Meeting Notes

Meeting Date: February 11, 1997

NEWS YOU CAN USE: ACT! 3.0 users, the latest release of ACT! is version 3.0.3. (Use the command HELP, ABOUT ACT! to check which version you have.) If you don't have the latest update, you can download it from Symantec's Web site (or use ACT!'s LiveUpdate feature). Patch disks will also be available at User Group meetings.

MEETING FEATURE: This month we took the opportunity to conduct an ACT! "mini lesson" at our SIG meeting. We focused on one of the basic features of ACT!: Lookups.

Simple Lookups

Put simply, lookups enable you to cull out or select contacts on the basis of the specific criteria of your choice. For example, you can look up everyone in your database who is a customer, or, all contacts in Peoria. These simple lookups are called quick lookups. This is because they are fast and they search on specific parameters (fields) appearing on the LOOKUP drop-down menu. These fields are: First Name, Last Name, Company, City, State, Zip, Phone, and ID Status. Each of these fields is "indexed" by ACT!, therefore making lookups fast.

More Complex Lookups

ACT! 3.0 users can perform more sophisticated lookups without becoming experts in Boolean algebra thanks to a new feature which enables you to "build" lookups. This feature makes use of a new dialog box having three choices: Replace, Add To, and Narrow. Here's an example. To look up all contacts in Texas and California who are customers (i.e., ID Status = Customer) the commands would be: LOOKUP, STATE (TX), LOOKUP, STATE (CA), then check off "Add" in the dialog box. Next, LOOKUP, ID STATUS (Customer) and check off "Narrow" in the dialog box.

This new dialog box appears only when doing quick lookups - i.e. lookups on indexed fields. If you find that you are frequently performing these sorts of lookups involving other fields, you can designate these other field(s) as indexed fields. The command to do so is EDIT, DEFINE FIELDS. Click on "Advanced" in the Define Fields dialog box. Then check off "New Index". A word of caution: define indexed fields judiciously. Adding indexed fields will slow down your system.

Other ACT! 3.0 lookups include Keyword lookups and Lookup By Example. Keyword lookups allow you to search contacts, notes, history, activities, and e-mail addresses for specific words or phrases. The command LOOKUP, BY EXAMPLE replaces ACT! 2.0's LOOKUP, OTHER command and permits users to type Boolean operators (such as >, <, or = ) right in fields.

This makes it possible to easily find all contacts who were sent a letter after January 1, for example. To find these contacts, use the lookup by example command and type ">1/1/97" in the Letter Date field. You can refine searches by entering search criteria in as many fields as you would like.

Advanced Searches

ACT!'s advanced searches are called Advanced Queries. They represent the most sophisticated and detailed searches and are written in Boolean algebra. Advanced queries can be saved as files for later use as needed. The easiest way to create an advanced query is to start with the LOOKUP, BY EXAMPLE command and to plug in as much information as possible into the contact screen. The command QUERY, CONVERT TO SMART QUERY will convert the query into its Boolean equivalent. At this point, the query can be altered, appended, or saved.

Tips and Tricks for Lookups

· Search for blanks in any field (such as missing phone numbers) using "CTRL F5" to designate a blank field.

· Search for the presence of any characters in a field by typing ">*" in the appropriate field to designate any text.

· Acceptable Boolean Operators in Lookup By Example searches are >, <, =, >=, or <=.

· Search for any specific text in a field by using asterisks to designate 'include'. For example, typing "*vice*" into the Title field tells ACT! to find all contacts whose titles are Vice President, Executive Vice President, or Service Technician (among others).

· When writing advanced queries, use parentheses to specify which algebraic operations are to be performed first.


Deleting the Contents of a Field

Q How can I delete the contents of a single field in my entire database??

A As a first step, it is a good idea to back up your database. It is impossible to recover this information once a field is deleted. Next, execute the command EDIT, CURRENT LOOKUP. Move the cursor to the field of interest and hit the keys CTRL F5 simultaneously. This inserts "<<>>" (a blank) in the field. Click OK to execute. In ACT! 3.0, the command is called REPLACE.

Caller ID

Q How can I get Caller ID to work with ACT! 3.0?

A The first step in getting Caller ID to work with ACT! is to get Caller ID to work without ACT!. This means making sure the hardware is appropriate and the correct drivers are properly configured. You'll need a TAPI (Telephony Applications Programmers Interface) compliant modem. (The standard fax/modem that came with your PC probably won't work.) The TAPI modem operates through a TAPI port (not a COM port).

Once the correct hardware is properly installed and configured, you'll need to configure ACT!. To do so, execute the command EDIT, PREFERENCES. Select Use Dialer and Lookup Contact Using Caller ID.


of the ACT! User Group will be on April 8 (ACT! 3.0 Mini Lesson on Writing Form Letters) and on May 13 (ACT! and E-mail).

The ACT! User Group (a SIG of the C.C.S.) holds meetings on the second Tuesday of the month eight months out of the year. User Group meetings are free and open to all C.C.S. members. They are held at the Midway Motor Lodge in Elk Grove Village. Call E Tech Systems at 847-352-4770 or visit for details.

© Copyright 1997 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.