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Thread: Manual Messed up and Misleading

  1. #1
    Jim Faliveno
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    Default Manual Messed up and Misleading

    "Defining Calculated Fields for a Set or Table

    Calculated fields defined for a table or set are created in the Calculated Fields dialog box. To open this dialog box, choose Global Calculated Fields from either the Table or Set menu. "

    Can someone tell me where this Global Calculated Fields is in the Set menu???

  2. #2
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    Ohlen Cartmell
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Open the control panel, click on the tables/sets tab, right click on the table name, on the menu that opens left click on edit structure. On the menu bar, you'll see "table", left click on that and choose global calculated fields from the menu that opens. Or you can click on the xy icon on the menu bar. Hope this helps.

  3. #3
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Jim,

    You can do the same thing that Ohlen describes when the Edit Set dialog box is open.

    Open control panel
    Right click on set icon
    Choose Edit Set
    Click XY tool

    -- tom

  4. #4
    Jim Faliveno
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Thank you for your reply but there is still a problem....

    This part is OK:

    >Open the control panel, click on the tables/sets tab, right click on the table name, on the menu that opens left click on edit structure.<

    I get a Window labeled "Restructure Table (Customers). There is no "Table" on the tool bar....There is "Table Structure" but it doesn't do anything. Yes, the xy icon is there and clicking it does bring up the Global Calculated Fields table. Thanks.

    I don't mean to be difficult but when someone tells me there is something on a menu bar that doesn't exist on my menu bar, I begin to wonder if I'm running a different version? My version is Alpha 5.0, build 1410, add ins build 1036. Is this the same for you?

  5. #5
    "Certified" Alphaholic
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Current build is:

    1501_1053

    Suggest you download the latest patch from the Tech Support Download page.


    The documentation is being improved and extended frequently. Suggest you get the latest CHM from the Learning Center at the Alpha Website.

    I tried to find the text you are referencing in the docs, but could not. If you will point it out to me, we can bring it to the attention of the technical writer tasked with keeping things current and accurate (Edward Larrabee).

    -- tom

  6. #6
    Jim Faliveno
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Thanks, Tom. I'm glad you cleared that up because the first procedure does not work on a set.

    While I have your attention, I am going nuts with another problem.

    I have a TAB form with the TAB labeled "Sales"
    On the form are 3 calulated fields which function correctly. I wish to put another calculated field on the form (Gross Sales) which is a simple addition of the contents of the other 3 fields.

    total(Calc->Total_Security_Device_Sales+Calc->Asma+Calc->Support)

    It worked in A4.5 but I can't get it to work in 5.0. I just get squares in the field and it is wide enough. Any ideas?

  7. #7
    Jim Faliveno
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Tom, thanks. The image attached shows the manual page with that text.

    FYI, I write manuals for a CAD program. In general, I find the A5 manual sketchy, brief, skips steps and doesn't have enough examples. Also, the wording of the command structure like this:

    "Get the total of subexpression over group 'over' sampled each group 'each'"

    leaves much to be desired!

  8. #8
    "Certified" Alphaholic
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Jim,

    Your post didn't help. Care to try again?

    In any case an image probably won't help me as much as a brief description of the specific 'book' or document, plus a page number or chapter heading.

    I think you'll find Alpha Software response to suggestions for improvement to the documentation. If you find the examples and terminology cryptic I suggest you spend some time in the tutorials.

    -- tom

  9. #9
    "Certified" Alphaholic
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Jim,

    I believe you'll find that Total() is intended for reports, not forms.

    Have you tried defining the new calculated display field as the sum of the three other calc fields?

    -- tom

  10. #10
    "Certified" Alphaholic
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    If you haven't downloaded the latest CHM yet, do so. It's the Alpha Five Help and you'll find a download link at this url:

    http://www.alphasoftware.com/support/tech/alpha5/learningcenter.asp

    The discussion of the Total() function explains the grouping and subgrouping parameters well. You'll find it in the Alphabetic List of Functions. Indexed under Total().

