"How I fell in love with her is a mystery to me, but then, love
is a mystery."
SOFTWARE REVIEW: SUPERBASE PROFESSIONAL 3 BY PRECISION SOFTWARE
by Richard Karsmakers
Only recently, I re-discovered "Superbase Professional" in my
I got it on my hips (this is something Dutch translated into
'English' in a rather ruthless way, so it may not make much
sense to many of you).
"Why not start to really use this program?" I though to myself.
I had received a review copy of the game about 3 years ago, and
since I had been getting bored with "DB Master One" that I
normally used, I decided to start processing data in a really
I dragged the corresponding files on a harddisk partition and
double-clicked on it.
It didn't work. Firstly, it insisted on having the original
(copy-protected) disk in the disk drive, and the copy protection
as such failed to work completely when using "NeoDesk".
I wrote a somewhat excited letter to Precision Software,
explaining my problems (and carefully evading the fact that I had
for the past three years used "DB Master One" instead of their
grotesquely much better program), and within a week I received an
update package containing a manual supplement and a new program
disk containing version 3.02 of the program as well as a likewise
version of the forms editor.
I have bestowed on me the task to go over the major changes in
this article, thus kinda supplying you with a re-review of the
package as it were (though, of course, it surely won't be).
What is "Superbase Professional"?
"Superbase" is a relational database. This means that everything
it does is done by means of indexes, and it is all done directly
on disk (only the current record is loaded into memory). With
this method, the sky is the limit with regard to storage
capacity, although eventually you will run into the limits of
your floppy/harddisk storage capacity.
First, Precision Software decided to launch "Superbase Personal"
on the 16-bit user. This was a very powerful database, but
"Superbase Professional" that they launched months later was a
lot better: It supplied an extensive programming language with
which it was possible to get into DEEP data processing.
This justified the price increase, I suppose.
"Superbase Professional" is a very complete and thoroughly
programmed piece of database software. The only real limitation I
found was the fact that only 256 characters may be used in a
field. But this disadvantage is largely compensated by the fact
that a text file can be used as external file - which can store
way over 256 bytes!
For its price, "Superbase Professional" offers very much. But
making use of aftersales services used to cost 75 a year and I
think that people buying such an expensive programs should be
entitled to some free help. It may be that this is for free in
the main time, but I am not in a position to tell. All I can tell
is that I got my update for free.
The new options as mentioned in the "Superbase Professional 3"
When working with "Superbase Professional" (henceforth to be
called "Superbase"), it was immediately evident that there were a
few shortcomings. First, of course, there was the awful copy
protection. Also, the fact that you could only use ONE path to
store your datafiles in was a real letdown.
These two things (as well as quite a bit of other ones that
we'll talk about later) have been changed in the new version. The
copyprotection has been replaced by a text in the program itself
that you have to specify before starting the program for the
first time (here you have to specify your name, company name, and
serial number). The path limitation is now gone as a special
option to 'change path' has been added. Though this latter option
is still not quite perfect (I'd still rather have a normal
fileselector), it suffices to make working with the program a lot
Another fairly major addition to the program are keyboard
equivalents. Most important pull-down menu options as well as all
the control panel options now have keyboard equivalents.
Especially the control panel is now very easy to use if you want
to browse through your records quickly. Unfortunately, 'quit'
still has no keyboard equivalent.
Further, "Superbase" now allows communications, i.e. the use of
telephone links via modem. You can transfer files this way, and
the programs allows you to manipulate all the usual
communications parameters such as baud rate, parity, number of
bits per character, stop bits and the comms port to use (the
latter suggesting extended TT support, which was not further
mentioned in the supplement manual). It's even possible to have
The key strength of "Superbase Professional" as opposed to
"Superbase Personal" was the powerful Database Management
Language (DML) that was built in. This allowed programs to be
written to edit data in an even more complex way, allowing
virtually anything to be done.
Well, DML has been made better. New commands have been added,
and some other ones have been revised.
Let's first have a look at the new ones. These are LOAD SET
(loads the parameters file from the current directory), SELECT
FORM ROW (selects the current transaction row), SET EDIT (sets
auto-entry to the Program Editor on or off), SET HEADING (sets
the title for the Superbase window), SET NOW (sets the time held
in the system variable NOW), SET TODAY (sets the date held in the
system variable TODAY) and UPDATE FORM ROW (copies data from the
current records or records to a specified transaction line).
Also, commands have been added to enable use of communications
(OPEN COMMS, CLOSE COMMS, COMMS GET, COMMS INPUT COMMS ?, COMMS
FILE GET and COMMS FILE) and reports from DML programs (the
latter being SUM, COUNT, MIN, MAX, MEAN, VAR and SD).
The existing commands BLANK, ENTER, EXPORT, IMPORT, OPEN FIELDS
and REQUEST have been amended.
The best just got a bit better. "Superbase Professional 3" is
definitely better than the old one - both for the novice and the
expert user. The new keyboard equivalents and additions to the
user interface make its everyday use a lot easier and quicker,
and the new DML commands just give the expert user a bit more of
I am not sure whether the update is actually free for registered
users, but I guess it is. Just send your original disk plus
sufficient reply postage or International Reply Coupons to
Precision Software and you'll find out quickly enough.
It's worth trying if only to get rid of that darned old copy
P.S. I am very sorry for the fact that I'm increasingly often
using the word 'bummer'. This is easily explained by the
fact that the average letter/phonecall written by/made with
Tanis of TCB contains this word enormous loads of times. He
has successfully succeeded in indoctrinating me with it, so
that I often find the word slipping into what I say and
Sorry for this, dear reader, but I guess I am not to blame.
"Superbase Professional" is sold at £217.34 at Precision
Software in England, and is said to become available in Holland
at about 800 Dutch guilders. The English not the Dutch price are
up-to-date - I guess they may have dropped somewhat.
The Precision Software Ltd. address is:
Precision Software Ltd.
6 Park Terrace
Surrey KT4 7JZ
When I visited the European Computer Trade Show (see the ECTS
article elsewhere in this issue of ST NEWS), I also visited the
Precision Software people. I was surprised to see that they were
already having "Superbase Professional 4", but I was shocked (to
say the least) to notice that it was in fact for the Amiga only!
An ST update was not planned.
If you are a "Superbase Professional" user, I suggest you call
them right now, telling them to hurry with that damn update!
Paying over £200 entitles you to decent updates, I suppose (which
is what I told them).
Let's kneel and pray.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.