ACL Character Function – Alltrim() Function

Welcome back to the blog series ‘Audit Command Language Tutorials for Beginners’. At this stage in the series, we are discussing the numerous character functions that are available in the Audit Command Language to manipulate and transform character fields.

In this post, we are going to take a look at the ALLTRIM function. This function solves a problem that is more often than not, the root cause of most issues faced while performing any analysis. To get correct results from most functions, it is critical that all extra spaces (leading and trailing) are removed from the field before any transformations are executed. Consider applying the Sub function, if there are leading spaces. You would never the get the correct output. Essentially, the ALLTRIM function helps to normalize/standardize the raw data fields to allow for accurate transformation.

Syntax: Alltrim(String)

Example in a script to create a new field using Alltrim Function

alltrim-script

DELETE FIELD TEST_DESCR OK
DEFINE FIELD TEST_DESCR COMPUTED AS
Alltrim(ProdDesc)

Example in a workspace to create a new field using Alltrim Function

alltrim-workspace

TEST_DESCR                                 Computed
Alltrim(ProdDesc)

The result from both the above applications of this function would basically return the values from column ‘TEST_DESCR’ without any leading or trailing spaces. There may not be a visible difference in the resulting column as shown in the screenshot below:

alltrim-result

As the screenshot shows, there isn’t any noticeable change in the resulting column. However, it is prepared for any further transformations with accurate results. Now you have seen enough of character functions till this point to be able to use them in your own projects to see a significant impact. See the video demo below:

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ACL Character Function – Sub() Function

Hello to all my fellow number-crunchers. I hope you are finding this series ‘Audit Command Language for Beginners’ useful and interesting. Every step counts on the way to the destination, so lets keep going ahead.

The next character function we will be discussing, is the the Sub function. A very important function for manipulating values from an exiting field. It can be used in a variety of cases ranging from simply creating new fields from existing fields to testing conditions on parts of a field to define a field. Essentially, the goal of this function is to extract a section of a fixed width from string/character based field. The Sub  function can also be written as Substr interchangeably.

Syntax: SUBSTR(string, start, length)

Example in a script to create a new field using Sub Function

sub-function-script

DELETE FIELD TEST_DESCR OK
DEFINE FIELD TEST_DESCR COMPUTED AS
Sub(ProdDesc,1,5)

Example in a workspace to create a new field using Sub Function

sub-function-workspace

TEST_DESCR                    Computed
Sub(ProdDesc,1,5)

Results from either of the above methods would be that the first 5 characters from the column ‘Long_Descr’ will be displayed in the new column ‘Test_Descr’ as shown below in the screenshot.

sub-function-result

This function like most, seems very simple but is extremely useful and powerful for a variety of cases when working with large data sets. This function is commonly used together with other functions for a number of cases. See demonstration of the Sub function.

Please keep practicing and feel free to reach out to us with your valuable feedback and comments. Please go through the website to review ACL script examples and ACL script commands sign up for our newsletter, so that we may keep you posted on the latest activity on our website and Youtube channel.




ACL Character Function – Replace() Function

Welcome to the latest post in the series Audit command language for Beginners. We are going to dive further into the ACL character functions with the Replace function.

Character functions allow for many opportunities to play around and manipulate with the character fields so as to perform some sort of investigations to better understand the data files. there may be a case where you may want to highlight certain values in the field, in a new field by creating a flag for expected values. Simply use the replace function for the specific string and display a flag value in the new field.

Essentially, the Replace function allows the user to replace a part of the string with the another string of characters.

Syntax: REPLACE(string, old_text, new_text)

Example in a script to create a new field using Replace Function

repalce-function-script

DELETE FIELD TEST_DESCR OK
DEFINE FIELD TEST_DESCR COMPUTED AS
REPLACE(ProdDesc, ‘-‘ , ‘1234567’)

Example in a workspace to create a new field using Replace Function

repalce-function-workspace

TEST_DESCR                                 Computed
REPLACE(ProdDesc,’-‘,’1234567’)

Results from either of the above methods would be that any instance of the character ‘-‘ will be replaced with the value ‘1234567’ when creating the new column ‘Test_Descr’. Please see below screenshot of the resulting column upon the application of the replace function.

repalce-function-result

This function is handy for situations, where one may be required to make changes to the raw data files after discussions with the stakeholders. It happens more often than most professionals would care to admit. Lets face it, there is no such thing as perfect data. Otherwise where would be the fun in this job 🙂 Check it out in action in the video below:

Please keep practicing and feel free to reach out to us with your valuable feedback and comments. Please go through the website to review ACL script examples and ACL script commands sign up for our newsletter, so that we may keep you posted on the latest activity on our website and Youtube channel.




ACL Character Function – Include() Function

Welcome back future ACL data analyst. We continue with the series of post for Audit Command Language for beginner data analysts. The next character based function in audit command language is the Include function.

