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FAQ   Alventis Database
Frequently Asked Questions

Am I limited to the InfoSets included with the Standard version?
Not at all. Anybody with a copy of Alventis Professional can create new InfoSets and share them with other users (search the User's Guide for the description of the InfoSet Export feature). You can easily import such InfoSets into your Standard version thus extending it. If you do not want to depend on others for creating InfoSets for you, all you need is your own copy of Alventis Professional, and specifically, the Designer application that is included in it. See the Version Comparison page for more information.

I just want to record my information and find it.
Do I need to know all that scary stuff about Tables, Databases, Servers, etc.?
Not at all! All you need to do is install Alventis Database and start using it, and everything will be taken care of for you without you ever having to worry about the details. The default setup includes everything you need to get you started, so you don't have to configure anything you don't want to know about.

Can I import my existing information into Alventis?
Most likely. Alventis Database supports Data Import from a variety of sources, such as Microsoft Access and DBF databases, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and fixed-width or delimited text files. Thus, you should be able to easily import your data into a suitable Alventis table if your existing data is already in one of the supported formats or you can convert it into one of them. The conversion operation, if required, would likely need to be performed in whatever application your data originated from. Luckily, virtually all applications should be able to export their data into at least one of the formats supported by Alventis. In addition to the above, you can also import documents into Alventis Memos. The supported formats are numerous, and include RTF, HTML, and plain text. Many more formats are available if you have the Microsoft Office Converters installed.

Can I share information between two copies of Alventis, say at home and at work?
Certainly. That said, Alventis Database does not offer any synchronization features that would make such sharing automatic. What you would do is use InfoSet Export to export the data you want to share, take it to the other copy of Alventis, and use InfoSet Import to integrate that data into a destination copy's Database. Alventis will help you by offering you a large number of import modes, i.e., things you can do with existing and new records. One thing you won't be able to do (at least not directly with Alventis) is merge two versions of a changed record, so you must be disciplined enough to not modify the same record both at home and at work "in parallel", without transporting the most recent copy with you. So, if you get into the habit of always carrying your current information with you, Alventis will always remain up-to-date with minimal effort on your part.
On the other hand, if your data is stored on the Alventis Server, there is no longer the issue of "sharing" at all: you will be accessing the data directly on the Server (both at work and from home), so your information will always be automatically up-to-date.

How long would you say it takes to create a new InfoSet?
It depends. The process is essentially comprised of several steps.
Firstly, you must establish what it is you are trying to achieve. This planning stage is entirely up to you, has nothing to do with Alventis per se, and can take just a few seconds if you already have a pretty good idea of the kind of information you intend to manage - or many hours if you haven't thought it all out. This step would likely be the same no matter what tool or method you were using to record this information - even a pencil and a sheet of paper.
Secondly, you must create the table or tables according to what you have established in the first step. This part is easy: just enter the fields, their types, and a few (very few) attributes. It takes not much longer than it takes to type all the field names on the keyboard.
The third and last step is to create one or more InfoViews (data-entry forms) based on your table(s). Just placing all the fields on a newly-created form takes mere seconds, so you can have a functional InfoView in no time at all. The rest depends on how elegant and complex you want to make it. This means laying out and formatting the controls on the form exactly the way you want. The time it takes you will vary with how particular and exacting you are, so it can take only a few minutes - or a bit longer. If you want to make your InfoViews really stand out by specifying custom image backgrounds, and other visual elements, you can spend quite some time tweaking your forms to near perfection. But the best thing about it is: you can do so if you want to, but you don't have to.

How can I refresh a record in an InfoView?
One way is to navigate to the adjacent record and then return to the current one, the one you want to refresh. If the current record is the only accessible record in the table, navigation won't work (since there are no adjacent records), so you could try to insert a new record and cancel your insertion. You can also try to edit the record and cancel your changes.
This works fine but is a bit clumsy, so there's a neater way: use
Switch InfoView (the rightmost button on the DataNav toolbar at the top of the InfoView). Open the dropdown list, and "switch" to the current InfoView. The current one is marked with a blue icon next to it. The act of switching InfoViews (even switching to the same one) closes the currently open InfoView and re-opens the current record in the newly-selected InfoView. The record gets refreshed in the process.
Note that the InfoView itself gets "refreshed" as well: if the design of the InfoView has been changed in Designer (by you or somebody else), the updated InfoView will get loaded. Such InfoView reloading may have the side-effect of changing the position and/or size of the InfoView form, but you can move and resize the newly-opened one to your liking, so this is not much of a problem.
Note also that switching InfoViews when the current record is in edit mode (modified and not saved) should be avoided since it will lead to confusing results: the record will be loaded in the new InfoView in its last-saved state, even if you do say "Yes" to the prompt to save your changes. Besides, if you are in the middle of editing a record, it is most certainly up-to-date, so there's no reason to refresh it. Bottom line: switch InfoViews when the record is saved.

Do I have to know or learn SQL or some other programming language to use Alventis?
Absolutely not. Alventis Database does not require any programming knowledge from you. The only areas where it uses SQL are:
Queries.
If you want to write SQL queries, you obviously have to know SQL. But Alventis offers you several other ways to find the information you are looking for (InstaSearch and powerful filtering), so you don't have to write any queries to get the job done.
Reports
are based on Queries. However, Alventis creates default queries for you, so you don't have to create them. You would only want to write your own queries if you wanted to base complex Reports on multiple relationally-linked tables. And even this is quite straightforward.
Calculated Fields
and Validation conditions use the SQL syntax in Designer. These are so trivial you can almost get by without peeking in the included SQL Reference. The best news is though: you are under no obligation to use either of these - admittedly relatively advanced - features.

If I buy the Enterprise Edition, do I have to run the Server on the same machine as Alventis and Designer?
Certainly not. You can install Alventis Database and Designer on one computer, and the Server - on some other system. You can of course install all of them on the same machine if you wish.

Can I sell an InfoSet I have created?
Absolutely. You can distribute or sell any InfoSets you create. There are no royalties or other fees.

I'm concerned about my privacy. Does Alventis Database send any of my data over the Internet?
No. None of the applications of the Alventis Suite ever send any of your personal information to any outside destination. The only communications Alventis Database and Designer ever perform are those with the data Server(s) which you list in the Database Explorer, and these communications are always performed in response to requests initiated by you, e.g., when you access remote data that resides on a Server (which in all likelihood is on your own Local Area Network (LAN)).
In other words, Alventis respects your privacy, does not have a "phone home" feature, and communicates with the outside world only when you explicitly tell it to do so.