The Micro User


Bel Base
By Bel
BBC B/B+/Master 128

 
Published in The Micro User 3.02

Runabout Database

Compared with the expensive Rolls Royce BBC data bases, Bel Base is no more than a family run-about.

But then there's a difference between paying almost a third of the price of your machine for one piece of software, and a mere £18 for the disc version of Bel Base, which may well do all you want it to. The £49 will buy the ROM version, and if you can envisage a good use for a database on cassette, it will cost you £16.

As an automated card index, the package should satisfy basic home or club requirements.

Creation of a file, addition and deletion of data or whole records, and simple searching and retrieval can all be carried but relatively smoothly. Sort speed is about average for a program in this price bracket.

Bel Base does lack some features which many users are rightly beginning to expect as the norm. There's little scope for tailoring, no and/or operators, no file restructure option, no date field and sorting is on one key only.

On the other hand, some touches are quite unusual. A neat macro substitution allows automatic entry of repeated data. A global editing - search and replace - function is handy, though it has obvious dangers for the slaphappy user.

Mailshot - which comes with Bel Base but can also be bought separately - is not as impressive as its name suggests. It is little more than a label-generator, but it has a certain flexibility lacking in the report capabilities of some other databases for the BBC.

A companion program - Bel Graph (£17) - will produce bar graphs and pie charts from raw data in a Bel Base file. But that's as far as integration goes - there is no option in Bel Base for creating a spool file, let alone a direct link to a word processor.

The documentation is comprehensive, though the Jabberwocky flavour is a bit strong for the uninitiated and its level of literacy would certainly not have satisfied Lewis Carroll!

Bel Base is simple, and the disc-base version is cheap. On these grounds alone it's worth considering. But it's unlikely to toll the death knell for its competitors, even those in its price range.

Katherine Cranford

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