ACL™ AN Com­mand line fea­tures

In this blog we will have a look at a feature of ACL™ Analytics which is quite powerful but a bit hidden. For creating the screenshots the English version was used.

If you are an experienced ACL™ user, you may use the program GUI (Graphical User Interface) to interact with it. This is mainly done by using shortcuts, clicking on icons in the icon bar or executing commands using the menu bar and its menu items.

However there is an element which can speed up your work in certain areas. It is the so-called “Command line” in ACL™ AN. Using it, you can execute, alter or re-run commands in a very easy, very quick way. Let’s have a look at it, using some screenshot examples.

Usually your ACL™ looks like this:

Screen 1 – The ACL™ AN interface

You can activate the command line by clicking in the menu on “Window->Show Command Line”.

Screen 2 – Enabling the Command Line

The command line blends in.

Screen 3 – The Command Line in ACL™ AN

Now I want to give you two examples, what the command line can be used for.

  1. Enter commands that are not accessible via the normal menu
    1. LIST
    2. DISPLAY
  2. Enter regular commands, for example “TOTAL FIELDS”

Most ACL™ Commands can be accessed via an icon or the menu bar. However, there are two examples, which are not provided there. One of them is the “LIST” command. You can list all fields or certain fields of the currently opened table for example to screen or to a file. The screenshot shows the table “Inventory”, where all fields are listed to be displayed in HTML. The command that needs to be typed in was simply “LIST ALL”. Ok, I have to admit that this was not exactly mind-blowing, but the purpose was to show an initial example of how the Command Line can be used in general, and that it allows you to access certain commands, that are not provided by icons or menu bar entries. The advantages will get more obvious in the following examples.

Screen 4 – Example 1: LIST ALL

The second example is the DISPLAY command. Display allows you to list the currently active variables (DISPLAY VARIABLES). This is not so interesting anymore, since ACL™ AN 10 provides now a variable tab where this is listed anyway (please refer to one of our last blog posts for details). However it is still very useful if you want to display the table layout (record length, fields, data types, computed fields). Then you simply type in “DISPLAY” (or DIS as a shorter version) and you get the data structure (table layout) of the currently opened table displayed directly. For performing a JOIN or RELATION or doing EXTRACT with APPEND option enabled, this one is pretty useful. The following screen shows you the result of the “DISPLAY” command based on table “Inventory”.

Screen 5 – Example 2: DISPLAY

In the screenshot above you can spot record length, field list and data types plus the computed field “c_Value” and its formula. This is also good for printing out the table layout of a certain table, if you right click and select “PRINT”.

Basically, you can use almost any ACL™ command in the command line. This requires, just like when writing an ACL™ script, that you use the correct syntax. Sometimes it is a lot faster to use the command line. As last example, take the task of totaling all numeric fields in a table. If you would use the menu bar, you need to click on “Analyze” and select “TOTAL FIELDS”. In the window that pops up, you click on “TOTAL FIELDS” again, then on “ADD ALL”, then “OK”, then “OK” again to reach your result. Not difficult, but some clicks are required to get there.

A lot easier would be the following: You enter in the Command Line “TOTAL FIELDS ALL” and you get the very same result, just a lot more straight forwards:

Screen 6 – Example 3: TOTAL FIELDS ALL

These are just some example of how the command line can be used. There is a lot more – for details, look up ACL™s help file and play around with it a bit. If you gain some experience with it, using the Command Line will allow you to quickly execute, alter or rerun commands in a very easy, very quick way.

I hope you enjoyed this little side note about the Command Line option in ACL™ AN! For any comments on that article, feel free to write us at info@dab-gmbh.de.

To contact the author you can also use LinkedIn or XING (you may have to login first before you can access these links).

LinkedIn: http://de.linkedin.com/pub/stefan-wenig/54/1b8/b30

XING: https://www.xing.com/profile/Stefan_Wenig2?sc_o=mxb_p

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