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Editor's note: You may sometime want to export or import data from or to one of your palmtop's database applications (PhoneBook, Database, NoteTaker, etc.).

For example, let's say you'd like to take all the names and telephone numbers from your PhoneBook file and get them into a dBASE database file on your laptop.

Or maybe you've got a Microsoft Word file on your desktop PC that contains 1,000 names and addresses that you'd like to move to a database file on your palmtop.

Or possibly you've received a list of 500 companies via e-mail or off the Net that you'd like to bring into a NoteTaker or database file.

Since PhoneBook and Database, NoteTaker, etc. doesn't have the capability of easily exporting or importing data in any of the standard data formats, accomplishing the task will not be as straightforward as it would be from within a more robust database.

The following three tips discuss a number of different ways of moving data into and out of your palmtop.

Exporting and importing the Note field

For a while now I have been trying to export Database and PhoneBook files from my HP 200LX in a comma-delimited form that I can import into my desktop computer with all the fields intact. (A comma-delimited file is a generic type of data file where the fields of each record are enclosed in double quotes and separated by a comma, and each record ends with a Carriage Return/Line Feed combination.)

The big bugaboo is with the Notes field in any database. When you enter data into a Notes field it automatically wraps the text so you can see it. When you export a NoteTaker, PhoneBook, or Database file, carriage return/line feed symbols are placed in the Notes Field wherever the text wraps.

Any program trying to import a record containing a Note with a word-wrapped line gets tripped up by the Carriage Return/Line Feed combination in the Note field and thinks another record is starting.

I now have a workaround. I export my 774-record PhoneBook file to a comma-delimited file using a smart clip formatted with all the fields on a single line, and the Notes field included. In smart clip, this line ends with | | |, three instances of the character that's produced by pressing (Shift)+(\). This is my way of terminating a record with a definable group of characters that would not normally be found inside any data held in these records.

Here's how to create the comma-delimited smart clip. While still in PhoneBook, press (F5) (Clip), then (ALT)+(D) to define a new smart clip. Next press (SHIFT)+(*) to produce the open quotes, (F2) (Field) to choose a field, then choose the Name field and press (ENTER). Now press (SHIFT)+(*), (,),(SHIFT)+(*) to product the quotes-comma-quotes combination between the Name field and the next field.

Proceed in similar fashion until you've included all the fields (with the quotes-comma-quotes combinations between each field). After adding the Note field to the smart clip, add a double quote, then press (Shift)+(\) three times. Press (F10) (OK), then, when asked to name the smart clip, type in a name (such as "Comma-delimited") and press (ENTER).

Once the smart clip is created, here's how to export the records of a PhoneBook or other database file to a comma-delimited file.

Press (MENU), File, Print, and when the Print dialog box appears (See Screen 2) press (ALT)+(A) to select all items; (ALT)+(C) to select Custom; then press (TAB), (TAB) to move to the category box; then use the up or down arrow keys to select the "Comma-delimited" smart clip; then press (ALT)+(F) to choose File; then press (F10) (OK).

When the Print to File box appears, type in the name for your comma-delimited file, then hit (F10) (OK). The contents of your PhoneBook file will now be sent to a comma-delimited text file.

These are the Print dialog box settings that will export the fields listed in the smart clip to a comma-delimited file.

This is what the exported comma-delimited ASCII file looks like from within MEMO.

You can view this file from FILER or load it into MEMO. (See Screen 3.)

I open this file in Microsoft Word 6 and do a search and replace to find all carriage returns, and replace them with a single space. Then I do a search and replace to find all instances of | | | and replace each cluster of three of these characters with a single carriage return.

This I save as ASCII text and import into the program of choice, such as a database program.

One thing can unstick you, though. If the destination program is limited by the DOS 256-character-per-line restriction and you have Notes that contain more than 256 characters, then you have to look for a more modern program!

David Lawrence


iPhone Life magazine

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