Portfolio Reporter - "How To"

McDonell Business Solutions Home Page
McBiz Quick Start - Reference Page
Quick Start - Two - Web Resources
Quick Start - Three - Fonts & Utilities
Quick Start - Four - "How To"

 

Please Note - Phone support and sales of Portfolio Reporter have been discontinued.

 

The purpose of this page is to provide a series of step by step "How To" guides specifically  for the users of Portfolio Reporter. It is assumed that all users have upgraded to Version 1-7, as that version enables full Year 2000 compliance. If you don't wish to follow the instructions below yourself, the following will enable whoever you call on to assist you to carry out the processes described.

 

From my experience Portfolio Reporter (a DOS based program) will work successfully on Windows 7 (32 bit) but not the 64 bit version. You will probably not get it to run full screen. If you have or must upgrade to Windows 8 - good luck. I do have Portfolio Reporter running successfully in a Virtual (XP) Machine in Windows 8 and have successfully printed from that VM to a network printer using Dos Print. See DOSPRN below. Getting this going is not for the faint hearted and you will probably need to have this set up for you by a PC support person who understands virtual machines - not me! Take heart as it can be done.


Working with Windows

If you are not sure how to copy files to or from floppy disk seek the help of someone who does, or follow the instructions contained in the Windows Help file - click on the "Start" button then "Help".
Spend a little time in the Windows Help area - particularly the "Exploring your Computer\Files and Folders\Managing Files" area to learn\understand how to copy and paste (and otherwise manage) files and folders. 

The Portfolio Reporter Help line (02-9415-1095)
no longer exists.

Windows Explorer configuration

Before attempting any of the file management tasks described below, please make the configuration adjustments to Windows Explorer described here  Amongst other things these changes enable you to see the full file names and file types when using Windows Explorer in "View\Details" mode.

In addition, because the Windows default file associations indicates that any file with the suffix ".cnf" is a "Speed Dial" file (and that is not correct), you may remove that "association" as follows:-

1. In Windows Explorer go to the menu item "View" and click on the last item - "Folder Options" - in the case of Windows 95 the item is simply called "Options", in Windows XP it is called "Tools/Folder Options"
2. Go to the "File Types" tab where the "Registered File types" are listed.
3. Scroll down to the item "SpeedDial" and click on the "Remove" button.

The Portfolio Reporter configuration file "folio.cnf" will no longer be mis-described as a "Speed Dial" file without any file extension visible. It can be now seen as folio.cnf

Portfolio Reporter - Basic structure.

Portfolio Reporter is a DOS based program which runs perfectly well under Windows. It may be loaded through DOS or through Windows, and when loaded though Windows will create an appropriate menu item so that it may be run from a "shortcut".  Loading through Windows is achieved by running the winsetup.exe file from the A:\ drive.
Where an existing Portfolio Reporter installation is being updated the update program is run from the wupdate.exe file (Windows) or the update.exe file (DOS). Full instructions are included with the Version 1-7 disk.

The Version 1-7 disk includes both the update program and the full version.

When Portfolio Reporter is installed to its default directory, or folder, it loads to a first line folder called "Folio", directly below the root C:\ drive . All the necessary "engine room" files are contained in this directory.

As Portfolio Reporter is used and configured several of those files (folio.pth, folio.cnf and folio.cpi) will change to reflect user personal settings. Creating a new portfolio will result in a new sub folder being created below the "Folio" folder. That new folder will have the unique name given to it by the user during the creation process. These sub folders contain the users  investment data in database (.dbf) files. A series of indexing (.ntx) files facilitate access to data. If the database files are deleted the portfolio information is lost. If the indexing files are deleted they will be re-created the next time that portfolio is opened by Portfolio Reporter. When a portfolio is deleted by the routine inside Portfolio Reporter it becomes invisible to the program, but its sub folder and the files in that sub folder remain on the Hard Drive. A further conscious act is necessary, outside the Portfolio Reporter program - using Windows Explorer, to delete an unwanted portfolio from the Hard Disk Drive.

The Portfolio Reporter backup process saves both the *.dbf files and the folio.* configuration files (described above) to the backup floppy disk. These files are stored on the backup floppy in a sub folder, below an empty "Folio" folder. The sub folder will have the same name as the original unique sub folder on the C:\ Drive. 

Multiple portfolio backups can be made to the same floppy as each is saved to its unique subfolder i.e. to the location A:\Folio\(unique_name).  


Restoring a portfolio from a backup floppy disk.

The aim in restoring a portfolio is to copy the database files from their backup location on the floppy disk to their original location in their (unique - specially named) sub folder, below the "Folio" folder, on the Hard Disk Drive (C:\). Under Windows 95 or Windows 98 this is most easily achieved by using Windows Explorer.

