Progress Report: 21/07/2014 – 27/07/2014

Welcome to week twenty-nine.

Projects

This week was database updating again. Yay!

As expected, I’m not finished yet, but I am further than I thought. I finished entering Concealed on Friday and then I entered 1983 and 1941 Saturday, and 1985 and 1901 on Sunday. The shorts, for some reason, were much easier and quicker to enter. I think it’s probably because I don’t need to record so much detail about the minor characters, because they (probably) won’t ever appear again, whereas with the novels, virtually everyone will be in it more than once. So, only Secrets to go before I can start another round of editing for Kindred. I’ll enter Kindred into the database as I go along, and then it won’t be so much of a chore to do (I hope).

I’m really looking forward to being able to produce a few reports to help me edit (and in the future, create).

 

Reading

Aim: To monitor time spent reading over the week.

  • Monday: 0.75
  • Tuesday: 0.75
  • Wednesday: 1.25
  • Thursday: –
  • Friday: 2.25
  • Saturday: 2.50
  • Sunday: 1.50

Total hours: 9.00

I’ve started experimenting this week with my reading habits. How? you ask (or maybe you don’t!). I’m experimenting with walking on the treadmill while I read. Eek! I don’t have a fancy powered treadmill, but a magnetic one, so you’re always walking uphill, which is tougher, obviously. I’ve only been doing it a couple of days so far, and not for all of my reading time, but it’s supposed to be better for you to spend more of your time standing, so if my legs get tired from walking, I can stand still instead and have something to lean on if I want to. This may not last. We’ll see.

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Join me next Monday for another round-up of progress and if you’re also challenging yourself to a wordcount each week, let me know in the comments..

Progress Report: 14/07/2014 – 20/07/2014

Welcome to week twenty-eight.

Projects

This week was database updating and birthday celebrations. As suspected, the birthday celebrations had a significant impact on the work achieved!

I finished inputting the data for Trapped and started on Concealed, at which point I found an error (wrong word used!) that I couldn’t ignore and ended up re-uploading new versions to all retailers. I’m about 20% of the way through the text now, so not too bad, but I expect it to take most of this week to finish it. After concealed, I’ll enter the three shorts, 1983, 1941 and 1985, before going onto Secrets and 1901. At that point, I’ll be able to start checking for any inconsistencies in Kindred through the next edit.

Entering the data is one of those jobs that you can’t do for too long at a time because it fries your brain – a bit like doing to much editing in one day. That makes the progress seem slow, although it probably isn’t really. If I’ve finished the whole lot by the end of July, I’ll be doing well. I’m not optimistic about that though.

Reading

Aim: To monitor time spent reading over the week.

  • Monday: 1.00
  • Tuesday: 2.00
  • Wednesday: 1.25
  • Thursday: 3.00
  • Friday: 0.50
  • Saturday: 0.00
  • Sunday: 1.00

Total hours: 8.75

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Join me next Monday for another round-up of progress and if you’re also challenging yourself to a wordcount each week, let me know in the comments..

Database Sub-Forms

Hi everyone.

Here’s the next post in my database series. Today, I’m going to cheat a little, because there’s no point in re-inventing the wheel, is there? There’s an excellent video on YouTube about how to create sub-forms, which was the topic I promised to cover next.

Once you’ve watched this, you’ll understand why I introduced you to the Form Navigator last time, because you’ll be using it a lot if you create sub-forms. For anyone who remembers that you can create a sub-form using the Form Wizard, that’s true, but it only lets you create one sub-form. You can create more than one using the method shown here.

So, this is more-or-less how I created my main form.

LibreOffice Database Form

The only difference really was that I created the Main Form using the wizard, because that was quicker, and I added the Sub-Forms by the method in the video afterwards.

My Main Form is my Book, which has a Sub-Form of the individual Scenes, and all the other forms (Character, Place, Facts) are Sub-Forms of Scenes. (This is what he does at the end, but I created mine from the start so didn’t need to do all the fiddling around to change the form.) You’ll see he adds in all the IDs on the forms so that he can check that the records are working correctly. I haven’t done this and once you know what you’re doing I don’t think it’s really necessary because you know what you’re looking at.

On another point, I mentioned Update and Delete Cascades before. I’ve changed mine all to not allow Delete Cascade because I had an issue where I forgot where I was in the database and deleted something by mistake. Luckily, it wasn’t something that had much impact at all, but it could have been. So, I think it’s safer for me to not allow deletes like that.

Anyway, next time I think it might be posting about how to create buttons to open your forms (that’s another video but with some changes!).

See you then.

Progress Report: 07/07/2014 – 13/07/2014

Welcome to week twenty-seven.

Rag & Bones: Kindred

I managed to do everything I planned with Kindred this week – that was to get to the end of this editing round and to add any extra scenes I thought it needed after reviewing the timeline. It ended up only being one scene. Now, it will rest for at least one week, maybe two. It all depends on the database progress.

