|Developer:||Robert B. Cook|
|Publisher:||Loadstar 128 (Softdisk, Inc)|
MasterFile II is an easy to use database application, written for the C128 and published in Loadstar 128, issue #14, back in 1992. It's a straight forward flat file database, which stores it's data in SEQ files, and is fully customizable by the user. It also take advantage of the C128's 80 column mode.
The core features of this database application include: customizable data fields, record entry/modification/deletion, record sorting, customizable reports and label printing, all presented in an easy to navigate and understand menu system.
Although the developer, Robert Cook, went to great lengths to make MasterFile II very intuitive to operate, there is also some very good documentation provided, to help the user get the most out of his database software. It is applications like this, that really highlight the power of the C128 and its ability to function as a viable office PC.
When you start up MasterFile II, you are greeted with a well organized main menu. From a first time user's point of view, even if you haven't read the instructions, you would have a pretty easy time of figuring out what to do.
For this review, I'll go through the creation of a database I use to catalog my collection of LaserDiscs. So the first thing we need to do is Initialize (aka create) our database. MasterFile II runs entirely from the C128's memory. Therefore, it's very fast. However, this also limits to the amount of data you can store within your database. If you keep the number of fields in your database to a minimum, you will have more storage for actual records. If the fields in the database are numerous, then there will less room for the records. This is just something you have to keep in mind, when initiating your database.
Once your database is initialized, you can then go ahead and start entering your records. If you have a lot of repetitive data to enter, MasterFile II remembers the data you entered last into each field. So, rather than typing the same information over again, you just have to press to recall what you entered last time. MasterFile II also keeps you updated on how many more records can be entered into the database.
After a record is entered, you can easily make changes from the main menu.
Searching through records is a pretty simple process. You can search by any of the fields in three ways, a Full, Specific, or Unequal search. A Full search will look for a string of text within a field, whether it is in the beginning, middle or end of the string of text. A Specific search will look for the particular text you've entered and nothing else. And, the Unequal search for text that doesn't match what was entered.
Something to remember, however, is that data in this database is case sensitive.
Another thing you can do with your data is sort it. You simply choose the primary sort field and then as many “sub-sort” fields you require. In my database, I want to sort my list of LaserDiscs by the box they are stored in and then, by the movie title. So, Location would be my Primary sort field and Movie Title would be a sub-sort field.
Last, but not least, is the Printing options for MasterFile II.
You can print lists or labels, like in the situation when you want to create mailing labels for a database of names and addresses. You design your report lists and labels by choosing which fields in your database occupy each column (in the case of a list) or row (in the case of a label) and the number of characters each field occupies in their position.
Once designed, you can print your lists or labels to either the screen or your printer, and then save the layout to disk. Saving the layout to disk allows you to design multiple lists and labels for any situation you can think of.
MasterFile II is such an easy, yet useful database program. I really wish I knew about it, back in the day when my C128 was my main PC. But, even though I've just recently discovered it, I still find it useful and have been using it to track a few of my collections.