The files, containing portfolio data, which will need to be restored, are :- 
assetrn.dbf   (this is the asset transaction file)
asstdt15.dbf  (the asset data file)  
certif.dbf  (the certificate file) and  
inctrn.dbf  (the income transaction file)

Locate these files in the A:\Folio\(unique) sub folder and copy them back to the C:\Folio\(unique) sub folder on your Hard Disk Drive. Run the "Tidy up files" routine from the "Utilities" area within Portfolio Reporter to ensure the internal indexing is accurate.  That's it!

Tidy Up Files


The "Tidy Up Files" routine in the "Utilities" area, within Portfolio Reporter, has been created to ensure that the data base indexing files (the *.ntx files) maintain proper "arithmetic" relationship between the data base files (the *.dbf files). When "Tidy Up Files" is run you are prompted to save the existing folio to a floppy disk before any changes are effected. This is a form of "belt and braces" protection in the rare event that something goes amiss during the process. The Tidy Up process may also be effected by simply deleting the *.ntx files from the particular portfolio sub folder. This process may be done by closing Portfolio Reporter and using Windows Explorer. Do NOT undertake the Tidy Up routine in this manner if you are not completely comfortable about using Windows Explorer for file management. NOTE - If any of the *.dbf files (the data base files) are deleted you will lose portfolio information and we cannot help you further. When Portfolio Reporter is next started, and that portfolio is accessed, the missing *.ntx files will automatically be re-created and re-indexing will also automatically take place.

Restoring from a full system loss.

With a hard drive crash, recovery supposes two things. You have been making regular backups on floppies, using the routine built into Portfolio Reporter, and you still have the version 1-7 update system floppy disk (which also has a full install routine on the same  disk). you have been making backups haven't you? - if not, sorry...!

1. Re-install the full Portfolio Reporter system by running "winsetup.exe" from the Version 1-7 Install disk. Follow the prompts until installation is complete and you are prompted to create your first portfolio. Exit the setup program without doing this. Using Windows Explorer examine the folders on your hard drive. You will have a folder - "C:\Folio" and there will be no sub folders below that folder.
2. Insert the Portfolio Reporter backup floppy in the A:\ drive and, using Windows Explorer, locate the (one or more) unique subfolder(s) below the "Folio" folder on the floppy. Each sub folder contains a separate portfolio.
3. From "A:\Folio" copy the subfolder(s) you want to restore, and paste it (them) directly under the "C:\Folio" on your hard drive. This copy\paste routine will copy not only the unique folders but also all files contained within those unique folders.
4. At this stage you have a "C:\Folio" folder with restored sub folder(s) representing the original portfolios - all that remains is to restore the original personal settings (see the discussion under "Portfolio Reporter - Basic structure" - above). Copy the personal settings files
(folio.pth, folio.cnf and folio.cpi) contained in any of the restored sub folders and paste them into the C:\Folio folder, overwriting the files of the same name already to be found in that folder.
5. Start Portfolio Reporter by double clicking on the "folio.exe" file to be found in the C:\Folio folder. Everything in the original Portfolio Reporter installation should now be available in the restored version. The program may also be opened by using the shortcut created by the fresh installation. Further shortcuts to enable Portfolio Reporter to be opened from a location of your choice may be created using Windows routines - check the Windows Explorer Help files for instructions.

Backup Precautions

Hard Drives can crash or become corrupted. So can floppy disk drives. Don't rely on the same floppy disk for backup after backup, year after year. Don't rely on having only one backup. Buy fresh floppy disks from time to time. Have more than one backup disk. With Portfolio Reporter you can put backups of more than one portfolio on the same floppy disk. Keep archive disks, made to "freeze" backup information at a specific point in time - like the end of the financial year. Occasionally use Windows Explorer to copy a full backup of the C:\Folio folder, and all its sub folders, onto a fresh floppy disk. It is always better to have more backups than none. If you don't have backups of your portfolios we can do nothing to help you in the case of a system crash.

Moving Portfolio Reporter from one PC to another PC

Use Windows Explorer, or if the old PC was running DOS and Win 3/x, use File Manager in Windows. Moving Portfolio Reporter from one PC to another is as basic as using one or more floppy disks to make a direct copy of the "Folio" directory, along with all its sub directories, and replicating that structure on the new PC. Assuming the new PC is running Windows 95 or later quick access to start Portfolio Reporter is achieved by  creating shortcuts to the "C:\Folio\folio.exe" file on your desktop, the Start Menu, or whatever location is most convenient. Instructions for creating shortcuts to applications may be found in the Windows Explorer help area. 


