Tag Archives: table

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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Deleting ACL Table Covers A Multitude of Sins

Delete ACL table problemI’m not sure why, but sometimes deleting an ACL table or two covers a multitude of sins, errors, or just plain weird behavior.

No, I don’t get any error messages. That’s the strange part.

I’m talking about strange ACL behavior that you can’t troubleshoot by reviewing the log.

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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

ACL Import Fails, No Error?

import errorToday I was adding a new table to a scripted ACL project and kept getting an error.

This project automatically opens a folder on the LAN, reads the files in the folder, and loads all of them.

All I did was add one more file to the folder. ACL refused to load that one file.

Syntax error.

WTS?

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Review of ACL Excel Add-in, Now FREE! (NOT)

In case you missed it, ACL released the next version of their Acerno product, renamed it ACL Excel Add-in, and made it FREE!  2021 UPDATE – it doesn’t look like it’s free any more; requires ACL subscription.

UPDATE – I’m guessing that since this product never caught on, they only give it away to subscribers – go figure.

So I thought I’d update my review.

For my original review of Acerno, see A Review of ACL Acerno. It still seems that I’m the only one who ever took the time to review the product (versus marketing blurbs, which are all over the ‘net), which appears to be a statement regarding its popularity.

Despite the poor popularity, since they updated it AND made it free, I decided to dive in for another look.

Note: This add-in is not just for auditors! Any one who regularly reviews data should consider using this simple, EASY-to-use software.

Please take the new & improved poll at the bottom of this post (also free).

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ACL Error: Cannot Export to Excel

Next time you get the cannot perform export to Excel error in ACL, try one of the 3 solutions described below.  The full text of the error is:

 Cannot perform the export.
You can export fields with maximum of 254 characters to Excel.

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Filed under ACL, Audit, Data Analytics, Excel, How to..., Written by Skyyler

ACL: How to Add Computed Fields via Script

Once you’ve mastered creating computed fields, you’re ready to add computed fields to a table via script. It is easier than it sounds.

If you need some background on computed fields, see my previous posts, What is a Computed Field? and How to Add a Computed Field (manually). Now let’s explore writing a script that adds computed fields to a table.

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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

ACL: Add a Custom View to a Table

Adding a custom view to an ACL table comes in handy when you want to 1) change the order of the fields in an ACL table, or 2) view a select number of fields.

You can add a custom view manually or via script. We’ll tackle the script version first.

This post is in response to Les’ question about reordering fields in a table.

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

ACL tip: Create a File Import Script

File Import Script VacuumDid you know that you can create a script to import a file into ACL? That you can automate loading a table?

I’m talking about the File > New > Table command in ACL, also known as the Data Definition Wizard. Yes, you can create such a script, and I’m going to teach you how!

The good news is that it’s so much easier than you think. The bad news is that it doesn’t APPEAR easy, but it really is, because ACL does the heavy lifting for you. I promise that if you hang in there, you’ll so be a pro. Just try it once, and you’ll be hooked!

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

Error: ACL Desktop cannot complete this function

When you’re trying to load a new file into an ACL table, you’ll sometimes get this error:: “Application error. ACL Desktop cannot complete this function…contact ACL Technical Support…” (see below).

ACL Desktop Cannot Complete this function

Here’s the situations in which I’ve encountered this error, and how I’ve fixed it (most common and easiest to fix situations are first).

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A Review of ACL Acerno

I haven’t been able to find any reviews of ACL Acerno, so I decided I better get to it.

What is Acerno?

According to ACL’s website, ACL Acerno is a Microsoft Excel Add-in that allows you to efficiently and easily investigate the results generated by ACL software or other sources and share your findings. For a quick overview, watch this video or check out the quick reference sheet (pdf)—-This info must have been removed when the software was updated.

Acerno is $250 per user.

Even if you don’t read the rest of this, if you’re an auditor, please take the poll at the end of this post.

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Filed under ACL, Audit, Data Analytics, Excel, Poll, Written by Skyyler

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 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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