Tutorial

Datafile Basics


Datafile Topics

For best results, simply read this page once from beginning to end--especially if you are new to iData Kwik. Then read it again and follow any external links when you need to learn more details.

NOTE: In addition to the internal links below, this tutorial includes links to more detailed topics. To return to this page after viewing them, use the back arrow in your browser.

Datafile Structure

Datafile Organization


Why Use Fields?

The Datafile Window

Resizing the Fields and Freeform Text Areas

Resizing Columns in List View


Creating a New Datafiile

Adding Records to a Datafile

Deleting Records from a Datafile

Selecting a Subset of Records for Viewing


Sorting a Datafile

Moving Among Records

Linking Between Records

Finding Your Information in a Datafile

Printing Your Datafile Records

Datafile Settings

Datafile Structure (back to top)

iData Kwik Datafiles are stored in XML (Extended Markup Language) format. This is a structured plain-text (human-readable) format, but freeform text (containing styled text, images, and/or sound files) is encoded as numeric data. XML is related to HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), which is used for the creation of Web pages.

If you're interested in what XML looks like, you can drag one of the sample datafiles supplied with iData Kwik onto the TextEdit application icon. (Do not save any changes to the datafile when closing it in TextEdit, as changes made in any application other than iData Kwik will probably damage the datafile structure.)

Datafile Organization (back to top)

The following datafile organization is reflected in the layout of the datafile window, as explained below.

Records

Each datafile is organized into records. A record is simply a chunk of data. You, the user, create new records and determine what goes into any particular record. Although records are shown as having numbers, those numbers are just an indication of the relative order in which the record appears in the datafile. They are not permanent record identifiers. Sorting or changing the selection of viewed records can change a record's number.

Freeform Text

Each record contains, at a minimum, a block of freeform text. This block of text is a bit like a word-processing document. It can be have different fonts, styles, links, and formats applied to it. It can also have images inserted into it.

Fields

Each datafile can also have a set of fields that are applied to each record. A field has a name and content. You can theoretically have as many fields as you wish. You will normally specify any field names that you desire when you create a new datafile, but fields can be renamed, rearranged, added, or deleted at any time. If a datafile has no fields, we refer to it as a "freeform datafile". Otherwise, we refer to it as a "field-based datafile".

Why Use Fields? (back to top)

The main thing that fields provide is fixed structure. The more fixed structure a datafile has, the easier it is to access the data, and the easier it is to automate the modification of datafile content. Here's a simple example:
 
Suppose you have a datafile that contains addresses from various sources. In addition to the names of individual and/or organizations and their mailing addresses, you have email addresses, Web site links, phone numbers, and a variety of random information. Now, suppose that all of this information is typed into the Freeform Text Area of each record. Next, suppose that you want to sort your datafile by the last name of each individual, or by Zip code, or by state. Or, suppose you want to view all records that include a particular area code for the work number. With the data elements stored in different fields, this is relatively simple, but with all of your data lumped together in blocks of freeform text, it is very difficult to accomplish.

As a more extreme example, suppose you have a datafile of members of some organization that includes membership expiration dates. It's simple enough to include those dates on the mailing labels that are used for mailing the organizational newsletter. It's also relatively straightforward to print labels for only those individuals whose membership has not expired--or to print envelopes for expiration notices for only those individuals whose membership is within a month of expiring.

So, if you have complex, but fairly consistent, data that you might want to view or otherwise manipulate on the basis of content, fields are probably a good option. (As mentioned above, if you later change your mind about the field structure, fields can be renamed, rearranged, added, or deleted. Furthermore, field-based datafiles can be exported as freeform datafiles.)

Another consideration is that field-based data can be exported in tab-delimited format, which can then be imported by a variety of other applications.

If, on the other hand, you have a datafile where you just keep all sorts of unstructured data, then you probably don't need fields. However, consider keeping a mix of field-based and freeform datafiles, rather than simply stuffing all of your data into a single freeform datafile. The day may come when you'll be glad you went to the extra effort.

To see a variety of real-world examples of how fields can help clarify the structure of many different kinds of data, click here.

