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Database & Document Conversion Services

We convert Q&A databases and documents for use in today's data managers and word processors

Marble Publications, Inc.
Publisher of Inside Sesame
800-780-5474 / office@quickanswer.com

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First, choose the right database conversion service


The more you depend on your Q&A databases, the more fussy you should be when choosing the person who will actually perform your conversion.


Interview the person. Ask questions that only someone very familiar with Q&A can confidently answer.


Will the person you're talking to be performing your conversion?  Or will the job be handed off to somebody else? If so, interview that person. (Watch out for brokers.)


Proven technical expertise in Q&A — as well as in the data manager you're migrating to — are absolutely essential. Lack of it will certainly result in a problem-prone conversion.


Q&A databases can contain 100's of custom features, delicate programming, and a practically limitless variety of user-created add-ins called Saved Specs — reports, retrieves, sorts, print specs, mass updates, posting, import, export, merge documents and so on.


Q&A databases are prone to corruption on post-1995 computers in ways that might not be evident during everyday use. Design specs can corrupt, reports can corrupt, records can corrupt. Q&A might think that there are more or fewer records in a database than there actually are.


Q&A databases can also contain non-Y2K-compliant dates that might look like 21st century dates but are actually 20th century dates (1915 instead of 2015).


Common issues like these, if uncorrected, can result in a risky conversion. You might not see any problems right away, but they will come back to bite.


We know Q&A inside and out, top to bottom — and where it's most vulnerable. We wrote The Q&A Bible (IDG Books) and published The Quick Answer Q&A newsletter for 15 years. (We also wrote the first Sesame Programming Guide.)


We thoroughly inspect all aspects of every Q&A database to ensure you receive a guaranteed 100% clean, accurate and trouble-free conversion.

Database Export and Conversion Services

Converting Q&A Databases to Microsoft AccessExport/Import

We can extract the data from any Q&A database to a format that's importable into programs such as Microsoft Access, Excel or Outlook. (1) You send us the database (the .dtf and .idx files), (2) we perform the extraction according to any instructions you provide, then (3) send you the export file, ready for you to import into your  program or use as a Microsoft Word or WordPerfect mail merge file.

Complete Conversion

We can perform a complete A-to-Z conversion — forms, data, reports, macros, programming, merge documents, etc. —  migrating your entire Q&A system to a product such as Microsoft Access, FileMaker, Sesame, Alpha Five or other database manager*, providing you with a comprehensive modern replacement system.

*Conversions to Sesame are typically  less costly because it has certain key compatibilities with Q&A. Also, it's easier for Q&A users to become comfortable with Sesame because it uses most of the same common shortcut keys (F10, F9, F7, etc.) and because it uses the same search methods and search syntax as Q&A.

949-722-9127 / 800-780-5474
Email office@quickanswer.com

Things are going great! We are very happy with our new system....
running flawlessly these past few months.

 — Matt Kroona,

Your conversion of our old Q&A database system is working out very well.
It went much smoother than expected. We feel very lucky to have found you.

—Rosebud Coffey,

Q&A for Windows databases can contain multiple forms, such as a Master form, a Main Menu form, a data entry form and one or more search forms. The database might also contain scripts that link the various forms into a kind of application. If you have a Q&A for Windows application, we can convert it for you.

Reports and other custom features such as programming, macros, saved specs, batch posting, restrict values, initial values, and field templates may incur additional conversion charges.

"Thank you for being so diligent in converting the [Q&A] database [to Access]. I've viewed the database and everything looks good."
-- Adam Wolf, Legal Web Design,

"It worked great. I imported it [the converted Q&A database] directly into Outlook XP. I really appreciate both the quick turn-around as well as the surprise discount. Again, many thanks!"
-- Russell Jalbert, russelljalbert@msn.com

"You did a great job saving my old Q&A files in a useful Excel format just as you promised. I am deeply indebted to you. Thank you so much. I strongly recommend your service to anyone who needs it."
--Dr. Donald Rapp,

"Thanks very much for your work on this [converting two Q&A databases to an MS Access database]. We installed the database today and the user is extremely happy. I appreciate your attention to detail, and desire to provide an excellent service."
--Bill Lawrence,

"Thanks for all your help. The database works great. It was the easiest conversion I've ever done."
--Julie Gilroy, julieg@walkerhead.com

Everything is working out fine with our [new Access] database [converted from Q&A]. Thanks for the good work. --Jim Schaefer, jim@princoinstruments.com


Basic conversion converts all Q&A database fields to the same data type (Text, Number, Date, Yes/No, etc.)

Data entry forms are converted to match both the look and flow of your familiar Q&A forms.

