Skip to the content Back to Top

For some reason, DB/TextWorks menu screens are a little used feature. We often meet clients with many databases, but without a convenient way of seeing and accessing them all at a glance. Adding a menu screen to DB/TextWorks is quick and easy to do, but makes using your databases so much easier.

The screenshot above shows the menu screen from our Andornot Library Kit, with links to each of the many databases it includes. The one below shows one from one of our clients' systems.

What is a Menu Screen?

Like a Query Screen or Report Form in a DB/TextWorks database, a Menu Screen is a screen layout you create using the WYSIWYG designer in DB/TextWorks. You would usually add to it links to each of your databases, for searching or data entry. You might also add your organization's name or logo, contact or support info for anyone who might be using the system, a brief description of each database, etc.

Having links to all your databases on a single screen saves time and helps new users find their way around your collection of databases without having to hunt for them in folders on disk. It also allows you to specify, in each link to a database, which query screen and reports to load for that database. 

One way to create menu screens is to have different menu screens for different kinds of users. For example, in an archives or museum that relies on volunteers to help with data entry, you could have a menu screen for volunteers that only lists the Accessions database, and pre-loads a simpler query screen and data entry form designed specifically for volunteers. A more extensive menu could provide the archivist or curator with links to all databases, pre-loading the more sophisticated query and edit screens for their use.

Unlike a Query Screen or Report Form, the menu screen isn't stored in any one database, but rather as a separate file on disk (with a .tbm or .cbm extension). You would usually store it in the same folder as all your database files.

How do I create a Menu Screen?

  1. Open DB/TextWorks but don't open a database.
  2. Select Menu Screens > Design from the main menu.
  3. Choose "Create a New Menu Screen File."
  4. Browse to the folder where your databases are stored to save the menu screen in the same location, and give it a name.
  5. In the WYSIWYG Menu Screen Designer, you may now add links to textbases, your organization's name or logo, and other information. Use the examples above for ideas, or come up with your own design.
  6. To add links to textbases, choose Edit > Add > Textbase box.
  7. In the Textbase Properties Dialogue, select the textbase to link to, then on the Initial Elements tab, pre-select the query screen and forms to use by default. Note that these override the default screens and forms set in the textbase, and that in either case, users may still change to other screens and forms once they are in the database.
  8. On the Initial Action tab, be sure to select which window to open. For example, if your link is one such as "Search the Database", select a Query Window. If your link is "Add a New Record", select Edit New Record as the window to open.
  9. Save your new menu screen when your design is complete.
  10. If you ever create more than one menu screen, you can even add links from one to another on each of them.

How do I use a Menu Screen?

  1. On each PC that has DB/TextWorks, open DB/TextWorks but don't open a database.
  2. Select Menu Screens > Select from the main menu.
  3. Choose "Use the Menu Screen in a File", then browse to and select the Menu Screen file (ending with .tbm or .cbm) that you created earlier, usually stored in the same folder as your databases.
  4. Close and re-start DB/TextWorks and your menu screen will now automatically load, ready for use.

See this blog post from earlier this week about two other helpful but little used features of DB/TextWorks: Sets and Record Skeletons.

A recent project has reminded me that many clients are not aware of the power of these three functions that have been available in DB/TextWorks for years, and which can potentially streamline and speed up your workflow.

The first is Menu Screens.  Many clients have a menu screen that loads up when they open DB/TextWorks but usually the ones we see are either the default from the old Inmagic Library Module, or rudimentary boxes linking to their databases. However they can be so much more useful! Here is an example from a recent project.

CLGA menu

A menu screen is super easy to set up and we’ll be posting a detailed guide here in our blog soon.

However first we need to discuss the other two functions, as they can be used separately or in conjunction with your menu screen.

The second function is Sets. Whenever you do a search you can choose to Save the Set from the top toolbar. Sets are a great way of providing quick access to a search with several parameters to save you from entering them each time using the query screen. So for example, find all records with a Review date in the next 30 days; or find digital image records that have been entered but not checked yet; or find all books that are not on permanent loan and that have been out for more than 60 days. You can use the @date variable in the search strategy without needing to actually input an actual date each time. Never used the @date function? It can be very handy especially when combined as in @date-7:@date which retrieves all dates within the past week.   A Sets box can be added to your query screen to give you quick access to running these searches or they can be embedded in your menu screen.

The third function is Record Skeletons. You may have a student or volunteer adding records for reports in particular series; or images in a photographic collection; or documents in a fonds. You can create a record skeleton to prepopulate the edit screen with publication or descriptive data that is common to all these new records. You can find Skeletons under the Records menu. Note that once you select a skeleton to use, it will be the default until you re-set to none, or choose a different one.

In the menu screen example above, every database has a link to the search screen plus a link straight in to a new record edit screen. If your database has several edit screens these can be specified on the menu screen too, as well as specifying a skeleton appropriate for these new records. It may not seem like much, but this can save a couple of extra clicks and let you get straight to work. This screen also has Sets specified to prepopulate the query screen with the value for a particular collection. So easy to set up and a great way to ensure people can search quickly and effectively.

Check out more tips and tricks for getting the most out of DB/TextWorks in our blog archive:

We are always available to help you with updates to your databases. No project is too small!

As the air gets crisper and precipitation drives us indoors, Fall is a great time to reflect and to find energy for new projects and adventures.

Have you thought about the web presence your museum, archive or library collection has? Are you providing users with modern tools to help them research your records and share them with others. Here are 10 ideas to read on a blustery Fall day, and that could add some sparkle to your website and online collections.

