Notes N' Files

(Reprinted from the June 1987 Australian Apple Review)

Designed for the Apple IIGS

by Gareth Powell

THE flow of programs for the Apple II GS is slow but certain. The software houses realise that this machine has its own very special following and that an integration of games, graphics and business programs is what is needed.

There have very possibly been other databases made available for the Apple IIGS, but Notes'n' Files (note the appalling American spelling) is the first one to come our way. It is, in fact, technically an electronic filing system rather than a true database, but within its limitations it works, and works extremely well.

What the publishers, DataPak, have tried to do is simulate a filing cabinet - not a massive four drawer one that you see in serried rows in major offices, but rather one of those rather more friendly two or three drawer cabinets that you might use at home.

In fact, according to the publishers, that is how they came to write the program. They made a survey among IIGS users and asked them what sort of program they wanted. The answer came back - a filing system very similar to the one we already use at home.

Notes 'n' Files uses almost a Macintosh interface in that it allows you to file copy, notes, addresses, reminders, in a series of folders which are show in icon image on the screen with a filing cabinet elegantly illustrated above them.

You need to use the mouse - an automatically included feature of the Apple II GS. Also from the Macintosh environment is a series of pull down menus.

The filing cabinet follows the same style of operation as a normal filing cabinet - except that it is five times faster to use, and it is almost impossible to lose any documents. A drawer of the filing cabinet can be opened to display a series of folders. It is inside the folders that you store your letters, notes and what have you.

The way it works is this. You click your mouse rapidly two times on a drawer of the filing cabinet. The drawer slides open showing you a row of folders with their tags clearly shown and lined up in alphabetical order. You will quickly realise that this is a filing system rather than a true database when you learn that to open any other drawer you must first close the drawer you have already opened. But, although you can only work with one drawer in a cabinet at a time - and these are only two drawer cabinets - you can have as many cabinets as you like, limited only by the memory available on your disk or the memory available on a multiple of disks.

Typically one cabinet would contain your addresses file, another bills to be paid, another active correspondence, an- other dead correspondence, and so on. The idea is that you copy the sort of working environment that you would have in a home office - but you keep it all on a few disks which will make life much easier all round. Apart from saving you the costs of a filing cabinet.

When you set up a folder you select the size of the sheet or sheets that it will contain and you will also be shown a simple fonn which allows you to fill in a summary of tie contents of the folder. Note that you do not have to fill in details on this form - it is merely there for your convenience. We found when testing it that the amount of information you could include in this way was superfluous. The name of the file was enough. However, what is important and useful is that this fonn includes the name of each piece of paper that you place in the folder - listed by time order. First in at the top, last in at the bottom. A few restrictions. Each folder cannot have more than 13 characters in the description although, in truth, it would be difficult to see how that could ever be a serious limitation.

Secondly disk space is, of course, finite. Therefore the manual intelligently suggests that you use abbreviations for words like Street, Avenue and so on. It all sounds logical, sensible stuff. It also suggests that you can skip full stops and save space that way. But our firm view are dealing with addresses, it is difficult for you to understand what the abbreviation meant in the first place. And if you don't understand it the postman has Buckley's. We would suggest that you only use well known abbreviations that are commonly understood.

You can, within limits, import information from other databases like AppleWorks and you can, of course, import text files for filing. Importing other databases is not as simple as the manual suggests in that you have to create exactly the same num ber of fields before you do the switch otherwise you end up with a beggar's muddle. The trick is to open a separate test cabinet and try calling one file over. If that works OK you can then proceed to drag all the information over into your master cabinet with impunity.

Searching for folders once you have created them is fastest using the pull down Find Folder, which is remarkably quick, OR you can use the master list of folders in a cabinet is that abbreviations have their own which you can see as a list on the built-in dangers and, especially when you screen.

Despite the fact that this is a filing system there are some quite sophisticated search options possible using AND, OR, plus a series of condition formulas.

For a home business this program strikes us as being the ant's pyjamas. It allows you to build a mailing list with great ease. And it allows you to keep close track of important correspondence as well as sundry other data.

This is the first of the filing cabinet programs we have seen for the IIGS. If no more come down the pike, users will have been well served.

Distributed by Techflow, (047) 58 6924. RRP $249.00.

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