Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 5, NO. 7 / NOVEMBER 1986

Product Reviews


SoSoft Software
2513E Sylvester Road
Albany, GA 31705
(912) 888-0821
579.95, 48K disk

Reviewed by Stephen Roquemore

InSyst! is just the ticket for the small businessman who needs a complete inventory tracking system. It is written in speedy ACTION! language, but you don't need the ACTION! cartridge to operate InSyst! The program is not copy-protected and encourages use of two disk drives (Atari 1050 preferred). With two drives, you can track 1,698 inventory items without disk swapping. InSyst! even supports the Atari 10-key numeric pad, if you have one.

On an 800, the software's speed from one record to the next and between menus was only average. However, when I ran InSyst! on a 130XE the real power of this program became apparent. Transitions between menus were almost instantaneous. Record processing was much faster than on the 800 or the XL because of automatic use of the 130XE RAMdisk for program modules. The manufacturer claims an average record access time of under two seconds. I would recommend InSyst! to any Atari owner-but for 130XE users, this little Clark Kent really turns into Superman.

The InSyst! manual is well-written and easy to understand. Other manuals should be so good. The first section discusses creating your System Disk using DOS 2.5, which comes on the Master, or creating your System Disk with your own DOS. You can use any DOS which is file-compatible with DOS 2.5 or 2, but not DOS 3. Section Two presents a good method to follow in your own business, including systematic data backups. Other sections give detailed explanations of the Main Menu, the Edit/Add Screen, the Reports Menu and the Disk Menu.

InSyst! runs on any 8-bit Atari with at least 48K memory. But on my standard 800 model, InSyst! does not automatically boot all the way to the Main Menu. You must press [RESET] and answer "Y" to the resulting prompt, which takes you to DOS where you use the Binary Load function on the file. InSyst! disables BASIC as part of the boot process, so you won't need to hold down the [OPTION] key on the 800XL and 130XE. This apparently causes the boot problem.

On a 130XE, this
little Clark Kent
really turns into

After formatting your data disk, you return to the Main Menu and select Edit/Add Records. Entering the data will be a time-consuming process if you have a few hundred items to track. Item identification codes can be 12 characters long, description fields can be 24 characters. There are fields for bin location and vendor codes. The program can compute suggested orders and track multiple costs on purchases.

All data records are easily entered and edited on a single nicely laid-out screen format. The top part displays the basic information on each item, the middle section is for adding or editing receipts and sales at a particular cost on a given date, the bottom portion displays sales history for each item, on a first-in, first-out basis.

Pressing [RETURN] moves the cursor to the next field, the [TAB] key backs you up to the previous field. Once the fields have been entered to your satisfaction, you can add or change the record by entering [CONTROL] [A] for Accept, [CONTROL] [D] for Delete, or [CONTROL] [E] to Edit.

Pressing the [ESC] key is the standard exit throughout the program, if you want to leave before accepting the changes. You can use [CONTROL] and the arrow keys to move right or left in a field. Scrolling through one record at a time, forward or backward, is done with [CONTROL] and the up/down arrow keys. I found some of the command sequences a little difficult at first, but they soon became second nature.

You can modify the 10 default report formats provided and then save them to disk for automatic loading when you boot InSyst! The possible combinations should meet almost any need. You can also specify many of the printer parameters required to format your report. Reports can be printed to the screen as well as the printer, and in abbreviated format which you can specify. You can also save your choice of screen colors.

This program is one of the best-written, best-documented and most professional efforts I have seen for 8-bit Ataris. Data input errors by users are minimized by well-done data checking and error trapping routines. InSyst! renews my faith in the future of the 8-bit machines. I highly recommend InSyst! to anyone who needs an excellent inventory system and doesn't want to invest an arm and a leg.

A-Plus Enterprises
3790 Blenheim Road
St. Joseph, MI 49085
(616) 429-8666
$14.95, 48K disk

Reviewed by Gregg Pearlman

If you regularly drive yourself crazy when you balance your checkbook, then Checkbook Plus might be just what you need to help restore your sanity. As the title indicates, this little program helps balance a checkbook, records outstanding and cancelled checks, keeps track of deposits, categorizes expenditures by budget category, and handles an unlimited number of accounts.

