TECH TIPS FROM FRED (2/98 Bits & Bytes)
By Fred Henning
Download and Parse or How to make AlexIS give up that information! One of the activities I have become associated with is Downloading and Parsing. Downloading is getting information/data out of one computer system and into another. Parsing is taking the downloaded file/report and extracting the data elements.
Typically this is as simple as calling for several AlexIS reports that together contain all of the information you need. The next step is to move the information from AlexIS to a PC (or other system).
This involves going to View Spooled Reports in AlexIS, selecting the report and then printing the report to a special printer. The selected printer is really not a printer but a location and name for the file on the AlexIS computer. (e.g. unix9999 where 9999 represents a specific number assigned to a user.) Although we normally are trying to get data from AlexIS the same techniques are used to extract data from other systems.
The Download program is run and the file copied to the users PC. Once the file is on the PC then parsing is started. When we went to Windows 95 I built a download program to make the task easier for those that need to do this function. (I have a new version if any users need to be updated.)
Parsing: In most cases the downloaded file looks like a printed copy of the AlexIS Report. Parsing simply identifies the parts of the report that should be copied to a new file. When the Report is parsed the result is a file that only has the selected data elements. For example, you need a list of all SIM and FIM numbers with description, charge amount, UB92 and HCPCS codes. This requires two AlexIS Reports and Parsing to join the data.
There are commercial programs that can be used to parse, such as Monarch and DataImport. (DataImport is available to users on the Network.) Some of you may have used the 'basic' parsing that can be done with Quattro Pro or Excel. When the parsing becomes complex I often write one of a kind programs to extract the required data from Reports. Once you have created a template for a report you can use it again and again. Parsing is also the way many interfaces are created. Data from one system is manipulated and fed to another in the form and format the second system can accept.
One of the best reasons for using parsed data from AlexIS reports is that the data already exists, you have it in front of you and can use it immediately. You don't need IR to create or run a Special Report.
Download & Parsing vs SQL or TrendStar Reports. In some cases it is very important to be able to tie back the final numbers on a Report to the original AlexIS report(s). Parsing is the only way to get back the exact totals. TrendStar works with a very specific sub-set of AlexIS data and therefore may not have what you need. The totals from SQL Report often are not exactly the same as those from an AlexIS Report. This doesnt mean that SQL or TrendStar data is not correct it just means that they are different. (I could spend hours on why!)
Please e-mail questions and comments to henningf. Thanks.