If you've been having any problems with the database such as data or records disappearing, reports that won't run, recurring error messages when performing some operations, please inform us. (Please don't send us a database you know is damaged, thinking that it will all "work out okay" in the end. This will only delay the conversion process and could result in costs beyond what we would normally charge to isolate and repair the damage in advance of conversion.)

Databases supplied to us for conversion should have any password protection removed. Or you can provide us with the administrative UserID and Password.

During our post-conversion check, we compare before-and-after record counts as well as sample the records in the converted database and compare them with the same records in the Q&A database to ensure that the conversion process correctly transferred all the data. We guarantee that all of your data will be 100% faithfully converted.


Read a Conversion Summary Report we provided to a
client following a large multi-database conversion.


The conversion process
We work with you to ensure that you don't experience any down time or learning issues.

  1. We convert copies of your databases while your people continue working in your Q&A system.

  2. At key milestones, we demonstrate progress to you over a remote connection. You'll be able to give us your input, make changes, request additional features.

  3. When we're done, you arrange for your people to take a week or so to become familiar with ("play with") the new system before going live with it.

  4. When your people are comfortable with the new system, on a Friday afternoon of your choice, you send us fresh copies of your Q&A databases. We migrate all your current data into the new system and send you the new up-to-date files that weekend.

  5. You begin working in your new system the first thing on Monday morning.

Minimum charge of $125 for data export/extraction services. Minimum charge of $300 for conversion services on a single small database with little or no customization. Larger jobs are quoted at a job rate once we've evaluated the database(s). Payments on large conversion projects (multiple databases in a system) are normally arranged on an installment basis. Turnaround time can be from two to five working days — longer on a large Q&A system. Rush jobs may incur additional charges. An advance will be required to begin work. The balance will be due when the job is largely complete (as demonstrated to you over a remote connection) and ready to send to you. Payment can be made by company check or major credit card. (Payment by credit card requires a formal purchase order from you and is subject to a 3% processing fee.)

For a sight unseen ballpark estimate. . .
For each database, tell us (1) which version of Q&A it is, (2) how many fields are in it, (3) how many of those fields are memo or notes fields with extensive text, (4) the number of records in the database, (5) the number of reports, (6) if you use Q&A macros, mailing labels or merge documents with your system, and (7) whether you have experienced any problems with the database, such as Q&A error messages appearing.

Also, describe any new features you'd be interested in, such as additional fields, special field formatting, field validation, initial values, reports, programming, lookups, pop-up picklists, dropdowns, buttons, read-only fields, date pop-ups, color-coding and the like. Our conversion estimates can include existing reports, macros, saved specs (Print, Mass Update, Posting, etc.), Q&A merge documents, mailing labels and the like if requested.

For advanced conversion jobs that may include re-creating the Q&A programming, field restrictions, reports and the like, we will have to evaluate the Q&A database before giving you a firm quote. If the database system is highly complex, there may be an evaluation charge. However, if you then have us perform the work, this charge will be deducted from our conversion charges.

Q&A Documents
We can convert your Q&A for DOS Write documents to Microsoft Word for Windows (.doc) or Rich Text Format (.rtf) documents.

Our conversions retain the general formatting of your original Q&A documents and preserve the following document elements:

  • All textConverting Q&A DOS documents to Microsoft Word for Windows
  • Paragraphing
  • Relative Linespacing*
  • Relative Font Sizes*
  • Enhancements such as bold, italics, underline
  • Page Margins
  • Page Numbering (Q&A's "#" page number symbol is converted to page number)
  • Justification (full, left, center, or right)
  • Headers / Footers (plus alignment and page number, if used)
  • Temporary Margins

* For Q&A DOS documents, fonts, font sizes, and linespacing are relative. Fonts used in DOS programs and fonts used in Windows programs are not cross-compatible. (Windows does not recognize DOS fonts.) Conversion can't convert fonts in your Q&A documents to "equivalent" Windows fonts because there are no exact equivalents. If your Q&A document contains several font sizes and/or font enhancements, however, conversion preserves those sizes and enhancements. For an additional charge (see below) we can apply fonts and font sizes to converted documents so they closely match the output you get when printing them in Q&A for DOS. In this case, though, you must supply us with a printed example of each document since we are not likely to have the same fonts as in your Q&A documents.

Document elements that appear in the converted document as plain text:

  • Document Programming statements (Q&A 4.0 and 5.0)
  • Document *JOIN* and *QUEUE* commands
  • Embedded printer control codes
  • Other "exotic" embedded elements

Line Draw (graphic lines and boxes) will not convert as these are comprised of DOS ASCII extended graphics characters that aren't supported by today's word processors. They normally appear in the converted document as "foreign accented" characters. (However, if you have us convert to RTF — Rich Text Format — which is compatible with today's major word processors, including Microsoft Word, Open Office and WordPerfect, chances are that most of your line draw can be preserved.) We can remove any line draw from your pre-converted Q&A documents (or convert lines to a line of dashes or asterisks) for an additional charge, though we prefer that you do this.

