2014/03/03

Remote Notes

From the outset, virtually every record in every database I've ever created has had a "Notes" field for those odd little tidbits of information that don't seem to fit anywhere else. Such fields are handy for things that are good to know but don't appear systematically thruout an entire table (or at least weren't expected to do so at the time the note was created). And the data-entry screen on which "Notes" appears is usually big and sprawling, using most of the screen for a single record, so there's been elbow room to display a good-sized "Notes" box, and I usually do.

However, when someplace else in the system needs to refer to that record with the note in it, space is usually at a premium, and among the first things not to display in that remote location are the "Notes". Nonetheless, it's often good to know, while you're still in that other table, (a) that there is a note in the related record and (b) what that note says. Heretofore, there's been no good method of doing that other than clicking on the "See" button next to the related record and just going to its table and looking at it. This has been a time-consuming nuisance.

So now what? Now I'm using symbolism. Every new record starts out with nothing at all in the "Notes" field. In that case, the vacuum will be acknowledged by a little pink dot somewhere nearby:


As soon as you type something in, however, the pink dot will change to a green check-marked bullet:


"Big deal," you're probably thinking, "I can just look at the 'Notes' field to see whether there's anything in it." And that's true here, but this is just to get you warmed up to the idea of what those 2 symbols mean. They really start to pay dividends when you're looking at that record on display elsewhere, say in a picker portal in a different table, where you can hover your cursor over the dot to call up otherwise hidden information, like this:


or, most usefully, like this:

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