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Article #50 (74 is last):
Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.product.8bit.reviews
From: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Subject: SynFile+ / database / commercial
Posted-By: xx004 (aa700 - Michael Current)
Reply-To: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Date: Fri May 15 18:25:21 1992


Reprinted from the Pandora BBS (614)-471-9209


         S Y N F I L E +
      Review by Andy Nicola

  The SYN-SERIES from SYNAPSE/ATARI
has lived up to the expectations of
the users and is justified in its
price for all programs except
SYNFILE+.  The program is more than
just a disappointment for the
intermediate - expert user; it is
quite literally a programming and
documentation disaster.
  I spent over an hour on the
telephone with Mr. Brian Lee of
Synapse Software on Oct. 29, 1984.
We discussed every major aspect of
input and output connected with
SYNFILE+.  I will enumerate several
of the program's short comings
below along with Mr. Lee's
explanation.

1.  INDEXING - Indexing is a
programming technique whereby all
Records of a File are pre-sorted
going in according to the length of
the index you've chosen (characters
deep to sort), and the Index Field
itself.  This means that each time
you enter a new Record or Re-index,
the entire database must be
re-sorted and written back to the
disk.

2.  CAPACITY-16 disks??  This one
threw me a little at first, but now
that I understand how it works, I'm
not glad I asked.  The capacity of
each data-disk is only determined
by the Index. Example; if you
create a mailing list of say six(6)
Fields, and Index 10 deep on the
last name, you can have 567 names
on your list for one disk.  If you
have an extra long File Record of
66 Fields and fill up both screens
and use an index of 10 on one of
those fields, you still get 567 for
that data-disk.  Now comes the fun
part.  When you enter the 568th
Record, the program instructs you
to insert another data disk.  This
assumes, of course, that you have
made another in advance.  You won't
find this in the Manual.  After
that, it completely resorts the
database file and puts #568 in its
proper index order on the second
disk.  You have just completed
six(6) disk swaps to enter one new
Record and would have to continue
this way until you are finished.
At that time you would Close the
file with two(2) more swaps.  This
consecutive, consecutive,
consecutive, disk-swapping can go
on for 16 disks???---And to top all
this off, you must do this in one
drive.  Only certain functions like
COPY and MERGE support a two drive
system.

3.  DENSITY - This will grab you.
All that I said above about indexes
and capacities remains the same
regardless of density.  The Index
determines capacity, not disk
space!!  The 1050 FORMAT option is
NOT supported by DOS 3.O.  I was
not surprised by this.  The 1050
FORMAT theoretically gives you
half-again as much disk space like
the DOS 3.O DUAL-DENSITY format,
but it writes the VTOC in a
different sector on the disk.
Therefore, when you merge your
database ong
could be a solution to the problem,
but Sector editing within DOS 3.O
is a subject for a separate
article.

4.  FIELDS - Certain fields may be
defined as TABLE-LOOKUP.  This is
like a default field where you
pre-define an entry for a field at
Create time.  When you get to that
entry point in the record, you just
hit RETURN and it's automatically
entered.  The TABLE-LOOKUP option
allows you to define up to 2000
characters in a list that you can
scroll through for a default in a
particular field.  This is nice as
an example if you were making a
mailing list to all 50 states and
you could automatically enter the
2-character code for each state.
To do this, you hold down the ATARI
KEY and scroll through your
entries.  By the time you go
through 50 states, you could have
typed it in manually 20 times.
Also, if you scroll past your
selection, you must continue to the
end and start over.  One last
thing, if we ever get a 51st state,
you cannot enter it manually.  You
must completely re-edit the form of
the database and create and enter a
new table of 51 states.  After that
you must merge the old database
with the newly edited format.

5.  REPORTS - This is the truly sad
part of the program.  Mr. Lee
confessed to me that there just was
not enough room within the
constraints of the program for a
decent report generator.  (The
CREATE FILE portion is loaded over
the main program as a sub-program.
'No room' was not an acceptable
reason.)  There is no facility to
allow you to SAVE those REPORT
formats you have created and may
use repeatedly.  You may have a
header 37 characters long.  That's
it.  You may not have Page
numbering, form feed to the top of
the next page (paganation), or
selective spacing between printed
lines.  If I had 16 disks full of
whatever and I was then told that I
cannot print a decently formatted,
semi-presentable list, I think
SYNAPSE/ATARI would be off my Xmas
list for a while.

6.  LABELS - This program does
great mailing lables, 1, 2, or 3
across.

What Mr. Lee really had to say was
that the short comings of the
program were due to licensing and
developement restrictions imposed
by ATARI.  He said that ATARI did
not want any function built in to
the program to over-lap or cause
competition for ATARIWRITER.  This
is the main reason for the lack of
everything in the Report generator.
The idea here is to have you merge
the database file into ATARIWRITER
and then format your reports for
printing from the word processor.
Any large files would have to be
manually (on separate disks) broken
down into smaller sub-files, and
then chained back together again.
This kind of work is no joy for the
experienced user.  Can you imagine
the fE+ was developed
by the SYNAPSE Corp. for ATARI
while ATARI was owned by WARNER
COMMUNICATIONS.  ATARI, now headed
by BLACK JACK, has revoked the
developement license it granted
SYNAPSE.  Although the legal
ramifications of case are not clear
or settled, SYNAPSE in the
meantime, is free to modify the
SYNFILE+ program.  I was assured
that there were many features left
out that were desirable.  Perhaps
we can hope for an upgrade in the
near future.  At this point in
time, nothing is planned.
-- 
 Michael Current, Cleveland Free-Net 8-bit Atari SIGOp   -->>  go atari8  <<--
   The Cleveland Free-Net Atari SIG is the Central Atari Information Network
      Internet: currentm@carleton.edu / UUCP: ...!umn-cs!ccnfld!currentm
     BITNET: currentm%carleton.edu@{interbit} / Cleveland Free-Net: aa700





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