The Datafile Window (back to top)

Each iData Kwik datafile window contains a Toolbar, a Status Bar, and three main text areas, the Find Box, the Fields Area, and the Freeform Text Area.

If you have not yet created your own datafile, open Sample Field Datafile and compare its window to the following.

Toolbar

The Toolbar contains a variety of buttons that duplicate functions that can be found in various menus. The purpose of the toolbar is to let you select those functions without having to go looking through menus, and without having to memorize command key combinations. You can choose either of the two styles of toolbar buttons that are included in iData Kwik.

  (Classic)

  (Minimalist)

See Modifier Keys for Toolbar Buttons for information on using modifier keys (control, shift, option, command) with toolbar buttons.

The Toolbar can be modified to fit your personal needs. See Customizing the iData Kwik Toolbar to learn how to customize the toolbar to show only the particular buttons that you want to see, or to change the order of the buttons that are shown. This help page will also show the function of each button. You can always simply place the mouse pointer over any button to see a tooltip that explains its function.

To switch between Classic and Minimalist toolbar styles, select Toogle Toolbar Style in the View menu, or type command-shift-T.

When updating to a version of iData Kwik that adds new toolbar buttons, it may be necessary to re-customize the toolbar in order to get the new buttons to show up.

Find Box

The Find Box is where you type text that you want to search for. (See the Find Sub-Menu help page for information on searching for text.)


The Find Box shows only a single line of text in a single style. The font and point size used in the Find Box can be changed in the Format tab of Datafile Settings.

Status Bar

The Status Bar is a narrow horizontal area that sits between the Find Box and the Fields Area (see below).

At the far left, it shows the number of the current record. The record number is actually the title of a little button. Click on the record number to bring up a dialog that will let you go to a particular record by entering that record's number. (See Go To Record Number to learn how this works.) The current record number is based on the current record selection. (See the next paragraph.)

At the far right, it shows the total number of records in the datafile, along with the number of records currently selected for viewing. This text is actually the title of a little  button. Click this button to bring up the record selection dialog. (See Selecting Records to learn about selecting records for viewing.)

Fields Area

The Fields Area is below the Status Bar, and shows the content of each field. Field content is displayed as cells in a table of horizontal rows and vertical columns.

If a datafile has one or more fields, it can be displayed in either of two views:

A freeform datafile can be displayed only in List View, with the rows in the Fields Area showing the first line of text from the Freeform Text Area. However, freeform datafiles are printed as if they were in Basic View, since the text in the Fields Area merely partially duplicates the text in the Freeform Text Area. (See Printing Your Datafile Records, below.) So, whenever the User Guide refers to viewing a record in Basic View, this can be ignored if you are working with a freeform datafile.

All cells in the Fields Area shows text in a single style. The font and point size used in the Fields Area can be changed in the Format tab of Datafile Settings.

Freeform Text Area

The Freeform Text Area is a text window, below the Fields Area, that can contain multiple paragraphs of styled text. (This means that, as in a word processor or text editor, different parts of the text can be set to display in different fonts, point sizes, styles, and colors. Tab settings can be made and links can be inserted. See the Text Sub-Menu help page to learn more about the text formatting features of iData Kwik.)
There are two ways to insert an image into the Freeform Text Area:

  1. Copy an image from any source and paste it at the cursor position.
  2. Drag an image file and drop it at the desired location in the Freeform Text Area. The main types of image files that iData Kwik recognizes are JPEG (with the .jpeg file name extension), GIF (.gif), and TIFF (.tif or .tiff). Warning: If you drag more than one file with the same name into a single record, the Operating System will not be able to differentiate the files, so they may show up in random order.
In OS 10.5 and later, you can also drag sound files in AIFF (.aillf) and MP3 (.mp3) formats, and movies in QuickTime (.mov), AVI (.avi), MPEG (.mpg) and MPEG-4 (.m4v) formats into the Freeform Text Area.

iData Kwik ships with the default font for the Freeform Text Area set to 12-point Helvetica. This can be changed in the Format tab of Datafile Settings

