SFP: Easier Reports From SynFile+
Makes the top 8-bit database even better
Reviewed by Steve Fishbein
Having remained faithful to SynFile+ as my database of choice on the Atari 8-bit computer, I look forward to my utilities that can improve an already excellent program. So, I was intrigued by the Antic New Product listing of a new utility for SynFile+, Donald Seay's SFP.
One of SynFile+'s greatest weaknesses has been its inability in save any of the report parameters. Generating a report requires opening the file, setting up the report parameters, printing, and then closing the file. The entire process must be repeated each time you want to print a report.
Now, SFP sets up permanent report parameters so data can be reprinted in identical format each time. In addition, different parameters can be saved for the same file. Each report format requires only one block of disk space. SFP can also generate these reports directly from the file on the data disk. This eliminates the need to start up and exit the SynFile+ program!
SFP consists of four modules. The Menu provides access to the other modules and lets you change some program parameters The Utility module lists the structure of the files. The Report module lets you create, save, list and modify reports and the Generate module produces the reports and labels.
The program comes with DOS 2.5 and allows for a RAMdisk to be set up on boot-up. Unlike SynFile+, SFP will work with a data disk in Drive 2. Double density data disks may also be used with SFP, but you must use a DOS that supports double density. Drive 2 can be set as single density and Drive 3 as double density, eliminating a need to change density for any data file.
Seay's program has several features that make it a good value. Using SFP, you can display or print the structure of a SynFile+ file. The structure display includes indices, formulae and look-up tables. You can also alter values associated with record numbers and counter fields; modify look-up tables, adding, changing or deleting values; change true/false tests in conditional items; change the justification of a data item; and even recover deleted records (under certain circumstances). If you ever had to swap disks repeatedly when printing reports from large databases, you'll want SFP simply because it reduces swaps by printing the contents in sequence by disk. Also useful, the Page Wait option allows printing onto stationery (or other single-sheet paper).
I did have one problem when I first tried to use the program. The instructions were unclear as to which files needed to be opened, created or modified. Some further explanation in the manual would have been useful.
I used to avoid using SynFile+ for mailing labels because of the inconvenience of having to open the program, set the print parameters for labels and only then, finally print labels. With SFP, I will undoubtedly re-doing my mailing lists with SynFile+.
$21.95. (Virginia residents add 90 cents sales tax.) SFP, 4 Forest Drive, Palmyra, VA 22963-2118.