Over the past five years Philip de Lisle has been a management consultant for the personal computer environment, but in September 1988 he added another string to his bow by setting up a development company called Solid Oak Software with the idea of developing a data dictionary for the dBase community. In fact the first […]
Over the past five years Philip de Lisle has been a management consultant for the personal computer environment, but in September 1988 he added another string to his bow by setting up a development company called Solid Oak Software with the idea of developing a data dictionary for the dBase community. In fact the first product to enter the market from Solid Oak was SOS Help!, a Clipper add-on library marketed by Nantucket which was a spin-off from the longer term development project. Since its launch in July, about 300 copies of this product have been shipped. Allegedly because of the problem of trademarking the name Solid Oak in the US, the company has now changed its name to Lamaura Development and has launched its data dictionary.
First of set of tools
De Lisle says the dictionary is the first part of a planned software engineering environment for dBase that will emerge from Lamaura. The products have not been produced on the back of market research, but are the result of product gaps de Lisle has discovered during his consultancy work. De Lisle claims that his data dictionary, aside from being able to tell a field name, a field type, a field length and decimals, and defining the structures of data (.DBF) files, has added functionality. For example, it has a picture clause to define the end user screen and the character field and so forth; a validation clause to ensure that the end user’s data conforms to the data dictionary’s specifications, as well as determining whether a field is used to set up relationships with another table and, if it is, the name of the target field in the look-up table. It has circular reference checking, referential integrity, the automatic creation of data tables for a finished design, a 20Kb dictionary log, a 20Kb table notepad and 256-byte field descriptors. There are four versions of the dictionary: single-user costing UKP200, five-user priced at UKP600, 25-user retailing at UKP1,200 and a 99-user costing UKP1,800. The multi-user versions offer real-time updates and message passing with immediate screen refresh and current dictionary ownership details, since only one person at a time can update the dictionary. The advantages of the dictionary are that it reduces development time since it can reuse definitions, that it gives a consistent application development environment with the real-time changes increasing communications among programmers, and that old applications can be sucked up into the dictionary so that they can be updated. Nantucket has exclusive marketing rights to the product in Europe and de Lisle will be at Comdex this year looking for a US third party distributor of dBase products to try and establish some US market penetration for Lamaura software. As for the idea that dBase users might be a dwindling market, de Lisle stressed that his products were not tied to Ashton-Tate’s language but also supported FoxBase+, Clipper, DBXL and Quicksilver. He did not see this wide market base declining, arguing that its challenger, SQL, is too powerful and complex for the personal computer market and will only flourish in large corporates where micros are linked to a mainframe. Nantucket, which is building SQL into its personal computer products anyway, is clearly not bothered either way. Katy Ring