Imported email and text copied from Web pages and other sources may include font and other formatting information that iData Kwik will use when that text is put into the Freeform Text Area. If you want to reset the text to the defaults for that datafile, the Format menu includes several commands that can help with this, depending on just how much text you need to modify:

    1. Apply Default Font and Ruler to Selected Text
    2. Apply Default Font Settings to Current Record
    3. Apply Default Font Settings to All Records

Command Keys for Activating the Text Areas

Sometimes you will want to activate one of the text areas without clicking in it (which could change the insertion point or deselect highlighted text). iData Kwik provides three command keys for this purpose:
  • command-[ activates the Find Box
  • command-] activates the Fields Area
  • command-\ activates the Freeform Text Area

Resizing the Fields and Freeform Text Areas (back to top)

There is a horizontal slider bar between the Fields Area and the Freeform Text Area. Click and hold on the dot in the middle of the slider, and move it up or down to change the relative heights of the two areas:


If a datafile has no fields, and if you do not need to see the first line of the text of multiple records in the Freeform Text Area, you can move the slider all the way to the top of the Fields Area. The line between the bottom of the Status Bar and the top of the slider will disappear, and it will look like this:


To change the style of a block of text, highlight it using the mouse (or by using the arrow keys with the shift key held down), and select the desired formatting commands from the Format menu--including those in the Text submenu.

Resizing Columns in List View (back to top)

In List View, the simplest way to resize a single column is to place the mouse pointer at the right side of the column header, on the divider. When you see the mouse pointer change to a vertical line with small arrows pointing in each direction, click and drag the column to the desired width.

To automatically resize a single column to the width of the widest text, hold down the option key while clicking in the column header. To automatically resize all columns to the widths of their widest text, hold down the option and control keys while clicking any column header.

To automatically resize a single column to the width of the column header text (the field name), hold down the shift and option keys while clicking in the column header. To automatically resize all columns to the widths of their header text, hold down the shift, option and control keys while clicking any column header.

To automatically resize all columns to either the widths of their widest text or the widths their header text, whichever is greater, hold down the command key while clicking any column header.

Creating a New Datafile (back to top)

1. Select New Datafile... in the File menu (or type command-N). The New Datafile window will open.


2. If you want a freeform-only datafile, just click the Finish button. If you change your mind later, fields can be added to a freeform datafile later, using the Modify Fields command in the Fields Sub-menu, under the Edit menu.

3. If you would like to add fields, click Insert Field or type command-i. A new entry, called "New Field", will show in the Field Name column.


4. Type a name for the field. You can add as many fields as you like. Fields can be rearranged by dragging a field name up or down in the list. The Show checkbox determines whether the field will show in List View. All fields will show in Basic View.

Fields can be added, deleted, rearranged, or renamed at any time in the future, using the Modify Fields menu item in the Fields sub-menu of the Edit menu.

5. When you are done adding fields, click the Finish button. The new datafile will open showing "New Datafile" in the title bar. If you save it or close it, you will be asked for a name to save it with. Type the name of your choice and click the Save button.

(Note: iData Kwik datafiles must have an .id3 file name extension. The Finder Preferences dialog has a setting that controls whether file extensions are seen in the Finder. If the name shown in the Save As: field includes ".id3", be sure not to remove it.)


The suggested location is in the iData Kwik Datafiles folder. If you save the datafile in this location, it will appear in the Datafiles menu.

Adding Records to a Datafile (back to top)

1. When you add a new record to a datafile, that new record will be placed in the default position. In a new datafile, the default position is after the current record so go to the record that you want the new record to follow. The default setting can be changed so that new records will always be added as either the first or last record in the datafile. To learn how to change this setting, go to the Datafile Settings help page.

2. Select Add New Record in the Records sub-menu, under the Edit menu, or type command-= (command-equal ). This will create a new blank record.

3. iData Kwik does not preserve empty records, so add at least some content to the new record before going on.

4. If you want the new record to be the first record in the datafile, select Make This the First Record in the Records sub-menu, under the Edit menu.

For other options related to adding new records, see the Records Sub-Menu help page.

