For users of askSam: A Free-form Information Manager

Discuss MyInfo and get help here
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For users of askSam: A Free-form Information Manager

Post by mfelix » Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:47 pm

On the askSam mailing list there is a discussion under way regarding alternatives to askSam.
I've posted the following mail onto that list and invited the participants to join us here in the forum to discuss MyInfo as a serious alternative. Of course everyone else is invited !

--- 8< -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear all,

most of us use askSam since many years and I think most of us wish it
would be more actively developed. I've found an alternative to askSam
and I've been using it now for 2 years. It works for me and it could
probably work for some of you as well.

The software is called "MyInfo" ( It is not a file
indexer, it is more suitable for information that you collect by
yourself either by copying or typing it yourself. There are file
import options as well but it does not make sense to import your
complete hard disk. I'll explain the reason for this later on.

One thing that I like very much about MyInfo is that it is really
tree-based, i.e. you can structure you information in a database by
moving it around the tree with the mouse or the keyboard. You can
decided which additional fields you want to see in the tree and you
can assign state icons to your documents, set reminder dates or add
tags to them. This is very different to the way askSam works with its
tree view, that is basically just interpreting the contents of fields
to build a tree. This can, however, be very helpful it you import a
lot of data that you don't really know and build different navigation
trees for it. But that's not my daily business and I'm still happy to
use askSam for this task.

Then there's the editor that has true support for tables, even when
the tables are pasted in from the clipboard. No need to say more...

Searching for information is sufficient for me but is not yet on a par
with askSam: there are wild card searches, boolean and proximity
searches against either he current database, all open databases or all
databases. There is no such feature as text reports or the Show
command, although there are saved searches and filtering views that
help you out in some cases.

The software is very stable and is actively developed. The database
file handling, however, is not as sophisticated as it could be:
databases are loaded into memory completely. That's why I would not
recommend importing your complete disk. With today's hardware you can
do a lot in memory and there are reports of people having huge
database. Personally my biggest database is around 40 megabyte and
that works just fine.

Importing files: there are import filters for several file formats. An
especially nice feature is to import documents with an outline
structure in MS Word; the tree will be created accordingly.
Coming from askSam I was missing the possibility to import documents
from a single file based upon a document delimiter and to specify
field names anywhere I wanted.

Since MyInfo offers an API to import and export documents I decided to
develop a plugin that lets me do just that. So now I can import files
in the manner I could do with askSam and I could also import my
favourite askSam databases into MyInfo. It's actually a two step
process: export from askSam to a single file and import into MyInfo.
There's a detailed documentation how the plugin works available as a
MyInfo database. I've exported it into a pdf and attached it to this

In case you're interested you can download the plugin here:

There is also a forum ( where you can find me to discuss.
I've opened a new topic so that you can just jump into the discussion.

Please let me know what you think about MyInfo,


--- 8< -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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Post by ozstar » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:32 am


I know you must be busy and apologise for this post which I feel I have to make quite long to make my problem clear.

Firstly I have been using AskSam for many years since it's start and before that a dos program called Memory Mate.

We use it in it's most simplified form I'm sure.

We just open a blank page type stuff about say, a particular show we are promoting. We update this page as the days go by.

We open another page about another show and do the same updating and then maybe a page about a plumber and another with our power bills etc.

None of these are related except maybe there is a guy named Jim who is the plumber and the sound guy in a show.

We need to find one of their telephone numbers so put in a search for Jim. The two files come up and we have what we want.

There is no form to the pages, just an empty page where we type into anywhere.

Anyway that is the only way we use it and it has been great in this free form way.

I want to get something that is ongoing and has a future which we won't have to sell the care to buy.

MyInfo and ConnectedText are the two we have come down to and this is winning the race especially with the AskSam import you have. Just great!!

I have installed MyInfo and exported the 1411 documents we have in Asksam (1989k) using your example of ***_EOD_***.
I placed the sample ini file in the asksam dir where the export was, naming it exactly the same as the .txt file.

I did the import however it says only 33 files were imported. They were all perfectly imported and list correctly however I am not sure why the rest were not included.

I looked at the export.txt file and it looks like the 1411 files are there and they all have the ***_EOD_*** at the end/beginning of each doco.

Can you please tell me where I may be going wrong.

My computer crashed and for some reason cannot do a search in AskSam anymore as it just freezes when i try. It does open and allow me to export etc.

