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How do I 'see' the data structure in an .nsf file?

Hi,

I've recently been given the task of moving a project forward that consists of turning 15 pages of forms into one summary sheet form.  (There are even more projects after this)

The problem I'm having is that no one is sure of how the data in the database is logically structured, where the linkages are, and which forms or sub-forms the data is being pulled from.

I have printed the data dictionary, but this is really not a big help, it doesn't list any of these properties.
The database is quite big with over 77,000 pages of information (about 552MB).

What I need to do is get a map of the structure and linkages of the data.

I have downloaded an article on the archtechture of notes to try and help me (I haven't had time to read it yet tho..)

I am open to converting the notes database to something else to to see the structure, I know this kind of map is available in MS access, but I am not sure how to do this either..

Any help would be appreciated..
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georgehullcentre
Asked:
georgehullcentre
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4 Solutions
 
CRAKCommented:
Most important become aware of: notes is not (yet) a relational database. It doesn't contain tables, columns and rows as you know them. It contains separate documents instead (memo's, faxes, invoices, agreements etc.).
These documents are grouped in views by a selection formula. If the view is sorted, things can be found in it, but it's the application that connects documents, not the database logic! A view is a filter on your database.

If a memo contains customer info, the designer may have worked out ways to get hold of the customers address. He may be searching a view for a certain key (name, customer number or a combination of fields) and retrieve column- or field values. If the memo already holds the customers unique document id, it may also be accessed directly.

If there's no documentation on the application available, you'll probably have to analyze the code to find out how its connecting the different document types.
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Sjef BosmanGroupware ConsultantCommented:
So, in short, there is no structure to be found in the design of the database itself. The structure should be described in the documentation indeed. What's more difficult: the structure can change over the years, so the database may both contain documents ("records") that adhere to the old structure and some in the new structure. Give a Notes specialist a day or two and he'll unravel 95% of the structure you're looking for, depending on the size of the design. And the quality of the design, the names of the fields, the transparency of the code, the age of the design, etc. If the product is bought and not developed in-house, you might be in for some more trouble: the code and/or the design may be hidden.

There are some Notes analysing tools, but they are mostly used by Notes designers and hardly suitable for inexperienced users.

If you want me (or anyone else) to have a quick look at the design: see my EE-profile.
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qwaleteeCommented:
I would suggest investing in Ives or Jagre.  They produce much more usable database defintions, by cross-linking all name references.

If the form doesn't contain a lot of otusScript code, and there are not many agents, then the structure is usually pretty simple -- forms are essentially table defintions.  However, scripting can completely change that.  Linkages, outside of script, are only available via the following formula functions:

@DbLookup
@DbColumn
@GetProfileField
@SetProfileField
@GetDocField
@SetDocField
Inheritance (a one-time mechanism that I'm not going to explain right now)
Parent/child, which does maintain data linkages, but does allow one document (record) to be attached and indented under another.
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Alexey_ZubkovCommented:
You can convert database to XML, and then try to figure what structure this db have. But anyway it is a very difficult task, becase many relations between data elements may be represent not in some design elements but in LotusScript code.

To convert to XML try to use LS XML classes in Lotus 6. Or there is an utility which do the same task, but I forgot it's name :)
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Andrea ErcolinoCommented:
Your task is very tricky, much trickier than you think, because it's also a tricky task for an experienced Notes developer... The reason being that a NotesDatabase is loosely structured!

Look, I started this answer with a list of things you should do for trying and grasp the structure of any notes database, but there are too many details to take into account, so I gave up. Follow sjef_bosman's suggestion and find a friendly and experienced Notes developer, having her open the database in Designer and tell you what she sees ;-)
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qwaleteeCommented:
RAPUTA,

Is that an advert? :)
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Andrea ErcolinoCommented:
well, yes it is, qwaletee. I sponsor mainly you and sjef_bosman ;)
I forgot the email on my profile, so I think they cannot contact me, anyway :(

BTW, is it worth the email in the profile? should'nt exist in EE a feature for posting comments to profiles, where the member is the page editor? (sorry georgehullcentre, I didn't mean to use your question space for me, qwaletee began it :)
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CRAKCommented:
> ....having her open the database....
Funny you sometimes picture people.... how wrong can one be?
Why not add some more info about yourself on your profile.

PS:
Posted mail addresses will be removed (PE/Mods) for your own protection as sniffers may use it to spam you. If you want to provide your e-mail address, your profile is the place to do so. Do modify it in such way that sniffers will not easily recognize it.
Commercial activities (like ads) are not allowed.
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qwaleteeCommented:
You left out Alexey.  His answer i equally on point and different than the rest, maybe even more detailed.
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CRAKCommented:
It's easier to split 500pt 4 ways too!  ;-))
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