VMS: Link to a Document, Graphic or Hyperlink

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Link to a Document, Graphic or Hyperlink


VMS allows you to associate almost any document, graphic or even an internet hyperlink (URL) to specific records where appropriate.  After assignment you'll be able to click the associated link, go directly to that object and/or open it's parent application without leaving VMS.


Important:  Any file or hyperlink (herein known as an object) is fair game for association.  However the object must already exist on your computer or the data file server, your computer must know what to do with it, and VMS will not make those decisions in your behalf.  For instance, if you were to associate an internet hyperlink (such as http://www.amazon.com) almost any Windows computer will attempt to open a browser and surf directly to the Amazon.com web site (if you're logged on).  


But if you were to associate an Abobe PDF file the computer must have an appropriate PDF file viewer in order for the file to be opened.  It is necessary that you understand what files your computer recognizes before expecting these associations to function properly.  (If you make associations with documents that have no appropriate viewer you may create the associations nonetheless, and install a viewer on that computer later.)  This rule will be especially obvious in a networked environment, where one computer may designate object associations, but another computer accessing the same data set and record might not have the appropriate viewer installed and will be handicapped with regard to viewing those files.


You may associate a Microsoft Word file, a Word Perfect document, an MP3 file or almost any file type that can be recognized by your computer.  If you associate a Microsoft Word file and click on it's association from a module, Word will open and display your document.  If you click on an MP3 file your default music player will open and play music.  Click on a picture file from the Guest and Crew module and the appropriate picture will be displayed.  So the options opening all manner of object files/hyperlinks are virtually endless.


Also, it should be noted that Windows application associations and networking are issues requiring some familiarity with the Windows directory and file naming schema.  If you are a novice with these issues you're advised to receive some instruction before continuing with this utility, and then thoroughly test the results before attempting this mode of data entry in a networked environment.  It would be a shame to enter several hundred file associations only to find that they weren't available on another computer, or even your own, as intended.


If you make object file and/or hyperlink associations, and those objects are subsequently deleted from their original file locations, the associations will be orphaned and invalid.  If you reconstitute those objects into their original locations the object associations will work again.  Otherwise, you'll need to delete the associations you've created to get them out of your face.  If you delete the association but not the object  the object may be re-associated with another data record.  The same object may be associated with an unlimited number of data records.


Here's an example of how to associate an object with an inventory item.  


First, you would open or create an inventory item, such as the Fresh Water Pump Gasket  (illustrated).  Notice the File/Hyperlink field (right of/adjacent to the File/Hyperlink button) is gray.  This indicates that no prior object association has been made.  If this field were white  you would know that a prior File/ Hyperlink association exists and can be accessed by dropping the list and opening the object with a single click.  


Next, click the button File/Hyperlink.  This will invoke the Add File/Hyperlink module (illustrated below) that will allow you to associate a file or hyperlink.  There are two File/Hyperlink fields.  One will be used to add a new File/Hyperlink association, the other used to delete an association already assigned.  You may activate either field by using the Active and Activate check boxes in the lower right corner of the module.  If you opened the File/Hyperlink module with an object already chosen in the parent module (in this case Engineering Inventory) then the object will be automatically added to the Delete This Hyperlink  field drop down list. You may delete single or multiple File/Hyperlink associations.




If you opened this module in the Add mode (no association chosen in the parent module) then the first button highlighted will be Drag and Drop.  Clicking this button (or Enter) will hide all other VMS windows and move the File/Hyperlink Module to the upper left of your computer screen.  Although you may drag the File/Hyperlink module anywhere around the screen it will remain on top of other applications, Windows Explorer, etc., to facilitate drag and drop.  The only way to get it out of your face is to Close without Save or Save ... and then Close.


If you have an object on your desktop you may drag the object (hover your mouse cursor over the object, hold your left mouse button down and move the object) into the Add This File/Hyperlink field.  The path and file name will be added automatically.  Then click either Add The File/Hyperlink Shown Below or Save The File/Hyperlink Shown Below and Add Another buttons.  The next time you open Engineering Inventory, Fresh Water Pump Gasket record you'll find the association(s) ready for viewing.


Alternately you may open a windows Explorer window next to the Add File/Hyperlink module and drag from there.  You may add as many associations in one go as you like, but only one at a time.  You're advised to close the Folders view of Explorer because windows might momentarily hang as you move an object across the Folders screen (windows will be trying to find some relevant information in any folder touched...silly).  You may also type directly in the field, although typing the full path of file associations can be tremendously tedious.