to research in a Visual Basic book to get the proper format.

                link = dde_initiate("winword", "system")
                command_string = "[fileopen ""]"
                link = dde_initiate("winword", """")

                WHILE .not.fetch_eof(dbh)
                if .T. THEN
                case1 = master5->caseno + " " + master5->supervisor + master5->workerno
                name = w_upper(trim(master5->fname)+" "+trim(master5->lname))
                if .not.isblank("master5->xtraaddind") then
                Addr = w_upper(trim(master5->mailstreet))+", "+w_upper(trim(master5->xtraaddref))
                Addr = w_upper(trim(master5->mailstreet))
                end if
                if len(trim(master5->mailzip))>5 then
                zipper = left(master5->mailzip,5)+"-"+right(master5->mailzip,4)
                zipper = trim(master5->mailzip)
                end if
                addr2 = trim(master5->Mailctysta)+" "+zipper
                command_string = "[FILEPRINT]"
                FOR i = 1 to 5100
                NEXT i
                counter = counter+1
                END IF
                END WHILE
                UI_MSG_BOX("BCBSS NEWSLETTERS","Printing is COMPLETE - "+str(counter,7,0)+ " Pages")
                command_string = "[FILEEXIT]"

                Hope this helps. By the way, this is version 1.02. We have not yet been able to upgrae to ver 4.



                • #9
                  RE: Using alpha as front end to another program

                  WOW ... I appreciate the code and will study it closely. Thanks ...
                  Gary S. Traub, Ph.D.