Superbase 2. (data base management system) (Evaluation)
by Richard O. Mann
Until recently, Windows 3.0 users could buy only the simple database: Superbase 2. We'll see others come to market now, but Superbase has the advantage of product maturity--all the bugs have been exterminated, and the program is reliable.
You don't program Superbase 2. While not truly relational, the program can display fields from several files at once and use them in reports. As a true Windows application from the ground up, many of its strengths and weaknesses mirror those of Windows. Consisting entirely of graphics screens and images, Superbase allows you to create striking visuals for input screens, output forms, and reports. The Form Painter module takes full advantage of Windows' graphic talents to invoke color, fonts, shading, borders, and imported images to enliven data onscreen or on paper.
You can even include scanned-in images in database records by putting the graphics image filename in a field. Superbase 2 makes the common example of displaying a photo of each employee in a personnel database a simple example to replicate. The possibilities are exciting the endless--if you have the scanning equipment and enough disk storage to handle all those large image files. Using the Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) function, Superbase 2 can capture and modify data in other Windows applications' files.
Of course, the standard Windows menus and functions will prove quite navigable. Not all Windows programs truly deliver quick familiarity, but Superbase 2 has shoehorned the database commands into the Windows framework rather well. If you have a working knowledge of other Windows programs, you'll pick up the basics of Superbase quickly. Of course, you'll also suffer with Windows' poky speed.
Superbase 2 is powerful. Rich and capable, it has a query function with enough flexibility to do anything you could reasonably expect of a nonprogrammable database. It reads dBASE files directly, allowing you to work with DBF data (on a read-only basis) without converting the data into Superbase format. It provides multilevel file security through passwords and can handle massive databases of up to 16 billion records with 999 indexed fields--that is, if you hard disk could hold such a monster.
I found little to dislike in Superbase 2. Written in a stiff style, the manual proved less than enjoyable to read. Sequences of steps in the tutorial cry out for presentation in numbered or bulleted lists instead of long, hard-to-follow sentences. Using the manual to install the product, I began to panic as it went directly from installation into some rather dense reference material. I had to seek out the tutorial on my own; I found it hidden in the back, just before the appendices.
Competent on the whole, though, Superbase 2 takes full advantage of the Windows graphic interface. In fact, the program is a good example of what Windows applications are all about.