SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW
A survey of extras
UNLIKE GAMES software which, in general, achieves volume sales rapidly before virtually disappearing, applications software tends to sell steadily and have a much longer life. Many applications programs are developed and improved during their life. With the Sinclair Business User section just over a year old it is a good time to look at the updates to some of the programs we have reviewed.
The very first review in December 1983 was of the OCP Finance Manager for the 48K Spectrum. That has been upgraded to include microdrive compatibility, allowing both the program and data to be saved separately to face. That set up routine is only used when loading from the original tape.
Saving the program - to tape or microdrive - also saves the printer interface codes to give a personalised the program the option of cataloguing a cartridge is not included.
The +80 version of the program, for use with full-sized printers, has had a further refinement added. Previously the program could only be used if you had the Kempston Centronics interface, now it has been programmed to offer a choice of 15 different interfaces - ten Centronics and five RS232 - or to set up the codes for any other printer inter-any microdrive attached. The program is supplied on casette and still includes a facility for saving to tape. Although the program can now be run from microdrive and data files loaded within version for subsequent use. The print- out for the +80 version shows the date of transaction, the account, the details, separate columns for debit and credit and the balance. That compares with the date, account, amount and balance on the ordinary version.
OCP has upgraded its other programs in the same way. According to Francis Ainley the good news for QL owners is that he is working on an enhanced program allowing a class heading, in addition to the account and description, to be used with the transaction. The program is likely to feature some sort of windowing.
Upgrading to microdrive compatibility was not possible with the Transform Sales/Purchase Ledger/Invoicing package as it was designed to run using twin microdrives anyway. Instead, improvements have been made to the Accounting program. Previously it was only possible to produce an overall total figure for all, or some, of the accounts by loading each account separately, noting totals and adding them up. Now a series of extra menus allows the list of accounts to be displayed and any combination of those to be selected and totalled. Accounts can be erased from a cartridge as another option. The package was reviewed in the November issue.
The Kemp Stock Control program was reviewed in the August issue and version 3.0 has been released recently. Like any other programs which have been improved Stock Control is now microdrive compatible but the improvements do not end there. It now has the option of selecting a full-sized printer and a 64-column printout.
If a full-sized printer is to be used and your printer interface needs software to drive the printer then that must be loaded each time before the program. The option of a full-sized printer must also be made every time. Although the resulting printouts are more widely spaced they are no more informative than those on the ZX printer.
Other improvements include making the length of the stock numbers and descriptions user definable. The stock number can be up to ten characters long while the stock description, previously 20 characters, can now be set at any length between 4 and 30 characters. Of course, the more characters used for those fields the less room there will be for the records.
Another improvement now allows up to two decimal places to be used for stock quantities. With those improvements this is now the most flexible stock control program available on the Spectrum.
It is difficult to imagine many improvements which could be made to Tasword II, the word processing program from Tasman Software. Instead, Tasman has released its equivalent of Wordstar's Mailmerge program called Tasmerge. The program is designed to operate with Tasword II and the Campbell Systems Masterfile and allows you to insert names and addresses from a Masterfile database into a standard document produced using Tasword II.
Now that it has a mailmerge facility Tasword II is once again streets ahead of its nearest rival, although the Softek word processor for the Wafadrive will be a strong contender if rumours of a database and a mailmerge facility are true. With Tasword II and Masterfile included as part of the microdrive/interface 1 Expansion Pack Tasmerge has a whole new market.
Speaking of Masterfile, that has been improved since it was reviewed last February. The latest version - version nine - comes in a smart plastic case and now includes MF Print which allows Masterfile to print to full-sized printers. That is done by allowing the user to set up and save the outline report exactly as it is to be printed. The blank report must then be loaded before printing out the selected records.
Unlike the ordinary report formats for the ZX printer only one report can be held in memory at one time. Others must be loaded when needed. In addition numeric data can be printed in a variety of formats including integer, two decimal places, with commas showing thousands and prefixing any character such as a currency sign. With those improvements the best database for the Spectrum is now even better.
Campbell Systems, 15 Rous Road, Buckhurst Hill, Essex IG9 6BL.
Kemp Ltd, 43 Muswell Hill, London N10 3PN.
OCP Ltd, 4 High Street, Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire SL9 9QB.
Tasman Software, Springfield House, Hyde Terrace, Leeds LS2 9LN.
Transform Ltd 41 Keats House, Porchester Mead, Beckenham, Kent.