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AFT Blog

Welcome to the Applied Flow Technology Blog where you will find the latest news and training on how to use AFT Fathom, AFT Arrow, AFT Impulse, AFT xStream and other AFT software products.
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Databases 401 - Managing Databases

So by now, you should be about ready to graduate from my courses on Database Management and have become an expert on how to customize AFT software for your specific needs!  Databases 101 was the introductory course that walked you through the basics and flexibility available to you with relation to using databases in AFT software.  In Databases 201, we got slightly more technical as you learned how to create your own fluid database.  Things got more rigorous in Databases 301 where you learned how to create your own custom pipe material database.

In our final course, Databases 401, you will learn how to effectively manage your databases with the Database Manager so you can transfer all of the custom information you would have created to other individuals so they can work with the same custom information you had made.  This way, you will never have to actually email someone your own Local User Database file (i.e., Fth_User9.DAT) just to get them the custom information you’ve developed.  In fact, emailing that file to them will do no good for them anyways because they won’t be able to use that file.  Therefore, the Database Manager will soon become your best friend!

This will help contribute to better quality control so that everyone uses the same information as well as the convenience of having massive libraries worth of custom information.

The Database Manager shown in Figure 1 that can be accessed from the Database menu contains two separate tabs that are a lot more powerful than they might seem.  The "Connect to Database" tab is where you can add or remove external database files and then connect or disconnect them to either be used or not used with the specific model file you are currently working with.  The three database types (AFT Internal Database, Local User Database, and External Database files) are color-coded.

Figure 1 - The Database Manager.

The AFT Internal Database and Local User Database will always be available for you to use and will always be connected so you can quickly access the information.  There are eight standard AFT Pipe Material Database files which are also always available and connected.  These files are provided by AFT and are read-only, yet they exist in separate external database files which are located in a separate Pipe Material Databases folder inside the installed AFT application folder.  So even though they are provided by AFT, the information is stored separate in files and this is why these databases are highlighted in blue.

Let’s say that someone sent you a custom database file that they made with their particular model and you needed to use the same information.  They can transfer their custom information into an external file and send it to you.  Then on the “Connect to Database” tab, click the “Edit Available List” drop-down menu and choose “Add Engineering Database”.  You can browse to the external database file they sent you and then you can also have it connected.  This will allow you to use the custom information in that external database file with the particular model file you’re working in.

All database files break out the custom information into different sections (i.e., Fluids, Components, etc.).  In addition to adding and removing external databases files on this tab, you can also review the content of a particular database file.  Currently, in my Local User Database on my computer, I have created several custom pieces of information including custom components, custom fluids, and a custom pipe material database.  When I select the AFT Fathom Local User Database in my Database Manager, all the potential Database Sections are displayed, like in Figure 2.

Figure 2 - Separate Database Sections that are built into the AFT Fathom Local User Database.

Next, when clicking the “Review Content” button, you can see the custom information that I have added into my Local User Database.  Selecting any of the sections in the Browse Database Content window will show what pieces of information exist in each section in that particular database.  As shown in Figure 3, this format is really just to show you that there is custom information that exists and to display the information at a high level.

Figure 3 - Browse Database Content window allows you to see what custom information exists in different database sections.

So that’s the Connect to Database tab.  The Edit Database tab is where you will be working in order to transfer any piece of custom information between database files.  When going to the Edit Database tab, there are two sides in this window.  The “Source Database” side and the “Changing Database” side, as shown in Figure 4.  The Source Database side is where you are going to take custom information from and then the Edit Database side is where you will choose the database file of where to copy or move the custom information over to.

Figure 4 - Edit Database tab in the Database Manager is where you choose the Source Database of where information is being taken from and the Changing Database side is where the information will be sent.

There are several sources that can be used to take custom information from and then to copy or move it somewhere else.  The “Data From Current Model” is typically used to transfer different types of preferences that you might have setup, such as Output Control formats, User Option formats, Print Page Configurations, etc.  The “Local User Database” is what you will probably be using most often where you will be taking custom information you have created which will reside in your Local User Database and then copying it or moving it to another database file.  The “Currently Available External” option is where you can transfer information from a file that you have Added as an Engineering Database on the Connect to Database tab.  Finally, the “Other” option is where you can browse to and select any other database file that could be saved anywhere that you have access to and then transfer that information somewhere else.

On the “Changing Database” side, you can either edit an existing database file which includes both your own Local User Database or any other external database file.  “Create New Database” allows you to easily create a brand new database file that you’d like to transfer information to.  As the list of databases available to you becomes very busy, you can also Delete Database files that you do not use anymore.

Now, I’ll show how to transfer the custom information I’ve specified which is saved in my own Local User Database over to a brand new external database file.

Starting with the “Source Database” side, I am going to select the “Local User Database” option.  As shown in Figure 5, there are five different sections in my Local User Database that contains custom information.  I am going to copy all the custom information for the Fluids, Components (Valves and Pumps), and Pipe Materials sections (but not the Print Page Configuration).

Figure 5 - Local User Database selected as the Source Database.  All custom information in the Fluids, Components, and Pipe Materials sections will be transferred.

Next, I can either select an existing database to copy this information to or create a brand new external database file.  In this case, I’m going to choose “Create New Database” where I will need to first create a file name for my external database file with the extension of *.DAT (for example, “Custom Database for Databases 401 Blog.DAT”).  Then a description for the database will need to be added as well, such as “Databases 401 – Fluids, Components, & Pipe Materials”.

After the file name and descriptions are specified, all that needs to be done is to select the custom pieces of information from the Source Database and then copy it or move it to the new database file.  Figure 6 shows the resulting Source and newly created databases together as well as that the Pipe Materials from the Pipe Materials section in the Local User Database had just been copied over to the new external database file.  Also highlighted in the purple box is that both the file name and the database name/description are also displayed in the Database Manager window as well.

Figure 6 - Pipe Material section from the Local User Database copied over to the new external database file.

As the file path for the new database shows, I now have a new database file on my Desktop and when it is opened with Notepad like in Figure 7, you can see that there is custom information that has been added to this external database (*.DAT) file.

Figure 7 - New external database file opened in Notepad to verify the custom information that has been transferred from the Local User Database.

That’s all there is to it!  Now I can email my new “Custom Database for Databases 401 Blog.DAT” external database file to a colleague and they can use this information in their model!  They can now browse to this *.DAT file after I send it to them and then add/connect it as an engineering database on the Connect to Database tab of the Database Manager.  Or, to use this information more frequently, they can use the external database file I created as the “Source Database” and then select their own Local User Database to edit, and then copy this information into their Local User Database file, as I have shown in Figure 8 (which shows how to access the data in a database file when on the receiving end of this file).

Figure 8 - Information existing in the external

Overall, it may seem like there is a lot to it when it comes to sharing the custom information you’ve created on your own computer.  But as you can see, using the Database Manager is actually very easy and all you’re doing is just transferring information back and forth between separate database files.

Congratulations, you have now just graduated from Database University!!

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