Printer Friendly

Could AS-EASY-AS spreadsheet be easier?

Has sliced bread been superseded by the AS-EASY-AS spreadsheet? Not quite, but there is no doubt that this spreadsheet is one of the greatest things since SB to become available to the home computer community. Version 4.0 of AS-EASY-AS has been in circulation on every computer bulletin board (BBS) in North America for some time and this summer Version 5.0 has been released. The latter has made most of the commands compatible with those used by LOTUS 1-2-3 and allows import of text and data files from most programs such as WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, Lotus 1-2-3, and dBASE in ASCII format.

For those who use spreadsheet programs at the office or lab, there is little or no adaptation to sitting down at home to input and manipulate data on your own machine. For those who have never before used a spreadsheet it is simplicity itself to learn how to access and make the most of it. The 249 page instruction book gives very straight forward information on how to expand one's usage, as well as indexing all the features and macros which make it a truly versatile toolkit.

This spreadsheet forms a grid of 256 columns (A through IV) and rows 1 through 8,192 making 2,097,152 cells. A mix of descriptive text and numbers can be placed in each cell with calculations dynamically linked to other cell contents. "Dynamically" means that if you change a number the whole array recalculates immediately, but you can also suppress that if you wish input to progress as fast as you can type and then, when you are ready, telling it to recalculate. The width of a column or row height can be changed easily, but most PC monitors are limited to displaying 25 lines by 80 characters. To expand its access without losing the header and row titles of as many left hand columns or rows as is desired, the latter can be frozen in display; thus, as the cursor is moved to the right, the unfrozen columns will scroll across to the left but the chosen frozen columns will continue to display their contents, similarly for the frozen rows as you scroll down or up throughout your array.

Confidential data can be entered but hidden by setting the column width to zero. The information is not lost and can be involved in calculations, but it is not displayed for view by any nosey interloper strolling past the PC operator.

Even though it is such a powerful little package, it takes up fewer than 600k of RAM. It can run on any IBM PC, XT, AT, PS/2 or compatible computer operating on DOS version 2.11 or later, works with Windows 3.0 or later and responds to a mouse installed with its own mouse driver. For those without a hard drive, it can run directly off a single floppy (720k minimum) or dual floppy disc.

The graphics packages are very clear on Hercules and CGA, EGA and VGA screens. They give very impressive copy in so-called 3-D on all other compatible printers including dot-matrix and my bubblejet. The latter cannot print landscape from other programs without purchase of an extended font package, but AS-EASY-AS carries its own landscape instructions for your selection; all print instructions are sent to the printer in ASCII form and so a separate printer driver is not required.

Thirteen different graph formats can be selected including X-Y, pie, line, bar, stacked bar, polar, strip and cumulative. Selection can be made of fill patterns, colors, line styles and tick-mark styles. Semi-log or log-log form of X-Y graphs can be specified. Labels can be custom positioned and titles inserted. Up to six curves can be displayed, with an additional six if two graphs are merged.

Ten steps on a bar chart are the maximum before a two-tiered or staggered labelling system is forced; the width of the bars automatically adjust according to the number of bars selected. Not only are pie charts differentially shaded but a slice or slices can be exploded out of the circle for emphasis in a presentation. Beware of being covered with pie filling when exploding your pie!

The print capability is not only self-contained by sending to the printer in ASCII but you can view your masterpiece at full size or 200% before sending to the printer. Page breaks can be inserted, automatic page numbering, font sizes for the main titles, legends, values and labels (with their positions on the graph) can all be customized. The graphics can then be sent to a separate file, saved for the data file or printed in hard copy form. The graphics file type selected can be .PIC, the format for LOTUS 1-2-3, or .DBF, the extension for dBASE III or IV.

The Help information accessed on pressing the F1 key is very full, over 50 pages, but not always intelligible to the beginner who needs help the most. However, the instruction book is much clearer, partly because examples are plentiful. The Help Function can be particularly useful for picking one of over 70 macros or an @ Function out of 80 already available or which has been created by the user. It can also be used to select a printer set-up code, or choose a range previously named in the spreadsheet (up to 250 labels or named ranges can be stored, each up to 11 characters long).

Access to the spreadsheet is effected through menus activated by the forward-slash "/" command: The menu will appear top left of screen and can be toggled to top right by pressing the period key. Selection is by pressing the highlighted letter of the desired option, or the cursor-down key, followed by "ENTER". For each option, the alternative sub-options of that item are shown in a horizontal list above the menu.

Multiple calculations can be invoked for a cell or group of cells using standard or custom @ Functions, results may be

inverted, or regression formulae of straight-line data calculated by AS-EASY-AS in order to predict a future value. Values or formulae may be copied, moved, added or subtracted.

A search with find or replace function exists; data may be justified, sorted or manipulated in all manner of ways.

Temporary exit to DOS may be effected by using a SHELL command while AS-EASY-AS stays resident in RAM taking up only whatever memory is occupied by the worksheet.

AS-EASY-AS is a copyrighted software product developed and owned by TRIUS Inc., P.O. Box 249, North Andover, MA, Zip 01845-0249. You may obtain a copy for US$65 by writing or by Fax 508-688-6312, Bulletin Board 508-794-0762; telephone 508-794-9377. Technical support is provided on 508-794-0140.

Michael Randerson, MCIC, is with the Department of Regional Industrial Expansion. Chemputing is edited by Marvin Silbert, FCIC.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Chemical Institute of Canada
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Randerson, Michael
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Article Type:Product/Service Evaluation
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Previous Article:Professionalism: can it meet the needs of the chemist and profession?
Next Article:Industry: academic mix contributes to forum's success.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters