This guide is also available in PDF format.
||Table of Contents
||Availability and Pricing
||Three Applications – Three Editions
||Features in Perspective: PIM or DBMS
|| System Requirements
||Working with the Server (Not required)
This Guide is intended to help you evaluate Alventis Database (which we will refer to as simply Alventis). With the
exception of the sections dealing with the Server and Multi-User
Security, everything in this Guide is equally applicable to both
the Enterprise and the Professional Editions of Alventis. The
Standard Edition lacks the Designer application and hence the
ability to create and modify tables and forms. Otherwise, most
of this Guide should be applicable to the Standard Edition as
Aside from this Reviewer's Guide, you may find the following resources
useful as general introductions from somewhat different points
Demos offer a quick narrated
introduction to Alventis.
The "Introduction" section
of the User's Guide has the following useful topics:
Expert Introduction – it
actually takes less than 3 minutes.
Concept – a 2-page
overview of the core principles behind Alventis.
Overview page on the Alventis Web site covers the same subject
matter as "Overall Alventis
Concept" topic, explaining things from a slightly different
Availability and Pricing
Alventis is an Electronic
Delivery product, available on a Try Before You Buy (TBYB) basis.
A compact 13MB setup package with a 30-day Trial version of
the Enterprise Edition is available for download from
the Alventis Web site. The Trial package includes all programs
of the Alventis suite, one sample database, and the User's Guide
in the Microsoft HTML Help (CHM) format (accessible in "stand-alone" mode
and as context-sensitive help from within the applications). An
Adobe Reader (PDF) version of the User's Guide is available as
a separate download.
An on-line version of the Guide is accessible directly on
the Alventis Web site.
All Alventis editions are available for secure on-line purchase
directly from Alventis on its Web site.
Alventis is available in 3 editions. Each edition is priced on
a per-seat basis as follows (all prices are in US dollars):
• Alventis Standard: $39.95
• Alventis Professional: $79.95
• Alventis Enterprise: $189.95
Applications – Three Editions
The Alventis suite physically consists of 3 applications:
||Alventis is the main application
through which a user interacts with the data, queries, reports.
||Designer is the "developer" part
of the package which performs table and form editing/creation.
||The DBISAM Server is
a small standalone executable which is "deployed" by simply launching
it via a pre-created shortcut.
As mentioned earlier, there are 3 Alventis editions, and their
contents is listed below:
||Alventis application only
||Alventis and Designer
||Alventis, Designer, and Server
Features in Perspective: PIM or DBMS
Alventis is unique in that
it is both a Personal Information Manager (PIM) and a Database
Management System (DBMS). Alventis does not make an explicit
distinction between these extremes of the information management
market, thus covering the entire spectrum of data management
needs, ranging from those of individual computer users – to
those of the small or medium enterprise.
While by no means limiting ourselves to these specific programs,
when thinking of PIMs we would likely be thinking of such popular
applications as: ACT! by Sage, IBM Lotus Organizer, askSam, and
similar. Conversely, when it comes to DBMS applications it may
be useful to think of FileMaker, Microsoft Access, Alpha Five,
4th Dimension, Oracle, and the like.
Since it would be next to impossible to draw a line where a
PIM set of features stops – and that of a DBMS begins,
we will simply attempt to list the main features of Alventis
that differentiate it from most applications available on the
Unlimited number of tables and
data-entry forms. Alventis
ships with a variety of such tables and forms that are usable "out-of-the-box".
A user can modify the existing tables and forms, or create new
ones from scratch, all without any need for coding or programming.
Unlimited concurrent data sources. Alventis
is unique in that it can work concurrently with multiple servers,
databases, and tables. These tables can be accessed in local,
shared (peer-to-peer), or client/server modes, and all these
modes can be freely "mixed" as
Search across all data formats. Alventis
is very much search-oriented. One expression of this approach
is that searches are performed simultaneously on as many tables
as desired. These tables may belong to different databases and/or
Search for text across all fields. Searches
are performed in all fields of all tables. Alventis employs
full-text indexing, so searches even in hundreds of thousands
of records are almost instantaneous. Which is why Alventis performs
its searches "live",
as the user types the search expression (which can include Boolean
logic and wildcards).
