Query…Everyone’s Favorite Tool

Today I held a somewhat long conversation with…myself. It went something like this:

Query is one of the most powerful tools I have in my ResultsPlus toolbox. It’s my favorite thing to do in ResultsPlus. I can use it to analyze most any imaginable scenario, as long as I’ve got the data. With this kind of magical tool in everyone’s hands, how could it not be the hands-down favorite?

Ah, Self, let me count the ways for you…

  1. I don’t know where to find the information I want to analyze.
  2. I cannot ensure that the data is entered that I will later want to analyze.
  3. Ands and Ors are confusing.
  4. Parentheses: The bane of my existence.

Hmm…Self, you make some valid points. Let’s work through them.

  1. Did you know that the database fields are identified in the tooltips for the fields? If you know where the information “lives” on the screens, you can hover your mouse pointer over the label and the database field name will appear. If you prefer to see the fields in list form, you can print the fields from the ResultsPlus Help system.
  2. This one is tricky. At the start of any campaign, we probably identify how we want to analyze it later. Perhaps we can make certain fields required in ResultsPlus so we cannot accidentally forget to populate them. We can also set up default values in our Quick Entry forms for gift, pledge, membership, and adding new constituents. If the needs are more complex, we can talk with support about additional options. (OK, so maybe I didn’t have this whole conversation with myself, but the suggestions are still valid options! :-))
  3. Ands and Ors can definitely be confusing. This is because, in English, sometimes “and” actually means “or” (“I want everyone from Minnesota and Iowa included”), but in query languages that NEVER happens. Being aware of when this is likely to occur goes a long way toward clearing up the confusion.
  4. Ah, parentheses…think of them as the two arms of a hug. A hug you only need if you are working with both Ands and Ors in the same query. (After all, Ands and Ors are confusing, so a hug seems like it might be needed therapy!) Years ago, we had a trainer who had one of the best examples of how parentheses are used in “real life.” She used the example of ordering breakfast.A person would get steak and eggs, country potatoes or hash browns, and toast or fruit. In this case, the commas work pretty well as parentheses. Let’s re-write the menu:  Steak and eggs and (country potatoes or hashbrowns) and (toast or fruit)

If you still aren’t convinced the query is one of the best things ever, we also cover many aspects of query in the Help. Here is a snapshot of some query topics:

Query Topics

By the way, are some of you “beyond the basics,” but wanting more advanced query training? If so, let me know in the comments section of the blog. If we get enough interest, we’ll put together a webinar on advanced query topics!