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Roy Longbottom
Utility: Database/Filing
ZX Spectrum 48K

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John Gilbert
Chris Bourne

Roybot describes its Free Text Database as a 'new concept'.

It's an attempt to do something useful with Microdrives which, I suppose, is a new concept. But the result is really just a utility which stores names, addresses and anything in a free format.

The database is similar to a box of cards, each of which stores 512 characters. One cartridge will store 180 cards. The first card in any file is an index with 36 slots. When an entry is made into the file a new card is displayed on the screen and its existence logged in the index.

When you want to access a piece of information the text file is scanned and all cards which relate to the entry are displayed for your perusal. You can then View or Edit them to your hearts' content.

The file index with its reference codes A-Z and a-j is displayed on boot-up. Select a letter and type in the title of your card file when the edit cursor appears at the side of the chosen code. The title is optional but useful.

A list of database commands is displayed at the bottom of the screen and they are accessed in the same way as Sinclair Basic keywords.

You have to format a card before you write on it. Each card can have a line length of 32 characters or less and you can justify text either to the left or right of the display. Line widths can be longer than 32 characters but the characters overlap on to the next screen line and are not reduced or squeezed. If you want to print out a card with a longer line width, say 64 characters, the line would be printed in full without overlap - as long as the printer can cope with that setting of line width.

Editing a card is easy. just select the file name and then the entry you want to change. You might, for instance, have contracted the word 'Wednesday' to 'Wed' and want to expand it. Move the cursor to the end of the text to which you want to add and type in your correction. You can up-date the card in a similar fashion. Point the cursor at the questionable text and use the Delete option to zap it.

Once you're happy with the cards you can scan them for data. Each item has a line number so you simply select the relevant file and page through all the entries related to the key. For instance three cards may hold a reference to the text key so you'd have to page through all three.

The database is written in Basic but uses a series of Basic extensions from Roybot's RamDos operating system (also reviewed, this issue) to increase search speed. The result is an easy-to-use electronic scratchpad which is not particularly innovative. It can be used to store a mass of unrelated data but isn't particularly attract for use by a high flying business executive.

The simplicity is there but the display and store format is inflexible. If you are such a high flyer you'd better forget Free Text Database.

If, however, you're the sort of person who forgets their own name go get it.

Label: Roybot
Author: Roy Longbottom
Price: £9.75
Memory: 48K
Reviewer: John Gilbert


A simplistic database. Useful if you have a mass of data and nowhere to dump it.