In designing the RS3 experience, we adopted a user-oriented approach. Rather than rely on administrators to go through the fairly complex process of setting up forms and applications for end users, we aimed to simplify the process and empower users to create their own forms. The result is the ChemFinder Database Setup Wizard, a powerful, approachable tool for building forms and database connections.
The Wizard is not just for RS3 users. It will benefit any ChemFinder user who starts with a blank screen and wants to save the trouble of dealing with the Properties dialog. The Wizard leads through the steps required to specify database and table connections for a main form and optional subforms, choose a form style, connect a source of structures, and specify subform linkages. Clicking the Wizard’s Finish button will generate a form, connect it to the data, save the form, and present it to the user, ready to search or browse.
To use the Database Setup Wizard, click the new button in the newly redesigned Form Properties dialog:
The initial screen of the Wizard describes what it aims to accomplish:
Click Next to proceed to the next screen for choosing or creating a database:
Click a button to bring up the appropriate browser. Open Database opens an existing local database (.mdb file). Open ODBC Data Source calls up the ODBC Control Panel, where you can choose or create an ODBC connection. Create New Database creates a local empty .mdb file with associated ChemFinder structure files.
To establish an RS3 connection, use the ODBC button and choose the RS3 host database (as we’ve done in the example). If an ODBC connection to RS3 has not been set up on your machine, it will be necessary to create it; see the Installation section below for details.
Click Next to select a table to be connected to the Wizard-created form:
This screen gives the complete list of tables and views available in the selected database. As the diagram indicates, it is possible to organize this view into folders and subfolders. Currently the data describing this organization must be entered manually in a file in your ChemFinder\System directory (“folders.txt”), as described in the Installation section.
After you select a table or view, click Next to specify a source of structures:
This screen allows you to choose a source of structures (a MolServer) to be associated with the selected table. The typical ChemFinder or RS3 user can accept the default and simply click Next.
The Form screen lets you specify details of the form to be created. You may choose (a) which columns of the selected table are to be included as form boxes, (b) what style of form you prefer, and (c) whether you wish to include subforms for displaying linked data from other tables.
For details about form styles, see the Automatic Form Generation feature description below.
If you choose to include subforms, click Next to set them up:
In the Subform screen, you set up one or more subforms to display data from tables in the selected database. For each subform, choose (a) which table or view it is to display, (b) which column in the subform table (Link To) matches which column in the main form table (Link From). (Note that the Link From box does not include non-linkable columns, such as Structure.)
For each subform to be created, click Add>> to put it on the list, until all the subforms are specified. Note that it is not possible to specify form details of the subforms, such as which columns to include or what form style to use; for the time being, subforms use the same style as the main form, and include all columns of the selected table or view.
If you are working with an ODBC data source, click Next to set up a local connection:
This screen allows you to choose where you will create the local .mdb file which will contain tables linked to the ODBC data source. The name of the ODBC source is displayed, and a name is suggested for the new local database.
Click Next for the final screen:
This screen summarizes your specifications. Click Finish to dismiss the Wizard and generate the form. The form as generated from the above example is shown below.
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