    -- tom

  11. #11
    Jim Faliveno
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Tom

    Try Help/Contents/User Guide/Calculated Fields

  12. #12
    Jim Faliveno
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Thanks, Tom. I'm on a dial up right noe and a 29Meg download just isn't practical right now. Have to wait till I get to the high speed connection at my office. Thanks for the link.

  13. #13
    Jim Faliveno
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Tom:

    Just FYI, I'm not a newbee. Been at this since 1974 and Z80's and I appreciate all your help!

    I would love to try the "calculated display field" Might be just the thing. I launch the CHM manual, go to the index. try to look it up....nothing!

    I feel like a jerk asking you where it is but I'll be damned if I can find it!

    Makes me feel so glad that I just upgraded and bought a new version just to end up frustrated and feeling like an ass! (just venting)

  14. #14
    "Certified" Alphaholic
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Jim,

    There are 4 major resources that will help you with the transition:

    1) the Learning Center (link is on Alpha's home page)
    2) the archived Newsletters
    3) the Code Archive forum in the message board
    4) the collection of Articles at www.learnalpha.com maintained by Dr. Peter Wayne

    I recommend them all.

    -- tom

  15. #15
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Jim,

    the term 'calculated field' is, by itself, a bit ambiguous. 'Calculated display field' is my own terminology. Please take a deep breath. I use it to distinguish a table field that has been defined as a 'calculated field type' in field rules. I did not mean to send you on a wild goose chase.

    I use the term 'Calculated display field' to reference calc fields that are defined in a layout (form, labels, reports) as distinguished from actual fields in the table structure, for which a field rule automatically supplies a calculated value. Layout level calculated fields are transient. You may think of them as variables for which predefined expressions supply values automatically. Layout level calculated fields are the same type of 'beast' as the global calculated field you were working with at the top of this thread. (Defined as a calc field ... not a table field...for a table.)

    So, there at least three kinds of calculated fields:

    1) a table field for which a field rule calculates a specific value using a predefined expression. This is stored in the table.

    2) a global calculated field defined as such (rather than a table field) for a table.

    3) a layout calculated field defined in the properties of a layout.

    types 2 & 3 are primarly distinguished by their scope. Otherwise they work the same way.

    To add a new calc 'display' field to a form, open form in design mode, then use the Drag / Drop list and drag a new calc / summary field on to the form's layout. Piece of cake. Alternatively, you can choose 'Form' from the layout design menu and you'll find both Calculated fields and Variables at the bottom of the drop down list.

    If you care to email me a working copy of the database with instructions on how you want a particular form modified, I'll see if I can lend you a hand.

    -- tom

  16. #16
    Jim Faliveno
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Tom:

    Thank you for your very detailed reply.

    In the mean time, I lucked into something. I simply placed a calculated field on the form and used this formula to produce the desired results:

    calc->Asma+calc->Support+calc->Total_Security_Device_Sales

    I just dropped the "total" from the formula!

    In now correctly adds up and displays the content of the other 3 fields.

  17. #17
    "Certified" Alphaholic
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Good! A simple sum, as I had hoped.

    Hang in there. You will find that much of what you know about dBase expressions and functions will continue to apply, however the interface commands (those which manipulate forms or their objects) will be new.

    The tutorials are helpful.

    Starting small and simple while learning how to control the data entry process is highly recommended.

    Good luck! -- tom

  18. #18
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Jim,
    You said,
    >>Thanks, Tom. I'm glad you cleared that up because the first procedure does not work on a set.<<

    But it does; the only difference is when editing the structure of a set the menu bar (not the toolbar) has an entry labeled "set" and when editing the structure of a table, and entry labeled "table".

    Sometimes it's tough to see what another sees in this long distance help stuff.

    As Tom indicates, you'll find Ed is pretty "fussy" about his documentation and will appreciate your comments.

  19. #19
    Jim Faliveno
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Ohlen:

    I appreciate your help. It did point me in the right direction. However, to be precise, when you right click on a set, the option "Edit Structure" does not appear....correct? Instead the option "Edit Set" is available.

