IF YOU are thinking of buying a database then you will probably be thinking about Masterfile from Campbell Systems. This is, arguably, the most powerful database available for the Spectrum. However, if you do not need all the features of a full database, a simple card index type, which is generally easier to use but less flexible may be a better buy. Superfile from Transform Ltd is just such a database. It costs £14.95 and will also double as a word processor. Although the program is supplied on tape it can be customised for any printer and saved to microdrive.
Superfile works exactly like a card index. Each page is treated as a card of 63 columns and 22 lines. On the top line is a page number and space for a title. The remainder is free for notes. The cursor keys are used to move about the page and text is typed straight in at the cursor. If text is already there then it is overwritten.
Because the database is a series of 'cards' used to store information it can also be used as a word processor. As such it is competent without the extra features that are now expected. The features include wordwrap and left and right justification. Spaces and lines can be inserted and can then be overwritten to add new text into the existing text. 'Cards' and lines as well as characters can be deleted. Although no search facility exists in the word processor as such, the full search facility of Superfile can be used to locate the card on which the string exists. Eyesight must then be used to find the string on the card.
Unlike most databases there are no variables or fields and the appearance of the card can be changed for each one. The cards are stored in the 30K of memory left free by the program until they are saved to tape or microdrive. They can be displayed later by specifying a string of characters, the title or the page number.
Searching for a string also has the effect of creating a separate list of cards which include the string. Such cards are known as being 'selected'. The selected and unselected lists of cards can be changed over or inverted and also reset so that all cards are selected. With no indication in the manual I found it confusing at first that after a search the selected cards are not displayed on screen. If you want to see what they are you will print them out or use the update option to get them displayed.
Although I like Superfile I wonder about its use in a practical environment. Once the program and data file have been loaded it is probably as quick, if not quicker, to look up any single card with it as it would by using actual cards. However, if the program needs to be loaded each time then it will certainly be quicker and cheaper using cards.
Publisher: Transform Ltd, 24 West Oak, Beckenham, Kent