|★ APPLICATIONS ★ DIVERS ★ LOCOFILE ★|
|Locofile|The Amstrad User)||Locofile|Popular Computing Weekly)|
When LocoScript was launched with the Amstrad PCW8266 in 1985, it brought the world of word processing to a new bunch of people. A low-price machine coupled with a full-function word processor was something for which many had been waiting, hence the success of the machine to date.
Since that launch, Locomotive Software has launched a steady stream of quality Loco addons, which extend further the capability of the company's workhorse word-basher - like LocoScript 2, LocoMail, LocoSpell, LocoChar and LocoFont, whose purposes are self-explanatory.
Now a new one has entered the fray and it is probably the one for which many Loco users have been waiting, a database which can be accessed from within LocoScript, called LocoFile.
If, like myself one month ago. you were still using LcoScript version 1.2 or - horror of horrors - version 1.0, you will have to upgrade to LocoScript 2 before you can use LocoFile. That means getting into databas-ing will cost you £24.95 before you have even bought the database.
Since we are dealing with a pop-up database, which works from within LocoScript, the software has to be installed on your everyday LocoScript boot disc, so that it is there when called on. This is easy. An installation program is supplied on the B-side of the LocoFile master disc which is self-booting and requries no jiggery-pokery with CP/M.
Any Loco utility on the boot disc can be retained in addition to LocoFile; the install program asks which you have/want to keep. Holding IiOcoScript, LocoChar, LocoMail and LocoFile on one side of a disc is acceptable, though obviously the 160K LocoSpell dictionary needs room to breathe elsewhere.
Another thing the installer does is detect and prepare LocoFile for the size of M: drive you have - LocoFile uses 24K of the M: drive. In addition, it guides the user through updating font files if other than the standard printer typefaces are used.
The database is remarkably simple to understand and accessing/designing card indices is easy. Compared to something like Cardbox on the PCW, it is not an understatement to describe this as a dream. Figure one shows a typical record card pulled up into a LocoScript document.
To access the database, Locomotive has modified the fl for ACTIONS menu to include RUN LOCO-FILE, selection of which takes the user back to the LocoScript disc manager - the front screen - where a datafile from which records are required is selected. There is a time when this is not the procedure; if records have been used and the user has then reverted to word processing, then decides he wants the data again, running LocoFile will take you back automatically to the last file on which you worked. Initially I thought this a poor idea but it proved to be a useful feature; the likelihood is that it is the information you want.
Similarly, when selecting a datafile afresh, the last record looked at will appear first
If LocoFile returns the user to a file which is not required, entering SELECT NEW FILE on the modified fl for ACTIONS menu which appears when LocoFile is running allows the user to pick up a new datafile with the familiar LocoScript disc manager cursor.
ENTER takes the user into the record stack of the datafile, which can be indexed by up to eight of the maximum 50 items which can be placed on each card.
Few users would need to document 60 items on each entry but if they did it is comforting to note that designing the cards is not too tortuous. Selecting CREATE LOCOFILE DATA from the disc manager screen gives a blank card which can be designed with the aid of grids in the LocoFile manual, which help with field positioning. Once the layout is complete, move to indexing, to which a chapter in the manual is devoted, and determine the best strategy for the data in question.
For basic databasing activities. Locomotive, true to style, has provided sqmple card layouts which cover most day-to-day applications. They cover general-purpose address/telephone stores and many which will interface with the mail-merge program LocoMail, a subject which also merits a chapter in the 140-page manual.
Figure 3... and it's back to the disc manager to select a database.
For eliminating wasted space when records are deleted from a file, LocoFile gives the option of "squashing" the file, thus saving disc space. This does not entirely eliminate space created when files or items are deleted but it minimises it. One feature of LocoFile is that the memory occupied by a record is dependent solely on how much information it contains: the record is not mapped into memory at a set size. I have no hesitation in recommending LocoFile to Locophiles every where.
Paul Marks , PopularComputingWeekly860515