The Professional ST
This is in response to Ion's Quest by Ian Chadwick in the June '88 issue. He must not know too much about the available ST software. He states, "After all, what do you have for the ST that we can truly say falls into the professional category? Anything the likes of 1-2-3 (or Quattro or Excel)? Sidekick, Desqview, Symphony, Framework, Paradox...."
Has Ian ever heard of VIP Professional by VIP Technologies, which is fully compatible with IBM Lotus files without modification and has the same keyboard commands and menu structure? Then there is dbMAN by Verasoft, which is one of the best and most powerful databases out there for the ST. Then who needs Sidekick and programs like that when there are tons of desk accessories that are just as good, if not better, than anything on the IBM?
And Ian does not even mention the capabilities of desktop publishing and C programming. I know people who use STs in their businesses because the IBM cannot do what they need at a reasonable cost.
I don't mean to imply that VIP and dbMAN are not good software. They are excellent cloneware But 1-2-3 and dBase were both leaders in their fields, and I think it's not good enough to simply copy an idea or even to add a few GEM routines to it. We need professional-level software designed to exploit the ST's strengths. And we do not have any equivalent to Symphony, Excel, Microsoft Works, Framework or any of the integrated packages. We lack anything to match the high-level databases like Paradox or Oracle.
Nor do we have any desk-accessory packages with the flexibility and functionality of Sidekick—at least, not without a horrendous cost in memory. Deskcart, a possible solution (since it uses the cartridge RAM), fails to satisfy because it generates bizarre problems with my B drive when I attempt to copy or format disks. I've also found programs that won't run with accessories or demand too much memory to make use of both together. Tons of accessories there may be, but GEM limits me to six at a time.
I don't consider programming languages in the same category, since they are not tools used regularly in the business or professional community. Know anyone who wrote their own spreadsheet? Word processor? Besides, attitudes vary wildly as to the acceptability of every language package available.
As for desktop publishing, what's currently on the market is pretty limited and still afar cry from Ventura or Pagemaker. None of it is suitable for any long publication, like a book or a magazine (i.e., professional use). However, a recent demo of Calamus truly amazed me. It looks superb and a light-year beyond the rest.
I should mention that DynaCADD is a professional-caliber package, albeit for a small audience: the CAD professional. It was designed specifically for the ST and does it well. And some of the MIDI software I've seen looks top-notch if you're a serious musician.
Of course, the rampant piracy that mars the ST as a market tends to reduce its viability for IBM publishers to do conversions; so we may never see a lot of the MS-DOS software reach the ST unless we do it ourselves.