Useful insert assistants

The most tedious task of any database is entering all data, especially if that has to be done one record at a time. This application has a number of build in functions to make that task a little less tedious. Find out what assistants are available and how these can be best used to speed up inserting new planes into the database.

Visit the help/fields page for more information on all the available fields.

Field locking

When entering a long list of new plane sightings there is often a number of fields that will have the same information for every record, or at least for a number of records. The field locking assistant allows for locking any such field for as long as needed. Once locked, the input field will be disabled, but the input value will remain. This value will be used for each and every plane inserted as long as the field is locked. Therefore the field value only needs to be entered once, but will be used as long as needed.

To lock a field, simply click on the "Lock" button to the right of the field. Once clicked the field will be disabled and the "Lock" button will become an "Unlock" button. Clicking on the button again will unlock the field again after which the value can be changed.

Example of unlocked and locked field

All fields except the Registration, Construction Number and Remarks fields can be locked. When locked the fields will also be taken out of the tab sequence, which means going from one field to the next with the tab key will skip the locked fields. Locking fields that are empty can therefore be of use as well.

Plane look up

Every entered registration can be used to look up the plane information from the Spottingmode database. After entering the registration, click on the "Look up" button next to the registration field. This will initiate a search through the Spottingmode database to find matching registrations. Up to 50 found planes will be displayed in a pick list from which the correct match can be selected. The construction number, main type, country and service information of the picked plane will then be added to the insert form. Note that the registration entered will not be altered by this assistent if the matching registration was not exactly the same.

Example of registration look up pick list

The Spottingmode database list of planes that is available for the look up is growing daily. Main focus at first will be on civil airliners, commuters and biz jets. However, military listings will also become available in due time. As any such list can never be 100% complete or accurate, it will happen that a registration searched for will not result in any matches. This doe not mean the plane does not exist or cannot be inserted, it simply means it is not (yet) available in the Spottingmode database listing.

Registrations searched for will be matched in different ways. Firstly the match will be tried on exact registration. Secondly it will try to match on a cleaned version (meaning all special characters will be removed) and thirdly it will try to match as if the entered registration was the cleaned version. This will allow for certain freedoms in entering a registration (for example: J-210 will match with J210, 37+23 will match with 3723, etc). It also means however, that due to the way the registration is cleaned some unexpected matches can be made in special situation. For example, entering 00-0001 as a registration will also be matched with registration 01.

Plane look up functionality is available in the insert form, the update form and at the Wrecks and Relics plane link form.

Special characters

All planes that are published on the website are displayed with registrations and construction numbers written in ISO Basic Latin alphabet (A to Z) and Arabic numerals (0 to 9). All other characters used in registrations and construction numbers will be translated to the most commonly used characters in the above sets. However, it is possible to use a selected set of Greek, Arab, Cyrillic and Thai characters. An insert assistant is available in the registration and construction number input fields. The assistant can be activated by clicking on the translation icon inside the input, then select the needed character set and click on the character to insert it into the input field.

Example of invoked character assistant

All character sets can be mixed in any registration or construction number. Before a sighting gets inserted, the input will be converted back to the standard character sets to make sure the sighting can be linked to the correct plane in the database. However, in personal database overviews it will be displayed as entered.

Registration look up (as described above) is also still available for registrations entered with any of the supported characters. The registration will be converted to default characters before the search is performed.

The help/charsets page lists the supported characters.

As the usage of this assistant is limited only to the few planes that are actually have a registration using non standard alphabets, the assistant can be turned off completely. Go to the settings page and remove the check for "Display special character insert asistant on insert and update forms". This will remove the icon from the input fields.

Automatic pick lists

Most of the fields that are available are completely free format. There is no predefined list of values from which to choose. But the more planes are entered, the more likely it is the same values will be used again. The plane type for example will often see the same value (like F-16A, Tornado GR1, AS.350B-2, etc.). The automatic pick lists will help speed up the insert of plane records.

An automatic pick list will appear once at least three characters are entered into a field. The options shown are the values previously used, that fit the value that was just entered. An option can be highlighted with the up and down arrow keys, or by placing the mouse over it. Pressing "Enter" or left clicking the mouse will select the then highlighted value.

Example of automatic pick list for the Plane type field

Automatic pick lists are available for the Plane type, Main type, Category, Main unit, Sub unit and Location fields.

Country auto select

With all civilian planes, as well as military or government operated planes with civil style registrations, the country can be auto selected based on the registration. As soon as the registration is entered, the value is interpreted and, if the prefix (and possible suffix) is known, the appropriate country is selected in the country input field.

This auto select assistant will always work, except when a military service ("Air Force", "Army", "Navy" or "Marine Corps") is already selected in the service field or when a value is already selected in the country input field. If, for example, the field is locked with a value, the country auto select assistant will not override the already set value.

Note: there are some examples where the country auto select may work in a seemingly wrong manner. If a military serial is entered that starts with a possible prefix (for example the RAF serial ZK415, with ZK also being the prefix for New Zealand), then the country auto select assistant will already select the country. This can be prevented by selecting the country or the service first.

Main type and category auto select

This assistant will auto select the main type and category once a plane type has been entered. The selection will be based on the values previously entered, so will only work on plane types that are already in the database. Only exact values will be searched on. For example if "F-16A" is entered, it will search for previous entries of "F-16A", not for "F-16" or "F-16AM".

Both selected main type and category values will be the most common occurence found. In most cases the found main type will be the only one found, but a single plane type value might have multiple category values. For instance a KLM B767 might be categorized as "Airliner", but once it is sold to PrivatAir, it might become a "Bizjet". Therefore the category proposed will not only be the category found for most occurences of the plane type, but will also have to be significantly larger than the next best option.

Service auto select

The service auto select will select the service based on given values for main unit, sub unit and country. It will search in previously entered planes for the same combination and for the most used service.

If both main unit and sub unit are still empty, no service will be selected. If for the same combination of main unit, sub unit and country values multiple service values are found, the service with the most occurences will be selected, provided it is significantly more used than the next best option.