Rag & Bones Shorts: 1901

This had another edit on Saturday and then I created both versions (Kindle and Smashwords) and put it out on the sites. Now, to think of an idea for the next one!

Other projects

I’ve managed to get about half-way through inputting the information from Trapped, although I haven’t done some every day. Over the next week I hope to get as much data from the books in the series onto the database as I can, so that I can start creating reports to help me make sure I’ve not made any errors in Kindred. I fully expect it to take longer than a week, but you never know with a tail wind and a … ah, yes. It won’t be a full week because I will reach the beginning of another year this week and there will be celebrations to be had.

Reading

Aim: To monitor time spent reading over the week.

  • Monday: 1.25
  • Tuesday: 2.25
  • Wednesday: 1.75
  • Thursday: 0.75
  • Friday: – 1.00
  • Saturday: – 1.25
  • Sunday: 1.50

Total hours: 9.75

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Join me next Monday for another round-up of progress and if you’re also challenging yourself to a wordcount each week, let me know in the comments..

Creating Database Forms

Today we’re going to create a very simple database form. This will relate to one table only and will give you a chance to play around with the settings before doing anything more complex.

In the main database window, click on the Forms icon on the left-hand side. I would suggest using the wizard for forms as it’s the easiest way to get the basic form there (Task Window). You can always play around with the format afterwards. Double-click on the wizard to open it up.

In the first window select the table name from the pull-down menu and use the arrow keys to take all the fields except for the ID field over to the right hand window. You don’t need the ID field on your form as it is automatically updated when you add a record.

Form Wizard 1

Press next, and next again on the second window, as we’re not adding a sub-form here.

The third window is for selecting your format.

Form Wizard 2

Click on the different format icons under Arrangement of the main form, and you will see the form changing behind it. When you’re happy, press next.

Leave the settings on the Select the data entry mode form as they are (unless you really only want to see new data in your form).

The next window, Apply the style of your form, will let you select different display options, which, once again, you will be able to see in the background. When you’re happy, move on.

In the final window a form name will be suggested. Change it if you don’t like it, and select Modify the form, so that you can have a little play with the settings, and click Finish.

Form Wizard 3

Maximise the form so that you can see all the tools (they never open maximised).

Okay, if you’re familiar with drawing tools, you’re going to be at an advantage at this stage, because unless you’ve selected the design that looks a bit like a spreadsheet, everything on your page is a different element that you can move around, resize and reformat.

Basic Form

As you can see, my form is very simple as it only has one field. Yours may have a selection of them down the page. Here, I’ve clicked on the Series Title and you can see the placeholders around it, just like in a drawing package. Don’t worry about most of the icons around the page at this stage, except for where I’ve brought up the tool tip down the bottom for the Form Navigator. Find that icon and open it up. Then, right mouse click on the first field in your form and select Control.

Basic Form plus Control and Navigator

You will see that with the field selected, there are two items selected in the Form Navigator. That is because the text field and its label are joined. In the Control window (which is titled Properties), you will see the word Multiselection next to the title. That means that everything you change in the Control window will apply to both the text field and the label field. You can change this by clicking on one of them in the Form Navigator, which will deselect the other. Then, you can change elements of each separately, which I would recommend. The control window lets you change all sorts of things, such as alignment, font, 3D effect, background colour. Scroll down and have a play around with the settings and see what you like and what you don’t like. Use this form as a testing ground – you can always recreate a proper one later.

Other tools you might like to test out are along the bottom. You will see a Text tool (the giant T) and some drawing tools as well. These can be used to, for example, give your form a title, or divide up sections into boxes.

Forget about the tools down the left-hand side for the moment, they’re all to do with adding elements to your form manually and you don’t need them at this stage.

When you have finished playing around, click Save (in the icons at the top of the screen) and close the Form. If you wish to go back into it to edit, right click on the Form in the Forms area of the database window and select Edit. If you want to test entering data, just double click on it to enter data mode.

And don’t forget to click Save on the database window before exiting.

That’s probably enough for today. Next time I’ll talk about sub-forms and creating something similar to my large data entry form (the one I showed you a few posts ago).

Have fun.

 

Creating Database Relationships

In the last database post I said I’d talk about creating relationships in the next one. So, that’s what I’m going to do. But first I thought I’d link to the official LibreOffice documentation for anyone who wants to look anything up.

LibreOffice Documentation

If you scroll down the page, you’ll find the LibreOffice Base Handbook and the LibreOffice Base Guide.

I only looked at selected parts of some of these pdfs, because there were things I already knew about creating databases. I didn’t find these as useful as a couple of the videos I watched (I’ll link to them at a later stage), but if you’ve never created a database before, you’d be well advised to do so.

