Once upon a time, if you wanted to work with your data outside of TracerPlus, you needed to export the records. With TracerPlus Connect, it’s no longer necessary to manually export your data. However, this process can still come in handy when you need a backup, or are having issues with syncing, or TracerPlus Connect is not an option.
Data format options
Before you can export your data, you should review the export settings for your project in TracerPlus Desktop. Every TracerPlus project has the export feature enabled by default. Export files are exported in tab delimited format. This setting is the default, but can be changed to suit your needs. The options are:
- Tab delimited: every unique piece of information is separated by a tab character. In TracerPlus, this means that every piece of field data in a record is separated by a tab. Each record ends with a carriage return, line feed (CRLF). In other words, a new line.
- Comma delimited: every field is enclosed within quotation marks and separated by a comma, instead of a tab. The quotes help to “qualify the data,” meaning if there are commas in your data, the exported document is still good since we only care about commas outside of quotation marks to denote our fields. This can sometimes be known as a comma separated value, or CSV (.csv) Every record ends with a CRLF.
- Comma delimited no quotes: just like above, except this format does NOT qualify the data with quotation marks. In most cases, this does not make a difference, but beware if your data has commas in it. This is the most common form of a .csv file. Every record ends with a CRLF.
- Fixed width: there are no delimiters; everything is placed right after the other. Every piece of field data is truncated past the max length value of the field. This means that if you have a max length of 4, and your data for field 1 is 5 characters, the last character is overwritten by the start of the first character of the next field. This is not intended to be a human-readable format (not easily, anyway), and instead intended for legacy systems which had strict requirements on how they received input data. Every record is terminated with a CRLF.
- XML/HTML: these are actually two separate formats. The data is exported either in XML or HTML format. This gives the exported document a lot more structure, for those of you who are into that sort of thing. The HTML document gets a bonus, it is automatically formatted so you can open it in any web browser and you will see a table of all your data.
Other export options
These options also affect your export data.
- Filename: You can specify a filename for your export document instead of the default. The default filename is formatted according to the session, like so: txt, where xx represents the session index. S01 is session 1, S10 is session 10, and so on and so forth. All files except XML/HTML format exports end with a .txt file extension; XML and HTML end with .xml and .html, respectively.
- Append to existing: You can continue adding data to a single export file, or you can overwrite the existing export file on every export.
- Include field names in header: You can choose to include the field names in a header row. This is always the first row of the export document. This setting is irrelevant for XML and HTML documents because the export process will automatically use the field names since it is needed for the XML/HTML structure.
Delete data after export: Once the export process is complete, the data within the TracerPlus database will be deleted. In the case of an export failure, the delete does not take place, but be aware of the consequences when this option is enabled. There is no way to recover the data once it is deleted.
- Respect filter: this is a sub option of the above. Only data matching the filter specified in Filter options will be deleted.
- Fields to export: Choose which fields you want to be exported.
Filter options: You can choose to enable a filter. This can give you finer control as to which records are exported. So if you specify a filter of (Field 1 = ‘ABC’), only the records where the data in Field 1 is equal to ‘ABC’ will be exported. This filter also affects the Respect filter
- Filter field: Specify which field is used in the filter comparison.
- Filter operator: Specify how the field data is compared against the filter.
- Filter value: Specify which value the operator should compare with against the filter.
Exporting the data
There are two methods of exporting data. Both options can be chosen by selecting File > Export Data in Windows Mobile/CE. In Android, just select the “hamburger menu” on the top right, and you will see the export options. You can choose to export all data in all sessions (the rules in the settings discussed above will still be applied), or you can choose to specifically export one session using the Export custom option.
If going with the first option, each session will be exported to its own export file based on its own rules, which you have set in TracerPlus Desktop. Each file gets a default name or your specified filename as discussed in the Filename property above.
If you are using the Export custom option, the process is slightly different between Windows Mobile/CE and Android.
When you select Export custom, you will first be presented with a dropdown dialog so you can choose which session you want to export. Once that is selected, on the next screen you can determine the filename, the location, the file type, and which portion of the device’s memory the file is stored. Due to a limitation in Windows Mobile/CE, when exporting to a custom location, you can only select the topmost folders from the Program Files directory. You can either select a text file type specifically (resulting in a .txt file extension), or an All type, which does not set a file extension. Make sure to select the All type for custom exports of XML/HTML format documents. Finally, the device memory locations differ by device, but this setting should not matter for the most part. If you are having trouble saving in one location, try saving in a different one.
All export custom operations happen in one screen. Once you select the option from the hamburger menu, you can choose the session, and also select the location on the Android filesystem to save the export document. Android does not have the same limitation as Windows Mobile/CE, so any location on the user accessible filesystem space is a valid save location for your export files. Finally, you can choose the filename (make sure to specify the file extension here as well), and then once you hit OK, you will receive a toast notification as to whether the export was successful or not.
Once your data has been exported, it is up to you how you would like to proceed. In most cases, it is a good idea to pull the file off the device so you can work with it on your PC, or just as a secondary backup. To do that, simply connect your device to your computer via whichever method you have been using to connect it to TracerPlus Desktop. When the device shows up as a location in My Computer folder of your PC, you can navigate through the files of the device to find it, and then you can simply drag/copy it over to any location on your PC. From there, the world is your oyster.