Meeting Notes

Meeting: March 14, 1995

Tips and Techniques from Open Forum.

During our monthly open forum we discussed writing macros and purging an ACT! database of duplicate records.

Macros are great when you need to condense a regularly executed series of keystrokes into one simple command. To record a macro in ACT!, execute the commands: EDIT, MACRO, RECORD MACRO. Once you're in the record mode, each keystroke or click of the mouse is recorded up until the EDIT, MACRO, STOP MACRO command is given.

The most reliable results can be obtained by using the keyboard, rather than the mouse, to enter the commands you want recorded. For this reason it is advisable to select the Ignore Mouse option under "Mouse" in the Record Macro dialog box. To run a macro, execute the commands: EDIT, MACRO, RUN MACRO.

Purging duplicate records is an important aspect of database management. Regular purging saves money in postage when doing mailings and speeds up database searches. It also eliminates the confusion that results when updating a contact record with notes or an address change!

Unfortunately, there is no easy, automated way to accomplish this. However, the following procedure has proven effective. The first step is to perform a lookup by last name (LOOKUP, LAST NAME). If no name is entered, the contacts in the database will be conveniently sorted alphabetically by last name. Then VIEW, CONTACT LIST to search the database for duplicate entries. Make sure to consolidate notes for duplicate contacts in one record. (The CUT and PASTE commands will come in handy here.)

Next, perform a lookup by company. Leave the company name blank and again search the contact list for duplicates. Finally, perform a lookup by phone number. Search the contact list one last time for duplicates.

By following this three-pronged approach to purging on a regular basis, you'll be assured of a streamlined database.

MEETING FEATURE: MapLinx for Windows.

MapLinx is a software package designed to give the user a visual representation of a database. Any group of ACT! contacts can be viewed in the form of a U.S. map. MapLinx represents individual ACT! contacts as dots located at the post office location for a particular zip code. The zoom feature enables MapLinx to display a full U.S. map or a chunk of a metropolitan area.

MapLinx can map up to 10 databases at one, display U.S. state highways and interstates, and calculate distances between any two points. You can shade regions of the map so you can see where business is hot - and where it is not! For instance, all counties with more than 10 customers might be shaded green. Those with 5 to 10 customers might be shaded yellow, and so on. MapLinx files (maps) can be saved and printed so they can be included in letters and reports.

Aside from the ability to view contacts graphically, MapLinx offers the user the option to query an ACT! database graphically. It is possible, for example, to select all contacts within a 50 mile radius of any city. This would be helpful if you were planning a trip and wanted to use ACT! to create letters notifying customers of your upcoming visit. Alternatively, you can select contacts by just circling them on the screen using the mouse.

Since MapLinx is designed to work with ACT! (as well as with a variety of other databases, spreadsheets, and word processors) transitions between MapLinx and ACT! are seamless and can be executed by clicking on an icon.

MapLinx is designed to run on a PC with an 80386 or higher microprocessor and Microsoft Windows 3.1 or higher with 4 MB RAM and requires 13MB of disk space.

© Copyright 1995 by Alan M. Lee, all rights reserved. Other nonprofit computer user's groups may reprint this material providing credit is given the author and C.C.S. Future rights for publication reserved by Alan M. Lee. ACT! is a registered trademark of Symantec Corporation.