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DataFlex Flexkeys

by Curtis Krauskopf

DataFlex is a highly portable database language. It is able to run programs, without being recompiled, across Windows and Unix platforms. Likewise, the end-user terminals that DataFlex runs on is as diverse as WYSE-50 terminals and PC workstations.

Unfortunately for non-DataFlex programmers, there is not a univeral standard for the information that a workstation sends to the computer. For example, the when a user hits the 'Control+A' key on a VT100 workstation, it sends a different set of codes to the computer than on a PC workstation.

Historically, non-DataFlex programmers have had to create a terminal definition for each different type of hardware that they want their programs to be used on. The terminal definition describes, for a particular type of terminal, the codes that the computer receives when various key combinations are pressed.

A terminal definition acts as a Rosetta Stone by allowing a program to detect which key or combination of keys was pressed by the user. The programmer doesn't need to write different programs for each type of terminal.

Data Access Corporation (DAC) chose to do things differently for their DataFlex database management product. DataFlex eliminates the need for a programmer to create a terminal definition. Each terminal type that DataFlex can run on has a terminal definition already built into DataFlex.

To accomodate such a diverse range of hardware, DAC has created the concept of a Flexkey. DataFlex Flexkeys are general data entry and database concepts, such as:

  • Save a Record
  • Delete a Record
  • Find a Record
  • Clear all Windows
  • Print Screen
  • plus others...

Every Flexkey, such as Save, is assigned a specific keystroke on each type of terminal. The default Flexkey definitions provided by DAC all use the same keystrokes for all workstations. Because of this, in DataFlex 2.3, the default definition for the Save Flexkey is the F10 key for all workstations.

DataFlex administrators can reassign Flexkeys for a particular type of workstation. This means that all of the PC workstations can use a non-standard keystroke to represent a particular Flexkey. For example, Control+S could be defined to mean the Save Flexkey, and Control+K (for kill record) could mean the Delete Flexkey.

Some developers adopted the default definitions for all of the Flexkeys; other developers tried to make mnemonic associations for the Flexkeys.

My experience with key mapping is that it largely depended on what the users wanted -- if they wanted mnemonic associations, I installed it that way. If they wanted to use the standard keymap, then I installed it that way.

Next: Finding a Flexkey Definition

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Finding a Flexkey Definition

DataFlex 2.3 Flexkey Definitions

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