[EpiData-list] Efficient strategy for complicated check files (external editor)

epidata-list at lists.umanitoba.ca epidata-list at lists.umanitoba.ca
Sat Aug 19 15:17:48 CDT 2006

1. Re: best text editor for complicated check files

The problem of "stripping comments" is that essentially only actual 
commands are read into the programme.
When writing (or exporting) a rec file then only lines with commands are 
known to the programme.

Therefore the order of using Epidata Entry and external editor is 
important. An efficient strategy would be:

a. Create the qes and rec file
b. Open the rec file for definition of checks in EpiData Entry.

Here it is easy to get copy and paste for all of the field names. E.g.

1. I define that one field must be mustenter (regardless of I wish to 
have this).
2. When that field is active I press Ctrl+C (which copies the mustenter 
status to a buffer like clipboard)
3. Then I can quickly get a block for all fields into the check file by:
   3a Moving to next field with "arrow down" with my right hand
   3b pressing Ctrl+V with my left hand
4. Once point 3 is done for all fields I see if any fields have the same 
"comment legal / value label"
    if so I repeat point 1-3, but instead of the "mustenter" I define 
the labels in the first field and
    similarly copy to all the other fields of same label.
5. Then I close Epidata Entry and open the chk file in an external editor
     I prefer PFE, which has also a macro facility and is listed as a 
utility on the download page.
    But any external editor of the users preferance will work.
   5a. I then change the special blocks in the editor, save the file and 
keep the editor open.
   5b. During this I add a lot of comments to the chk file.
6. In EpiData Entry I open the rec file and after correcting possible 
errors the system is ready.

So in short, use a strategy which minimises key strokes and manual 
editing, but also note that
there are limitations with the built in possibilities.

The worst errors to catch are those due to improper blocks. E.g. a 
comment legal without "end" or similar.
Therefore it can be good practice to only solve the first error 
mentioned by EpIData Entry (point 6 above)
and then try again, since the remaining errors might be a consequence of 
the first one.

An idea for extension of the programme would be to have in "tools menu" 
a point :
"Create raw chk file for experienced users".

Jens Lauritsen
EpiData Association

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