Friday, October 17, 2008

Powerful Name Searching

This article describes some techniques for more powerful name searching in halFILE and e.halFILE. I hope you find these handy.

* Search for a name when you are not sure if you have the first name or middle name
* Search for a name when you may have inconsistent punctuation

For the most part, your posting rules should ensure that names are consistently entered into halFILE. You should decide up front, for example, whether or not to use punctuation.

I was recently asked how I can search for a name, whether the name being used is the first name or the last name. I also recently discovered a client database where the rule was to include punctuation in the name fields; but this rule had been broken for a series of documents. The documents were imported with no punctuation. We have a program to fix that by removing all punctuation (thus changing their rule to NOT use punctuation). In the meantime, however, we needed a search that would ensure that all names were properly found. The solution was the % wildcard character.

Instead of searching for "Smith, John" or "Smith John", search for "SMITH%JOHN" to find documents posted as:

Smith, John
Smith John
Smith Robert John
Smith, Robert John

* Search for a name when you are not sure what letter is in a certain position

Some names can be spelled more than one way. The 2nd technique uses the underscore wildcard as a placeholder, telling the system that ANY character can appear in this position to obtain a match.

For example, if you search Grantor = GONZALE_ MARY

You will find:

These are two of many powerful search techniques in halFILE and e.halFILE. I hope they prove to be useful.

Monday, July 14, 2008

halFILE Manager Status Bar

In halFILE 3.0, you may have noticed a new status bar at the bottom of the halFILE Manager screen. It has two frames labelled Backup Status and Archive Status. The halFILE Manager checks sets the status for each of these and sets them to "normal" or "failed," depending on what it learns from checking as follows.

Backup Status
When halFILE Technical Support installs halFILE or upgrades you to version 3.0, they will set up a halFILE database backup process which serves as a secondary backup of your halFILE database information. This process stores text backups of your databases in a designated halFILE "backup" folder. So, the Backup Status indicator on the halFILE Manager tells you that this backup is running as it should or, for some reason, that it has failed.

Important Hint: If you click on the Backup Status frame, you will be taken to this halFILE "backup" folder so you can see the files that are being created.

If the Backup Status shows "failed" you should check the scheduled task or job that performs this process to see why it has failed. The most common issues are (1) the password under which the process runs has been changed or (2) the SQL Server Agent under which the job runs has been stopped. The halFILE Backup is usually run as a SQL Server job or a task in Windows Task Scheduler on the database server.

Archive Status
Archive is the process of moving images out of the halFILE basket and to a controlled archive area for permanent storage. This process is necessary for smooth operation of your halFILE system. Therefore, the Archive Status indicator on the halFILE Manager will show the status of the archive job(s) which perform the archive process. If the halFILE Manager determines that the archive process has failed, it sets this status to "failed."

Important Hint: If you click on the Archive Status frame, each of the archive job logs will be loaded into Notepad for your review.

If a failure occurs, the Archive Log may show you why. Common issues are similar to the Backup Process above: (1) the password under which the process runs has been changed or (2) the SQL Server Agent under which the job runs has been stopped.

Check the status bar to make sure your halFILE processes are operating properly. There are also configuration options that can be set to define how many days can elapse before a failure is reported. Contact the halFILE Technical Support staff for more information. This is just another great new feature of halFILE 3.0!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Validating your halFILE Database

halFILE 3.0 includes two tools for validating database and image information. This post explores these tools to help you understand how they can be useful to you.

The first tool, HFValidate.exe, has been around since halFILE 2.2. You can find it behind the Tools - Database Validator menu of the halFILE Administrator. For the records selected by a SQL statement you provide, HFValidate logs any document that has no images to a missing image logfile. It also validates the coded fields to be sure that the code still exists in the referenced table. Records having invalid codes are logged to the missing code logfile. Documentation can be found at

The second tool, HFValidateBKPG.exe, is new to halFILE 3.0 and is primarily used by Title Companies and County Recorders. For the records selected by a SQL Statement you provide, this program uses the instrument Number, Book and Page fields to determine if the document has the correct number of images.

So, for example, if Instrument Number 20080012 is posted as Book 234 and Page 123 and the next Instrument Number in sequence (20080013) is posted as Book 234 and Page 127, then this utility determines that Instrument Number 20080012 should have 4 image pages. It reports any document that appears to have the incorrect number of pages. It also reports any document where it cannot determine the number of pages because the sequence is out of order or the next document in sequence is missing. So, because of the way it performs the validation, it will also reveal miskeyed Instrument Numbers. Documentation can be found at

These utilities will help you keep your halFILE database is ship-shape.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Logging Transactions in halFILE

You can turn halFILE transaction logging on from the Tools-Options menu of the halFILE Administrator. Select the Transactions tab and check the "Use halFILE Transaction Logging" option.

