WHEN a program like Bizzicom from Merlin Software, which relies solely on tape storage of data and a ZX type printer, is released there is an immediate feeling of disappointment.
Bizzicom consists of two programs; the first Bizzicom-1, is a stock control system, while the second, Bizzicom-2, provides business analyses from the data prepared by the first. Both sides of the tape have the same label making it difficult to differentiate between the two programs.
The manual is strong on what the programs are capable of doing but weak on giving any explanation or guidance, preferring instead to rely on what used to be described as user friendliness and the user's innate intelligence.
Bizzicom-1 caters for up to 390 different stock items. Each is defined by a six character code, the first two of which are used to link similar items into groups. A 14 character description is also available to expand on the code.
For new entries the average cost price, the selling price and details of the cost price and quantity of any order are entered along with the stock level. Those details, together with the dates of the last receipt, issue, order and menu of further options, are also displayed when changes need to be made to the date.
The screen displays and the method of data entry have been well thought out and it is a pity that they are spoilt by the rest of the program. It has been fairly well protected from crashing when entering data, although still susceptible to CAPS SHIFT and SPACE. However, I found that it crashed regularly with the 'Integer out of range' message, despite there being no obvious flaw in any of the data entered.
Similar problems occurred with Bizzicom-2. At first it crashed when I tried to load the amended transaction files saved from Bizzicom-1. So I tried the sample files provided, or I would have done if they had been there.
Finally, I loaded Bizzicom-1 and saved the transaction files without any amendments. The result was the same, the program crashed with the report '3 Subscript wrong'.
Bizzicom-2 is supposed to produce financial reports, including VAT payable and recoverable, from the sales and purchases of the stock control program. Since most businesses can reclaim VAT from items other than those bought for resale the VAT recoverable report is likely to be understated.
Although the program is of no practical use in its present form, the screen layout and prompting in the first part could, with a lot of work, form the basis for a promising program.
Publisher: Merlin Software, Business & Technology Centre, Bessemer Drive, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 2DX