TurboBase Business Software
by STEPHEN ROQUEMORE
The MicroMod TurboBase Integrated Business Application is the ambitious successor to MicroMiser's previous versions of MicroMod small-business software. (Version 2.4 was reviewed in the July, 1986 issue of Antic.)
TurboBase takes full advantage of the latest third-party power enhancements for the 8-bit Atari. Specifically, it works with the 1-megabyte RAMdisk capability of ICD's Multi I/O Board ($349.95) and speedy SpartaDOS 3.2. (These breakthrough ICD products were reviewed in the April, 1987 Antic.) TurboBase also works under standard Atari DOS 2.5, or DOS XL from OSS, but TurboBase is such a powerful software system that it really needs the extra hardware muscle in order to show its full potential. This program is not primarily for casual home users, but for business owners seeking a central software system to handle all their financial and administrative data.
MicroMiser has made it clear that TurboBase is intended to compete with the best of IBM PC business applications. In fact, MicroMiser ideally would like to recruit a network of "value-added resellers" to market and support beefed-up Atari/ICD systems running TurboBase--at savings of about $20,000 over competitive PC packages.
TurboBase is actually an integrated software system with multiple applications that work together. The Directory is where you set up all the entries for customer and vendor addresses, phone numbers and miscellaneous data. Dated Records sets up accounts for the receivables and payables. There is a word processor-with a spelling checker, no less--for creating form letters and other business documents.
Other programs track inventory, process invoices and statements, or handle the payroll calculations. A flexible report generator prints your own specialized report layouts.
I really can't think of any feature associated with running a business that has been left out--except for the huge prices charged for comparable software on MS-DOS computers.
The TurboBase Manual is over four inches thick. It is so complete that you could spend several weeks just mastering it. Thoughtfully, MicroMiser has provided a quicker way to get started--the Quick Course and Cookbook.
The Quick Course is a small spiral-bound manual that contains step-by-step instructions showing you how to use most of the features of the program in minimum time. It first tells you the goals of each "lesson," then tells you exactly what to type in and what you should expect to see on the screen.
MicroMiser's idea is that the Quick course will be your "programmed" teacher. You are supposed to take this course in several two-hour sessions, as though you were attending a workshop with an expensive consultant. And if you get stuck, the company says it will provide as much telephone support as you need to get started.
MicroMiser does indeed live up to its promises. I have an unusual disk set-up that doesn't lend itself to running either SpartaDOS or DOS 2.5. I phoned for assistance and MicroMiser president Steve Bolduc was very helpful. Within a few days I received updated double-density DOS XL disks.
When I sat down to start the Quick Course, I found that it was easy to follow and very quickly communicated an understanding of TurboBase functions. It also provided some of the intuitive feel you get from using a program for a long time. You always started from something simple and built on it, so the logical structure soon became apparent. Eventually you could successfully guess what would come next.
Many of the Quick Course lessons involve printing what you have just done. At key points you compare your printout with the example in the manual. If there are differences, you re-do the previous steps until you get a match, or call MicroMiser for help.
The printing was . . .slow. . . on my DOS XL version. The manual discusses this issue thoroughly and recommends the Multi I/O Board with SpartaDOS as the best solution.
The Quick Course requires about 12-14 hours to complete, including two tests at the end. Yes, there is a final test. You can send it in to be graded and they will recommend any necessary brush-up areas. Now this is customer support!
When you are finished with the Quick Course, you will be familiar enough with the main Manual to find most of the answers you need for setting up your own specialized configuration.
Sometimes the writing tone in the Manual and the Quick Course seemed more suitable for a casual home user than for a business professional. I was occasionally left slightly confused about what type of user they were specifically speaking to. But this is indeed a minor point-- the excellence of TurboBase software and documentation for its stated purpose soon becomes self-evident.
Ambitious and astute home users could also make good use of TurboBase. The Dated Records section will construct just about any database ayplication you could want from older software like SynFile + or DataPerfect. Even just the Directory program could be useful in general database applications. I recommend a serious look at TurboBase for any small-business owner who has been resisting the pressure to convert to a PC clone and run MS-DOS apylications. TurboBase on an Atari with the Multi I/O will deliver comparable power at a fraction of the cost.
MicroMiser Software, Inc.
1635-A Holden Avenue
Orlando, FL 32809
$159.95, 48K disk
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