Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 133 / SEPTEMBER 1991 / PAGE 126

PAM: Program Automated Method. (relational database) (evaluation)
by Richard Mann

Despite the generic name, PAM is a lightning-fast relational database with industrial-strength capabilities.

PAM consists of an application generator and a run module. Use the application generator to design your database through its associated screens and reports. Compile it (with just a few simple keystrokes); then move to the run module to run it. At no time do you write a single line of program code. It's all done for you by the application generator.

Application generators are not new. The ones included with the big-name databases are definitely more intuitive to use, but they usually carry with them a hefty overhead that slows things down, fills up your hard disk, and empties your pocketbook. This is where PAM earns its market share, by being faster, leaner, and less expensive than other relational databases with comparable power.

A curious but welcome throwback to earlier days of programming, PAM favors speed and program efficiency over glitzy, no-brainer interfaces. The code is lean and direct, leaving out the high overhead associated with holding the user's hand every step of the way to productivity.

To learn PAM, set aside a good four- to six-hour block of time to work through the excellent tutorial--250 of the manual's 355 clearly written pages. As you progress through the lessons, you'll learn PAM's arcane keystrokes, and while there's nothing intuitive about them, they are definitely learnable. And a word of advice: Don't skip the tutorial--you'll only frustrate yourself.

I do have a few complaints. In text fields, you can't use the backspace key. You're stuck with the left arrow and delete combination. A fast typist or data entry operator hits the backspace key automatically; it should be supported by PAM. And a few editing functions don't work as described in the manual.

PAM packs a rich feature set. Fields can be set to be all upper- or lowercase or to automatically capitalize the first letter of each word. Fields can have required entry or be set to accept only full fields. Automatic field duplication, incrementing, and skipping are supported. Furthermore, PAM offers a matrix-table function that allows spreadsheetlike "what if" calculations--only much faster. PAM imports and exports standard Lotus and dBase files, as well as other common formats, making your data extremely portable.

After the initial learning phase, you can easily build complex databases that compare well in functionality with the well-known database programs. Your databases may not look as elegant, but they'll do the job. And at PAM's price, that's affordable dependability.