Once the option is selected, halFILE will begin logging transactions to the HFTransactions table in the HFWParams database. On the set up screen is a Generate Transaction Report that lists transactions. This runs the Crystal Report HFTransactions.rpt. Note that you may need to update this report to point to qualify your database before it will run properly.

Also on the screen is a Purge Transactions button which purges transactions based on the options selected to the left of the button.

The transaction table includes the following fields:
Application = halFILE Application ID
DocType = halFILE Document Type ID
UserId = halFILE User ID
Station_ID = halFILE Station ID (doc prefix letter)
Module = halFILE Module ID (HFSearch32, HFIndex32, HFBasket32, etc.)
Basket = halFILE Basket name (if applicable)
Doc_Number = halFILE Document Number (if applciatble)
Transaction_Type = code for transaction type being performed

The Transaction Type Codes include the following:
1 = add record to halFILE database
2 = update existing halFILE database record
3 = view record (search)
4 = delete record from halFILE database
5 = search for documents
6 = delete record from basket
7 = move document to another basket
8 = Execute tools-move images
9 = Execute tools-image utility
10 = Execute tools-process images
11 = Execute tools-Associated Import
12 = Save in halFILE Administrator
13 = Execute File-Import
14 = Scan document
15 = Execute Archive (non-Auto archive)

16 = Change Basket Status
17 = Index verify a record in halFILE database
18 = Index verify mismatch (when verify logging feature is enabled)

Transaction logging can be very useful in identifying when changes are made to your system and analyzing throughput.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Iowa halFILE Regional Training Event Announced!

A halFILE Regional Training event will be held at the Des Moines Area Community College in Alkeny, Iowa on May 21-22, 2008.

For more information, contact Karen Duncan at 800-442-9273.

Monday, March 10, 2008

New halFILE 3.0 Duplication Hot Keys!

With halFILE 3.0, the index duplication feature has been greatly expanded. First of all there are two new hot keys to duplicate a single field from the new "halFILE Document Clipboard." The Document Clipboard contains the posted information from the most recently indexed document during the current index session. There is also a procedure to load ANY document from the database into the Document Clipboard. More on that below.

CTRL-D duplicates the current field from the Document Clipboard
CTRL-A duplicates the entire posting from the Document Clipboard

Even greater flexibility is offered with "user-defined hot keys." Behind the Tools-Options menu of the Index module you will find a Duplication Hot Keys tab. Here, you can assign a hot key to a particular field. Then, when you press that hot key, that field's value will be duplicated into the current field.

Now the Document Clipboard can be loaded with any document as follows:
  1. Click on the halFILE Document Manager in the task bar.
  2. Click the Search icon.
  3. Perform a search for the document or documents.
  4. Right click on the row for the document that you wish to load into the Document Clipboard then select the Copy to Document Clipboard menu.
  5. Once again, click on the halFILE Manager in the task bar.
  6. Click the Index icon which will return you to the posting screen.
  7. Select the Edit-Paste Document Clipboard menu.

Learning these new hot keys and setting up some new ones can save a lot of time during the Index process.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Staple Preview Comes in handy!

I was installing a new halFILE 3.0 site last week and discovered the value of "staple preview" - a new halFILE 3.0 feature.

I was teaching the users to import and staple batches of images and they were handling about 1000 images each. At the end of the import, there were several stapling errors primarily due to the confusing way in which the county recorder stamped their documents. We had to use the Move Utility to correct the errors.

After we were done, I told the users I would turn on this new feature called staple preview and we would do another batch. As they stapled the batch and discovered a stapling error, all they needed to do was arrow up to the end of document marker, press F5 to toggle off the marker, then return to the true end of document and press F5. At the end of the batch, they could review all the staple marks for correctness before clicking DONE which performed the stapling routine.

Staple Preview - a great new feature of halFILE 3.0 Import and Scan modules.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Get your halFILE 3.0 Upgrade Now!!

So, far we have successfully performed 8 halFILE 3.0 upgrades with 6 more scheduled for the near future. Be sure to contact hal Tech Support to get on the upgrade list!

halFILE 3.0 includes many new and powerful features. Click here to review>>