I'm a new user - do I need to know data analysis stuff?

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I'm a new user - do I need to know data analysis stuff?

Postby Pete Tabord » Fri Feb 01, 2008 4:27 pm

Ffenics is structured the way it is to provide an environment as near to the normal office use of physical paper forms as possible, and to allow systems to be developed with as little knowledge of computer terms and techniques as possible.

In essence, if you can design (or visualise) your requirements as normal paper forms there should be no need to think about data analysis or database structure or anything else technical, because you basically just did most of what you had to do.

There are only two rules the beginner 'Ffenics Data Analyst' needs to remember in addition:

a) Where-ever possible, identify one or more fields on the paper form that uniquely identify the data for a particular record, flag those fields as unique, and index those fields. This is the 'Unique Key' that lets you get back to a particular record.

b) If on the paper form the data repeats (such as lines on an invoice) then that is better created as a 'subform' with its own separate form definition, using a relationship to link it to the main Form (using the Unique Key from the main Form).

It then won't matter how many times the data in the subform repeats - you won't have to keep adding fields to the main form. We call forms designed without this precaution 'Multi-line Horrors'.

oh, sorry - there is one other -

Name Your Relationships! (The ones you created in Rule b) above).

Basic data validation is dome simply by deciding what type of data you want in each field of the form when you create it on screen. You may want to add some simple rules to this in the form of range checks.

Once you have designed your forms and entered some data in them you can immediately report on any data entered without programming - see the options on the Query menu in record entry.

The next step is to learn how to do bulk or batch modifications and more complex reports by means of 'procedures', which allow you to add a 'data Query' script to a report - you can create the outline of your procedures automatically from reports you have already created.

True, as applications grow there is often a need to further subdivide forms and understand more complex issues, but Ffenics provides good tools to achieve such on-going enhancements - the whole idea is that the application should grow organically. You can interactively develop your application while others are using it if required.

Of course, if you spent ages learning professional data analysis then designing a perfect application and implementing it you might get a more elegant solution - but what usually happens is that the requirement has moved on by the time said perfect app is developed, and the company never implements it.

The intention therefore is that the person developing a Ffenics app need not be bothered with technicalities of design or implementation, but just gets on with it, learning incrementally as they go. In particular, you decide what you want on the Form and build that, and let the data structures follow, rather than designing the data structure first and pulling it together in the screen.
Peter J. Tabord
Head of Development
Database Software Ltd.
ptabord@ffenics.com
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