Because of this I am really stressed to get info out from our file which is used every day.

Can't wait to get Myinfo and get gping again.

Many thanks again for your time.


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Post by mfelix » Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:43 pm

Hi Oz, great to hear from somebody using the askSam plugin !
Over at the askSam mailing list there is a lot of moaning and groaning going on, but nobody seems poised to make the jump to MyInfo. Only time will tell...

Regarding your problem: it is difficult to judge from a distance. In my tests I've imported hundreds of documents or even more, so basically it is working.
There is one thing you could check (I'm quoting from the docu of the plugin when importing from Lotus Notes): ... Be aware though that it is advisable to load the export file into a text editor and search for any occurences of the 0x1A character. I have no idea why Notes is inserting this character from time to time, but unfortunately this stops the import into MyInfo. Replace all occurences with a space.
Can you do this as a start ?

I assume you're using v1.3 of the plugin. I have version 1.4 ready, but that has no relevant changes in this area, so if you don't find the character mentioned above you could send me the import file (or parts of it) and I would test it out for you.

Regards, Felix

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Location: Sydney Oz

Post by ozstar » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:19 am

Hi Felix,

Many thanks for the reply.

I looked for the 0x1A character however there weren't any.

I decided to look and see what was around the end of the 33rd file where it stopped.

Sure enough I found two instances of ***_EOD_*** straight after each other without any other characters in between.


I figured that maybe the empty file before the next ***_EOD_*** was confusing it so I decided to check the whole 1400 doc file.

Fortunately I did as I found quite a few instances of the same thing occurring. (I guess they were black pages in AskSam)

I deleted all the extra ones and re did the import. Sure enough, it worked and 1200 or so came in.

I would say it brought everything in this time as the last doc in the txt file was there.

So it looks like one has to check for those double ***_EOD_*** inserts.

I am not sure what version I have, just downloaded it 2 days ago from the Milenix Plug in area.

I will do some more testing and if all successful with MyInfo, will make some posts where I think AskSam users are, as I know there is a lot of doubt as to what is a replacement for AskSam. Of course I note that many use it for different things which maybe MyInfo have not included.

Anyway so far me me, it looks like I have found mine.

Thanks for the help and good luck with whatever you may be up to!! :-)


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Post by mfelix » Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:54 pm

Yep. that's a bug I could reproduce easily. I will fix it and pack it into version 1.4.
For the time being please remove the duplicate end-of-document markers or place a space in-between if you want the empty docs imported.

To find out about the version of plugins use the "Tools/Add-ons..." menu and have a look at the Plug Info.

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Location: Sydney Oz

Post by ozstar » Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:35 pm

Yes that's great.

It was 1.3. Didn't really notice the umber before just so glad to see there actually was an AskSam importer :-)

Thanks Felix really appreciate you add on and help.


MyInfo Support
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Post by Petko » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:17 am

Felix just updated the askSam Import plugin.

You can find it here: ... sam-import

Here is what was changed in the latest version (1.4)
  • Fix: Empty documents stopped the import process.
  • Fix: Unterminated documents at the end of the import file caused endless loop.
  • New: TrimSpaces option, see General import settings
  • New: Importing Emails from Lotus Notes
  • New: Tips on how to import PDF Files

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Post by Petko » Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:48 pm

Felix just updated the askSam Import plugin.

You can find it here: ... sam-import

Here is what was changed in the latest version (1.5)
  • New: InsertParentDoc option, see General import settings
  • Fix: Updated documentation in supported MyInfo date attributes, see MyInfo built-in
  • Fix: Updated documentation about installing the plugin.
We've also updated MyInfo to include askSam like navigation controls in the status bar and entry forms in MyInfo 6.30.

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Post by James » Fri May 09, 2014 7:23 pm

The AskSam plugin requires files exported from AskSam with an .ini file.

We are not able to export from AskSam (old machine crashed, and now we're on Windows 8.1).
On a chance, we saved an .ask file to .txt (.ask files opened in Notepad have the text in between
all the AskSam control characters) and asked MyInfo to import. That's when you asked
for an .ini file.

So, we're wondering if we could get a copy of a basic .ini file, so we could give it the most general
parms, and see if with that .ini file MyInfo can recover any of our data.

We've tried a lot of other workarounds (AskSam7 on Windows 8.1 didn't work; can't run a virtual
machine on Windows 8.1 without spending a bundle of case to upgrade to 8.1 Pro; and manually
formatting the .ask data in a .txt or .doc file is going to require many hours if we have to that) and,
at present, it appears MyInfo can't help either.