Checkbook Plus is menu-driven, so it's easy to operate. Just follow the screen instructions as they come on. The main menu has nine choices. To set up a new account, press [1] for Enter Selection, [CONTROL] [D] to indicate that you are entering a Deposit on the "Check #" line, and type in your account balance. To keep track of the account, enter checks and deposits in the same manner. The program keeps a running balance, displaying a Yes/No prompt to ask if the balance is correct.

In entering checks and deposits, the cursor moves from Check # to Date, Name (16 characters) and Amount. Then you choose from 15 budget categories. A formatted disk without DOS holds about six files of 400 checks each, and files can be linked.

Selection [4] on the main menu is the List Reports feature. This searches for individual checks by name or number, displays all checks and deposits (or only the ones outstanding or cancelled), displays and sorts checks based on a selected budget category, displays the check numbers and running balances, and sorts the checks in numerical order.

Balancing your checkbook with Checkbook Plus is easy The program keeps track of all outstanding checks you enter. Use main menu option [31, Print Outstanding Checks and Deposits, and compare the checkbook balance with your bank statement. If the two balances aren't identical, use the program to determine entries that could account for the difference. Also, search for service charges, etc., that you may not have recorded on the disk.

This program is especially useful if you have unusual accounts, such as interest-paying checking. Just enter the interest from your statement as a deposit, and type "interest" on the Name line.

Your bank statements are computer-generated, and usually any discrepancy between the bank's numbers and yours can be accounted for by your mistake. Now you can eliminate that, because computers, so they say, don't make mistakes. When your balance is calculated by a computer on each end, it has a much better chance of being accurate.

Reeve Software
29W 150 Old Farm Lane
Warrenville, IL 60555
(312) 393-2317
$49.95, 48K Disk

Reviewed by Stephen Roquemore

Business Manager is a nicely produced tool for the small business owner who needs a simple accounting system to track sales and inventory without getting lost in a lot of bells and whistles.

This icon-based program supports Reeve Software's Super ReeveKey, a 10-key number pad, and the Rat, an 8-bit mouse from Zobian Controls. Naturally, Business Manager can also be operated entirely from the Atari keyboard. Menu icons are selected by typing a number or clicking on the chosen icon with the Rat. The basic choices are Maintain Company (which you need to do first), Customers, Products, Invoicing, Reports, Utilities and Exit.

Written in Atari BASIC, Business Manager is also compatible with BASIC XE from OSS and takes advantage of the 128K memory in an Atari 130XE. The program is not copy-protected. It comes with two disks and 12 separators for your monthly printouts. I highly recommend using two drives with the program, to avoid onerous disk-swapping.

With the Maintain Company selection, you set up the basic data about your company-address, phone number, etc. Here you also specify a system with either one or two disk drives, set your customer tax codes, name as many as three pricing levels and set your last invoice number. All this is written to side A of the program disk as the company record. But confusingly, the 15-Page manual says nothing about what disks should be in what drives when this happens.

The second main menu choice, Customers, is where you add or change customer records, record customer payments, print customer lists or mailing labels, or change customer disks. You can have 350 customers per disk, indexed by a five-digit number.

With the Products selection you add, change, or delete product records, maintain inventory and print product lists. You can have 600 products per disk. A product record includes a five-digit product number (0-99999), a description, a tax code, the minimum stock level and the quantity on hand.

The Invoicing selection is used for assembling invoices for outgoing shipments by searching the Customer and Product disks for the data you want. When you have found what you need, you can add products, cancel, display or print the order. You can have 99 products on an invoice. When displaying the order, you can change any of the data on the screen. When you print the invoice, a copy is written to disk.

The manual thoroughly discusses how to build an invoice-it takes more than a page to explain. And I suspect that the procedure could have been programmed to be much simpler. According to the manual, you must track backorders manually. I think this also could have been included in the program with little effort. Additionally, it is cumbersome that in order to delete an invoice, you must first re-create it by using a printed copy of the original.

The Reports selection lets you print the company record, a report of taxes owed (listed by product tax code) and a products-sold report, also by product tax code. No real customizing is allowed here; you just get the programmed formats.

I would recommend Business Manager to anyone who runs a small or part-time business and doesn't want to spend a lot of money on bookkeeping software. With a 130XE and two disk drives, Business Manager could be just what many are looking for.