You walk into your local computer store and explain to the salesman that you need to print some mailing labels. He says he has just the program for you and then shows you a $595 relational database. You explain that your needs aren't quite that complicated.
If you need a simple label-making program, Labels!, from POP Computer Products, may fit the bill. The program sets out to be easy, and it accomplishes that goal without sacrificing much functionality.
While the program can be installed on a floppy disk, it works best on a hard drive. The installation process is easy but slow, as you must answer several questions about your system's configuration. The installation program asks you if you want a PATH command pointing to the Labels! subdirectory placed in your AUTOEXEC.BAT file. It's best to answer no and do this manually, since the installation program will ignore any existing PATH commands and indiscriminately place it at the beginning of the file.
Before using Labels!, you can adjust the setup options. The first, Paper Stock, lets you define ten forms for printing your lists. Six envelope and two label forms have already been defined, but you can customize them. You can change the form name, printer driver and initialization codes, spacing and length, and whether or not to send form feeds.
Labels! has only one data file, but you can assign records to any one of 16 groups. The Groups option lets you assign names, such as Customers or Relatives, to each of the 16 lists.
Using the Grabber option, you can copy text from another program, such as a word processor, and paste it into a Labels! record. You can set a default path for the program you'll grab from most often.
Once you've completed the setup process, using Labels! is very easy. You enter text free-form, just as you want it to appear when printed, instead of typing in database-like fields. Records hold 255 characters, including the end-of-line and linefeed codes, and you're limited to 4000 records. Nonprinting notes may be entered between braces. The program will check for duplicate entries as you type.
You can search for individual records using wildcard characters. Searching is quite fast, but the program will only look at the first line of each record. There's also a browse feature, which displays the first line of each record. Records are sorted numerically and alphabetically without regard to case. You can import records from other programs, but only if they are stored in ASCII format.
Printing labels or envelopes is a snap. Select a single record, a group of records, or the entire file, and then specify the number of copies. You can print a test record to check form alignment and setup. Records can also be printed to a file on disk.
The manual is small but complete, and Labels! has excellent online help available from anywhere in the program.
Other than the problem with installing the PATH command in an AUTOEXEC.BAT file, the program performed without error, even catching and handling disk and drive errors. POP Computer Products also offers toll-free support, and I had no problems getting through. The technical support person I talked to was knowledgeable and pleasant.
The program lacks features found in more sophisticated mailing-list software, such as fields, extensive error checking, and larger record capacity. But if you need an easy-to-use, no-frills label-printing program. I certainly recommend Labels!.
IBM PC and compatibles—$29.95
POP Computer Products
P.O. Box 1833
Evergreen, CO 80439
(303) 674-0200 in Colorado