FAQs and User Tips


If you're a new or even a longtime user of Realms of Wonder, hopefully you will find answers to questions you may have, as well as tips to make your entire Realms of Wonder experience more efficient and enjoyable (some clearly less informed people may suggest to those of us who "enjoy" entering information about comic books into a computer, that we actually get a life. But, what do they know).

The Questions

  1. Is Realms an Encyclopedia of Comics?

  2. What's the best way to get my collection information into Realms?

  3. Does it have a Price Guide Built In? 

  4. I currently use other software to keep track of my collection. I really don't want to type everything over again. Can I import my data into Realms of Wonder?
     
  5. When I try to switch titles after entering a record, I get very strange results - errors, the issue ends up under the wrong title - what's going on????

  6. When I first go into Realms, almost all the drop down list boxes are empty. Is that the way it's supposed to be?
     
  7. In a related question, if I type an incorrect entry into a drop down list box, it shows up on the list. How do I get rid of it?
     
  8. What about Creative Team Entries?  I can't seem to get rid of the incorrect entries.

  9. I buy comics every week and spend a lot of time entering them all each week, or every couple of weeks. What can I do to make the data entry portion easier and faster?
     
  10. What's the quickest, easiest way to to update the values of my collection?
     
  11. I've been using Realms for a while, and everything's been fine. When I tried to start it up today, it gave me a message that said "Database is corrupt" (awfully ominous sounding, isn't it?). What does that mean, and how can I fix it?

The Answers

Is Realms an Encyclopedia of Comics?

Realms is NOT an encyclopedia / on-line history of comics.  It is designed to track your collection(s).  Basically, you download an empty database at first.
 
However, there is now a web download feature which allows you to pull data from the web.   Click here for info about the most efficient way to get data into Realms.
 
In addition to this, Realms has A LOT ease of entry features.  Between these, getting info into Realms should be fairly simple.
 

What's the best way to get my collection information into Realms?

Click here for a fairly detailed explanation of the best way (IMHO) to get your data into Realms

Does it have a Price Guide Built In?

Realms is not affiliated with any publisher, price guide, etc.  So, there is no "built in" price guide.  There is an absolutely free, separate, stand alone utility available that will update the values in your collection automatically.  Contact me for more info on that

After I download the demo version, when I try to unzip the ROW50.EXE file, it tells me the download was incomplete or the file is corrupt.  What do I do?

Apparantly, some browsers restrict the size of files you download.  I have yet to be able to actually verify this, or find where this is set (so if you know, please tell me), but if you run into this, try downloading the 3 pieces of the installation instead.  The largest of the 3 pieces is just over 7 meg, and that seems to make it for most people.
 
Another good option is to download one of the utilities that speeds up your download, and picks up where downloads left off, if it doesn't finish.  Real Download Basic (it's free) is the one I use.
 
If it still doesn't work, try another browser if you have one.  Finally, if all else fails, let me know, and I'll send it to you on CD or Zip Disk.

I currently use other software to keep track of my collection. I really don't want to type everything over again. Can I import my data into Realms of Wonder?

I don't know all the file layouts for the other software products, and many people use home grown spreadsheets and the like, so I couldn't build in an import feature. However, if your current software can export your data to any standard format (text delimited, fixed length text, Excel, Access, etc.,), and you send me your data, I'll write a custom program for you and import your data into Realms and send it back to you. I've done this for a number of people using several different software packages, including Comic Collector, and it seems to work out well.
 
If you have Comic Collector 3.0 or better, zip and send me the COMIC.MDB file.  The import for that version is fully automated.  Earlier versions of CC seem to always produce slightly different files, so I have to customize the import each time, si it takes a little longer.

When I try to switch titles after entering a record, I get very strange results - errors, the issue ends up under the wrong title - what's going on????

It's very important that you understand how to change the "active title" in Realms.   Otherwise, the program cannot tell if you are trying to switch titles, or change the title on an existing record.  Click here for a detailed write-up on how to switch active titles.

When I first go into Realms, almost all the drop down list boxes are empty. Is that the way it's supposed to be?

Yes it is. I wrote Realms to be as flexible as possible, without me deciding what you could enter and what you couldn't. Therefore, the drop down list boxes fill themselves in as you enter data.
 
For example, let's say you are entering you're very first title, "Batman" into Realms. After typing "Batman" into the Title field, you tab to the Publisher field, which has no entries in the list box. So, you type in "DC". As soon as you leave that field, Realms will add "DC" to the list, so the next time you go to the Publisher field, you can type it in, or select it from the list. Each time you type in an entry, Realms checks to see if it is already on the list, and if not, it adds it.

In a related question, if I type an incorrect entry into a drop down list box, it shows up on the list. How do I get rid of it?

Ok, this is one that`s a little confusing, but not too bad. When you type an entry into a drop down list box, Realms checks to see if it is there already, and if it`s not, Realms adds it as a new entry. It really has no way of telling a "good" entry from a "bad" one.

