Take The Blinders Off:  A Fresh Look At Text Databasing

People don't associate the words "cre­ativity" and "flexibility" with text databases. After all, a text database in a formfiller is just a way to fill out one field at a time, right? Wrong. If you understand how WinTOTAL's text databas­es really work, then thinking creatively unlocks a new level of efficiency you may have never real­ized has been at your fingertips all along. (pq)

The Basics
As you may already know, there are two kinds of text database tools in WinTOTAL: QuickLists and Recent Responses. QuickLists are displayed in the vertical pane on the left side of your screen. When you're in a field, hit Alt + 0 to save your text as a QuickList and assign it a number. To use a QuickList in a field, hit Alt + the number as­sociated with it in the QuickList pane. Simple.

Recent Responses are the "drop downs" you see in each field. WinTOTAL saves the last 10 things you type because they're, you guessed it, your "Recent Responses". To choose a Recent Response, click it with your mouse, or use the Alt + arrow key to choose it, and hit Enter. These are the basic concepts behind WinTOTAL's text database tools.

If you've switched to WinTOTAL from another formfiller, you're probably used to "drop downs." So WinTOTAL's Recent Responses seem pretty natural. But WinTOTAL's text database tools are much more flexible than that. QuickLists (the canned comments in the left pane in WinTOTAL) can actually be used to save multiple fields at once as a single text database entry. Try it for yourself. Open a report and go to the neighborhood sec­tion. Then click in the first field, hold down shift and click in the last. The whole section will be highlighted. Hit Alt + 0, type in a name for this neighborhood entry, and voila! You now have the ability to fill out an entire neighborhood section with a click. You can even save entire forms as a single QuickList entry. So this flexibility means that you can stop thinking of canned comments as a way to fill out one field at a time. The flexibil­ity affords you the opportunity to be much more creative in automatically filling in text, and saving more time and effort as a result.

Understanding that WinTOTAL's text database tools aren't "one field at a time" means you can get creative. Many users layer (they call it "blending") text entries to cut down on the amount of effort they put into typing.

Here's a specific example. Start a new report in WinTOTAL from scratch. Using the SmartMerge feature, you can search for properties that are near your subject, have the same approximate square footage, neighborhood, type, etc. Once you've found a suitable report, merge the forms and data from that existing report into your new report. This is a "base layer" that fills out a good part of your major form and keeps you from having to use an existing "report pack" or clone, only to go back and delete text and forms you don't need.

The next layer would be entering multi-field QuickLists you've saved, filling out the neighborhood section, for example. You might also use multi-field QuickLists to layer data into your description of improvements or comps grid, filling more than one field at a time and adjusting the text to your specific assignment.

The "top layer" is done by blending single field QuickLists or Recent Responses ("drop downs") into the text you've added up to this point and making individual edits needed for the current report. So you've gone from layering on broadly, down to being very targeted and specific before you ever had to touch your keyboard and type anything. It's also important to note that QuickLists can be used to save addenda text so that you're not retyping the same comments over and over as well.

Unleash the Power
Entering text in WinTOTAL only one field at a time is like buying an HP12C calculator but only using it for addition and subtraction. Because you have the ability to merge forms and sections from existing reports so easily, and to save and enter multiple fields as QuickLists, the flexibility you have combined with your own creativity can significantly reduce the time you spend with your keyboard. To see some step by step videos, click here, or visit www.alamode.com/support and search for "WinTOTAL QuickList".