Deleting Records from a Datafile (back to top)

1. Go to the record that you want to delete.

2. Select Delete Current Record in the Records sub-menu, under the Edit menu, or type command-- (command-minus).

3. A warning dialog will appear asking for confirmation that you really intended to remove the record. If you are sure, click the Delete button.

For other options related to deleting records, see the Records Sub-Menu help page.

Selecting a Subset of Records for Viewing (back to top)

Each time a datafile is opened, all of its records are "selected". This means that they are all available for searching, printing, and other operations.

Sometimes you will want to deal with only a subset of your records--for example, only those that include a particular company name, or only those that contain a particular state abbreviation in the State field.

The simplest way to quickly select those records that contain certain text is to use the buttons to the left of the Find Box.

iData also provides a record selection function that lets you select such a subset of records, based on the content of entire records or of one or more fields and/or the Freeform Text Area. Selections can also be made on the basis of the date that records were created or last modified.

Once a selection has been made, only the selected records are viewable, searchable, or printable.

To learn the details of record selection, see the Select Menu help page.

Sorting a Datafile (back to top)

iData Kwik can sort records on the basis of the data contained in fields, or in the Freeform Text Area. It can treat that data as alphabetic text, as numbers, or as dates.

It can also sort records on the basis of the date when they were created, or of the date when they were last modified.

For details on sorting your datafiles, see the Sort Datafile help page.

Moving Among Records (back to top)

iData Kwik provides several toolbar buttons that can be used to move among the records of a datafile.

(Classic)
(Minimalist)

1. iData keeps track of which records you have viewed during a session, building a list of the records in the order in which you viewed them. (Note that the same record may appear in the list more than once.)

There are two buttons that let you move through the list of viewed records. When moving through the list using these buttons, the records are not added back into the list. If you go to another record from a record in the list by some other means, any records following the current record will be removed from the list and the record that you go to will be added to the end of the list.

Go back one viewed record - This button lets you move back through the list of previously viewed records. If you are at the beginning of the viewed record list, it will be disabled.
Go forward one viewed record  - This button lets you move forward through the list of previously viewed records. If you are at the end of the viewed record list, it will be disabled.

2. There are four buttons that let you move through the records in numerical index order:

Go to first record - This button takes you to the first record in the datafile.
Go to previous record - This button takes you to the previous record in the datafile. If you are already viewing the first record, it will wrap to the last record.
 Go to next record - This button takes you to the next record in the datafile. If you are already viewing the last record, it will wrap to the first record.
Go to last record - This button takes you to the last record in the datafile.

Note that the toolbar navigation buttons apply only to currently selected records. See the Select Menu help page for more information on selecting a subset of records.

There are also some hot keys for moving through fields and records and highlighting the field that you arrive at:

tab moves to the next field in the same record (or to the first field, if you're already at the last one).

shift-tab moves to the previous field in the same record (or to the last field, if you're already at the first one).

command-return moves to the same field in the next record (or in the first record, if you're already in the last one).

command-option-return moves to the same field in the previous record (or in the last record, if you're already in the first one).

In List View, return moves to the same field in the next record (or in the first record, if you're already in the last one).

In Basic View, return moves to the next field in the same record (or to the first field, if you're already at the last one).

Linking Between Records (back to top)

iData Kwik lets you create links in one record that point to other records within the same datafile.

For example, you can put a list of topics in the first record of a datafile, then make each topic a link that will take you to another record that contains details about that topic.

For details on how to do this, see the Copy Link to Current Record help page.

Finding Your Information in a Datafile (back to top)

iData Kwik provides a number of search functions, the most basic being the Find Box and the Reverse and Forward Find Buttons.

There is also a Find & Replace function for more advanced options, and a Multi-File Find function for searching in more than one datafile at a time.

See the Find Sub-Menu help page for detailed information on searching for text.

Printing Your Datafile Records (back to top)

NOTE: The following printing options will print only currently selected records. See the Select Menu help page for more information on selecting a subset of records. Because the Pages option provided in print dialogs refers to pages, not records, it is recommended that you use the record selection functions to select only those records that you want to print. (Of course, this is not necessary when using the first option below.)

iData Kwik provides functions for printing individual records and for printing all the selected records in a datafile. These functions are available in the Print sub-menu, under the File menu:

    1. Choose Print Current Record... (or type command-P) to print the current record in Basic View format. If there are any fields, each field name will be followed by a colon and the field content, if any. Below that, the content of the Freeform Text Area will be printed.

