Efficient Data Entry


Field-based Datafiles


Many users simply use iData Pro to store random information of one kind or another. This is often done using freeform datafiles, and the user just adds new records as needed.

However, there are many cases where the use of fields is important for more "structured" data. A good example is a contact file, where each record contains specific bits of information about a particular person. Here's an example:

It is certainly possible to create such a datafile and then just add records from time to time as needed.

However, sometimes you may have a large quantity of data in some other format (e.g. printed) that you need to get into a datafile as efficiently as possible. This page will provide a few ideas about how to do this.

Basic Information

You can enter data in either List View or Data View.

Because List View displays as a table, with records as rows and fields as columns, it is particularly useful if you are creating many records in one sitting and need to be able to see some of the records that you've entered previously.

On the other hand, Basic View, which shows one record at a time, with fields as rows, may be a bit simpler, since it's not as easy to edit the wrong record.

You can get to be pretty efficient in either view by using command keys, but moving among fields is somewhat different.

Work Flow

Starting With a New Record

1. Use command-= (command-equal) to add the new record.

2. Depending on your needs, you can set a datafile to add new records at the beginning of the datafile, at the end of the datafile, or after the current record.

    a, Use command-option-comma to bring up the Settings dialog.

    b. Click the Always tab.

    c. Make your selection under Always add new records:.

    d. Click the Save button.

3. You can use shift-command-V to switch between Basic View and List View. (If you end up doing this a lot, you should make sure that the upper left corner of the windows for both views are in approximately the same location to minimize window movement.

Data Entry

1. When a new record is created, the first field of the new record will become active.

2. After typing something (or nothing) into a field, type tab to move to the next field. (Typing tab with the last field active will take you back to the first field.)

   Type shift-tab to move to the previous field. (Typing tab with the first field active will take you back to the last field.)

   You can also click in any field to make it active.

3. There are several ways to select all of the text in a field so that it can be overwritten:

   a. Type command-A to select all the text in an active field.

   b. Double-click in the current field to select all the text in that field.

   c. Click on a field name to select all the text in that field (in the current record).

4. Type command-\ (command-backslash) to move the entry point to the Freeform Text Area. Or, just click in the Freeform Text Area.

    You can also type command-[ (command-left bracket)to make the Find Box active, or type command-] (command-right bracket) to make the current field active.

5. Once you're satisfied with the current record, you can type command-= to add another record. You may want to type command-S to save your changes at this point.

Other Stuff

1. Many experienced users of iData have developed the habit of typing the return key to move between records.

    In ancient times (starting in around 1988), we set up iData's earliest predecessor, QuickDEX, so that when the Find Box was empty, the user could type the return (or enter) key to go to the next record. This was continued in InfoGenie (1995-2002) and iData, because so many users who started with one program continued with its replacement.

    The problem is that iData is very different from QuickDEX and InfoGenie (both pre-OS  X programs). The result is that the return key has become what is referred to as "overloaded" with a variety of different functions:

    a. With the Find Box active and empty, it takes you to the next record. Use command-' (command-apostrophe) instead.

    b.  With the Find Box active and containing text, it searches for the text. Use command-G instead.

    c. With a field active in Basic View, it takes you to the next field in the same record. Use tab instead.

    d. With a field active in List View, it takes you to the same field in the next record. Use command-shift-] (command-shift right bracket) instead.

    e. With the Freeform Text Area active, it inserts a return into the text. This is the most natural use of the return key.

2. Even after a datafile is created, you can change the order of the fields. You can also set some fields not to show in List View. These changes can be made in the Modify Fields window. If the datafile has not been synced, you can also add and delete fields in that window.

3. Also, if you want to edit a particular subset of records, you may be able to create a selection of records that contain a particular bit of text in a particular field; records that were created or modified on, before, or after a particular date; or using some other criteria. You can make a quick selection using the Find Box. (See the section on Find or Select Results.) Or, make a more complex selection.

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