Blogs

Importing data from Sage Line 50 Accounts

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve released a connector for Sage Line 50 Accounts. This new connector means that you can easily import data from any Sage Line 50 database, such as invoice lists, customers lists and nominal accounts.

To get the module, all you need to do is download it from the version update screen. The next to you run ActiveDataTools, you will then see a new option on the Enterprise Systems menu.

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When you click this menu option, the connection setup window will appear, where you can enter the appropriate connection details.

sage2

All you need to do is locate your ACCDATA.INI file and specify the username and password here When you click OK, all the Sage tables will appear.

Creating your own extensions in ActiveDataTools

Today we released a powerful new feature in ActiveDataTools that enables you to create your own extensions. This means that you can now connect ActiveDataTools directly to your own systems, without having to use generic database drivers, etc.

This fantastic new feature provides you with the ability to create really powerful imports and exports, that delve deep in to your enterprise systems and that work the way you want them to.

Some of our clients have created their own extensions to read customer data from their SharePoint site and save data to their corporate CRM system.

For more information about this powerful new feature, check out www.activedatatools.com/developer.

Importing/exporting OpenOffice Calc data

We're pleased to announce that our OpenOffice Calc interface is now available for immediate download.

This interface enables you to read and write OpenOffice Calc Files (*.ods).

To download the module, run ActiveDataTools and click on the File menu and then Check Version. When the version dialog appears, go to the Plugins tab and download the "Desktop Applications" plugin.

You will then be able to load/save OpenOffice Calc files.

Case Study: TxtLocal.co.uk & ActiveDataTools

We're delighted to publish a case study on using ActiveDataTools in conjunction with the TxtLocal.co.uk SMS service. In this case study, you'll read how one of our customers sent a small number of text messages to some prospects and within two hours had received a substantial number of orders!

ActiveDataTools integrates fully with this service, enabling you to send bulk SMS messages to clients, employees, prospects, etc., directly from an open worksheet.

Read the article here: http://activedatatools.com/system/files/activedatatools-casestudy.pdf.

Also, I recently wrote a blog article on how to send SMS using ActiveDataTools here:

http://activedatatools.com/blog/how-to-send-bulk-sms.

New Export to Microsoft Access feature released

I am pleased to tell you that we've released an update to the "Export to Microsoft Access" module. Using this new feature, you can export the data in an open worksheet to a new table in an existing Microsoft Access database (97-2010 supported).

Next time you run ActiveDataTools, you should get a "new version" popup message.

Click on the pop up to display the version dialog.

Click on the Plugins tab and then set the action for the module to "Download". Click on the Download Now button.

When the module has been downloaded, you will be asked to install it and then restart ActiveDataTools.

Once you have completed this operation, you will now be able to export data to Microsoft Access.

ActiveDataTools 2011 Released!

We're delighted to announce that ActiveDataTools 2011 has been released and is available for immediate download. This release contains a wealth of new features, including Venn-diagram style relations, SMS text messaging, report writing and much more.

See the feature list for complete information about what's available in this release.

Send bulk SMS directly from ActiveDataTools

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve teamed up with Txtlocal.co.uk to provide bulk SMS messaging directly from ActiveDataTools.

This fantastic new feature means that you can now open up some data (from any data source supported by ActiveDataTools), filter and query to find the data you want to work with, cleanse to remove invalid mobile phone numbers and then send bulk messages to all recipients.

It’s incredibly fast, reliable and easy to do. The possibilities are endless:

  • Send text messages to customers to inform them about a new product or service
  • Message your staff to warn them about traffic or urgent issues.
  • Reply by text to prospects enquiring on your website
  • Send reminders, warnings, notifications, alarms, etc.

The whole process is completely integrated in to ActiveDataTools. Let’s step through the process.

To start, let’s open up a worksheet containing our customers’ details. In this example, all we need is each customer’s mobile phone number.

Sending bulk SMS

Now that we’ve got the data on screen, we can use ActiveDataTools’s data cleansing features to tidy up incorrect mobile numbers, or we could use the filtering and querying features to create a subset of the full data. Once we’ve cleaned up the data, the next step is to click the “Send Bulk SMS” button.

Sending bulk SMS

The first time you do this, most of the options will be greyed out because we need to set up our TxtLocal account. Let’s click on the Set up my TxtLocal account button…

Sending bulk SMS

Generating Realistic Test Data

If you're a software developer who works on systems involving lots of data, you will probably have had the need to generate test data. This can be really tedious work! Let's look at some options:

1. Do it manually

This is probably the best way to get extremely realistic data, as you will take great care to ensure that the data looks real. However, what if you need to create 10,000 records, complete with names, addresses, dates of birth, etc.? You probably won't have the time to do that, right? And, you'd probably lose the will to live after the first 100 records!

Reading lists of files from the file system

One of our clients recently told us how ActiveDataTools helped them quickly solve an urgent issue. The business sends out approximately 30,000 invoices each month to its customers. The invoices get generated from their billing system as PDF files and then get placed in a folder on their server, ready to be printed.

This particular month their billing platform crashed in the middle of generating the bills. Unfortunately, it doesn’t generate bills sequentially, so there was no easy way of knowing which bills it had produced and which it hadn’t.

They needed to set a flag in their billing database to mark which bills hadn’t been generated, so that the bill run could be restarted. Then they realised that ActiveDataTools could help them, using its powerful “Open from File System” feature.

To start with, they used the File System Importer to create a list of all the PDFs that had been created in the output folder of the billing system.

The system retrieves the list, along with other information such as filesize, filetype, etc. and creates a new worksheet:

The filename is in the first column. You can clearly see that each file is named “Invoice_” and then a invoice number. Once we have the list, the next thing we do is remove “Invoice_” and “.PDF” from the data, using the Find and Replace feature.

We now have a list of all the invoices that were successfully generated. Next we need to create a SQL Script to mark these invoices as ‘complete’ in the billing system. To do this, we use the Output Template Generator.

Data cleansing 101: Splitting people’s names

It always drives me mad: Why do software developers/database designers ever create data sources where a person’s name is forced in to a single field? It’s so frustrating and difficult to work with, especially when you need to manipulate the data later on, especially in mailshots.

Common Scenario: The Marketing Department need a list of all customers who enquired about your product on your website, because they want to run a mailshot. Unfortunately, your web designer wasn’t thinking that day and your enquiry form forces customers’ names in to a single field. You download the data from your FTP site and set up the mailshot. Now everybody gets an introduction like “Dear MR BOB D SMITH”.

Fortunately, there is a very simple solution. Launch ActiveDataTools, import the data, select the name field and click the Split People’s Names feature.

ActiveDataTools splits each customer’s name in to its constituent parts, like Title, First name, Middle name(s) and Last Name. The system can format tens of thousands of names like this in a few seconds.

Watch the following video for a brief demonstration:

(Ps, sorry about the dodgy computerised voice over man – my throat was too sore!)

To find out more about about ActiveDataTools, visit the website at http://www.activedatatools.com or download our 14 day trial.

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