Meeting Notes

Meeting: May 9, 1995

Tips and Techniques from Open Forum

During our monthly open forum we discussed how to determine which version of ACT! is installed on your system, database groups, printing labels, and a shortcut to make moving from field to field on a contact record easier.

Last month we discussed the enhancements offered by ACT! 2.0.4 (for Windows). If you are curious and wondering which version of ACT! is running on your PC, you can easily find out by executing the command: HELP, ABOUT. The latest version of ACT! is version 2.0.4. ???? Upgrade disks for version 2.0 (or higher) are available from Symantec for $10.???

While we're on the topic of version 2.0.4, it is worth mentioning that this version boasts a more useful and foolproof "Group" feature. Groups are essentially subsets of your database. Members of groups have one or more things in common. (One example of a group might be all customers who haven't purchased from you in the last six months.) ACT! offers you an easy way to determine what groups exist and who is in them. Just execute the command: FILE, ADMINISTRATION, REPORTS, GROUPS or GROUP MEMBERSHIP.

If you are having trouble printing labels - text is not properly aligned, for example - remember that label printing is a function of your printer, printer driver, and font. You may need to experiment with one or more of these to achieve the desired results. In addition, adjusting the top and bottom margins of the particular report template used (for example, avry5160.rep) may solve the problem.

Use the command REPORT, EDIT TEMPLATE followed by FORMAT, PAGE to access the margins. First vary the top margin so that the first line of text is properly aligned on your labels. Then vary the bottom margin until text at the bottom of the page is properly positioned. Next add a second sheet of labels and verify that labels print properly on all subsequent pages.

You can speed up data entry in a contact screen by setting what are known as "group stops". Normally the Tab key moves the cursor to the next data field. The Return key advances the cursor several fields. ACT! permits you to decide which fields the cursor jumps to when the Return key is struck. This is called a group stop. Group stops help you save time by allowing you to bypass fields where no data is to be entered.

To set group stops execute the command EDIT, FIELD ATTRIBUTES. Highlight the various field names one-by-one and check the "set group stop" box for each field you want the cursor to stop. (Make sure the set group stop box is unchecked for all other fields.)


ACT! Mobilelink is a new software package that enables ACT! (for Windows) users in the field to exchange contact information with PCs at headquarters. This way all users of a database are assured of having up-to-date, current information - whether they are in the next office or halfway across the country.

Mobilelink eliminates the need to transfer databases to other PCs and the need to merge records in order to keep contact records up to date. Mobilelink works by keeping a log of all changes to contact records. All new data is automatically saved in a special file. Upon demand, ACT! dials the headquarters PC and begins an automatic exchange of information between the two computers. The end result is that the two databases are now "synchronized" i.e. contain the same information.

The integrity of contact records is maintained since Mobilelink updates on a field by field basis, modifying only those parts of a contact record that have changed. Furthermore, fields can be marked as "read only" so remote users are prevented from altering information.

An added feature is the "electronic literature rack". The literature rack is resident on the headquarters PC and can be accessed by those in the field. It may contain price lists, product information sheets, contracts, memos, etc. ACT! Mobilelink also features a built-in e-mail system. Though strictly an internal system (there is no access to the Internet, etc.), ACT! Mobilelink e-mail enables you to attach files (such as a spreadsheet) to all messages.

The basic package carries an introductory price of $99 and serves 3 computers. A simple configuration might include one PC in the office and 2 mobile users. To upload data from the field, the user would call the office, ask that the office PC be switched to "receive mode", then call back to transfer ACT! data.

A larger setup would include a PC in the office designated as a server. This is a more practical solution when more frequent updates are required. The added advantage is that the headquarters machine can be left unattended. Field users can access the electronic literature rack and update contact records at any time.

Mobilelink requires ACT! for Windows 2.0.4, a 486 DX 33MHz (or faster) PC with 8MB RAM (for the "headquarters"/mail server), DOS 6.0 or later, and Hayes compatible modems on all computers.

© 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.