|★ APPLICATIONS ★ BUREAUTIQUE ★ SMARTCARD|8000Plus) ★|
Smartcard is a conventional card index database with good sorting and searching facilities. It can handle up to 32000 cards, although you're likely to run out of space on the disc to store the cards long before then, of course.
The package is supplied as a 3" disc and an A4 laser printed manual which is well written and informative, and bound in a plastic wallet.
Running a database with Smartcard can be divided into three main areas: defining the record card, editing the card to add and amend data, and printing reports containing that information.
Defining the card
The first thing you have to do is to define the fields, or data items on your record card. Smartcard is run by a series of menus, and selections from these menus define the title, type and length of each field. You can have up to 26 fields on a record and each field may be any of three types: 'X', 'L' or 'N'.
Type X fields form the majority on most record cards, as they can contain up to 64 alphanumeric characters. Any field which doesn't have to take a number is normally made type X.
Type L fields are used for most numbers, including money values, and can be up to 12 digits long, with two decimal places. This should be large enough for anyone.
Type N fields are used for smaller whole numbers, up to a value of 9999. This type of field is ideal for serial numbers.
Four of the fields on any record can be defined as 'calculation' fields. Each calculation is governed by a formula, which is made up of field letters and the four arithmetic operators. So, for instance, the formula A+B/D might be assigned to field H. Whenever values are then typed into fields A, B and D of a record, the corresponding value of field H is calculated and displayed automatically.
You can move fields around the card while you're defining it, and alter the length of X fields, but once you start adding information to your file, the record design is fixed.
There is also no way of adding background text to the card, for notes or titles, and each field name (the words 'SURNAME' or 'TEL NO') is restricted to ten uppercase characters only.
Filling the box
Once you've defined your record card, you can start to add data to it by selecting the 'Main updating facilities' option from the main menu. A blank record card is displayed and a horizontal menu at the foot of the screen offers a number of options. Add and Update are two of the most immediately useful, and each of them allow you to move through the fields of your record, changing or adding data.
Each file is indexed on one of three fields (you may specify which), and the records are presented in that order. You can switch between these indexes at any time so, for instance, you might start by arranging the file in Surname order, and then switch to Town or County if it became more useful.
You can scan through the records backwards or forwards, and move straight to the beginning or end of the file. You can also go to a specified record by entering the contents of its current index field. Smartcard holds a number of records at a time in memory, so it doesn't always need to go to the disc to find a record.
In addition to Smartcard's sort and search features, you can also select a subset of records for viewing or printing out. This is done on a separate screen, and you can specify up to five fields which the database will check before presenting the record. This is a very versatile system, and doesn't seem to slow the database down appreciably.
When it comes to printing out the information in your file, Smartcard isn't as strong as it is in other areas. You can define the length and width of the printed page, which fields are to be printed from each record and even which codes are required to set the typeface you want to use. What you can't do, though, is to add any text to your report (other than a title).
Fair enough, it is only a database after all, and those kind of functions should be provided by a word processor. That argument would be OK if it were not for the fact that you can't export data from Smartcard to a disc file. Without this facility, you can't incorporate data from a Smartcard file into any word processed document, for example to form the basis of a mailmerger system.
It's a shame this area of the program isn't up to the standard of the rest, as it does limit its range of application.
Smartcard is a fast, versatile datatase, which is rather easier to use than to describe. There are a couple of features which are not quite as friendly as the rest, such as the inability to put extra text on the record card, and the short length of field titles which force abbreviations in many cases.
Perhaps more important is the lack of any link between Smartcard and word processors such as LocoScript, Protext or WordStar. You can't export the data in your file so that it can be mail-merged to produce form letters or reports, and the reporting facilities with the program are limited.
If you just want a simple card-index replacement, with sophisticated searching and sorting. Smartcard is well up with the best.