American FactFinder can be used to extract multiple tables for a limited number of areas at a time to an output data file. This can be done with the Data Sets or Download Center options within American FactFinder.
The Download Center option usually allows more areas to be selected at one time. The Selected Tables option within the Download Center creates a pipe-delimited output file with a header record (first row or record consisting of field names). The All Tables option within the Download Center creates an output data set in the original ASCII text data ("summary file") format (see below).
Those interested in extracting data for a very large number of areas, may find it quicker to use the ASCII text data files than using American FactFinder, however, the data processing involved is more complex. More information is available below about the ASCII text data files and how to use them. The software enhanced disc products are another option for extracting data for a very large number of areas.
Some advantages of the disc products, compared with the ASCII text data files, include elimination of the need to import data files (that can be large and/or numerous depending on your data requirements) into a program like Access and then link each data file to the data set's geographic file (see previous section). Data extractions can be performed immediately using the software.
The data files on disc are in a proprietary format. The software (Census 2000 Data Engine) does not work with the data in its' original ASCII text data format.
Available output data file formats include comma separated variable (*.csv) with a header record, Microsoft Access™, Microsoft Excel™, dBase III, dBase IV, dBase V, FoxPro 2.6 (*.dbf) and Paradox 5.x (*.db). The software creates a separate text file containing the record layout (field names and descriptions) of the output data file.
Available output report file formats include Hypertext Markup Language (*.html), and Rich Text Format (*.rtf). The software creates one file containing a list of hyperlinks and an (additional) report file for each area selected.
The number of geographic areas and demographic tables that can be selected at one time is limited only by the choice of output data file format. A practical consideration is the optimal use of any additional software used to import the output files created by the software. Census 2000 summary file disc overviews and a tutorial are available.