    That is what I meant by the "procedure" doesn't work for sets.

    I don't know Ed but if he would like some feedback from someone who has just gone through 2 weeks of frustration because of problems and inconsistencies in the documentation, I would be more than willing to supply examples.

    One I just ran into is in the tablesum function. The documentation shows the use of quotes around all 3 parameters. When you use the function editor, the "walk through" example on the screen does not contain quotes. The manual makes no mention of this. I spent an hour trying to follow the on screen example only to find that the on screen editor and manual say 2 different things.

    In any case, I still can't get the function to work! I right clicked on the table, Trans-2003, and created a calculated field using "tablesum("Trans-2003.dbf", ".T.", "Sec_Dev_Price")". When I attempt to place the field on the form, I get an error telling me there is an error in the field.

    Finally, I just got it to work while writing this message ... by creating the calculated field on the SET and not on the TABLE itself! To my knowledge, the documentation does not make this distinction! What a waste of time! And now I am wondering if I use that table in another set will I lose that calc field?

    BTW, is there any way to delete non used calculated fields from the drag and drop list?

    Pardon my expression of anger, but I have been going nuts with this program! No wonder my staff threw the job back in the Boss's lap to figure out!

  20. #20
    "Certified" Alphaholic
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Jim,

    I'll take your comments as an expression of frustration instead of anger. All of us went through the learning curve. While Alpha5 is an easier database program than most others, it is by no means like falling off a log. I fear you are jumping into the middle of the learning process without going through the beginning steps. Strongly suggest you work through the tutorial prior to allowing the program to defeat you.

    Even the experts (I'm not one of those, just a duffer here) will tell you there is always more to learn.

  21. #21
    "Certified" Alphaholic
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Jim,

    I did not know that tablesum() would take a set name as its first argument. Please post an example so we can see it.

    There are several different kinds of calculated fields, and some have very different scopes. I tried to explain this in an earlier post in this thread. If your new calc field is defined in the form layout it will not be available to other forms and will have to be redefined there. If your new calc field is defined for the table it should be availabe in any form that is based on that table.

    -- tom

  22. #22
    Jim Faliveno
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Tom:

    I just sent you a screen shot directly to your email address

  23. #23
    "Certified" Alphaholic
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Jim, thanks, I'll look for it.

    A picture is nice. But a copy of the database that I can play with and test ideas on, using the same structures and data that you are using, is MUCH better (i.e. easier on me, and faster for you!)

    -- tom

  24. #24
    Jim Faliveno
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Tom:

    The database contains a lot of confidential information and I cannot send it out of house....sorry.

    BTW, I upgraded to the latest version as you suggested. I wrongly assumed that since I just got the CD a week ago that it would be the latest version.

    To A5 Staff: Please add a "WISHLIST" section to your forums.

  25. #25
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Hello Jim:

    Let me continue in the vein of a message Ohlen posted earlier reference your expression of anger because you couldn’t solve a problem with your first A5 database. Although Alpha Five almost certainly has the best combination reference Ease of Use and Power in the market place, it is far more complicated process than using a Word Processor.

    In other words, it takes a long time before one becomes used to the terminology, terms, expressions, programming language, and most of all, the A5 paradigm. I don't know anyone who can pick this up in only two weeks. In fact, I don't know anyone who has picked up a thorough understanding of this database program in only two months.

    So it is perfectly understandable that you will experience numerous problems trying to develop an application at this very early stage. Please accept that as part of the learning curve.

    In light of the above thought, I think there is a big difference between anger and frustration. More often than not, your inability to do something in Alpha Five will be a result of your lack of knowledge. At this point in time, your lack of expertise certainly doesn't merit a reaction of anger. I think you should take a deep breath and ask for help from the very courteous, bright, and knowledgeable people who visit this forum on a daily basis.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but if you think you can harness all of the power, concepts, and nuances of this program in two weeks, you are making a big mistake. Conversely, if you realize that people have used this program for years and we're still learning new concepts and techniques every day, that could help ease your level of frustration. If you take that approach and accept the fact that becoming proficient with Alpha Five will be a long-term project, I think you’ll eventually learn to appreciate the tremendous programming power now sitting at your finger tips.

