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Alventis Database Reviewer's Guide

This guide is also available in PDF format.


Table of Contents Table of Contents
Introduction
Other Resources
Availability and Pricing
Three Applications – Three Editions
Features in Perspective: PIM or DBMS
System Requirements
Jump-Start Tutorial
Working with the Server (Not required)
Contact Information

 

 

Introduction
Introduction
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 well.

 

 

Other Ressources
Other Resources
Aside from this Reviewer's Guide, you may find the following resources useful as general introductions from somewhat different points of view:

Flash Demos offer a quick narrated introduction to Alventis.

The "Introduction" section of the User's Guide has the following useful topics:
3 Minute Expert Introduction – it actually takes less than 3 minutes.
Overall Alventis Concept – a 2-page overview of the core principles behind Alventis.

The Overview page on the Alventis Web site covers the same subject matter as "Overall Alventis Concept" topic, explaining things from a slightly different angle.

 

 

Pricing
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 and Editions
Three Applications – Three Editions
The Alventis suite physically consists of 3 applications:

Alventis Alventis is the main application through which a user interacts with the data, queries, reports.
Designer Designer is the "developer" part of the package which performs table and form editing/creation.
Server 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 Standard: Alventis application only
Alventis Professional: Alventis and Designer
Alventis Enterprise: Alventis, Designer, and Server

 

 

Features
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 market.

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 necessary.

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 servers.

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.

Scalability. Alventis 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.

MemoSearch. This 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.

 

 

System Requirements System Requirements
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 detail.

 

 

Tutorial
Jump-Start Tutorial
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.

 

 

Server
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 Alventis Server.

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 View Database 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 no databases.

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 form now.

13. Notice that the Databases grid of the Database Explorer now lists the new database you just "connected" the Server to.

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!

 

 

Contact Information Contact Information

Press Contact Info
Michel Alventis
President
Email:

General Contact Info
Alventis Corporation
1001 rue Hyman, Suite 207
Dollard-des-Ormeaux (Québec) H9B 1M3
Canada
www.alventis.com