For example, suppose I was trying to type "Zero Hour" into the Crossover field on the Issue Detail window. I accidentally type "Hero Hour" and don`t notice it until after I leave that field. If I go back and correct it, I will now have both "Zero Hour" and "Hero Hour" on the list. I want to get rid of "Hero Hour" but don`t seem to be able to. Here`s How:

Click the File menu, and select "Build Lookup Files". This option scans you`re entire collection for all values that are actually used by any record, and then updates all the list boxes. In the above example, it would only find "Zero Hour" as being actually entered in the crossover field (assuming you corrected it), so "Hero Hour" would no longer appear in the list since no record actually used "Hero Hour" as a crossover.

If what you consider to be a bad entry still shows up after you run the "Build Lookup Files" option, that means it is being used by at least one record. Use the Find option off of the Summary window to find any issues using that entry. Then correct it, and run the option again.

It`s a good idea, though not necessary, to run this option every once in a while just to clean things up, but it may take a few minutes, based on the size of your collection.

Note:  The Creative Team entries work differently - see the next question.

What about Creative Team and Appearance entries?  I can't seem to get rid of the incorrect entries.


I'm sure everybody incorrectly types in creative team members and/or appearances from time to time. You can't directly delete entries from the drop down list, so how do you get rid of them?

Basically, you have to correct the incorrect entries on the records containing them.

Ok, so the next obvious question is how do you find which records have the incorrect entries. You actually have 2 options.

As an example, let's assume you discovered that "Garth Ennis" is in the drop down list for writers as "Garth Enis".

Option1:  Using the Find option on the Summary window  

Bring up the Summary window. Click the Find button. In the Creative Team field (or Appearances field), type in the incorrect entry surrounded by an asterisk on each side.  In our example, you would enter *Garth Enis* in the Creative Team field of the Find window, off the Summary window.

Click the Find (and) button. The Summary window will then list all the issues that have "Garth Enis" somewhere within the creative team. Click on each row, then right mouse click, then choose Creative Team from the pop-up menu. When the Creative Team window appears, you will see the incorrect entry. Fix it.

Once they are all done, the next time you bring up the Creative Team window, the bad entry should be gone.

This process works, but can be pretty tedious if their are a lot of records to fix.


Option 2:  Using the Batch Edit window  

This is the preferred method. From the Summary window, click the Batch Edit button. On the Batch Edit window, select "Creative Team Member" from the Select Column drop down list box.

Then, click "Garth Enis" (the incorrect entry) from the Current Value list box.

Then, type in "Garth Ennis" into the Change To field. Then click the Replace Data button.

Realms will replace all the incorrect entries with the corrected ones.

An important word of warning: Be very careful with the Batch Edit process. It will do what you tell it to do, so if you tell it to replace the wrong data, it will (I think someone once said "With great power comes great responsibility").

I always advise making a backup of your data before using the Batch Edit function.

Fixing Appearances errors using Batch Edit works exactly the same way.

 

I buy comics every week and spend a lot of time entering them all each week, or every couple of weeks. What can I do to make the data entry portion easier and faster?

Ok, there are a couple of options that can really help here. The first, and biggest time saver, is the Duplicate function on the Comic Detail window. You should really only have to type all the data for an issue on the very first issue you enter for a particular title.

 

For example, suppose I just purchased the first 20 issues of "The Sandman", and prior to that I had none, and therefore had no records for this title entered in Realms. I will have to type in all the data for the first issue (after entering the title in the Title Maintenance window, of course). It's a good idea to enter the oldest issues first.

Once I've entered and saved that record (Issue #1, in our example), all I have to do for the next issue is click the "Dup" button, which will copy all the information (that I thought made sense to copy) from Issue #1, and create a new record for issue #2 (yes, it will automatically increment the issue number and date). Then, go ahead and edit any fields that should be changed or are not copied over (like Location, which I assumed would change - I'm not sure if that's a good assumption or not). In many cases, you can enter an entire issue with only a couple of keystrokes.

I use the duplicate feature more than any other in Realms, by far.

The next time saver is to set the Default Purchase and/or Value Effective dates on either the Comic Detail or Collection Summary List window.

Click the appropriate menu option, either "Comic Details", or "Summary List", depending which window you're on. Then select the "Set Default Dates" option. This will bring up the Default Dates window. Enter the default purchase date and/or the default value effective date.

For example, I pick up my comics every Thursday, so when I enter that weeks comics, I set the default purchase date equal to Thursday's date, and the default value effective date equal to the issue date of the latest issue of Wizard, which is the price guide I use. Now, whenever Realms creates a new record or copies an existing one, it will use the default values.

What's the quickest, easiest way to update the values of the issues in my collection?

If you want to do this manually, here's how I would do it.  You'll have to decide if you think that's the best way to do it.
 

