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 Merrill
When 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
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.
Custom Database : Graphic
1. From the DataBase application press (MENU) File Define New Database.
You should be presented with the Add Field dialog box. Well create a text
field to hold the name of the product.
2. Key in the name of your new data field. For this example, well enter
the name Prod.
3. Press (TAB) once to go to the Field Type section of the Add Field box.
Use the ArrowKeys to select the type of field you want. (See database fields,
types of in the Users Guide index for more on field types.)
4. After you have typed in the Name of the field and selected its Type,
press (ENTER). The Palmtop will add the data field to the new database
and then pop up an empty Add Field box for you to define more fields.
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.
Add Field Screen in Database Program: Graphic
Setting up a Smart Clip to export and format database information
5. When you have added as many fields as you want, press (ENTER) (F10),
name the file, and press (F10) again.
6. Now position and size the new data fields you have created. Press (TAB)
to highlight the data field you want to move or size. Then use the following
keys: Press the ArrowKeys to move the data fields. Press (SHIFT) (ArrowKey)
to move data fields in smaller increments. Press (CTRL) (ArrowKey) to change
the size of the boxes. (It may be easier to add and position/size the data
fields one at a time, instead of adding them all and then trying to position/size
7. When you're finished positioning and sizing your data fields, press
(F10), give you new DataBase a name and press (F10) again. That's all there
is to it. For more information on setting up a Palmtop DataBase, see Data-base:
Definition in your HP 100/ 200LX Users Guide.
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
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
Graphic Define Smart Clip screen -
1. At the All Database Items screen, press (F5) to access the Smart Clip
feature and (ALT)-(D) to define a new Smart Clip.
2. Select the data fields you want to export. Press (F2) to go to the Define
Field screen. Press (DownArrow) to move to the first data field you want
to export and press (F10). It will appear on the Define Smart Clip screen.
3. Continue the process of pressing (F2) and selecting data fields until
you have all the fields you want. I selected the following fields: Prod,
Price, Brief, Company, Country, Phone 800, or, Fax, e-mail. The Define
Smart Clip screen appears as shown below, with the data fields concatenated
one after the other.
4. Modify the Define Smart Clip screen so the data appears as you desire.
Use the Arrow keys to highlight a data field and then move it to the desired
position using ENTER and TAB keys, or the Spacebar.
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
In our example, the Prod and Price fields have an em-dash (dash the length
of two hyphens) in between. I positioned the cursor on Price and keyed
in two hyphens. Ill do a Search and Replace on the two hyphens when I import
the product information into my word processor. Next, I moved to the end
of the Brief (product description) field, inserted a space and keyed in
the phrase (See page xx). Then, I moved the cursor to the beginning of
the next line, before the Company field, inserted one Tab, typed in Contact:
and inserted another blank space. Finally, I moved to the end of the data
fields and pressed (ENTER) three times to put some space between each product
5. Insert the additional text you need. Use the ArrowKeys to move the cursor
to the desired position and key in characters, punctuation marks, and blank
spaces and carriage returns as needed.
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
Define Smart Clip Screen ( Graphic)
Making it all work: Using the Smart Clip to print the desired product information
to a file.
6. Save your new Smart Clip. When you've got the Define Smart Clip screen
just the way you want, press (F10), name your Clip (e.g., Product Index),
and press (ENTER) or (F10) to complete the operation. Press (F10) one more
time to clear the Smart Clip screen and return to the All Database Items
The final step was to see if the Smart Clip actually worked. I
followed these steps to test the process:
Load the file into a word processor or page layout program for final edit
1. Select desired products. I opened up the All Items screen of the Product
Database and selected a few products. (You do this by highlighting an item
and pressing (Spacebar). A diamond appears to the left of a selected item.)
2. Print the Smart Clip to a file. In the All Database Items screen, press
(MENU) File Print. You are presented with the Print dialog box, with subsections
Print, Style, Print to, and Title.
2A. The cursor should be resting on the Selected Items button in the Print
section. If not, Tab to that section and use the ArrowKeys to make sure
that button is highlighted.
2B. Tab to the Style section and use the DownArrow key to highlight the
Custom button. Then press (TAB) twice to go to the pull down menu at the
bottom of the Style section. Use the DownArrow to select the Product Index
2C. Tab to the Print To section and use the ArrowKeys to highlight the
File button. Tab to #Copies and make sure 1 is entered there.
2D. Tab to the Title section and type in Product Index. We can skip the
other print options for this example.
2E. Press (F10) to print your selected items to a file. Give the file a
name when prompted (the file will be saved to the C:\_DAT directory, unless
you specify a path and filename at this point). The selected data is saved
in an ASCII text file that can be imported into any word processor. (See
the output of this clip at the bottom of this page.)
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
Smart Clip Output : Graphic