A&B Computing

Psi File

Author: Shingo Sugiura
Publisher: Haiku
Machine: BBC/Electron

Published in A&B Computing 2.05

Good database packages can save you a lot of time when used wisely. The Beeb, being a "serious" micro has attracted many software houses in this area of computing and now there are quite a few very good database packages on the market. Here is another package.

This rather quaintly named package comes from Haiku Software Technology who used to sell a rather nice tape-based package called Profile but with the arrival of disc-based packages such as Beta Base and very powerful ROM-based packages such as Datagem, Profile has now become very outdatted. Quite rightly, they have decided to upgrade it rather drastically and ended up with PsiFile.

This packages has all the usual features such as list, peruse, edit, add, save/load, find, search, etc. Probably the most interesting point about this package is its use of variable length records. This makes efficient use of memory by eliminating unused spaces often found in fixed format record types used by most database packages. There is a good variety of data types which include unsigned integers, signed long integers, floating point numbers, characters, strings and block of strings. By selecting the right type of data type, you can save a lot of memory.

One area in which relatively cheap databases fall down is in the sort/find facility. In this case, these facilities are very powerful. PsiFile uses two types of search methods, sequential search and binary search. The latter is used when you decide to search by key for a single unique record and in practice, this turned out to be a very fast and effective search. There are also three types of wild cards. A query (?) will match with any character, a plus (+) will match the end of any string and a dollar ($) when placed at the start of a string ignores case. PsiFile sorts the records automatically on entry by the requested key-field but there is also an option to sort by a non-key field.

In fact, all the usual facilities are there and are well implemented. If anything, the only niggle about this relatively cheap package is its rather cheaply produced manual. Overall, a nice package.

Shingo Sugiura

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