  1. Upgrade to a more modern search engine, such as our Andornot Discovery Interface, with features users expect when searching. For example, see how we helped Forestry Innovation Investment with their ThinkWood Research Library.
  2. Add ever more historic content to attract users interested in local history and genealogy, like the Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives did with back issues of the Arnprior Chronicle newspaper.
  3. Add a map interface so users can browse geographically, like the one we built for the Ontario Jewish Archives.
  4. Have lots of documents? Why not index the full text of them, then when a user searches for keywords, take them directly to the most relevant page in the PDF. No more downloading and repeating the search within the PDF to find the right page. Learn more.
  5. Get out in front of Community Engagement by adding the Disqus commenting system to your search results, so users can more easily discuss items in your collection, help identify people and places, and provide feedback to you.
  6. Make sure your website or search engine is mobile friendly. Google and other search engines now place mobile-friendly results higher in their rankings. And make sure you have a sitemap and permalinks so your collection can be easily indexed by Google and Bing.
  7. Planning to digitize large works, such as maps, paintings, or architectural drawings? Will users be able to see the fine detail in the resulting images on your website or in your search engine? Our Image Zoomer can help, by allowing users to easily zoom in on specific areas of a large image, without having to download that very large file.
  8. Is your website looking dated? Maybe it has the digital equivalent of large shoulder pads or flared pants? Time for a refresh? Let us help with a Content Management System and new graphic design, like we did recently for PRCVI (the BC Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired).
  9. Can't attract the attention of your own IT staff to help with your website or software? Why not have Andornot host it?
  10. On a tight budget? Consider our low-cost Digital History Hub platform for putting collections online and making virtual exhibits.

Contact us to discuss any of these ideas, and ones of your own.

DB/TextWorks has been around since the late 1990’s and we sometimes come across clients with databases that were developed almost that long ago!  Two recent projects we are working on involve rationalizing older databases to modern standards.   It’s amazing how old, ugly, inefficient interfaces can be spruced up through the use of one of our kits for libraries, archives and museums.  We use these as a starting point, and after updating field names to be as descriptive as possible, we import our query screens, report and edit forms and adjust these to show the clients fields.  If you have report designs you like, you can do this too!  Under Maintain > Manage Textbase Elements you can import and export forms from one database to another.  We like to color code our databases and it’s possible to open the exported forms in Notepad or other text editor and carefully edit to replace background colors. Archives_Accessions

Inevitably requirements change over the years, so we help clients review how fields are being used, and suggest adding or deleting fields to better handle their needs.  We also make sure to add automatic number and date fields, appropriate validation and substitution lists and work with clients to clean up their data by batch modifying or updating values through the validation lists. After so many years working with DB/TextWorks we have a lot of tricks up our sleeves, and often export data, adjust it in other software and re-import to split or combine fields.

If you need assistance with your databases, please check out some of our past blog posts that provide various suggestions for improvements.  Note that some of these reference older versions of DB/TextWorks so the location of functions may not be identical.

Spring Cleanup series:

Give your databases a new lease on life and contact us for a quote to help you love them again!

Inmagic DB/TextWorks has long had a popular feature called 'record skeletons.' They're a great way to save and add consistency and accuracy to data entry. 

Here's how they work: Suppose you're cataloguing a group of materials that all share some data in common. This could be as simple as books, written in English and published in 2017. Or it could be a series all with the same title, author, publisher, date, subjects, etc. and only the subtitle or volume number changes.

In both of these cases, when filling in a data entry form, you'd be filling in some fields with the same values over and over again.

Why repeat work when there are tools to save time?

The Duplicate Record feature in DB/TextWorks is handy when you have the first record finished and want to duplicate it. But this copies all the fields, and you then need to change or remove fields that are different in the next item you're cataloguing.

This is where 'record skeletons' are useful. A record skeleton is a set of values to populate in select fields in a new record, such as:

Material Type = Book

Language = English

Publication Date = 2017

Long-time DB/Text users are well versed in these features, but what if you manage your library with the Inmagic Genie system?

While record skeletons are not a feature of Genie itself, there's a reasonably easy way to add them, using browser extensions know as 'form fillers'. These tools work just like a record skeleton, storing default values for fields, but within your browser, rather than in Genie itself. So, you might have one profile (a set of fields) for books, another for journals, another for internal corporate reports, etc.

When cataloguing an item in Genie, you pretty much just just click on your form filler extension and choose a profile and the appropriate fields will be filled in. 2 clicks and you're done!

To set up a profile, you can populate the fields you want in the skeleton, then save the profile. You can also, in some cases, access an editor, such as shown below, for fine-grained control.

A form filler could be used in any module in Genie. Orders would be another good place, for example.

Of course, it's most useful if you have many similar items to catalogue. For more unique items, there's no time savings over just cataloguing as per usual, one record and one field at a time.

Depending on the form filler you choose, you may want or need to consolidate all your Catalogue fields into a single tab (the default is 4 tabs: Biblio 1, Biblio 2, Physical and Serials) so that the form filler can populate them all at once. This is easily done by editing the MyEditScreens.config XML file in Genie. 

Since the different profiles you set up are stored in your browser, if you have colleagues who also catalogue, you'd want to export the profile from the form filler and import it into their browser. You might store a master exported profile on your network somewhere so that anyone who needs it can get it. Many of the form filler extensions have export and import ability.

One form filler extension we recommend is Autofill for Chrome (shown above).

Andornot would be happy to help you select, install and configure a form filler extension for your browser and your Genie instance. Just mailto:#mce_temp_url# and we'll tell you more.

Let Us Help You!

We're Librarians - We Love to Help People