Printing from Portfolio Reporter

Successful printing from Portfolio Reporter requires that your printer has the capability of printing from DOS (or DOS running under Windows). While Portfolio Reporter is a DOS based program it runs quite successfully under all the current varieties of Windows. Unfortunately, these days it is not true that all printers can successfully print from DOS based software (even though they successfully print from Windows applications).  While some (including Microsoft) may say that you cannot print from a DOS based program to a USB connected printer this is not necessarily true. I have successfully printed from Portfolio Reporter to a USB connected HP LaserJet 1200 running under Windows XP Pro. This printer does not have a parallel port connection. For more information on this subject see the heading below - "Printing from Portfolio Reporter to a USB printer"

As printers have become more and more of a commodity (virtually given away so the manufacturer can sell more printer cartridges) some manufacturers, in some models, have dropped the ability for their printers to print from DOS based software. One assumes this functionality has been removed as a cost cutting exercise, as it appears more likely to have occurred with the lower priced printers. Where this has happened all ability to print from DOS based programs has been affected, not just the ability to print from Portfolio Reporter. 

The Portfolio Reporter program does not know the identity of the printer connected to your PC. The program uses the Code Page set up information to send specific printer commands to the printer. Those commands include such basic instructions as "Print normal type", "Print condensed type", "Start a new page", "Finish the current page", and so on. The choice of appropriate commands is small as most printers emulate the Printer Control Languages established as virtual industry standards by Epson (mainly for dot matrix printers) and Hewlett Packard (mainly for laser printers). If the basic Epson commands don't work the Hewlett Packard commands usually will. 

A simple test of the ability to print from DOS is to open a DOS Prompt and either send a known text file to the printer with the command "copy filename.txt lpt1" or "dir > lpt1". Completion of this test may require a form feed at the printer if the file sent is less than a page in length. Naturally an appropriate ascii text file such as  "filename.txt" must exist at the path location from which the command is sent. If you do not understand the process mentioned in this paragraph you may need to seek the assistance of someone (with computer understanding) who does. If the printer will not print from DOS, Portfolio Reporter doesn't stand a chance. 

If in doubt call your printer support line and ask "Can I print to this printer from a DOS program running under Windows? Will the printer recognise DOS printing commands instructing it to change to both regular and condensed type modes?". 
If you can print from DOS you may also need to ensure that the printer configuration has been set to "Capture" the printer port, as most printers need to know they are printing to LPT1, the default printer port. The ability to print from DOS makes it highly likely that you will successfully print from Portfolio Reporter. More detail on this subject, along with a number of alternate printer configuration settings, is contained in the "Addendum to the Manual" sent to all users with Version 1-7, and the Version 1-7 upgrade. Please read and follow that information before calling for support. 

If you are buying a new printer insist on the Vendor giving you an assurance that it will print from a DOS based program running under Windows, and if it cannot, that the printer can be returned. We are aware of difficulties with lower end Epson ink jet printers, a number of Hewlett Packard printers and some others but we are simply not able to maintain a definitive list of printers which will (or will not) create problems. 

We have found some specific difficulties with the "all in one" printers which function as a printer, copier, scanner and fax machine. To function as a fax these printers take control of the printing function at the time the PC is started and they will not relinquish control of the printer so that a DOS printing routine may proceed. If you can completely unload the fax and other drivers at the time you want to print from Portfolio Reporter, you may be successful. Ask the Vendor or printer manufacturer about this, and how to do it.

Most printing problems arise with inkjet printers. We have found little difficulty with laser printers, but the exception to the rule can always arise. Be safe and ask.

Printing from Portfolio Reporter to a USB Printer

While it is possible to print from Portfolio Reporter to a USB printer I cannot say that this will be true of all USB printers, as the printer will still need to be able to respond to the printer control language (PCL) codes sent to the printer in the stream of data. As many printers, particularly the low end or cheaper ink jet printers, are made down to a price they simply do not have the capability to respond to codes which direct the printer to switch between (for example) printing in a normal font and printing in a condensed font, as required by many of the numerical tables in Portfolio Reporter reports. In my experience most laser printers do respond to PCL codes.

