by Kent Davenport
From: SPRITE CHASER
Vol. 1 No. 1
Manufacturer: Coleco Industries
When I received my SmartFILER in the mail I quick tore open the
packaging, inserted the program data pack and pulled the reset switch.
Coleco had finally released its first software package that could be put
to practical use and would probably be a good indicator of things to
come. Enclosed with the program tape was a 33 page manual and a quick
reference card. The manual was indexed and the guide highlighted all the
major functions and commands. All that and electronic notebook seemed to
be there. But the true test of a 'data base' for the home user is the
ease with which you can create, store, retrieve and print your valuable
After loading the SamrtFILER program, you then insert a blank data pack
to be formatted for record storage. As with SmartWRITER all prompting is
done at the bottom of the screen using 'Smart Key' labels. These prompts
are used throughout the program's various options and help make it user
friendly. If you prefer there is an example file in the manual that you
can create step by step as you become familiar with the various
File design is accomplished with the form creation screen where you are
asked to enter the 'field names, type, length and searchability. You are
allowed up to 32 separate fields totaling up to 255 characters.
Searchable fields, there are 4 maximum, are limited, to 24 characters in
length but all designated as a 'text' field taking up only 2 characters
of your record but allowing notes or comments of up to 2 full pages.
When you're sure you've laid everything out the way you want it, you
push 'store form' and your form is transferred to tape.
While it is in the process of storing your form, a message appears on
the screen informing you the maximum number of records you can store on
your file. A quick look at the manual indicates there is no reference to
the number of records or any formula figuring it out. I found with some
trail runs that a record length of 18 characters (maximum record length)
you were allowed 180. Still this is not too bad considering you also
have 2 full pages of text for each record.
Your records can be retrieved using either the search or index methods.
Indexing simply sorts the whole file based on your choice of 1 of the 4
search fields. All records are then listed and you can select which ones
to retrieve or print. The search option allows you search using any
combination of the 4 search fields. This allows you the flexibility to
bring in a group of records or any particular one. The print function
allows you to print your records in format you design with SmartFILER-
or you can merge with a form you design earlier and stored using
SmartWRITER. I found the print options lacking in ability to specify
items such as fanfold paper and auto page numbering. More interaction
with the SmartWRITER ROM would have greatly enhance its ability. Another
annoying quirk was the way your file entries and notes were printed in
'compressed' format as they appear on you screen and not at the margins
indicated (1-80) by print format screen.
It should come as no surprise that record retrieval and sorting are a
bit slow due to the magnetic tape medium. i found that once your file
begins to fill up the average time to retrieve a record was 1-1/2 to 2
minutes. Overall the cost and quality of this program can only give hope
that the best is yet to come.