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Quattro Pro 4.0: push button power in a DOS spreadsheet.

Although the trend in IBM-compatible microcomputing these days is toward Windows-based application, there's still a lot of life left in DOS for innovative software publishers. A recently released DOS product, Quattro Pro 4.0, proves this.

Quattro Pro 4.0 combines push button with advanced analytical tools so users can evaluate complex spreadsheet relationship more easily. SpeedBar controls provide immediate access to commonly used functions, macros, and commands. The Intelligent Graphs feature creates statistical graphs of spreadsheet data without altering the underlying data.

Spreadsheet publishing features let users to go beyond adjusting column widths or aligning entries within cell blocks. Fonts, line drawings, boxes, bullets, and shading can be used to add a polished look to the presentation of the data. These spreadsheet publishing capabilities, along with alignment, numeric format, protection of cells, column width, hiding columns from view, and inserting page breaks are accessible from the Style menu.

WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get") display mode is the default display mode when the product is used on an EGA or VGA display. WYSIWYG allows for the formatting of the spreadsheet using exact attributes assigned to the text of the spreadsheet and graphs. WYSIWYG mode brings the benefits of graphical user interfaces to Quattro Pro. The typeface, style, point size, and colors of Quattro Pro's built-in bitstream fonts are displayed on screen exactly as they will print on the page.

Quattro Pro lets users choose a scaling percentage within a range of 25 to 200 percent for maximum control over display of the spreadsheet. A scaling percentage of 100 percent approximates the actual print size. It is often desirable to print a spreadsheet on a single page, but it is not always easy to select a font point size to ensure that the spreadsheet fits on a single page with maximum readability.

In either WYSIWYG or text mode, Quattro Pro's Print-To-Fit command takes all the guesswork out of this often tedious process by proportionally shrinking a print block so it prints on a single page. Also, Quattro Pro automatically shrinks a larger print block so fits on as few pages as possible.

Feature Accessibility

The SpeedBar panel is a row of clearly labeled customizable buttons appearing at the top of the spreadsheet that provides instant mouse click access to frequently used features and macros. Quattro Pro uses two SpeedBar panels, one for general spreadsheet work and another specifically designed for editing formulas. Users can modify the default buttons that come with the package or add their own buttons and attach macros to them. Users also can use SpeedBars in conjunction with Quattro Pro's unique menu builder to design button-driven spreadsheet applications.

Dialog boxes replace the menu systems in some areas which makes setting multiple options easier and quicker. Custom Style makes it easy to assign cell formatting characteristics with any combination of fonts, shading, line drawing, alignment, of numeric formatting. Users can apply these characteristics to any cells by invoking the style name. Users can specify multiple styles and save them in a library. Quattro Pro 4.0's custom styles also allow for the creation of user-defined numeric formats so numbers can be displayed exactly as desired.

Novell NetWare Support

Quattro Pro is fully network-ready, allowing access to spreadsheet and database files on popular DOS version 3.1-compatible networks such as 3COM and Novell. Quattro Pro uses standard DOS 3.1 NetBios calls.

Quattro Pro 4.0 complies with all established Novell NetWare security measures, yet provides users integrated access to NetWare capabilities without learning NetWare commands. Quattro Pro's NetWare integration allows users to automatically log on and map to any Novell server in the network. One can perform on-the-fly drive mapping, which allows browsing through servers to find desired data.

Automatic file locking ensures integrity of data in a shared spreadsheet environment. Quattro Pro automatically locks files as they are opened, to prevent conflicts between users attempting to access the same file. The first user to open spreadsheet file receives both read and write privileges; other users can simultaneously open the same file with read-only access and can save that file under another name on disk.

Quattro Pro's ability to link to spreadsheet and database files over a network provides users with one common source for information. When network users request a file, Quattro Pro performs an "Update Link" to fetch the information from files across the network. Network linking preserves confidentiality; when the master file is loaded, it reads the current information from all linked files. There is no need to distribute a master file to contributors of update information.

