8-Bit Software Online Conversion

 An in depth review       of a piece of      software.   Program name: Systems Server 6a AVAILABLE ONLY TO 8 BIT MEMBERS Reviewed by: Andrew Black. System requirements:   BBC B, OS 1.2 or higher.   Master Series (except ET)   6502 2nd processor/HiBasic   Archimedes/A3000 with !65Host   8 Bit members and NOT pirates! Hint, Hint to any shady people lurking in the valleys.  Well this is it, what we all have been waiting for...Systems Server version 6a How will this version compare to previous versions? (efforts) - that's a joke Duncan, honest! (chuckle) Will it provide us with peace of mind? or just another pain in the filing system? Systems server was designed to help you organise your files (and hence your life) and discs into a recognisable order. It is a comprehensive database which can hold information on every file you have and it is possible to run programs directly from the server.  THE MANUAL:   The instruction manual provided is about 30 A4 pages in length and covers all aspects of server. It includes an index, which is vital unless you want to go wading through pages of useless data. (I do) The manual is very good at explaining the program and often gives demonstrations on how it should be done. It also provides a help sheet at the end so which prompts you to write off to Duncan if you need help. A lot of time and thought has been put into the manual and it shows!  Now to the program. On booting up you are presented with a Mode 7 screen prompting you to enter a User Name (database file). If the program finds a UserName corres- ponding to the one you have entered you will be put directly through to the main menu. If the program does not find the UserName it presumes that you would like to set up a new database. Three inputs are required for each database - Database name, Filename and Notefile. After you entered these you are asked to enter the number of new records which you wish to create, any number between 1 and 999. (Whole numbers only of course) You must then confirm your choices before the disc drive starts chugging away. (This does mean however that you will probably not get Can't extend errors because the size of the database files stay the same, like a bucket. Your database records are water into the bucket so to speak, at least I think so - ED) Anyway - the chugging can take a long time. After the disc drive has finished chugging away you will be sent into main menu of Server which contains an array of options for you to choose from, as well as information about the size and state of your database at the foot of the screen. To be able to manipulate data you have to have it in the first place and when you first enter the main menu all you can really do is to enter some records.  THE CONTENTS OF EACH RECORD     Program name   Category - this can be GAME, UTILITY, ROM IMAGE and so on   The disc which the program is on   Three lines of NOTES about the program.   How the program should be loaded  The entering of records is speeded up by having macro-menus for things like Category and Loading option. The other options from the main menu are equally comprehensive. The options for searching (or browsing as it is now called) (Is this a result of Duncan having an A3000?) are very powerful indeed, allowing the user to enter his or her own search patterns for a file or files. Likewise, the revising and deleting structures are comprehensive and they do in fact work! I will not go into all the options as you can try them out for yourself. They all work very well indeed and I have experienced no problems as yet.  There are still problems with Systems Server. On an 80 track disc system you can only create a database structure of about 430 program records, which in my case is severely constricting. I managed to fit over 500 records on by doing nasty things to the programs. A better alternative would be an option of specifying a source drive for the data. The program is not as friendly as it could be. Maybe some kind of online help suggestions, displayed when something has gone wrong would help. To combat the space problem, how about a Main Database Organiser which allows you to keep different databases on different discs. Possibly one for games and one for utilities and so on. The speed of the program cannot really be increased unless someone fancies rewriting the filing system.  I have reviewed Systems Server as a professional program. As a professional program it rates very highly indeed, this is because of the amount of time put into developing the full program, which includes the manual as well. Since Systems Server is free it represents what can be only described as fantastic value and is surely destined for fame. This version of the program has been put together not only by Duncan, but by every member who contributed suggestions and ideas to it. Duncan has not achieved perfection yet so keep writing to him!  RE-WRITING THE FILING SYSTEM:   It might be worthwhile to note that the Wapping Editor from Watford Electronics includes in its 64K rom a rewrite of the DFS called TurboDFS which might improve speed performance.   Somebody gave me the original of the Wapping Editor and I have yet to plug the ROM in. If anybody would like to do a benchmark test with some their Server database then contact me (Andy Nibbs) thru Duncan. Andy Nibbs (ED) 