IDEA 10.3 Webinar Q&A, Part 2

We recently hosted a webinar to launch version 10.3 of CaseWare IDEA Data Analysis software. In part 1 of this series, we answered some of the questions we received from our audience about some of 10.3’s features and enhancements, such as Python integration. These are the answers to the last question from attendees.

Q: You show the ability to change field types from numbers to characters. What about date fields? If something doesn’t come in as a proper date, can the field type be changed to date and be proper?


A: Fields can be changed to a Date/Time field and you can specify the date mask. From the IDEA Help:


Changing Field Types


IDEA can only match fields with the same field type when performing the Join Databases, Append Databases, and Compare Databases tasks. If necessary, change the field types in order to match fields.


Character fields:


  • If you change a Character field that contains at least one alphabetical character to Numeric, the records in that field will default to 0.
  • If you change a Character field that contains numbers with leading zeroes to Numeric, IDEA removes the leading zeroes.


Date/Time fields:


  • If you change a Date or Time field and the mask does not match the data, the data is treated as bad data and displayed as “Error”.
  • To take advantage of the Editable Time feature, you must convert your pre-IDEA Version Nine databases to the current database format.


Making changes to the database through Field Manipulation may cause any output based on that field such as results, drill downs, indices and views to appear incorrect or invalid. Results may be made valid again by returning the settings to what they were when the result was created. To avoid this, instead of changing a field’s definition, append a new field to the database with the required definition. For example instead of changing the type of a field from Character to Numeric, create a new Virtual Numeric field using @Val.




  1. On the Data tab, in the Fields group, click the Field Manipulation dialog box launcher (the arrow in the bottom right corner of the Fields group). The Field Manipulation dialog box appears.
  2. Click the required field name.
  3. In the Type column, click the type description for the required field. A drop-down list appears in the type description.
  4. In the drop-down list, select the required field type. If the original field type is a Virtual field, it can only be changed to another Virtual type, for example Virtual Character to Virtual Date. Editable, Boolean or Multistate fields types cannot be changed, however the data within these fields in the database can be changed. When changing field types, change the following if required: Changing a Numeric field to a Character field; Changing a Character or Numeric field to a Date or Time field; Changing a field type to Numeric.


Enter a mask in the Parameter box based on the format in the field. A Date type is displayed in IDEA in the format YYYY/MM/DD and the Time type is displayed as HH:MM:SS. As time may be presented as time of day or lapsed time, values greater than 24:00:00 are accepted. Numeric values are converted based on the mask provided. For example, the value 700 with a mask SSS would be interpreted as 700 seconds or 11 minutes and 40 seconds and displayed as 00:11:40. 


Examples of a date mask are:


Character/Numeric Field Type  Mask Time Type
20051114 YYYYMMDD  2005/11/14
2005365 YYYYDDD  2005/12/31




Character/Numeric Field Type  Mask Time Type
11:30:25 HH:MM:SS 11:30:25
700 SSS 00:11:40
700 MMM 11:40:00
700  HHH 700:00:00






If the mask does not fit the data in the field, the data will be replaced by “Error” for that field. 


5.        Click OK.


Modified field types are displayed with an asterisk (*).


Missed the IDEA 10.3 launch webinar? Watch the recording of the event for all of the information you need to hear about what’s new in IDEA, and to see some of the most exciting features in action. View the recording now!



About Anu Sood:

Anu Sood is the Director of Product and Corporate Marketing at CaseWare Analytics and is responsible for the company’s global marketing strategy. Prior to CaseWare Analytics, Anu worked in various roles in the high-tech industry and her accomplishments range from writing software for telephone switches to launching a new global satellite communication service. Anu has extensive experience in strategic marketing, corporate communications, demand generation, content marketing, product management, product marketing and technology development.