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December 2017 | Issue #62
Current Releases: SM 8.0.058 (12/4) | AW 3.5.046 (9/20)
Webinar: ACEware Software Update  -  12/6 1:30 CDT
ACEware Systems Newsletter - Information to Run Your Program
Reindexing in SQL Server
When we decided to convert our Student Manager code to be SQL Server compatible, one of the advantages we touted was that reindexing would become a thing of the past. I had it on pretty good authority that there was some magic that happened that maintained indexes. I recently found out that the magic was DBAs doing that maintenance. Some DBAs assume that developers build tools to reindex for them. Since learning this, I've developed a tool to do that in Student Manager 8.0.058.

First, a word on the importance of indexes. An index is a specific ordering of data. This ordering allows for faster searches of data. This way a record or set of records can be found, edited or deleted quickly. There are hundreds of indexes in your tables that both ACEweb and Student Manager use. If your SQL Server is running a bit slow, a fragmented index  may be the cause.

So to defragment indexes, I've turned on the Tools -> Database Admin -> Pack/Reindex menu item that you had in VFP. The screen comes up a little differently:  It shows a list of tables and indexes that are fragmented more than the 5% tolerance that Microsoft allows. Everything is automatically selected, so all you have to do is click done. This screen is mainly for information purposes, or if there are indexes you don't want defragmented at this time, you can deselect them.

When running the reindexing tool, the system does check for other users who need to close out as under the VFP model. As for how often you do this, I would recommend doing it every two weeks or so. If you are doing a lot of data entry (so during high registrations periods or if you just do a lot year round), then I would recommend once a week. Ask your technician if you need advice on how often you should be doing it. The information screen does come up and tell you just how fragmented things are. If you routinely see 25% fragmentation and a lot of indexes, then you should do it more often.

Contributed by Matthew Olson
2018 Users' Conference Date Announced!
We'll be in Buckhead-Atlanta June 5-8 for our 22nd Annual Users' Conference. Hold those dates on your calendar now and be ready to register in January. Atlanta is a great destination, and at the Embassy Suites, you'll get some much deserved pampering. A suite, cook-to-order breakfast, and an evening reception are all included in your room rate!

Remember that with your paid support agreement, you have scholarship funds to use against a conference registration fee. Present a session and you'll get even deeper discounts.

Bookmark this site to see what past attendees have to say about conference and keep up with all the 2018 conference information.

Contributed by Sharon Brookshire
Notice of Broken Mapping Feature
We've recently discovered that Bing has turned off the version of maps that we were using for our mapping tool. Sorry for the inconvenience. We are working to upgrade to the newest Bing toolset. We are not sure how long that will take, but we hope to have something soon. More details will be shared as they become available.

Contributed by Matthew Olson
Tip of the Month: 
Check Those Mappings
Sometimes when you set up a new user and they process a payment they get this:

Most often this error is due to the new user not being mapped correctly.

The quickest way to see if this is the problem is to simply check the mapping on a desktop that successfully processes payments and make sure the new users' mapping is the same. Depending on your school's policy, you may need to have IT change the mapping for you.

With Student Manager all users must be mapped to the same drive letter. Whether using a UNC or a straight mapping all users must have the same drive letter. The reason for this is when processing payments, the location of the files used must be the same for all users.

Contributed by AJ Giliberto
Report of the Month: Making an "Autosizing" Nametag (or Certificate or ??)
As my eyes get older, the size of the font on nametags keep getting smaller. So I always applaud those conference organizers who DO make a name larger than 12 point font.

However, the challenge in pumping up font size is that all names are NOT created equal. For as many Joe's and Jo's we have, we have Jehosophat and Josephina. So what's a program manager to do?

Answer: Use the Print When feature!

When you are modifying a report, you can right click on the object (a text box, Logo, element), and ten see the properties.

The "Print When" box offers you many ways to customize the display of a report. It allows you to control the display of an object. For example, if you wanted to display the word "CANCEL" next to a course ONLY if the class is cancelled, you'd put the value of the Print when as COCANCEL.

But back to my problem: How to make the nametag name as big as possible?

What you do is have TWO Expression Boxes with the same contents (i.e.: Full Name) but with TWO different font sizes. What you do is create the first expression box using the FIELD tool.

So you would start with the full name

Click on the Print When, and set the value using the Length function (len)
You may need to experiment with the length number (15 in this example) and the Font Size you assign to that field. In my example, using Arial Bold, my Long Name - Length greater than 15 characters - I set font size to 22.

Then I'd copy that field expression and Paste it over the top of the first (the secret is to overlay the two, one on top of the other). Then change the Font size (I used 28 for my big font ) for the shorter names.

This technique can also be used on Course Titles, which can have quite different lengths (ie: Beginning Excel v.s. Tricks and Tips for using Excel to Generate Bar Charts and Graphs). I've even created three different sizes of font/print when combos.

For that, you would set your print when(s) to:
  • For the shorter title: len(trim(cocrsenm)) < 25
  • For the mid range between(len(trim(cocrsenm)),25,65)
  • For the long ones: len(trim(cocrsenm)) > 65
You can also use this print when to "Fancify" name tags with images. For Example, if you wanted to print an image of a Podium (or Microphone or ?) on the name tags of conference speakers, you would assign a Speaker Code to one of the Registration code fields, and then use that in a print when on that image (ie: rgmisc='SPEAK').

OK! Now you should have some ideas on how you can use the print when options to do all sorts of "Magic" with your reports.

Contributed by Chuck Havlicek

Wishing you and yours Happy Holidays from all of us at ACEware Systems!

- Chuck, Sharon, AJ, Cheryl, Jason, Joe, Lindsey, Matthew, Mike, and Stein

 Aceware Systems
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