|★ APPLICATIONS ★ BUREAUTIQUE ★ SANDPIPER FILE MANAGER|8000PLUS) ★|
|Sandpiper File Manager||Applications Bureautique|
According to the results of our reader survey, more PCW users are considering a database as their next software purchase than any other application. Databases vary a lot in facilities, quality and price, and Sandpiper's File Manager comes into the higher price bracket for PCW products.
You can look at File Manager on two levels: the fully fledged database can handle up to three files simultaneously and relate them together to save having the same information recorded twice in different files, it allows a fair amount of 'customising' - you can create a database to fit your particular working method and the way you currently store your information.
If you don't require a tailored filing system, you can build a simple card index style database using the RAPID database generator, supplied with the package. This will probably be enough for most people.
Following the instructions
The first thing you notice about File Manager is the 160 page manual with the nicely drawn Sandpiper logo. The next thing you notice is that the 160 pages are badly duplicated, riddled with spelling mistakes and typos, and arranged in a most peculiar order with the tutorial section at the back.
The main criticism is that the tutorial section concentrates on telling you what keys to press, without giving an overview explaining why you are doing things. Having completed the tutorial* you Ye not left confident that you could define a database for any other application.
Most users will approach File Manager from the RAPID generator, which is intended to take much of the detailed work out of designing a database. It offers only limited facilities when compared with a custom-designed database, but is much easier to use.
The first job is to design the screen display. The program uses a rudimentary screen painter which allows you to type background text straight onto the display, position and define your fields, and add line graphics. There is also a clever routine to outline areas of the screen with boxes.
This originality is marred, though, by unnecessary restrictions. You can't use either of the delete keys, but have to use 0 to insert a space and to delete one. There's no facility to move or copy text and the whole screen appears in the top left hand corner of the display,
When you come to define the fields of your database, there is a wide range of parameters, including, of course , naming the fields. Each field should have a unique name, so chat File Manager can distinguish between them. Unfortunately, no attempt is made to check for duplicate field names, and it is possible to accidentally give different fields the same name.
Having designed your screen, you can call up RAPID to generate the rest of the database specification, This it does quite quickly, leaving you with a number of 'RAPID1 files on your disc. Talking of discs, you have to ring Sandpiper and ask for a special code before you can even use the program. This kind of protection has grown very unpopular, and it's easy to see why. What happens if you buy your software on a Saturday morning?
Long playing records
When using File Manager, each record in the main database is displayed with the layout you designed earlier. You can add a record to the datafile and change it later; you can call it back to the screen by entering the contents of one or more 'key' fields. What you don't appear to be able to do is to browse through your records sequentially. Although you could probably program this into your database, it's not included as standard in a RAPlD-generated file.
You can print your records and save them as screen copies. You can also define selection conditions and calculations which File Manager will use on your file, but to do so you have to learn the full version of the program, rather than relying on RAPID to do much of the work.
The whole system is incredibly hesitant. Even with the small file set up to review the product, File Manager took several seconds to save or decide to print a record. On a large file, this would make the system very slow. Even moving the cursor up and down the screen took an appreciable time, and on one occasion corrupted the screen.
The bottom line
It's important to separate File Manager from its manual If you thought the LocoScript manual was hard to follow, then you won't stand much chance with File Manager's.
It's badly organised and obviously written by someone who is much too close to the product (probably the programmer). It is very hard to work your way around and doesn't clarify several important points on the use of the program.
File Manager itself has a lot of potential, but in its present form fails to realise it because of some silly restrictions, slow operation and annoying working methods. Although the RAPID generator can put a simple database together quickly, you'll need a good knowledge of programming to design a complex customised system with File Manager. If you need this kind of system. Masterfile 8000 is a better bet.