Just like any other function in the Audit Command Language, this is an equally important function. Just like the Exclude function, this function is most often used for the purposes of data cleansing. The difference between the two can be deduced by the names themselves. Nevertheless, to put it in context, there are cases where the requirements are such that only certain characters in the field may be required for a certain analysis. For instance, there may be account numbers in a ledger where alphabets are just added for identification purposes but for overall reconciliations, the actual account number is to be considered. In such cases, only numeric values are required to be ‘included’ in the final formatted data.

Syntax: Include(Data Field or string,<Characters to include>)

Example in a script to create a new field using Include Function

DELETE FIELD NEW_GENDER OK
DEFINE FIELD NEW_GENDER COMPUTED AS
Include(FIELD_1,’M’)

Example in a workspace to create a new field using Exclude Function

NEW_GENDER Computed
Include(FIELD_1,’M’)

The above examples are attempting to include only the character ‘M’ in the gender field in the existing table and create a new field. See the below screenshot for the result.

It really is as easy as it looks. There shouldn’t be any real challenges here for anyone and it is a nifty trick to be able to use to impress your first boss to help him/her with data cleansing. So keep an eye open for any such opportunities.

Please keep practicing and feel free to reach out to us with your valuable feedback and comments. Please go to the website to review ACL script examples and ACL commands sign up for our newsletter, so that we may keep you posted on the latest activity on our website and Youtube channel.

 

ACL Character Function – Exclude() Function

Greetings and welcome to the latest post in the series ‘Audit Command Language Tutorial‘ for Beginners. The next few posts are going to be dedicated to character functions as discussed in the last post. Each of the following posts will explore a character function in detail with an example. So let’s dive straight in.

The first of these functions is the Exclude function. A very important function for data cleansing purposes. Every so often there are certain special characters that get included in certain key fields in data sets. In order to ensure correct analysis on these key fields, it is required that these special characters be excluded from the field in order to normalize/standardize the data.

Syntax: Exclude(Data Field or string ,<Characters to exclude>)

Example in a script to create a new field using Exclude Function

DELETE FIELD NEW_GENDER OK
DEFINE FIELD NEW_GENDER COMPUTED AS
Exclude(FIELD_1,’M’)

Example in a workspace to create a new field using Exclude Function

New_GENDER                                Computed
EXCLUDE(FIELD_1,’M’)

Results from either of the above methods would be that any instance of the character ‘M’ will be removed from any relevant values in the column ‘Field_1’ when creating the new column ‘New_Gender’.

This is an easy enough function to use and apply in any project. The only thing to do is to identify the appropriate instance for implementation. Check out the video for a demo of the function :

This post and the subsequent entries should provide for considerable inputs for you to start playing around with data formatting efforts in your own projects.

Please keep practicing and feel free to reach out to us with your valuable feedback and comments. Please go to the website to review ACL script examples and ACL script commands sign up for our newsletter, so that we may keep you posted on the latest activity on our website and Youtube channel.




Audit Command Language – Functions

Welcome to another post in the series ‘Audit Command Language Tutorial for Beginners’. At this point we have discussed two of the key aspects of the ACL tool; creation of scripts and workspaces. The next important piece of the puzzle is ‘Functions’. The remainder of this post is written assuming that the reader has some coding background only to follow along for the terminology.

Functions in any programming language are kind of stored procedures that come with the package to perform certain repetitive tasks. These tasks can be something like, extracting a section of a existing field, formatting data fields to be more presentable way or perhaps just to simply sum up two columns. There are a number of such routine tasks. The functionality of functions provides data analyst the ability to get to relevant data points faster.

Based on the most routinely required functionality, functions are broadly classified in the following three categories:

  1. Character Functions: As the name suggests, this category functions is used on character type data files i.e. imported as ASCII during data import in Audit Command Language software. There is often need for extracting certain sections in a field, or excluding/including/replacing certain characters from a data field and so on. These operations can only be performed on character data types. Some of the most commonly used functions are:
    • Exclude()
    • Include()
    • Replace()
    • Sub() or substring()
    • Alltrim()
    • last()
    • Value()
    • Match()
    • length()
    • string()
    • Split()
    • Upper()
    • Lower()
    • Between()
  2. Numeric Functions: Just like character functions, numeric functions are required to be integers i.e. imported as ‘Numeric’ data type into ACL. Some of the most commonly used numeric functions are:
    • Dec()
    • Round()
    • ABS()
    • INT()
    • Zoned()
    • Between()
  3. Date Functions: Dates are essentially numeric values stored in date formats. Since, the computation on dates are slightly different than regular numbers, there are a set of different functions to extract information from such fields like, current day, current month, day of the week, number of days between two dates and so on. The most regularly used date functions are:
    • CTOD()
    • CDOW()
    • CTOT()
    • DATE()
    • MONTH()
    • AGE()

These basic function types are briefly covered in the following three videos:

Character Functions

Numeric Functions

Date Functions

Besides the above mentioned categories there is another set of functions, leveraged solely for the purpose of data correction in case there are problems in the data file as discussed in the previous posts: data issues ‘split’ & ‘spill’. Most regularly summoned functions for such tasks are:

  1. Recoffset()
  2. Static

The goal of this post is to introduce the readers to functions that would be discussed in the upcoming posts. Each of the above mentioned functions would detailed with its own accompanying post with example and sample scripts that can be leveraged in your own projects.