    2. Choose Print Selected Records (Basic View - Continuous)... to print all selected records in Basic View format with each record immediately following the previous record. A row of 50 dashes will be printed between records to separate them.

    3. Choose Print Selected Records (Basic View - Individually)... to print all selected records in Basic View format with each record starting a new page. In reality, each record is printed separately, but the Print dialog is shown only once.

    4. Choose Print Selected Records (List View)... to print all selected records in List View format. This option is available only for datafiles that have one or more fields. iData Kwik will print as many pages across as needed to print all columns, and will not break any columns across pages. The one exception to this is that a single column that is too wide to fit the printed page will be clipped.

NOTE: Before using any of the first three options above, view a single record in Basic View and select Page Setup... from the Print sub-menu, under the File menu, and make any desired settings. iData Kwik will remember those settings and use them each time you print a single record or print in one of the Basic View formats. Before using the fourth option, view the datafile in List View and select Page Setup... again. iData Kwik will use those setting each time you print in List View format. Of course, you can change them any time you wish. (Page Setup settings are saved separately for each datafile.)

For each of the options, and prior to bringing up the Print dialog, a Print Options dialog sheet is brought up:



    1. The upper section of this dialog lets you specify the sizes of the content margins on each printed page, in either inches or centimeters. iData Kwik remembers the most recently used values for Basic View and List View formats for each datafile. A typical use for this would be to set the Left margin to 1.25 inches for records that are to be stored in a looseleaf binder. Although you can set the margins as small as 0.1000 inch, many printers will have non-printing margins. iData Kwik gets the margins from the printer and, if necessary, adjusts the margins to ensure that none of your datafile content gets cut off.

    2. The dialog also gives you three options that can be applied when printing records in Basic View format. iData Kwik remembers the most recently used setting for these option for each datafile. (None of these options are available when printing in List View format.)

        a. If the Print Record Numbers checkbox is selected (checked), the words "Record Number:", followed by the record number and a blank line, will be printed at the beginning of each record.This option will be disabled when printing in List View format.

        b. If the Print Page Header checkbox is selected, the datafile name, date and time of printing, and page number will be printed at the top of each page, just inside the non-printing top margin. Also, the content top margin may be adjusted to avoid having the page content overwrite the header.

       c. If the Don't Print Empty Fields checkbox is selected, only fields that have some content will be printed. This option is not available when printing freeform datafiles.

       d. If the Print Bold Field Names checkbox is selected, field names will be printed in a bold version of the field name font--but only if a bold version of that font exists. This option is not available when printing freeform datafiles.

    3. There is also a Do not show this dialog again checkbox. Since iData Kwik remembers the most recently used settings for all options, you may not want to see this dialog every time you print. If you decide to hide this dialog, you can set it to show again in the File panel of the Datafile Settings dialog. (See below.)

If you want to see how your datafile content will fit on the printed page:

    1. Go to the view that you want to see.

    2. Select Zoom to Printed Size... under the Window menu (or type command-option-Z). This will first bring up a dialog sheet where you can confirm the left and right margins that you plan to use in printing that view.

    3. Click OK.

NOTE:Even when the width that iData Kwik specifies for printing has the same width as the on-screen view, the results sometimes don't come out exactly the same. To ensure that your datafile will print exactly as you expect, we suggest that you first print to Preview, and then make any necessary adjustments to the Basic View window width, or to the List View column widths. This is most critical when you are trying to get all of your List View columns onto a single page horizontally.

Datafile Settings (back to top)

In addition to Preferences, which apply to the application as a whole, iData Kwik provides a variety of Datafile Settings, which apply to each datafile individually. These settings are broken down into two tabs:
  1. General File Settings include basic settings.
  2. Format Settings include settings related to formatting, such as the default fonts to use for each portion of the datafile window.
See the Datafile Settings help page for details on what settings are available, what they mean, and how to change them.

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