Each month I would update the values of my collection using the latest issue of Wizard, or whatever price guide you choose. You can use any price guide you wish. Most, Wizard included, highlight the issues that have changed in value (Wizard uses color coding), so it's very easy to identify which records need to be changed.

I find it easiest to update the values from the Summary List window. First thing I do is set the default value effective date (see question 3) to the issue date of the current Wizard issue.

Then, title by title, using the Find Issues window (click the "Find" button on the Summary List window to bring it up), I select all the issues I own for each title. For example, I know that I have some issues of Amazing Adventures of Spiderman in my collection. I scan Wizard and see that some of the AAS issues have changed in value (if none have, I can skip this title and go to the next one). So I click the "Find" button, and enter "Amazing*" in the Comic Title field of the Find Issues window. Then I click the "Find (And)" button (or press the "Enter" key). This will bring up all the issues I own that begin with the word "Amazing". Just a note: the Find Issues window remains visible, so just slide it out of the way, which is faster than constantly loading and unloading it.

Now, I check Wizard and see that issues 299, 300 and 315 have increased in value. Assuming I have those issues in the list, I simply find them, scroll right until I find the "Current Value" column, and enter the new value in the appropriate cell. I can either click the "Save" button , or move to another row to save the changes. All the related value fields will be updated automatically. Because I set the default effective date earlier, that field will also be updated properly. So, by entering just one field on each row, I update all the necessary fields. Then, after updating each of the rows whose value has changed, I move on to the next title. I can usually update my entire collection in about 20 minutes.

The other option is to take advantage of a absoluely free, stand alone utility that will update the values automatically for you.  Contact me if you have questions about this option.

I've been using Realms for a while, and everything's been fine. When I tried to start it up today, it gave me a message that said "Database is corrupt" (awfully ominous sounding, isn't it?). What does that mean, and how can I fix it?

OK, this can be a bit unnerving when you firts see it, but in most cases, it's fixable.
 
Realms of Wonder uses an Access database to hold all your data. The file is named REALMS50.MDB (REALMS40.MDB for the 16 bit version).

 

Anyway, Access databases (and DBase databases, and I'm sure others) can be corrupted. Every case I know of is caused by the computer being turned off or rebooted while the application using the database (Realms of Wonder in this case) is still running.

Important rule #1: Don't shut off your machine without properly exiting Windows.

I realize at times (like when your machine locks up) there is nothing you can do about it, but try to avoid it at all costs. Now, here's the deal to fix it.

If you can open Realms and choose another collection file, or get by any error messages, you can choose Repair Database from the Utilities menu.  That should fix it.

If you can't get into Realms because the file is corrupt and it won't let you go any further, you can download a utility here that will repair the database.

If you have further questions you would like to see addressed here, please let me know (E-Mail me here), and I'll add it to this page. 

The Value update uses several criteria to "match" to the appropriate record. First, the titles must be linked via the Match window.

Second, the VALUE EFFECTIVE DATE on the record must be LESS THAN THE PRICE GUIDE DATE on the update database. That's usually the one that people miss.

<< Thanks that did the trick for me. Is there a way to have ROW skip a particular issue when it is updating? (i.e. Gen13 #1, 2nd series There are multiple covers and it seems the value program prompts you on every one). >>

A couple of options here.

First, Realms only updates the issues in the list. So, you can use the Find button, to restrict the list to anything you want.

Second, if you turn the "Upd Non-Numeric Issue #sThat match" checkbox on, on the Options window, it will only update the non-numeric issues where the issue numbers actually match each other. Otherwise, Realms propmpts you for any issues where the numeric part of the issue number matches.

Then, after you do that, select the "Show Issues Not Yet Updated" and the "Show non-numeric issues only" options and turn off the option above, and run it again. That should get any others where the issue number doesn't match. You will be prompted in those cases, but it should reduce the number of "repeat" prompts.

 

<< I have had this problem a couple of time in the last few days, but I was able to get around it by deleting the title then re-entering it, and that worked fine. But this won't work now. Any idea what is wrong? >>

You simply have the filter option set to something that is excluding these titles. My guess is you have it set to include active titles only, and these titles all have tha active indicator tirned off. Or, you are restricting it to only certain publishers. Make sure to select them all if that is what you want. Click the filter button on the detail window (right next to the title), and set it to include all titles (which is the default).

<< I am wondering if I can create a list of comics I have entered into Realms That I have not added a picture for, so I know what issues I need to scan or look for on the net. >>

The easiest way is to go to the summary window. Click Find. Scroll down until you see the "Primary Image" field. Enter the word "blank" (no quotes) in that field, and then click "Find (and)". That will bring up all the issues with no image associated in the Summary window.

Then move or hide any columns you want (save this as a view if you plan to reuse). Then, right now, export the data. I have a fix for the print button, but it's in the version I am currently working on, so the print button doesn't work on your version.

But, if you export to an htm file, and then open it in just about anything (your browser, Word, Excel, etc.), you can print from there.