The editor, when he’s not execising his discretion, keeps the mailing
list for this learned Journal on dBASE II. How this was ever managed is a
matter for considerable conjecture, as the dBASE II manual must win prizes for
being THE MOST DIFFICULT manual to read of all application programs. It
consists of some ten or eleven sections, all in indexed tabs. It starts off
with a section telling you all the new facilities and alterations added to
this version, completely forgetting that you have just purchased it and don’t
know anything about the old features. The actual start of the manual seems to
be down some four or five sections. It needs a map, or better still, a large
label saing "The Secrets of dBASE II revealed! START HERE”
If you look at the software pricelists, you will notice that there are
two entries for dBASE II. One is approximately £20 dearer than the other. This
is a version supplied with the standard manual, and a further manual called
Everyman’s Database Primer by Robert Byers, published Ashton-Tate (dist.
Prentice-Hall, I think) at £12. This book is 300 pages, quarto sized, and
typeset (thank God). It is a very readable book, taking all its examples from_
dBASE II usage. Using a fairly simple example, it proceeds to show how a
database can access information, and manipulate it into a desired form. Having
read it, I began to feel that I might achieve something with dBASEcII at last.
A slightly more advanced book on the same subject is dBASE II User’s
Guide by Adam Green, published Prentice-Hall at £24.65.
This is another book in the "get your own daisywheel to do the typesetting"
school. It is spiral bound, consisting of 150 pages, quarto. It is not as
readable as Byers, though there is a slightly fuller treatment of dBASE II in
it. Its layout does not help easy reading – it could do with the pages of type
being shrunk some 10-15% before printing, to compact them slightly. Better
yet, it could be properly typeset.
Of the two of these books, I feel that Byers is the easier to read, and
the better value. Neither of these books does away with the need to consult
the dBASE II manual for elaboration, and neither of them is the last word on
this program. What it really needs is a patch to call up a well written HELP
facility, such as exists in WordStar and SuperCalc. Why don’t more software
authors use such a method? [ Ba. – again, I wonder if Rory has not got the
latest dBASE as 2.4 does have a HELP facility. |
PASCAL By Rory O’Farrell
Of recent months, my mantle as advocate of Pascal seems to have been
assumed by Dr. Dark, who has been prolix in his advocacy of it. I’ve recently
purchased a copy of ProPascal, a full native code compiler for the Z80, and
have seen and used a copy of the JRT Pascal V3. In the next issue of the 80-
BUS news, I hope to review the ProPascal in detail. I do not intend to review
the JRT Pascal, as coming to terms with the full facilities of an ISO standard
Pascal is quite sufficient work for anyone who has not previously used one,
put I will attempt to persuade a friend who has the JRT Pascal to review it.
Perhaps we will be able to work on a joint article to describe these two