Throughout HiFinance the standard ASCII collating sequence is used. This means that when alphanumeric (numbers and letters) are sorted, they will be sorted into the order defined by the ASCII standard.
Simply put, the ASCII sort sequence places numbers first, followed by capital letters, followed by lower-case letters. Some special characters come before the numbers and some after. Special characters are rarely used and can generally be ignored. Exceptions include spaces and hyphens, which come before numbers in the ASCII collating sequence.
All alphanumeric sorting starts from the left-hand character. This means that AAA comes before AAB, which comes before AbA. Also, if numbers are sorted as if they were alphanumeric, 10 comes before 2. The only way to make numbers sort correctly in an alphanumeric field is to pad them with leading zeros i.e. 02 comes before 10.
The ASCII collating sequence affect three places in HiFinance.
1) When a report, such as the CREDITOR AGED ANALYSIS, is sorted by CREDITOR CODE, the final order of the report will be dictated by the ASCII collating sequence.
2) When searching through a file, the search proceeds via the ASCII sequence. If all your codes are in upper case, an initial search of a will immediately send you past the end of the file, giving you the appropriate error message.
3) Many reports ask for a range of codes. You will notice that the default answers in all cases is a blank entry as the lower limit and all lower case z's as the upper limit. If you enter A as the lower limit and Z as the upper limit, you will miss all codes that start with a number and all codes that start with a lower case letter. You will, in this case, also miss all codes that start with a Z except Z itself. This is not the result you would expect intuitively so it is worth thinking about for a moment.
The above effects mean that consistency is particularly important if you wish reports to make sense and sequential searching to be useful. It is recommended that you choose to have either all upper case codes or all lower case codes in your Debtor, Creditor and Inventory master files. In some places this is forced and in others, it can be forced by setting the correct option in the SYSTEM UTILITIES - SECTION 7.1.2.
You can enter addresses, etc., in either case, as these are not used as sort fields.
Further information regarding ASCII, can be found in your MS-DOS, Windows or Unix manual.