by David English
These days, if you're going to introduce a high-end spreadsheet program, it had better be good. In a field already crowded with top-selling applications from the industry giants--Lotus, Microsoft, and Borland--your program would have to hit the ground running and never look back.
Informix has taken up the challenge with its Windows spreadsheet program, Wingz. While it has the usual array of noteworthy features and functions, Wingz adds outstanding three-dimensional graphics and a powerful scripting language.
Wingz has 20 basic types of charts, in both two and three dimensions, with a variety of title, legend, color, and pattern choices. It's almost embarrassingly easy to create a chart in Wingz. Simply select the data range by holding down a mouse button, and click on the chart icon. Then define the area on the spreadsheet where you want the chart to go by holding down a mouse button, dragging to define the chart's size, and releasing the button. That's it. You can use the pull-down menus to change the type of chart, move legends or titles, or perform a variety of other chart modifications.
Unlike other spreadsheet programs, Wingz lets you create a chart on the screen right next to your data. This is a true WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) spreadsheet. To move the chart, you simply click on the chart and drag it across the page. To resize it, you click on the chart and move the chart's resizing handles. While Wingz offers a full-page preview, you probably won't need it--the screen accurately shows how your page will look.
The scripting language for Wingz, HyperScript, is equally impressive. You can create custom menus, dialog boxes, slider controls, buttons that call other scripts, and spreadsheet functions not included with the program. The menu system is also a script, so you can modify it. With the Learn command, you can have the program record your keystrokes and mouse movements and translate them into HyperScript commands. And, as if writing and recording scripts weren't enough, Wingz lets you enter HyperScript commands directly for immediate execution.
As might be expected with the first version of a major new application, Wingz does have some problems. When you change a cell to a larger font, you have to manually adjust the cell's row height. While you can load the data and formulas from most 1-2-3 spreadsheets (WKS and WK1, but not WK3, WRI, or WGI), you have to leave your macros behind. The Learn command translates all cell and mouse movements into absolute addresses--with no option for relative references. And I was able to repeatedly crash the program by creating a simple 3-D chart and selecting Contour from the Gallery menu.
Wingz doesn't offer full compatibility with the industry standard Lotus 1-2-3, and it isn't a mature Windows spreadsheet program, as is Microsoft Excel. But if you dream of creating eye-popping charts or if you love programming, you'll fall head over heels for Wingz. It's a groundbreaking program that soars above the competition.
Ease of Use ****
IBM PC and compatibles; package includes both Windows and OS/2 versions--$499
Windows version requires Windows 3.0, 2MB of RAM (3MB or more recommended), 2MB of hard disk space, and EGA, VGA, or 8514/A monitor.
OS/2 version requires OS/2 version 1.2 or higher, 4MB of RAM, 2MB of hard disk space, and EGA, VGA, or 8514/A monitor.
INFORMIX SOFTWARE 4100 Bohannon Dr. Menlo Park, CA 94025 (415) 926-6300