Thank you,

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Post by mfelix » Fri May 09, 2014 7:32 pm

James, the ini file is a file that you create manually in a text editor. It is not something that askSam creates. The details are all explained in the documentation of the askSam FreeForm plugin that you can download from the MyInfo Website.
Please let me know whether this is good enough for you.
I can certainly help you create the ini file in case you run into problems.
askSam is still runnning fine on my Windows 7 machine, so I could also do an export for you.


MyInfo Support
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Post by Petko » Sat May 10, 2014 10:31 am

James, all you need to do is:
  • copy the default .ini file from C:\Users\{user name}\AppData\Roaming\Milenix\MyInfo\4\Plugins\askSam Import to the same location your askSam file is*
  • rename it as the askSam exported file (if it is export.txt, then the ini should be export.txt.ini)
  • change the DocSeparator field to this used when you exported the askSam file
The only problem that I can see is that you've probably didn't specify document separator when exporting from askSam. If that is true, then MyInfo can't decide where one of the documents ends and where starts the next one.
You can add that separator manually, but I guess it will be too cumbersome, if there are many documents.. In this case, you can send the original askSam file as mfelix proposed, so he can export it for you.

mfelix, if I am missing something here, please correct me :)

* - if you have no administrative access to the Users folders on your computer, you can download the plugin and extract the .ini file from there

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Post by James » Wed May 14, 2014 3:48 am

mfelix and petco,

Thank you for following up. All we have are native ASK files recovered from the old machine, which will not start, so no exports. We open .ask in Notepad and save as .txt.

We did not pay sufficient attention to the plugin documentation, but now we understand about the .ini file.

Some of the instructions in the .ini file confuse us - for example, one parm reads DocSeparator=***_EOD_*** and while we expect "Document" is the separator, we can't tell if we should specify DocSeparator=***_Document_*** or DocSeparator=Document

We have a sample NOTES3.ASK.txt file, a NOTES3.ASK.txt.ini file (copied from your example), and a Personae (start).pdf of a selected portion of the NOTES3.ASK.txt file which shows how the data is supposed to appear. The location in the .ask.txt file where the .pdf text begins is flagged bold/red in the ask.txt file for ease of location.

Could one of you take a quick look at these files and suggest how best to specify the .ini parms? From that example, we can then create other .ini files for the rest of the data we have held captive in AskSam.

Best regards,

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Post by mfelix » Wed May 14, 2014 6:56 pm


I will certainly have a look at the files. I'll send you a private message with my email address.


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Post by James » Wed May 21, 2014 4:44 pm

H'lo Felix,

Thank you for your gracious offer to convert our .ask files. We now have all the files in our new install of MyInfo. Well done, and thank you!

We have reviewed all the, Topics, and they appear quite serviceable. We added one link that was originally in the AskSam "file," and that works well. The files exported to rtf come up for us in Word 2007, complete with the Document titles as a style, which Word shows in a popup as the file is scrolled through - slick.

We read Paul Miller's review and poked around in My Info at the same time, so we have a better feel now for it's capability. Clearly MI has features that AskSam needed (better formatting, for example, and awareness of the mouse wheel, etc.), so that will be an advance.

MI handles Chinese writing as it should, and that's another plus - we lost that facility when our version of AskSam migrated forward over the years...decades.

In all, MI looks like it will be a suitable replacement, and advance over, AskSam, especially if MI stays around longer (we will be backing up the MI Topics to "vanilla" formats regularly so that they are not dependent on another proprietary format). Fifty dollars is a bargain for MI and your help with this recovery.

Best regards,
James :D

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Post by Bobo » Wed Dec 24, 2014 5:01 am

Oz and Felix,

Amazing. I just have to say that I have the same history as Felix (November 14, 2012). I began with Memory Mate (DOS-based), then about 19 years ago moved to askSam. I use it just like Felix does. Totally freeform, no fields. Been adding document by document for all these years.

Does askSam still exist? Do they still support their great software? I cannot get them to reply to me?

Okay, maybe it is on to MyInfo. Is MyInfo being actively supported? For the many years of the near future. If I am going to move over to MyInfo, how do I get started? I have about 8,000 documents in one 22MB file.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you so much, from the US.

Merry Christmas.


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