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Lotus Corp. has expanded the capabilities of its popular Windows-based database management system, Lotus Approach, released June 27. Approach has received favorable reviews from users and industry publications because of its combination of ease of use and reasonable data processing capabilities, presenting relational database management capabilities through a relatively simple graphical interface. Proving that sometimes even something that isn't broken can at least be improved, version 3.0 sports further user interface improvements as well as an impressive array of more than 200 new features figure 1).
As a DATA BASED ADVISOR reader, you're probably most interested in how Approach might work for you in development projects. The answer is, Approach is intended primarily as an end-user DBMS, somewhere between Symantec Q&A and Microsoft Access. Its current and anticipated user base is primarily interested in analyzing raw corporate data and creating simple form and report-based applications with a minimum of effort and training--a product to recommend to clients.
Rather than providing a half-hearted procedural programming facility that's pleasing to no one, the Approach development team has opted to exclude that capability entirely. Instead, customization is done via point-and-click form and report creation and a flexible macro facility. Macros are as close as Approach comes to programming: ordered series of steps, selected from a pool of 27 available actions. The individual actions are: Browse, Close, Delete, Dial, Edit, Enter, Exit, Export, Find, Find Special, Import, Mail, Menu Switch, Message, Open, Preview, Print, Records, Replicate, Run, Save, Set, Sort, Spell Check, Tab, View, and Zoom. (The Run command comes suspiciously close to an attempt at a real programming facility, because it allows you to chain other macros under designated conditions.) Macros can be assigned to buttons on forms and function …