In my research to get a solution to the USB printer problem I found a number of web pages with a similar solution to the following:
http://www.decompile.com/dataflex/tips/usb_printer.htm
Substitute the application name Portfolio Reporter for the name DataFlex on that page and the explanation reads well. The solution is given for Windows 2000 and appears equally applicable to Windows XP.
To implement this solution you may have a need to call on the assistance of someone with a reasonable ability to follow the instructions on that web page. In a nutshell you need to work with a USB printer which is working correctly before you start, and can print a test page using its USB connection. The solution requires the printer to be "shared" as if it were a network printer. A batch file is then created to notionally direct the network share to the LPT1 port (the command I used was "net use lpt1 \\tascott\HP1200 /persistent:yes" excluding the quotes) where "tascott" is the name of my computer and HP1200 the name of the "share". I found that the solution works. Portfolio Reporter help line support is not available on this subject as the potential variables are too great - just tell your own expert it has been proven to work. It's not clear whether you must have a network card installed for the PC to accept the configuration required. I tested it on as PC with a network card but no network. In my testing I ignored step 4 and the report pages printed without a problem.
To delete the LPT1 redirection use the following command from a Command prompt - net use LPT1 /Delete
See too:
http://members.shaw.ca/bsanders/printfromdos.htm
A further solution involves printer "pooling" - I tested this and it works. In Windows XP go to the Ports tab under Printer Properties and tick "Enable Printer Pooling" then select the LPT1 port in addition to the Dot4 USB port (which may already be shown as selected). Click Apply.

Another web page I found addresses the problem of a long "timeout" when printing from DOS based programs. Heed the usual warnings that Registry editing should not be undertaken unless you are comfortable with what you are doing. See:
http://www.resortdata.com/Customers/Knowledge/KB-DOS/K000036.htm

My research also turned up a shareware program called DOSPRN which claims to solve many of the problems associated with printing from DOS based programs to many of today's printers. The program can be downloaded and tested prior to purchase. See:
http://www.dosprn.com/index.htm
I tested this and found it capable of printing, to my USB printer, a file previously saved by using the "Print to file" routine which is a choice under the Portfolio Reporter Printing setup options. The pages were printed in landscape mode, but not as successfully as that achieved in the first solution mentioned above.

My research also found some other possible solutions which I have not tested, but I put forward as possibly worth investigating (the following are not the same program):
DOSPrinter - http://www.geocities.com/DOSPrint/
DOS Printer - http://www.dsbglobal.com/dosprinter/

A Google search on words like "how to print from DOS to USB" will reveal many further areas of investigation.

Other questions which have arisen from time to time

* Portfolio Reporter is not a capital gains tax calculator. The CPI indexation feature was included as a guide only to give a "wet finger in the air" indication to relative cost movements over time. It is not\has not been re-written to attempt to keep up with the various legislative changes relating to the treatment of capital gains tax (or GST).

* Version 1-7 is the most recent version of Portfolio Reporter.

* While Portfolio Reporter is a DOS based program and it runs successfully under Windows, it is not "mouse aware". You cannot move around inside the program clicking with the mouse cursor. The program does respond to the indicated "hot keys"  i.e., those characters (letters) preceding each menu command. The "Escape" [Esc] key is like reverse, enabling you to move back a step from any action taken.

* If, when installing Portfolio Reporter, the message "folio.exe can't be found", try re-installing the program after removing write protection from the floppy. The write protect window on the floppy must be closed for a successful installation.

* Where Portfolio Reporter opens and immediately shuts down with an error message too quick to read, check that Portfolio Reporter is not already open and simply minimised to the task bar. An attempt to open it a second time will result in the behaviour mentioned.

* The key strokes "Alt-Enter" (together) will toggle Portfolio Reporter between running full screen and running "in a window". In the latter state it can be minimised to the taskbar without being closed while another application is accessed. When running "in a window" the size of that window can be altered to make the most of the screen "real estate" available. Check the Widows Help files on how to do this.

* If, while running in a Window, or full screen, the text appears to be shortened to only half the screen, try updating the Graphics card drivers for your PC. I have heard of the problem, and believe it is a graphics driver problem as on other systems running Windows XP the program behaves as it always has.

* If Portfolio Reporter can successfully open one, but not another, portfolio the fact that even one portfolio works correctly proves that the program "engine room" is working correctly. When one or more portfolios are working correctly and another will not open it is likely to be due to a file corruption in one or more files in the sub folder containing the problem portfolio. If the problem cannot be fixed by running the Windows "scandisk" and\or "defrag" routines the portfolio will probably have to be restored from a backup floppy disk. See the comments above on "Restoring a portfolio from a backup floppy disk" and "Backup precautions". NEVER be compromised by having only one potential backup source. It is just too embarrassing to find that your one backup floppy disk is also corrupted.

* If you have a need to check the information on a backup or archived floppy disk, avoid the need to overwrite an existing portfolio by creating a special "Review" portfolio. Add a portfolio called "Review" in a directory or sub folder called "Review". Don't use this location to input any data, simply use it as a viewer. Follow the instruction above "Restoring a portfolio from a backup floppy disk" to restore the data you wish to view to the special "Review" sub folder, instead of the folder from which it was originally backed up.

23 May 2014

Questions on the above may be sent to Peter McDonell by email

and may or may not be answered. Please recognize that the official help line has long been discontinued

 (click on the link below to initiate a message)

peter@mcbiz.com.au