Indispensable Tool For The Paperless Office
BY JOHN NAGY
There are many desk-accessory, rolodex-type address books, both in the public domain and as commercial programs. But few offer as much for the money as GT Software's CardFile.
|CardFile version 2.0
512K high and medium rez
With plenty of address-book
A typical CardFile entry
GT is one of many small, independent software companies that feature a limited title of homebrew commercial software. CardFile, like several other low-price applications and utilities, began as shareware, distributed freely and paid for by those who found both the software to be useful and their consciences to be outspoken. Author Tyson Gill says that his recent change from shareware versions to commercial versions, and now to a regular retail distributor, has not yet reaped profits, but that things are on a distinct upswing.
And they should. CardFile (now in version 2.0) comes in two versions on the disk, one as an accessory for convenient use anytime from within GEM programs, and a .PRG version for use when memory is short or your accessory list is long. The accessory uses a minimum of 70K data space, somewhat large for everyday use on even a 1MB machine. I have over 100 names and addresses in my CardFile, and have used only half of the basic 20K that is the default buffer size. By resizing the buffer upwards, up to 2,500 cards can be added (though that many could take between 500K and 900K). Fourteen fixed fields are available with the standard GEM data-entry functions, enhanced to include the insert or typeover functions found in word processors
The CardFile calendar
The CardFile reminder screen
It is the extras that make CardFile a special choice for address books. Macros can be made of any line by holding shift and pressing a function key. That function key will then insert the text from that line whenever pressed. Great for redundant city, state, zip-code or time entries. More dramatic is the send function (in the accessory version only) that will automatically send the currently selected address into any GEM program that is also running. This is ideal for word processors to instantly insert an address into a letter. Independently, Cardfile can print individual envelopes (even with a return address!), phone lists, or full address books, selectable for chapters (by letter) or continuous. Printer configurations can be made, selected and loaded on the fly to create different printing fonts or positions. The possibilities are quite numerous and should suit most needs and virtually any printer.
There is an autosave feature, which gave me trouble. Because of a hard-drive problem independent of CardFile, CardFile failed to load its data. Since I had the autosave feature active, when I exited the program, it overwrote the good file on my hard disk with the corrupted file it had in its buffer. If I had simply turned off my computer, this wouldn't have happened, but I forgot I had turned on the autosave feature. If you're forgetful like me, I don't recommend using this option.
Since it is a versatile phone book, another natural function that is a treat to have is the phone dialer. CardFile will make any standard modem dial the currently selected card with a choice of configurable prefixes. It's a snap to look up a card, hit the dial button, and wait to hear an answer from the modem speaker before even picking up the telephone handset.
The search function in CardFile works just as it ought, straightforward and quickly. Always active and on the screen, any keystrokes go right to the search window; [Return] performs the search. While CardFile searches only on the last-name field, filters let you search for partial or full matches in any single or multiple fields. You save a "filter card" made up of any commonly needed selection criteria, apply search to the card, then filter to the list of correct cards. The group entry is particularly useful for creating categories and sub-categories of cards, and selecting them as needed. While the CardFile manual suggests such groups as "ST club" and "Church", I found it useful to use a letter code, which allows a single card to carry several codes. A particular person may be a computer connection (C), a co-worker (W), a very close friend (A), family (F), a creditor ($), and/or all of the above. I can enter ACW and find all cards of people who are a close friend, a computer connection and a co-worker. Filters can be either exact match or any-field match, and the key in the filter can be any part of the entry in the field.
Integrated in CardFile is a calendar that handles appointments quite nicely. A reminder function is available that will announce, when the program is first run or the accessory boots, any appointments pending today or tomorrow. I'd prefer to see taggable reminders, as it is an all or nothing setting in CardFile. Alarms would be nice, too, since time handling is already done well in the calendar. Maybe in the next upgrade? Moving from day to day in the calendar is easy, and even better is a one-click move to the next actual appointment entry, forwards or backwards from the currently displayed date. Keyboard equivalents of most commands are prompted in the dialogs and buttons, as they should be for faster use as familiarity grows.
The program notes in the manual and on the disk mention some problems with early versions of HotWire and MultiDesk from CodeHead software, but that updates of the Code-Head products have resolved them. The send function also seems not to work with Script, the graphic word processor from Megamax.
CardFile is one of a handful of address-hook programs I have, but it will be the one I use. Not one of the others has impressed me enough to type in the mountain of names and phone numbers I had in the corner of my desk. While I'd like a bit more from the calendar, it's probably inviting enough to get me using it.
John Nagy is the editor of Z*Net Monthly