FAQs

How can I merge or add files from another TAP™ system into mine?

The various files used in TAP (antenna libraries, coverage study Task files, etc.) contain interrelated values and ID keys. Simply copying files from one TAP system to another will cause duplication of ID keys and other unexpected conditions that will cause unpredictable operation of TAP, loss of data, and other problems. It is important to use the Merge function when combining files from other TAP system.

For example, if your organization had multiple licensed copies of TAP as separate, single-seat systems, and you want to combine those into a multi-seat system, the Merge function can be used. After the files have been combined on one multi-seat TAP system, all the Fixed and Mobile facilities, coverage studies, intermod studies, etc., from all the single seat systems will be available to all users on the multi-seat system.

Merge vs. Archive

TAP also includes an “Archive Tasks” function in the Configuration menu. The Archive function is intended primarily as a backup for individual area coverage study Tasks (or a group of Tasks). The files related to each Task are stored in a compressed format (a standard “ZIP” file). The archived file can be unzipped and the “Retrieve Archived Tasks” function used to restore the Task (including the Fixed and Mobile facilities, antenna patterns, etc.) to the TAP system.

A main difference between the Archive function and the Merge function described in this article is that the Archive only saves information related to Tasks (area coverage studies, intermod studies, etc.). Fixed Facilities that were not used for area coverage studies (such as test facilities, proposed two-way link sites, etc.) are not saved or recovered with the Archive/Retrieve functions. The Merge function is used to import all information from the external TAP system.

Preparing Files to Merge from the External TAP System

The Merge function reads files from “external” folders (that is, folders that are not part of the current TAP system) and merges the contents of the external files into the running TAP (the “target” system). The function compares the contents of external files with existing files on the target TAP system to try to avoid unnecessary duplication.

For example, if the external files contain an antenna pattern that exactly matches an antenna in an existing TAP antenna library on the target system, that antenna pattern is not duplicated in the Merge. When an area coverage Task using that antenna is merged into the TAP system, all references to the antenna are updated to find the antenna in the existing library on the target system.

The files from the external TAP system must be accessible to the target TAP system, either over a network connection or on a DVD disk, external USB drive, thumb drive, etc.

If you want to merge files from an external TAP system that is not accessible from the target system (say, on a stand-alone PC with a single-seat TAP license), you need to copy the following folders from the external TAP system to a removable device (DVD, USB drive, thumb drive, etc.). All these folders are located in the folder where TAP is installed:

ANTENNAS

  • All folders and files

LINES

  • All folders and files

MAPPING

  • All folders and files

SYSTEM

  • SWFAC_FX.DBF
  • SWFAC_MB.DBF

WORK

  • All folders and files

SURFACE

  • All folders and files

If sufficient space is available on the removable device, you can copy the entire SYSTEM folder if that is more convenient. If space is limited, copy only the files shown above under the SYSTEM folder.

After copying the folders, the removable device can be used to make the folders accessible on the target TAP system:

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Backups

It is strongly recommended that you make backup copies of both the external and target TAP systems before using the Merge function.

Unexpected events (power outages, disk failures) that interrupt the Merge process can leave some TAP files and databases in an indeterminate state. Having backups of both systems is always a good idea, and especially when planning a Merge process.

Merging Files into the Target TAP System

To use the Merge function, from the TAP menu on the target system select the Configuration menu in TAP and select “Merge External TAP Files”:

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In order to use the Merge function, all other instances of any TAP programs must be closed. If you have other TAP functions open (HDCoverage, HDPath, etc.) you must close those instances. If other users on a multi-seat TAP system are using TAP (even just the TAP menu), they must close those instances. An informational message is displayed:

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When all other TAP functions and programs (yours and other users’) have been closed, click OK.

Another confirmation message will be displayed. After clicking OK on this message, your current instance of the TAP menu will also be closed:

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Note that if you attempt to start the merge function while any other TAP programs are still running, a message will be displayed and the merge function will not be run:

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After the TAP Menu has been closed, the Merge program will start:

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Click OK, and the “Merge External TAP Files” form is displayed:

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Use the Browse buttons (“…”) on the right side of the form to find the files and folders to be imported.

Be sure you select files and folders that are external, that is, not a part of the current target TAP system you are importing into. For example, if you select the WORK folder on your current TAP system, the following warning message will be displayed:

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Start by clicking the Browse button for the “Fixed Facility File to Import”:

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Find the files on the removable device from the external TAP system that is now on the target TAP system. Note that for USB drives, thumb drives, etc., the drive letter on the target system may be different from the drive letter used on the external system:

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The Fixed Facility database file is in the SYSTEM folder:

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The program assumes that the folder structure to be imported is the normal structures used by TAP. If this is the case (as described in the “Preparing Files…” section above), you have the option to let the program set the default folder and file names.

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Click “Yes” to accept that option.

The Merge function will fill in the default file and folder names needed on the form:

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If any of the names are incorrect, or if you have a different folder structure on the removable device, use the Browse button for each item to select the correct entry.

To begin the merge process, click the “Merge Files” button:

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Several informational messages will be displayed to indicate the progress of the merge process. Depending on the size of the external TAP system (number of area coverage Tasks, Fixed Facility records, etc.) the merge process can take several minutes to ______.

For example, a merge importing about 600 coverage studies required approximately _______. Be patient, you only need to run the Merge function once for each external system you are importing.

Merge Results

It will be helpful for you to be aware of a few special conditions on the target TAP system resulting from the Merge function.

  • Task ID values on the target system will normally be different from the Task ID for the same Task on the external system. This is usually not an issue because you can use the Task Description to identify the study you want.
  • Fixed Facility and Mobile Facility records on the target system will normally have different record IDs than the same record on the external system. As with Tasks, this should not be an issue if you identify facilities based on the description. If the Merge function finds that an existing facility on the target system exactly matches a facility record being imported by the Merge function from the external system, the existing record will be used. A duplicate record will not be created.
  • Antenna Library and Transmission Line Library records from the external system will be imported as necessary to the target system. If the Merge function finds that an existing antenna or line record on the target system exactly matches a facility record being imported by the Merge function from the external system, the existing record will be used. A duplicate record will not be created.
  • If no matching antenna or line record is found on the target system to correspond to a record being imported from the external system, a new record is added to the target system. A new library file is created on the target system to hold the imported records. The libraries are created in the default locations under the folder where TAP is installed. The same library files created for your first Merge session on the target system will be used again if you import other external TAP systems:
    •  ANTENNAS\AMSI9999.DBF for imported antennas
    • The alias assigned for the file is “Imported Antennas”

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    • LINES\LMSI9999.DBF for imported transmission lines
  • Mapping files for coverage studies (ESRI format shapefiles – .SHP) are imported into a new folder on the target TAP system:
    • \MAPPING\MAP IMPORTS\{map desc}
    • where {map desc} is a folder name based on the Task description.

Note that only the coverage shapefile is imported. Because of the possible variations in other TAP configuration settings for location of shapefiles, etc., the complete map (including roads, county lines, etc.) is not imported. You can create a new map in HDMapper and read the coverage file, then add other shapefile layers for roads, rivers, political boundaries, etc., as desired.

All of these conditions are transparent to TAP because the Merge process resolves any changes made to the information. For example, if a Task that is imported by the Merge process has a different Fixed Facility ID on the target system from the ID value on the external system, the Merge process updates the Fixed Facility references in the imported files.

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