The Q&A for DOS word processor is a monospace screen (as opposed to WYSIWYG/proportional in Windows word processors). Columns, boxes and the like that were aligned by "hand-spacing" when the document was created will lose that alignment when converted and viewed in your Windows word processor. You can correct for this by applying a monospace font such as Courier New to those documents (after receiving them back from us) to get the columns to properly align once more.

Hand-spacing in the Q&A documents may also cause irregular line wrapping in the converted documents. This cannot be fixed except by manually editing the converted documents. We can do this for you for an additional charge. Again, this is normally fixed by opening the document in your Windows word processor and applying a monospace font to it.

Conversion does not convert Q&A merge fields to valid merge fields for the target word processor because merge field codes are unique to the word processor you'll be using. Windows word processors require you to specify a valid data source before you can place merge fields in a document.

* * *
"Many thanks for your help and the speedy service
[Q&A document conversions to MS Word for Windows]. We were not looking forward to having to rekey this whole job! If I get further Q&A files I'll certainly contact you again."

--Ann Joshua, Joshua Associates, Typesetters anne@joshuatype.com
* * *

For an additional charge (see below), we can replace Q&A merge field codes with text placeholders (field names inside brackets)  for the data source you'll be using in the converted document's word processor. This will make it easier for you to turn the document into a merge document in the word processor you'll be using.

For conversions to Microsoft Word for Windows, the converted documents are compatible with all versions of Word for Windows from version 6.0 on, including Word 95, 97, 2000, 2010 and later versions (as of this writing). For conversions to WordPerfect for Windows, we convert to WordPerfect for Windows 6.0 format.

  • The optimum conversion format is Rich Text Format (RTF). RTF does the best job of retaining  document characteristics.
  • We cannot guarantee perfect conversion of Q&A documents in terms of look, pagination and layout. Some converted documents may require some manual editing to make them print out looking just like the original Q&A documents. By having us perform the conversion, you understand and agree to this.

How It Works
We understand the importance of your documents to your business or profession and that they may contain private, proprietary, and sensitive information. We use a "blind" conversion process. We do not open or otherwise view your documents at all. The only time we might need to open a document is to troubleshoot a conversion problem. Should such a problem occur, we will contact you for instructions.

We will be happy to convert a representative* Q&A Write document or two for you at no charge so you can see the results. You can email the document to us (as a file attachment) at office@quickanswer.com after first checking with us.

*Sample documents for free conversion must be of the same type and approximate length and complexity as the documents you plan on having converted. This is the only way we can quote you an estimated conversion price for the job.

The easiest way to get your documents to us is to zip them into one or more zip files, then send the file(s) to us by zipped file via email attachment (if under 20MB). If you want a new blanket filename extension assigned to the converted documents (such as .doc), that extension will be the same for all converted documents.

Q&A Write document files for conversion must conform to the DOS "8.3" file naming convention. File names cannot exceed 8 characters not counting the file extension. (The file extension is optional.) All file names must be unique through the first 8 or fewer characters unless the files are provided in separate folders/directories.

For example, if you have a file named ccminv.001, you cannot also have a file named ccminv.002 because in this case the file names are not unique. Conversion replaces the file extension with the target program's file extension — .doc or .rtf, for example — so the file names must be unique up through the period. File names that do not meet the unique criterion must be renamed beforehand so that they are unique, or provided in separate directories. If you have us do this, there will be an additional charge for the service.

When we've finished converting your documents, we'll zip them into one or more files and send them to you by whatever means you prefer. Turnaround time is normally just a few days. Your original documents are permanently deleted from our computers after 30 days unless you specify otherwise.

$80 minimum charge. Document conversion jobs are usually quoted at a flat rate once we know the approximate number and size of the documents involved. Turnaround time is normally a few days. Rush work may incur additional charges. Document conversion jobs are payable in advance unless other arrangements are made.

For document conversion jobs that include multiple directories of documents, there is an additional $5.00 per directory change charge.

For a sight unseen estimate. . .
Q&A Documents -- tell us how many documents you have, about how many pages they are on average, what they contain (general correspondence, plain text, merge fields, aligned columns of text or data, if they contain box or line draw, etc.). For large conversion jobs (50 or more documents), we will gladly convert a couple of your representative documents in advance at no charge so you can see the result.

Email office@quickanswer.com
Phone -  949-722-9127 / Fax - 949-722-9127
Marble Publications, 1927A Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, California 92627
Last modified: April 26, 2016