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REVIEW: TURBOCALC 2.0 FROM SCHATZTRUHE
By: Jason Compton
Business software, business software, business software.
Ask most Amiga users what the Amiga is lacking, and you'll probably hear
those three things. Well, maybe they'll bemoan that we still don't have
Doom, but let's stick with the subject.
It's simply been the unfair fact that large business software companies
such as Lotus, WordPerfect, and Microsoft haven't been inclined to bother
supporting the Amiga. WordPerfect took a stab at it back in version 4, but
that was the end of the road. Microsoft's own Bill Gates just went on
record saying that his company didn't develop for OS/2 or the Amiga because
the market isn't large enough.
Some companies, such as Oxxi, have tried, but their market presence has
been lacking somewhat lately.
Enter TurboCalc 2.0. Published by Stefan Ossowski's Schatztruhe, perhaps
more widely known as the publisher of the Aminet CDs, TurboCalc 2.0
delivers serious spreadsheet punch at a VERY realistic price. Really, now,
US$40 is NOT a lot to ask.
The entire package is sharply laid out, from the detailed (and refreshingly
well translated) manual to the function key overlay. And then of course
there's the software itself. Loosely similar in layout to Excel, TurboCalc
can open a window on a public or custom screen, with the standard row of
buttons and large scrollable spreadsheet below. A screendepth of 8 colors
offers lightning performance on my 030/25, but of course you may wish to
bump that up for visually intense presentations involving tons of graphs.
Sheet size is limited only by memory, which is rather frugally used (1 meg
of memory recommended, the base program takes roughly 300k to start.)
Besides the obvious options for simply adding up rows and columns for
bookkeeping purposes, TurboCalc offers over 100 formulas, easily accessible
from a menu list (in case you forget, or simply get tired of typing them
into cells.) In addition, TurboCalc has a large library of ARexx commands
to help you integrate it into a larger suite of programs.
The easiest way to explore the capabilities of TurboCalc is to tour the
included tutorial and demonstration projects. Included are skeletons for
invoice generation (including a rudimentary but usable generator straight
out of the box, that allows for quantity, product description, and price,
kicking out a TurboCalc record file suitable for filing and/or printing),
demonstrations of chart abilities, an example of the database functions
(which are often worth the price of admission on any spreadsheet package),
and even a "Connect 4" clone written in the macro language. I'm quite
impressed with the quality and comprehensiveness of the tutorial
inclusions, if for no other reason than it's often more easy to do by
example than to learn it from a manual.
Online help is satisfactory, but it's still essential to keep the manual
nearby for reference. Since TurboCalc is in no way copy protected and
quite small (it fits on a single floppy), they don't want to give you the
world in online help. Wise decision.
Printer output is, of course, included, with a decent set of preferences.
Output can also be directed to an IFF file.
Not all is perfect with TurboCalc-after all, you can't have everything for
$40. What I miss the most is a linear solver akin to the one found in
Excel or in add-on packages such as What's Best! for old versions of Lotus
and Quattro Pro. While they're not everyone's cup of tea, for management
decisions they are a very useful tool. I wouldn't put it past a skilled
programmer to find a way to do it within the TurboCalc suite, but for me,
it's not an option. Perhaps an add-on pack?
Even if it can't quite do everything Excel can, at least it supports the
import and export of files from Excel, Lotus, and ProCalc. (Actually, it
can only import from ProCalc, not export to.) This is a Good Thing,
capital letters intentional. While I don't consider it necessary to have
the Lotuses and Microsofts of the world develop for the Amiga,
cross-platform interchangeability is a must. Too many times, the phrase
"But I have to use Package X at work" has meant a lost sale for an Amiga
productivity package. You still may need Excel at work to maximize profit
by making the optimized inventory purchase decisions, but at least you can
set up the sheet at home.
A few minutes at the helm of TurboCalc should convince you. I might not
have been quite so enthusiastic at the original price of US$115, but for
$40...you really can't beat it. Do yourself a favor, grab the Aminet demo
and give this program a look.
Aminet demo: biz/demo/TurboCalc.lha
Published by Stefan Ossowski's Schatztruhe, distributed in Europe by GTI
+49 6171 85937 voice
+49 6171 8302 fax
Distributed in North America by Amiga Library Services
610 N. Alma School Road
Chandler, AZ 85224-3687