Live full-text indexing. Full-text
indexing is performed "live",
at the time a record is posted (saved) to the database, so all
users get complete up-to-date information at all times.
Relational Database. Alventis supports
relational databases comprised of multiple tables. Navigation
between related records is facilitated by means of cascading
lookups of unlimited depth.
Multiple Users and Security. This
feature goes above and beyond the normal PIM "arsenal",
so we will describe it in more detail in the DBMS section below.
Alventis employs a sophisticated multi-user security model based
on hierarchical group access privileges allowing for fine-grained
control over user's rights.
Banded reports can be created on-the-fly
with unprecedented ease since report layout and formatting operations
are identical to those used in common word-processing (as opposed
to the typical report-design environments).
Queries are supported (but not required). Alventis
uses a broad subset of the ANSI SQL-92 language. Users who do
not know SQL or have no need for its power and flexibility are
under no obligation to use this feature.
does not employ such concepts as trees or folders, so it can
handle hundreds of thousands (or millions) of records with no
need for any manual housekeeping, such as placing records in "proper" places
in the tree or manually supplying keywords for indexing.
Record Styles offer meta tag functionality. Data
records may be assigned visual styles. These styles make records
easy to identify in search results, which can also be sorted,
grouped, and filtered by said styles, thus affording the user
with a powerful visual tagging feature.
Record grouping, sorting, filtering, and dynamic summaries offer
rapid data analysis and visualization.
Live form editing. Data-entry forms
can be created or modified even if they are in active use while
the database is on-line.
Rich text word processing. Any table
may include one or more Memo fields, and each such Memo is a
small but powerful modern word processor, which affords the user
with the tools to produce documents with complex layout and formatting,
such as nested tables, embedded graphics, bulleted and numbered
outline lists, and so on.
new and powerful set of tools make results of searches for text
within a document highlighted – both
in the text of the document and next to the scrollbar, thus
making all matches available at-a-glance, simultaneously.
InstaButtons. A unique and novel approach
to formatting enables the user to apply an unlimited variety
of styles with a single click.
Spellcheck and Thesaurus. These tools
are built-in and both work not only in Memos, but in all form's
text fields as well. The LiveSpell feature underlines misspelled
words in Memos with a wiggly red line, and it can be enabled
or disabled with a single click.
Flexible MDI. Alventis Multiple Document
Interface lets the user work simultaneously with as many items
as necessary. This includes, for example, working with multiple
search results, data records, or even concurrently designing
multiple forms belonging to multiple databases or servers.
Fully customizable and persistent interface. Many
aspects of the interface are customizable, e.g., toolbars, menus,
keyboard shortcuts, window sizes, splitter positions and (new
and unique feature) orientations. These, as well as many other
interface elements, such as sorting, grouping, and filtering,
are automatically saved and re-loaded, so a user can re-open
Alventis and pick-up his or her work exactly where he left it.
Import and Export. Alventis supports
flexible database sharing/exchange using its native data format.
In addition to that, export to delimited text files (CSV) and
import from text (delimited or fixed-width), Microsoft Access,
Microsoft Excel, DBF, and XML is supported. Finally, Memos can
be exchanged with a variety of popular formats, such as Rich
Text Format (RTF), HTML, plain text, and, if available, other
formats supported by the Microsoft Office Converters.
International characters. Alventis
has intricate support for data using multiple character sets.
This support is fine-grained: different character sets can be
specified for individual tables, records, forms, fields, or any
combination thereof. Users can also switch character sets of
a form dynamically.
No programming required. Creation and
modification of tables and forms is performed with absolutely
no programming. Essentially, creating a list of fields and dragging
them onto a form with a mouse is all it takes to create even
a relational database solution. Complex resizable and well-behaved
forms are too implemented with no need for coding.
