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What is Alventis Database

In short, Alventis Database is a Universal Information Manager.

In case you are overly impatient to know what this means, we'll tell you right away: it means a Personal Information Manager (PIM) in which everything is completely user-definable: tables, forms, queries, reports - you name it! It is also relational, client/server, secure, and multi-user, which makes it closer to a Database Management System (DBMS) rather than a PIM.

Now that we have satisfied the curiosity of the most impatient among you, we can explain things in a bit more detail.

The concept is simple. Take information, store it in a database, search for it, and retrieve it from the search results. What makes Alventis Database stand out from the competition is the way it handles all these tasks.

Store. First and foremost, information comes in all shapes and forms. Some data is clearly structured. Examples of such data would include lists of contacts, expenses, invoices, purchases, inventory, and so on. Other data is unstructured: assorted documents, notes, and articles would fall into this broad category.

Alventis has no trouble handling all of the above. Each data kind or format is stored in a separate data table. You may therefore find yourself using one table to store your address book, another - to log your expenses, and yet another one - simply for writing things down. Alventis lets you store data in a multitude of formats, and access all of them concurrently.

Search. It's nice to be able to store all your data in an assortment of tables, but very soon, you will want to retrieve some of that data. You would do so using the Search feature, and Alventis makes it as quick and effortless as it can possibly get. All you need to do is type the text you are looking for. The moment you have finished typing your search expression, the matching records are displayed in a list. You get results almost instantaneously since Alventis uses full-text indexing to know in advance what word is located where in your data, even if you have tens of thousands of records.

More importantly though, Alventis can search simultaneously in as many tables as you like. These tables may even belong to different databases, which may in turn reside on different servers. Just select the tables you are interested in, type the search expression, and let Alventis do its magic. All matching records will be immediately displayed in a single list. That's right, even if these records are coming from completely different tables with totally different structures, they will all be presented to you in one simple and easy to navigate list. Once you have obtained the desired search results, you can open any of the listed records in its own data-entry form.

Design. Structured data is very nice, but it has one important problem: there is a virtually infinite number of possible data structures. This makes it impossible to come up with a list of tables that would satisfy everybody. Which is why Alventis lets you design your own tables and forms, or modify existing ones to your liking. While it is true that Alventis comes with quite a few tables that are useful right "out of the box", these tables and their matching forms have simply been created using all the same tools that are available to you.

Creating a new table is as easy as listing its fields. Creating a form is as easy as dragging these fields onto a new blank form. There are no macros to write, no programming to perform, and no properties to set. It's all as simple as drag-and-drop. A completely new table and form can be ready for use in as little as a couple of minutes. Table and form creation and modification is performed using a separate application called Alventis Designer, which is part of Alventis Professional and Enterprise editions.

Rich Text. Alventis tables can (and most do) contain one or more Memo fields. Each such field can store a whole document in each record of the table. These documents can have rich contents with complex formatting, embedded pictures, nested tables (in the text-processing sense of the word), bulleted/numbered lists, and so on. Every form that contains such a Memo field is in effect a fairly powerful word processor, whose ease of formatting far surpasses all existing applications presently on the market.

Report. There may come a time when you would want to produce a printout of your data. This is accomplished using reports. Alventis supports user-defined banded reports. This means that you can print out the data as a list, grouped by common field values. Such grouping can have multiple levels, letting you organize the output in the most sensible fashion.

Alventis gives you full control over the report's layout and organization. That's the good news. The even better news is that report design and customization in Alventis is faster, easier, and more intuitive than in any other database application! There are just two steps to accomplish. Firstly, you ensure the records are listed in a grid with the grouping and sorting you want. Secondly, you fill out the report template that tells Alventis how to output each record.

The template is nothing but a special-purpose Memo that acts very much like all other such Memos in Alventis, so you can use all the same text layout and formatting commands you are familiar with. There are no new tricks to learn. Except that you can drag-and-drop record fields wherever you want in the template text. And that's essentially all there is to it. Nothing could be easier. Even the report output is yet another Alventis Memo, which you can print out or simply save within Alventis itself for use as just another data record.

Connect. Whether you are an individual user or an enterprise with dozens or even hundreds of users, Alventis Database is for you! An individual user may only want to maintain a single database on his or her own computer. No problem, Alventis can do it. A corporate user, on the other hand, may need to store data centrally and share it with his coworkers. Alventis can do that too. As a matter of fact, Alventis can do both at the same time! A single copy of Alventis can concurrently access any number of local databases, as well as any number of remote servers, each with its own databases. Once you have specified where the data is coming from, there is no difference between accessing the data locally or remotely.

An enterprise will obviously need to have a server and a means to administer it. Both are included in Alventis Enterprise edition. The server is a separate small executable. "Deploying" it means installing and launching it, so you should be up and running in about 2 minutes. Really. If you want to get serious, you will want to administer your server. A small part of this is accomplished by changing a dozen settings in the server's INI file. A larger part of the administration is performed using the graphical interface offered by Alventis Enterprise. This is where you can manage databases, users, and security.

Secure. Multi-user security afforded by Alventis Enterprise is quite comprehensive. To gain a full understanding of its power and flexibility you will have to read the corresponding topic of the User's Guide. We can give you here only a glimpse of some of the features Alventis security can offer you.

Security is based on granting access privileges to groups of users. Privileges apply to classes of objects (e.g., all reports) or individual objects (e.g., a specific table). Privileges are fine-grained, so you may, e.g., gain read access to a record but be denied the right to modify it. Privileges can also be hierarchical, granting rights based on the user's position in the user hierarchy relative to that of the owner of the object. If this sounded complicated, that's because it is. Luckily, even if you are the administrator of the server, you only need to implement as much security as you want, so you may end up using only a subset of the features Alventis Database security has to offer.