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== Final Data Review By: Katie Nelson ==
Final Data is Softwood's response to the Amiga users' demand for business
software. It is a simple, yet effective database program that is
well-suited for the average user. However, users of the more "heavy"
databases available for the PC clones may find it a bit too simple.
Having little need for an extravagant database (Amiga Report doesn't pay
well enough to have to keep track of a bunch of assets, etc..) Final Data
suited me perfectly.
I was a bit hesitant of reviewing Final Data because I had always heard
that learning to use a database would take a great amount of my time. Not
so. In fact, I didn't even have to open the manual. All of the menus and
options are very self-explanatory.
There are five menus. The standard "Project" menu with preferences for
saving/outputting the database, and options to create a new database, open
a saved one, define a new database format, and save/"save as" a database.
The Edit menu is pretty much standard, too, with only the basic
Cut/Copy/Paste/Clear and Select All.
The third menu is the "Row" menu, which obviously controlls the rows in the
database. The only options there are New Row, which just gives you a blank
row, Delete, to delete a row (duh), Move, to shift the position of a row
(which does the same as NewRow in the correct place, copying row in wrong
place, pasting to the new row, and then deleting the old one. It's a
timesaver.), and finally Sort.
The Sort option is more detailed than I expected. It brings up a requester
that lists all the columns that you have, and you can sort whichever you
choose low to high or high to low. Also, in case you have several items
with the same name/amount in that particular column and you want to sort
the database further, you have the option to have secondary priority on
another column of your choice. You can select the priority sort order for
just the one column all the way up to all of them. And all columns do not
have to be sorted the same way. For example, your secondary sort column
could be sorted from high to low even though your primary is being sorted
low to high, and so on.
Furthermore, if you have a particular column selected in the sort
requestor, there is a slidebar showing which priority it has. You can
simply adjust it's priority with that bar if you choose, rather than having
to click on each of the columns in a particular order. The other columns'
priorities automatically compensate. There are also two handy little
buttons that allow you to either reset all of the priorities or remove a
particular column from the sort list.
Next is the Column menu. The first two options here are Sort Low to High,
and Sort High to Low. This is for quick sorting when secondary (and
further) priorities are not an issue. Find and Replace are the next two
options, and their purpose is self-explanatory. If you're using the
database as an expense tracker, it's nice to be able to search for "Visa"
and find all of the charges you've made on your card without having to
just sort the list for that column and look for "V". I have not found a
need for "Replace" for myself, but I'm sure one does exist.
New Column is next on the menu. A nice feature of the requester that this
brings up is the ability to add more than one column without having to
select this option from the menu again. Also, all columns in use are
listed and can be deleted using this same requester.
Following New Column is Redefine. This brings up the same requester as
New Column. All current columns can be edited, along with the ability to
add new ones. Each column can have its own defined "type", either text,
date, time, amount, or calculation can be used. Plenty of features to use
for a checkbook program, a small inventory, or the like.
Each of those types have their own preferences, such as the entry format
for a date, and how it should be displayed after it is entered (two
separate options, allowing you to enter in MM/DD/YY or DD/MM/YY and have
the program convert to Month Date, Year format. Text can be entered as
simply letter characters, letters spaces and numbers, or any character.
Although percent is not an option for a calculation, the simple mathematic
operations that are available allow you to do the same thing. Even more
options are available, but listing them would take much too much time, and
bore even the most determined reader.
The last option in the menu is to delete a column. This is another
shortcut to using the column requester brought up by New Column and
Finally, the last menu is the ARexx menu, and its only option is to start
an ARexx script. Having had little experience with ARexx, I was unable to
fully test this feature. However, all ARexx options are fully documented
in the manual, and from what I could tell, there were a good amount of
Once you have all of your data entered, using all those cool menus and
neato requestors, there are a variety of ways to print out your reports.
You can print to the printer, or you can print to an ASCII file. Printing
to ASCII allows you to either separate items in a row with commas or tabs.
Furthermore, you can choose whether or not to include the column titles as
the first row of data. Final Data also supports print merging with Final
Copy II and Final Writer.
Final Data also has the option to print labels (mailing labels and lables
of other sizes). I was somewhat disappointed that standard label formats
weren't included (such as Avery labels), but it isn't very difficult to
enter in the dimensions of the label sheet(s).
On the subject of compatibility, I had no problem running Final Data on my
4000/040. I was happy.
To sum up, if you're looking for a professional and detailed database,
this isn't it, and (right now, unfortunately) you're using the wrong type
of computer. But for pretty much everyone else, this is perfectly
adequate, as long as you like the Softwood interface.
(BTW - This would be almost a perfect small database for pack-in with new
Amigas, if anyone important is listening...)