    Just my thought for a Sunday afternoon,
    Robert T



  26. #26
    Jim Faliveno
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Robert:

    Thank you for your reply. Much of what you say is true.

    However, for a person programming since 1974, I think one might have some insight as to whether the problem lies with the person, program or documentation.

    When you lift a function, for example, right from the documentation and paste it into where the documentation says it should go and you get an error message with no explanation or it just doesn't plain work, this is not the result of inexperience. The response to this kind of situation I think is rightly called anger.

    Just FYI, I first bought A4 version 4 for DOS years ago. The problem is in getting A5 v5 to correctly do it's fancy stuff! Two weeks ago, I upgraded from A5 4.5 to V5.

  27. #27
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Hello Jim:

    I wasn't saying you're inexperienced. In fact, sometimes having no experience can be a plus. After working with other programs since 1974, it's only human nature to expect A5 to work the same way. Many people have gone through this process and told us the process was extremely difficult until they somehow did their best to completely forget how they did things in the past. Why? Because their old habits and expectations actually slowed down their transition from whatever program [including A4 for DOS] to A5.

    On the surface, it sounds as if you're complaint is legitimate. However, I've learned over time, that what appears obvious with A5, isn't always so obvious. In other words, very often, there is something else happening in the background, or somewhere else, which is creating the unexpected behavior. And when you're new to A5, it is very easy to misunderstand or totally miss that possibility. In fact, it's easy to miss even when you've been working with A5 for years.

    Good Luck with your problem,
    Robert T

  28. #28
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    Allen Klimeck
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    Jim I suspect that the problem that you are having with the tablesum() function is the dash in your table name. I would only use A through Z, 0 through 9 and _ for a table name (although I couldn't find this in the documentation).

  29. #29
    "Certified" Alphaholic
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    That was my first thought, too. I didn't check it since the immediate problem was resolved but I think it's a good possibility.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record to some, here are some naming rules I've developed. Jim, since you've been programming that long I'm sure you've had plenty of opportunities to go back to old code and modify it. In the process, one of the common issues is finding all instances of a variable, field name, form name, etc. My naming rules are based on my experiences trying to locate these items as accurately as possible. (I generally use A5Doc for this purpose.) I hate wasting time checking 100 or so references just to find none are valid - and, yes, that has happened.

    The key factor is Unique. If the name isn't unique, a lot of time will be wasted checking the wrong things.

    - ONLY use letters, numbers, and underscores for any names. No other special characters should ever be used - including blank spaces, dashes, and ampersands for anyone who doesn't understand "No other special characters."
    - NEVER use blank spaces in table names, script names, or layout names. Instead, use an underscore.
    - End all field names with the letter "f". It looks a bit strange at first but it makes searches later much more accurate.
    - Use two-word names whenever possible. This makes each name more unique. (EX: For a field name, instead of Company, use Comp_namef)
    - For indexes that you build, always put an underscore on the end. (Note that an index on Comp_namef now becomes Comp_name_ which makes it unique.) In addition to making searches more accurate, this distinguishes them from indexes built by Alpha which makes it much safer when trying to clean up a database and remove unnecessary indexes. It's always safe to remove indexes created by Alpha because Alpha will rebuilt the index if needed but indexes you built may require more analysis before deletion.
    - Keep field and index names to 10 characters or less. This is not absolutely required. It's just a litte added safety factor to avoid some possible development issues.

    Each person has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to naming so I don't expect everyone to adhere to these rules but I would hope that at least a few people are aware of the rationale so they are at least making an informed decision. To read more about my rationale, read my web page on A5_Naming_Conventions.

    Cal Locklin
    www.aimsdc.net

  30. #30
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    Default RE: Manual Messed up and Misleading

    What happened? This message board isn't working with HTML tags any more??

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