For frequent users of the Report Builder tool to create queries, you most likely have learned that not all fields in the database are created equal. The account base field or date field in one file can be formatted as a numerical value, and in another file as an ISO-formatted date or an alpha numeric value. With all of these different formats, it can be hard to know what to look for and how to utilize each file.
With that being said, your first question after reading my blog title was probably: What in the world is a ‘packed’ field, and why should I have to watch for it? If you’re one of the credit unions utilizing (or soon to be utilizing) Member Connect tools in the database, then this message is directed especially towards you.
‘Packed’ fields in CU*BASE look very similar to ‘signed’ fields on the surface, but they are very different in functionality. Signed account base fields will work for Member Connect Tools, allowing you to use them to generate sales trackers or send Online Banking or email messages. Packed account base fields do not work with Member Connect tools. Packed accounts will appear as though they are working when using the tool, only to find out later on that you never actually generated any trackers or sent any messages.
How can we tell the different between the two? We’ll use two fairly commonly used files with the account base field present as an example: MASTER and OPENDLF. Both appear as though they are 9 digits in length and have a 0 present in the decimal place indicator for the field when looking at the file in Report Builder:
If you’re thinking the tell lies solely in the field name, you wouldn’t be correct just yet. The title of the field name doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be formatted or function in a different way than the field in another file, and field names aren’t typically the same across every file for the same information. The tell actually lies in looking at the structure from an ‘outside’ perspective, by using the Database Search Assistant Tool (#332).
These packed fields in the database are labeled as Decimal, while the signed fields are labeled as Numeric:
What is the best resolution? There are two options, the easiest one being to always match with a ‘safe’ file (like MASTER) to ensure that you are utilizing a signed account base field. Or, you can try utilizing a similar source file (like CRBCSH instead of OPENDLF) to communicate with your desired list of members in Member Connect tools.