Please keep practicing and feel free to reach out to us with your valuable feedback and comments. Please go through the website to review ACL script examples and ACL script commands sign up for our newsletter, so that we may keep you posted on the latest activity on our website and Youtube channel.



Audit Command Language – Scripts

Welcome to the latest post in the series ‘Audit Command Language Tutorial for Beginners’. At this point, it is our hope that you are able to successfully navigate the GUI of the ACL tool. If there are still any doubts, go through the video below for a walkthrough of the tool before reading on further.

In this post, we will be discussing how to set up and start scripting in your ACL projects. Audit Command Language scripts are fairly straightforward and easy to write as compared to other tools. In a backhanded fashion, on the simplicity also limits the functionality available in other tools in the market.

Creating a new script: Right click on the project folder in the ‘Project Navigator’ -> ‘New’ -> ‘Script’

script-1

Writing your first lines of script: Try writing the below script to create a new column ‘new_acct’ in the table ‘sample’.

OPEN SAMPLE

DELETE FIELD NEW_Gender OK
DEFINE FIELD NEW_Gender COMPUTED AS
ALLTRIM(Field_1)

After writing the script, press the ‘play’ button. If the script completes successfully, you would see the small green ‘check’ sign in the bottom right section of the tool.

If there is any error, there would a red dot next to the line with the error and a red cross at the bottom right corner of the tool. You may watch the video below for the same walk through.

Of course, there are a number of things that can be done via scripting in any tool and the same is true for Audit Command Language Scripts. Besides the creation of fields, there are functions (character, numeric, date), joins etc. and other commands for various other manipulations that can be performed on data sets. All these different aspects will be covered in separate posts so as to explore each in a detailed and comprehensively.

If you wish to be proactive in learning how to script in ACL, I would urge you to fiddle around with the ACL GUI. Any command that is performed using the GUI is logged in the logs. These can be check as each command is executed in the ‘log’ tab at the bottom of the project navigator. Select the command and the corresponding script would appear ‘Define’ window next to the project navigator. See image below.

These scripts can be used to build simple projects very quickly and allow for practice for beginners. So play around with the tool to learn and practice as much as you can for Audit Command Language Scripts.

Please keep practicing and feel free to reach out to us with your valuable feedback and comments. Please go to the website to review ACL script examples and ACL script commands sign up for our newsletter, so that we may keep you posted on the latest activity on our website and Youtube channel.

Audit Command Language – Workspaces

Welcome to ‘Audit Command Language Tutorial for Beginners’ series. Most seasoned analytics professionals often complain that there are better tools that ACL to perform analytics on data sets. In most scenarios, this is a fair complaint against the ACL tool. However, if there is one feature that sets ACL apart from others is the ‘Workspace’. The ‘Workspaces’ in ACL are kind of a short cut to scripting when required to create the new fields. Simply define the required fields in the ‘Workspace’, select the table and activate the ‘Work Space’. You can then simply add the new columns via scripting or the GUI.

Creating a Workspace

Simply right click in the ‘Project Navigator’ on the left of the program. Select New -> Workspace and rename the new Workspace appropriately.

work-space-step-1                   work-space-step-2

Scripting the Workspace

After creating the workspace, you need to write a script for the new column to be created in any existing table. Consider the sample script to create a new field ‘New_Gender’ from an existing field ‘Field_1’. The script in the work space would be

New_Gender                            Computed
alltrim(Field_1)

See below:

Activating the Workspace

Save the script in the workspace. Open the target table, right click on the workspace icon in the Project Navigator and click ‘Activate’. If you receive no pop-up, that implies the script in the workspace is correct and the new field is available to be added in the selected table. See image below

As you can see, the table ‘sample’ is selected the workspace is activated. Next, press ‘CTR + i’ to see the list of fields in the table. The newly created field would be present in that list.

To add a new column to the table using GUI, simply right-click on any column header in the table and select add column. Follow steps in the next windows and you’re done.

Going off the above example, imagine the possibilities of leveraging the same workspace to work on different tables. Essentially, the workspace is acting as complimentary scripts to the main scripts. It is for this reason, that in most script structures in ACL Audit Command Language, fields are not defined in the main body and certainly improves the performance of a project.