Working With Entry Forms
askSam Concepts in this Chapter:
Designing Entry Forms
Creating and Editing Entry Forms
Inserting Fields in an Entry Form
Using Multiple Entry Forms in a File
Adding and Inserting Entry Forms
Renaming Entry Forms
Deleting Entry Forms
Entry Form Properties
What Are Entry Forms?
Entry Forms let you define structure for the Documents in an askSam file. You can set up “fields” in an Entry Form and fill these out as you enter information in your file. askSam is a very flexible program it does not require rigid predefined structure like most traditional databases. Predefined field lengths are not required. In an askSam Entry Form, you type words you want to use as fields:
Example Entry Form for Contact Information
The Entry Form provides structure for the information you enter, but does not require you to predefine how much information you'll be entering in your “fields”. askSam also lets you use multiple Entry Forms in your files. For example, in an address file, you may have one Entry Form for work addresses and another for personal addresses. Entry Forms also provide askSam with a list of fields contained in your file. The list of field names in the Search commands and Report Editor is generated from fields contained in the Entry Forms.
When you create a new askSam file, it contains an empty Entry Form named “Normal”. To add structure to the file, you can edit the Normal Entry Form and add fields, or you can create a new Entry Form with the desired fields. You can do this using either the Entry Form Wizard or by manually creating the Form in the Entry Form Editor. The following sections in this chapter will describe how this is done.
Designing An Entry Form
Designing a custom Entry Form requires no programming. In fact, creating an Entry Form is as simple as typing words. The key to creating useful Entry Forms is understanding your information. Take a close look at your information and how you want to use it. A few questions you may want to ask include:
Should I define fields and structure my information, or do I simply want a blank page to jot down notes and information?
A blank screen for entering text does not require an Entry Form. You would just Create An Empty File (as described previously) and begin entering your Documents.
NOTE: Without any consistent structure between Documents, you can still search for any text you have entered. However, you will not be able to generate lists and reports based on these Documents. Even a small amount of consistent structure between freeform Documents (such as the date and subject of a note) allows you to utilize your data in a variety of ways.
If some type of structure is needed, ask the following questions:
Can I define a form that will simplify entering information?
Fields (such as Name[, Company[, City[) or words (such as To:, From:, Date:) can prompt you for the necessary information and allow you to jump directly to the position where that information should be entered.
An Entry Form can also simplify data entry by automatically inserting the date or including information that will repeat between Documents (such as your name, company name and address).
Who will be entering information into the file?
If you are designing a file for your own use, Entry Forms (if they are required) can be less detailed. Generally, they will serve to prompt you for specific pieces of information that will ensure consistency from Document to Document.
But when others will be entering information, the Entry Form often serves a more vital role. It can contain the complete text of the questions you want asked or other instructions for filling out the form. For example:
What parts of your information would you like to see in lists and reports?
askSam has the ability to search for any word or phrase in your file without any predefined structure. However, in order to create reports and lists, askSam must be able to locate the specific information you want to include in your lists or reports. To identify this information, askSam allows the use of fields.
In askSam fields are simply words followed by the “field character” for example: Product[, Price[ or Description[
By default, the field character if the open square bracket ( [ ). In the FILE PROPERTIES menu, you can change this setting, and set the field character to another character. For example, if you set the field character to a colon (:), you could use words such as To:, From:, Date:, and Subject: as fields. This is quite useful when you're trying to turn email or information downloaded from the Internet into a searchable database.
Any information that is preceded by a FIELD can be used in a report.
For example: You are creating a file with Documents containing names and telephone numbers. Eventually, you will require a sorted list containing these names and phone numbers. In this case, you would precede both the names and telephone numbers with a field name.
NAME[ Jane Smith ]
Client: Mike Davis
What is the purpose of your Form and is there any part that can be automated?
Very often the nature of your information will dictate just how the Form can best be used.
EXAMPLES: If the form is intended to create a Fax form, do you have all the necessary text and formatting included? Do you have the date being automatically inserted? You should try to automate as much as possible.
If the form is intended to create a Questionnaire, are you asking the right questions to obtain precisely the desired answers? Do you have fields for all the information you need in reports? Is a date required? If so, are you automatically inserting it?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you are ready to create your Entry Form. And unlike many traditional databases, askSam makes it easy to modify your Entry Form should you find something is not quite right or perhaps missing in your original.
In fact, you might find the best way to create a new file is to: create an Entry Form; enter a few Documents; use the Report Editor to define the required reports; then double check to be certain all the necessary information is present. If not, simply go back and modify your Entry Form.
Designing an Entry Form will often help you better understand your information. The process forces you to focus on what is relevant. After designing your first file or two, you may quickly find yourself using askSam for a variety of tasks.