Tag Archives: join

My Favorite ACL Tricks

Here’s a couple of my favorite ACL tricks & treats that I use frequently to get me through the day a little faster and a little less frustrated.

These tricks are the kind that they don’t teach you in class or in tutorials (at least I’ve never learned any of them there; maybe I was in the bathroom during that session); I either figured them out on my own or had someone say, “Let me show you something.”


The Command Line

When I train someone in ACL, the command line is one of the first bonus items to which I draw their attention. The command line allows you to run individual ACL commands without using the ACL menu or scripts.

To open the command line: in the menu bar, click Window, Command Line. This will appear:

You can run most ACL commands from the command line, such as OPEN a table, ASSIGN a variable value, and lots more (the commands can be entered in lower/upper/camel case, but I use uppercase in this post to help them stand out).

My 2 most frequently used command are listed below.

DISPLAY – list the fields in a table, along with their start position, length, and more.

To run this command, 1) open the table you want to run this command against, and 2) enter the command in yellow in the command line, and press Enter.

Note that the last line shows you a computed field and the formula behind it.

DISPLAY VARIABLES – list all currently active variables, their type/format, and their values.

To run the following command, just enter it in the command line, and press Enter.

Note that user-defined variables (v_record and v_table) are shown, along with system variables (OUTPUTFOLDER and WRITE1). If you’re not familiar with ACL system variables, look them up in the ACL help file (it will be worth your time).

Note that 2 of the variables are character (C) type and 2 are numeric (N).

This command is extremely helpful when you are troubleshooting variables.

Bonus: Instead of DISPLAY, you can type DIS; instead of DISPLAY VARIABLES, you can type DIS VAR. Much shorter!

Bonus #2: Another useful use of the command line is to enter variable values. For example, if you have a NOTIFY command at the end of a script that will send an email if v_Run_Notify = “Y”, you can enter v_Run_Notify = “N” in the command line and press Enter to change the variable value and prevent the NOTIFY command from running while you test changes to your script.

Open a Table You Can’t Find

Sometimes I can’t find a table because I don’t remember (or know) which ACL folder it is hiding in (the folder in your project, not a Windows folder on your hard drive).

If you know the name of the table, you can just type OPEN <tablename> and press Enter (where <tablename> is the name of the table you want to open). When I don’t remember the table name or I’m too lazy to type it out, I copy the name from the ACL log or a script that uses it, and copy it to the command line.

When the table opens, you can then see what folder the table was hiding in (the folder is not shown in screenshot below).

Clear the Command Line

When you use the command line a lot, you have to clear it before entering another command. Instead of backspacing and deleting the text, or highlighting and deleting the text, just click the X at the far right.

Likewise, instead of pressing Enter after entering a command, you can click the checkmark.

Table History

When you’re working on a big project that contains many different tables, sometimes it’s hard to remember how that table was created. Or you haven’t opened the ACL project in a while, or you have to troubleshoot or review a project someone else created.

So what table(s) were used to create that table, and what filters/joins were used to create it? How many records did the original table contain?

I used to hunt through the ACL log or the scripts to find all that info, but for the most part, it’s all in the table history.

To access a table’s history, 1) open the table you’re interested in, and 2) from the menu bar, select Tools, Table History. You’ll see something like this:

The first line shows the original table (PcardTransactions) and the FILTER used. The second line shows the filtered data (all fields) was extracted to a new table (PCardUSA).

The third line shows number of records in the original table (Input) and the fourth line shows the number of resulting records (Output) in the extracted table.

If a JOIN was used, the table history would list the primary and secondary tables as well as the JOIN command parameters used.

The other nice thing is that you can take a screenshot of the table history and use it for documentation or evidence.

Bonus: Instead of selecting Tools, History from the menu, you can type DIS HIS in the command line, and press ENTER. Same results!

If you have some ACL tricks up your sleeve, let me know.

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Real Auditors Use Excel PowerPivot

powerpivot iconIf you’re an auditor and you are not yet using Excel PowerPivot, you are missing the next greatest thing since spreadsheets arrived.

If you are NOT an auditor, and you don’t use PowerPivot, you’re in the same boat with the auditors mentioned above, and it is sinking.

In other words, if you use Excel, you should be learning Excel PowerPivot. It’s that big.

Let me explain why.

NOTE: I updated this post quite a bit with new info…

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Auditors, Do Data Analytics or Die

If you’re an auditor, you need data analytic skills or you will die.

Or put another way, if you don’t acquire them in the next 1-5 years, you will no longer be an auditor.

Pretty bold statement, isn’t it?

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Filed under Audit, Data Analytics, Employment, Free, Technology, Written by Skyyler

Transform Data Fast with Excel Flash Fill

Excel Flash Fill, the un-formula filler, formatter, and concatenatorYou can easily use Excel’s Flash Fill tool to transform data fast, without formulas.

Did you catch that? Without formulas!

Flash Fill has been around a few years, but few people, including auditors, seem to be aware of it.

This tool is so easy to use, you could learn it AND teach it to your mom in 4 minutes. Really.

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#1 Reason for NOT Doing Data Analytics

Do you know the #1 reason auditors don’t do data analytics (DA) much?

It is so simple, so obvious, I hesitated to blog about it. Let me know if you agree.

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Filed under ACL, Audit, Data Analytics, Scripting (ACL), Technology, Written by Skyyler

ACL: Edit Scripts Easily

As soon as you create an ACL script, you often have to add to it or edit it. There’s an easy way to do it.

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Filed under ACL, Data Analytics, How to..., Scripting (ACL), Written by Skyyler

Master List of ACL Articles and Tips

To make these posts easier to find (and link to), here’s a list of all the ACL posts on this blog in alphabetical order, and by most popular.
I’ll add other posts as they are written.

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Free ACL Bootcamp Training – from ACL!

ACL is offering FREE training as part of their bootcamp series, which started in September 2011. The training consists of a video presentation that includes ACL demos. The best part is that you do NOT have to be a current ACL customer or even have a copy of ACL.

The purpose of the series, according to ACL, is to teach basic skills and deal with common problems that ACL users encounter. Each session lasts about 30-40 minutes, followed by a Q&A session. The bootcamp is led by Shane Grimm (see his blog comment here).

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ACL: Strange Message in Log

If you’re an ACL user, I sure hope you read your ACL project logs and approach the JOIN command carefully. I recently received a good reminder. For an explanation of ACL, see this post.

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ACL tip: Rerun a Join Easily

Rerunning an ACL join command is much easier than most people realize.  And everyone using ACL screws up joining two tables more often than he’ll admit.

It goes like this: You painfully select the primary keys, the secondary keys, the primary fields, and the secondary fields, enter the output table name, and run the join. The join ran successfully, but you forgot to add one primary field or to adjust the options on the More tab. Now you have to do it all again. Or do you?

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