Relationships

We’ve already partly defined the relationships in this database, but now we need to confirm the structure.

Remember that screen cap I put up in my first post when I was working through how the structure was going to be? It’s nothing like that now. In fact, it’s not even like this one, because I’ve added a new table today, but we won’t worry about that (it’s just a stand-alone table, more like a mini spreadsheet in my database!).

This is the current structure.

New Relationship File

What we’re going to do is put all those interconnecting lines between the tables. If you zoom in on the picture, you’ll be able to see that the lines either have a 1 or an n at the end of them. The 1, obviously, indicates the ‘one’ side of the relationship and the n indicates the ‘many’.

(NB: Don’t focus in too much on the individual table elements. Some of those may well get deleted yet as I put in data and I find I don’t need them, and there may be a few rogue ID fields still lurking from when I was planning how it was going to be structured.)

In the main database window, click on the Tools menu and select Relationships. That will bring up the window above, but completely blank. Underneath the menus, you’ll see a little icon with a + sign on it. If you hover over it you’ll see it’s the Add Table button. Click on it and you’ll get a list of the tables in your database. Click on each one and select Add.

The tables will appear on the screen in a random pattern.

The first thing I would suggest you do is to move them around so that the ones that have relationships with each other are next to each other. You’ll probably find there is a starting point (for me that’s the Series table) that you can follow along. There will be places where it gets more complicated, especially if you’ve got a number of many-to-many relationships, but get it as close as you can.

Once the tables are in place (and don’t forget, you can move them around later if you want to), you need to join them. The easiest way to do this is to use your mouse. Click on the ID at the ‘one’ end of the relationship and drag over to the ‘many’ corresponding ID. A line should then appear between the two IDs as shown above. Check that the ‘one’ and ‘many’ symbols are the right way around.

At this point, sometimes another window comes up, sometimes it doesn’t, but you can access it by double-clicking on the relevant line. This is that window.

Cascade

You’ll see that it indicates the two IDs and the tables they’re in. Now, I’ve seen different advice about this next bit, but either click on Update Cascade (under Update Options) and Delete Cascade (under Delete Options), or click on Update Cascade and leave the Delete Options unchanged.

As I understand it, allowing update and delete cascades allows for information that is linked in tables to be updated accordingly. However, in some situations, you may not want information to be deleted in all other tables when you delete a record in one table – this is when you would not select Delete Cascade. This would be relevant in companies, for example, where you needed to keep an electronic ‘paper trail’ of what has happened in the past. Please, if you are in doubt about which you should choose, read up on the LibreOffice info and make your own choice (and do some internet searching as well for what others consider best practice for your situation). I cannot advise you on which is the best to choose for your situation.

With my database, it’s not exactly life or death if I delete something, so I’ve gone for the Delete Cascade option.

One word of warning. Try not to make your relationships too complex. I would have loved to be able to link the Character table to other tables in my database as well, but I was ending up with a kind of circular relationship, which would never have worked. If your relationship screen looks too much like spaghetti junction, then you’ve probably gone too far. Try rethinking your tables. Maybe you can split information out further, or adjust your expectations a little.

Next time I’ll start you off with Forms. They’re what you use for entering your data (because entering it directly into the tables would be just as awkward as using a spreadsheet!).

See you then.

 

Progress Report: 30/06/2014 – 06/07/2014

Welcome to week twenty-six.

Rag & Bones: Kindred

Well, there’s good news and there’s not so good news. I have continued to edit Kindred and to fill out the extra scenes I added in the last round. However, I’m still addding scenes!!! I’m already at 69,672 words.

I have a feeling there will still be more to add in the next round. At the moment, it doesn’t quite feel balanced. So, this week I do hope to finish this round of edits, and hopefully to go over my timeline for the book and see where I need to add in more. Then, it’ll be resting for a week, at least.

Rag & Bones Shorts: 1901

I had a proper read-through of this on my Kindle this weekend and tweaked it a little. I’ll do the same next weekend and then make up the Smashwords version and the cover. Then, it’ll be go, go, go.

Other projects

The database, as you’ll know if you’ve been reading the other posts, is more or less set for data entry. I want to have a fiddle around with the character table, because, after entering some data, I think I need to break the information down a little more.

I’m trying to add a little every day (starting from the beginning with Trapped), and when I let Kindred rest, I’ll spend that whole week trying to get it as far as I can.

Reading

Aim: To monitor time spent reading over the week.

  • Monday: 1.00
  • Tuesday: –
  • Wednesday: 0.75
  • Thursday: 1.75
  • Friday: – 1.00
  • Saturday: – 1.25
  • Sunday: 0.75

Total hours: 6.5

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Join me next Monday for another round-up of progress and if you’re also challenging yourself to a wordcount each week, let me know in the comments..