Table Columns

Column Names and Titles

The column name is unique to its table, and is used in SQL statements. The column title is also unique to its table; it is updatable and is utilized in the user interface (forms, reports, programs, ODBC). Every column must be assigned both a name and a title. For instance, the column which stores an order number has the name ORDNAME and the title Order Number. A title may be easily changed (even translated into another language) as often as necessary. In contrast, a change in column name will require appropriate changes in SQL statements that refer to the column (e.g., in form triggers, compiled programs). As the column name is used in SQL statements, it is subject to the same restrictions as table names (see Rules for Columns).

Column Types

The following table lists all available column types:

Col. Type



Form Col. Type


string of characters


single character




real number




signed integer




date (mm/dd/yy or dd/mm/yy)


date (mm/dd/yyyy or dd/mm/yyyy)


date & time (24-hour clock)




time (24-hour clock)


span (number of hours and minutes)




day of the week



Note: It is important to distinguish between integers (columns of INT type, e.g., QUANT, BALANCE) and strings of digits (columns of CHAR type, e.g., ZIPCODE, ORDNAME, PHONE).

With one exception (see below), you cannot change the type of an existing column. Instead, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Add a new column of the correct type.
  2. Write a short command to filter data from the existing column into the new one.
  3. Delete the old column.

Exception to the above rule: During the development phase, you can convert INT columns to REAL and vice versa, using the Change Number Type program (see Options for Creating and Modifying Tables, Columns and Keys ). However, once a custom development has been installed in your working environment, this operation may fail, in which case you should use the above method instead.

Decimal Precision

Decimal precision (the number of places to display to the right of the decimal point) is optional; it is used in real numbers and shifted integers. A shifted integer is stored in the database as an integer but is displayed as a real number (see, for example, the TQUANT column in the ORDERITEMS table).

Note: When working with shifted integers, use the REALQUANT function to retrieve the actual value.

Rules for Columns

The following rules apply to table columns:

  • Column names are up to 20 characters.
  • Column names must be made up of alphanumeric values and the underline sign (no spaces).
  • Column names must begin with a letter.
  • The column name may not be a reserved word (a list of reserved words appears in the RESERVED form).
  • When adding a new column to a standard table, you must assign the column name a four-letter prefix (e.g., XXXX-CUSTNAME). This should be the same prefix you use for all entities that you add to Priority for the customer in question.
  • Column titles (up to 20 characters, including spaces) must be enclosed in single quotations, e.g., 'Order Number'.
  • Decimal precision can only be specified for a REAL or INT column. Most columns have a decimal precision of 2. To designate a REAL number with indefinite precision, use decimal precision 0; otherwise, the number will be rounded up to a defined precision by INSERT and UPDATE statements. In the case of a shifted integer, decimal precision must be equal to the value of the DECIMAL system constant (or it may be 0, i.e., a regular integer).
  • Modification of a column affects all forms and reports in which the column appears.
  • You cannot delete a column that appears in a form, report or procedure.
  • You can only change the following column types: INT to REAL and vice versa (number conversion), and only during the development phase.
  • Text columns (i.e., CHAR columns) should not exceed a width of 80 characters. Wider columns might not be displayed well in forms, depending on the screen resolution of the user's computer. While there are a few table columns whose width exceeds 80 characters (e.g., the MESSAGE column in the ERRMSGS table), these columns are generally only displayed in reports. If you need a wide text column, it is recommended that you use a sub-level text form instead.
  • You cannot add columns to system tables.

Further Reading