Flexifile gives the appearance of a database which has been shoehorned into the CPC6128. Although the PCW8256 will give it plenty of room, the 6128's banked memory is barely sufficient to run it. Flexible uses 11 overlays (sections of program which are loaded from disc when needed). There is over 100K of code involved in the program which doesn't leave you much disc space for data. Y ou can split the main part of the program onto a second disc, but you will still need all the overlays on every data disc you use.
The program is heavily menu-based. Everything you do within :t involves trips down a tree of different menus, each leading to the next level down. This can be quite confusing to start with, though it does prevent you having to learn Control sequences, as with WordStar, for instance.
Setting up a new database requires you to set up your passwords and maths constants before defining your field types, lengths and code names Each code name defines a field to the program and must be lour letters long, with at least two capitals. The field description car. be much longer, and it is this description which appears on the record card. The simple, six-field, instructional database described in the manual produces a file description (stored on your data disc) which is over 19K long. That s before you add any data!
The manual is a topsy-turvy affair, where interesting bits c: information, such as how to get the keys to respond are left till after the tutorial section which uses them. It s printed in blue on blue. to stop photocopying but is patchy with very small print.
Once you've defined your file you can perform calculations between numeric fields by defining formulae which apply to them. This is where the constants come in You can for instance, define one field as the product of another and the current VAT rate. If the VAT rate is stored as a system constant, you can change it at any time and Flexible will recalculate through the file automatically. Very handy.
You can't sort a Flexible database although the manual claims this is unnecessary as new entries are always put into then correct place according to any number of 'key' fields. Unfortunately, this process is never explained.
You can select certain records from a Flexible database to form n 'selection' (subset). The manual goes into a confusing description of quarters'and lines'which does little to explain how you create a selection.
Flexible can't really be recommended, and, due to operational problems with the 6128 version (attributed by Saxon to a hardware problem) this version may well be dropped. Although the database is quite powerful, it is not easy to use and for any but the experienced database user. could prove a considerable headache.
AMSTRAD ACTION #6