DATAFORM Frequently Asked Questions

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What is it that DATAFORM can do for my model application?

DATAFORM is a model database manager and a data manipulation language with specific features for matrix generation, optimization control, solution access, and report generation. As a procedural "structured programming" language, one of its strengths is the use of the dynamic table constructs. Because of the ease of use and power of the language, most DATAFORM applications end up with a large percentage of the data processing built into the DATAFORM coded part of the application. It is important to understand that DATAFORM is a matrix and report generator language (among other things), not a matrix generator.

What DATAFORM does not do any better than general-purpose languages such as FORTRAN and C is to interface with the user. That is where Access, Excel, FoxPro, etc. can be used effectively. In most cases, the user interface is used to gather the information, display it for review, and give the user the facility to input and edit the data manually. Data are then sent to the DATAFORM model database in the form of tables. After the model is generated and optimized, the solution is acquired by a DATAFORM program that decodes the vector names and creates normal form tables that are sent back to the spreadsheet or relational database for use in subsequent processing (usually, reporting).

Ketron Optimization supplies utility programs that move data between our model database (called the ACTfile) and DBF or WKS files. All spreadsheet and database systems have unique file layouts - both physical and logical; also, they all can export their contents to DBF or WKS files. We work with these universally acceptable formats.

Another completely different approach is to create the user interface and modeling system entirely with an application development system such as Visual Basic or Visual C++. In these applications, matrix generation, optimization control, and solution access can all be done with our OML, (Optimization and Modeling Library) products.

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Is it possible to move data between DATAFORM tables and relational databases?

Yes, you can use Ketron Optimization supplied utility programs to move the data tables between the DATAFORM model database and most of the popular relational database and spreadsheets, including the Access/Excel environment.

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What is the difference between DATAFORM and Runtime DATAFORM?

DATAFORM comprises two major components: CPDF, the compiler; and EXDF, the execution control monitor. Runtime DATAFORM contains only EXDF; therefore a person with Runtime DATAFORM cannot modify and recompile a program. You would use the Runtime version to deploy an application you have developed to someone who would only run it.

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Can I use DATAFORM to create a matrix for other optimizers?

The matrix created by DATAFORM exists on the model database in a hierarchical structure intelligible only to MPSIII. However, our utility program MPSOUT can be used to read the matrix from our model database and create a standard MPS input file that is common to all commercial optimizers.

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