Tel:07879426788
Email:enquiries@meadowlark.co.uk

Using the new tasks database

The new tasks database is simple, crude, and ugly but it works and it is your creation. You have complete control of its form and function. It can be enhanced in a number of ways to address its shortcomings, but first lets take stock of what our tasks database does.

Moving around the database

The form displayed currently, shows just one record. You can jump from one record to another by clicking on the PgUp or PgDn keys on your keyboard or using the video style arrow head controls at the top of the screen. As you move around the database, you can change the contents of any field and the changes will be saved as soon as you leave the record (Pressing PgDn or PgUp will do this for example).

Sorting the records in the database

Click on any field in the form ie dStart and then click on the Browse menu then the Sort menu, then Ascending  This will sort the records in Ascending order on dStart, so the tasks with the earliest start dates will be displayed first. Press the PgDn key to see tasks with later start dates, the last record will have the start date with the latest start date. With only a few records this is not particularly useful, but with many records it can be invaluable.

Finding tasks that match a particular criterium

The Find facility in Lotus Approach is particularly good, and is possibly the feature of a database that makes them so indispensible. Many other databases, Microsoft Access for example is inferior to Approach as we will soon see.

To use the find facility, click on the Find button at the top of the screen. The screen goes blank awaiting your input.

Enter some text you want to find within the database. For example, type "Shine" into the tTask field, then press okay. The database will respond by showing you all the records with the word "Shine" within that field, there will be one. Note that the record counter has changed from three to one to reflect the number of records that match that criteria, only one record contains the word "Shine". Click on the find button again and enter other search terms in other fields. Try searching for something that you know is present in the database (use PgUp or PgDn to flick through the records to remind yourself what you have entered). Also try searching for something that you know does not exist. If the text is not found an error message will be displayed.

The Find facility is very powerful. Try finding records with more than one criteria. For example, click on the Find button then in the blank form, enter a value you wish to find in two different fields, perhaps some text in the tTask field and a date in the dEnd field.

To show all records in the database at any time, either type the Ctrl (Control) key and the a key, or click on the

<Current Find/Sort>

menu at the top of the screen and select

All Records

Finding fields that are empty

Finding fields that have no contents can be very useful. For the dEnd field, a blank field tells us the task has not been completed. To search for a field that is empty, click on the field on the form, then on the Find button, then type

=

into the field that you want to search for blanks. If there are any records that have blank dEnd fields, they will be displayed in the form. The easiest way to remember this rather obscure tactic is to look carefully at what you have entered in that field of interest, you have entered "= " which is the same as "equals nothing"

Finding fields that are not empty

Perhaps you want to search for a fields that are not empty, but you do not care what the contents is. To search for a non-empty field, click on field you wish to search, then the Find button and enter <> 

This will find fields where the contents "does not equal nothing".

You can download the database so far here

In part 2 we will enhance the database to make it more useful.

Summary of what we you have achieved so far

You have created a small but complete task database, with forms, tables and a powerful search facility.

You have populated it with data.

You have searched it and found some records.

You have done this in perhaps an hour. As an exercise, you might want to ask a Microsoft Access or any other type of database expert to do the same in the same amount of time.