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Print Your Database in the Format You Want
Create a custom database and print it out in the format you want using the built-in Database program and Smart Clip.
By Paul MerrillWhen I started at The HP Palmtop Paper, I inherited the job of creating the Product Index you see on the second to the last page of every issue. I would have to go over each article, letter or tip in the issue and make a list of the products mentioned. I would then search past issues for the information and then cut it into a WordPerfect file on my desktop PC. If the product was new, I would consult product literature and/or phone the vendor for the information, and then enter it into the WordPerfect file. Finally, I would open a copy of the Quark file containing the last issues Product Index. I would delete all the products we weren't going to use this issue. I would then cut and paste the new ones and format them.
This whole process was tedious and inefficient. We decided to create one centralized database of product contact and pricing information and work from it each issue.
Setting up the database
The first task was to find a good database program. We started looking for a desktop database program, but realized that we already had a good one right on our Palmtops in the Palmtops built-in DataBase application. If we used this application, we could keep the Product Index database on our Palmtops and use it with the Connectivity Pack version on our desktop PC.
The first step in creating our Product Index database was to decide the type of information we wanted to collect. We would need data fields for the date we entered or updated the information, the product name, price, company name, address, phone and fax numbers, and e-mail address. We would also need a field for a brief, one-sentence description, as well as a Note field for a longer product description. Once we had decided on the information we needed, we began to build the Database.
The Data Item (data entry) screen for the finished product contact database is shown at the bottom of this page. Here's how I created it.
I started the HP 100/200LX Connectivity Pack software on my desktop PC, opened the DataBase application and followed the steps described below. NOTE: You access the MENU key on the Connectivity Pack version of the built-in applications by pressing (ALT). Whenever you see (MENU) in the instructions, press (ALT) if you are using the CPACK DataBase.
The screen graphic above shows the fields we used in this database. All fields are text fields except for the D (Long Description) field, which is a Note field. We chose text fields because of the flexibility they give us to enter both letters, numbers and characters.
After creating the Product database, I spent a couple of weeks keying in the product information. Then I had to develop a method of selecting and printing the desired information to a file in a format as close as possible to the published Product Index. The format for individual product entries is as follows:
"Product Name -- $price
Brief product description of no more than two lines. (See page xx)
Contact: Company Name, Address, Phone and Fax numbers, E-Mail address."
I could have tagged the desired products in the DataBase and use the Print option to copy them to a text file. But when I opened the file in a word processor, I would have to do a lot of editing. Id have to delete unnecessary information, add words and phrases, and move text around. Still a lot of work.
What I decided to do was create a Smart Clip and export only the data I wanted, in the format I wanted. In addition, I could use the Smart Clip to add the word Phone before the phone number, Fax before the fax number, and (See page xx) after the product description. Here's how I set up the Smart Clip:
Caption:- after selecting data fields, but before formatting the screen so the data appears as you want it. All fields on one line.
In our example, the first three fields we selected were Prod, Price, and Brief. I wanted Prod and Price to appear on the first line, and Brief (brief description of the product) to appear on the second line. I highlighted Brief and pressed (ENTER) to put it on the second line, below Prod and Price. After Brief comes Company, which should appear on the third line. I highlighted Company and pressed (ENTER) to move it to the third line.
When I was finished moving data fields around and inserting text, the Define Smart Clip screen looked like the screen shown at the top of the next column. (Some data is hidden to the right of the screen due to the screen size.)
The final step was to see if the Smart Clip actually worked. I followed these steps to test the process:
The above instructions work with DataBase on the Palmtop, or the Connectivity Pack version on a desktop PC. I tested it on my Palmtop, then transferred the ASCII text file to my desktop using the Palmtops memory card and my desktops PCMCIA card reader. (The unedited version of the file is displayed later in the article.) I loaded the file into WordPerfect 6.1 for Windows for a final edit.
I needed to make some small edits because some entries did not have Fax numbers or e-mail addresses. Other than that, the system worked flawlessly and the product information was printed out as I had formatted it. Then I exported the WordPerfect file to Quark for final formatting.
Other uses for the DataBase, Smart Clip team
You can create any number of custom DataBases on your HP Palmtop. In addition, the PhoneBook, NoteTaker, and World Time applications can use Smart Clips to print data out the way you want it. So, for example, you can print out address and phone lists, inventories, itineraries, mailing labels and more, in a format that makes the data easier to understand, and nicer to look at.
What the Smart Clip outputted
I used the procedure described in this article to print the product information for this issue to an ASCII text file. I loaded it into my word processor and it appeared as shown below, before any editing or formatting. Note that E-mail: was printed out, even if an entry did not have an e-mail address.
Copyright © 2010 Thaddeus Computing Inc