Quickest learning curve. Alventis
does not rely on programming or macro languages. Creation and
formatting of forms is accomplished using the very same novel
and highly intuitive tools used for formatting text in the Alventis
Memo word processor. Same can be said of formatting of reports.
Alventis does not use tedious property sheets and keeps the
use of dialogs to a minimum. Consequently, there is much less
to learn – even
to master the advanced features.
Fast Results. From
the "PIM perspective" Alventis simply
has no equals. As a relational DBMS (RDBMS), Alventis can fulfill
90% of the needs of 90% of the users – in 10% of the time
it would take with a macro-oriented or programming language
based general purpose database platform.
Alventis is compatible with all 32-bit desktop versions of the
Windows operating system:
Windows 95/98/Me/NT4/2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista. The NT platform
is obviously the preferred choice due to its greater robustness.
Alventis has very modest system requirements: Pentium II 300 MHz
CPU, 32 MB of RAM available to Alventis, 20 MB of Hard Disk space
for the basic installation, 800x600 16-bit color display mode,
Mouse. Almost all computers built in the last 5-7 years should
therefore be suitable. Alventis Web site discusses this in more
You will find on the Mini-Tour
page a brief introduction to the most basic elements of the Alventis
interface. This overview is very short, but it should quickly point
you in the right direction, letting you discover other useful features
of Alventis later, at your own pace.
Working with the Server (Not required)
The Server is a compact (1.3 MB) standalone executable, optionally
accompanied by an INI file. It is installed as part of the Trial
version of the Enterprise edition. You will find below the minimal
necessary steps to launch the Server, connect to it, create a
remote database, and access it from Alventis.
1. Launch the Server using the shortcut Start Programs
2. Notice that the Server is running in the System Tray next to
the clock in the Taskbar.
3. Open or switch to Alventis. This is where we will be performing
the remainder of the operations.
4. Open the Database Explorer by clicking the button (or select
Explorer from the menu).
5. Notice that the Servers grid in the upper pane of the Database
Explorer already displays a record for the Server running on
the local machine with Address set to "127.0.0.1".
6. Connect to the Server by checking the "Enable" checkbox
in the Server's record in the grid. Focus another record in the
grid to post your changes and initiate the connection.
7. Enter your credentials in the Authentication dialog if it
prompts you to do so. The default Username is "Admin" (without
the parenthesis) and the default Password is "DBAdmin".
8. Notice that the "Available" checkbox in the Server
record is now checked. This indicates we're connected.
9. Focus the remote Server again and notice that it has no databases
listed for it in the Databases grid in the lower pane of the form.
This corresponds to the default installation of the Server with
10. Click the "Administration" button in the upper
portion of the form. This opens the Administration form.
11. Go directly to the 4th "Databases" tab of the page
control in the Administration form and focus the empty grid in
that tab by clicking in it.
12. Hit Insert on the keyboard to insert a new record in the
grid thus creating a new database. Give the database a unique
alphanumeric name to identify it. Specify the path where the
database resides on the hard disk. We are assuming here that
you already have installed the sample database somewhere on your
disk. You can use the dotted button in the Path cell to browse
to the desired directory. Post the database record by hitting
the Down arrow on the keyboard. Save your modifications by clicking
the "Save Database" button
in the lower portion of the form. You can close the Administration
13. Notice that the Databases grid of the Database Explorer now
lists the new database you just "connected" the Server
14. Essentially, you're done. You can now open a new UniGrid
form by double-clicking the new remote database. Alternatively,
you can add the new database to an existing UniGrid: focus the
desired UniGrid and select the new database from the dropdown
list that you can access by clicking the "Add Database" button
(or Grids Add
Database in the menu). All tables of the remote database will
appear in the topmost Tables grid. Check the "Enable" checkbox
for tables you would like to participate in searches. Perform
a search. Enjoy!
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