Quattro Pro 4.0 allows all users on network to share one set of fonts, eliminating the need for each user to store fonts in a private directory. This saves disk space on the network and on each local hard disk.

Quattro Pro 4.0 has two other important network features. One places one set of menu files on the network server, allowing users to share menus. The second allows network users to have one or more menu preference files (.MP) in their private directories. Menu preference files, about 7K each, specify runtime settings such as the startup working directory, printer, etc.

Advanced Spreadsheet Analysis

Intelligent Graphs perform advanced statistical analysis on series of data and generate graphs of that analysis in a single step without changing the underlying data. Once the graph is produced, Quattro Pro will place the statistical data generated in a user-specified range in the spreadsheet. Zoom and pan options enlarge specific sections of a graph then scroll left and right to view details. Zooming enlarges a portion of a graph then redisplays the graph with all axes scaled appropriately.

Users can specify the desired goal of a simple or complex spreadsheet model, and the Optimizer, Quattro Pro's new multi-variate (linear and nonlinear) solver, changes variables until the specified goal is reached. The Optimizer, save hours of "what-if" analysis when forecasting, maximizing profits, minimizing costs, or assigning budgetary dollars.

Audit provides a series of tools for analyzing the structure of a spreadsheet including a graphical map of the spreadsheet showing cell dependencies. Audit also shows external links, circular references, and formulas referring to cells that contain labels, blank cells, or cells that return error messages.

Quattro Pro 4.0 can now access libraries of custom @functions generated by third-party developers. These libraries can provide additional statistical or financial functions or meet some specific needs. The first commercially available library is Financial @nalyst.

Printing Enhancements

Quattro Pro now uses Bitstream Font Scaling Technology to supply dynamically scalable fonts. These fonts will automatically appear in the specified point size without being prebuilt, saving time and disk space. With Quattro Pro 4.0's print spooler, users can continue their spreadsheet work while Quattro Pro 4.0 is printing. The built-in Print Manager lets users manage the spooler queue, and delete, suspend, or resume print jobs.

Compatibility

This new version of Quattro Pro addresses my major concern with previous versions - lack of comprehensive support for spreadsheet files created with various versions of Lotus 1-2-3. Quattro Pro 4.0 offers enhanced support for Lotus 1-2-3 files, including the ability to import Impress and Lotus 1-2-3 WYSIWYG (.FMT and .FM3) files and Allways files (.ALL), making it easy for Quattro Pro users to access Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets without losing formatting information. Users also can read and write Release 2.x files and run macros. Quattro Pro 4.0 also can import Harvard Graphics 2.x files.

Quattro Pro 4.0 reads and writes Quattro Pro 3.0 files. Both versions 3.0 and 4.0 use the same file extension, although more file information is stored in 4.0 files. Quattro Pro 3.0 can read 4.0 files, but ignores information specific to version 4.0.

Consolidating Spreadsheets

Quattro Pro's consolidation capabilities are robust. Quattro Pro offers several unique linking mechanisms, making it a flexible solution for a variety of consolidation problems. It supports multi-page as well as freeform consolidation. Its linking technology gives users the capability to link individual cells or blocks of cells in one spreadsheet to other spreadsheets. Wild-card linking and workspaces give users added flexibility when creating multi-page spreadsheet models.

Quattro Pro lets users take advantage of a mixed-product spreadsheet environment. Any cell formula, command, or @function that uses a cell block may reference any cell in any other supported spreadsheet file, including Quattro, Lotus 1-2-3 Releases 1A, 2.01 and 2.2, and Symphony files. Spreadsheet links are automatically maintained when users move, copy, or otherwise rearrange the spreadsheet.

Quattro Pro's ability to simplify a complex spreadsheet by reducing it to a set of smaller linked spreadsheets that each reside in a separate file is unique. It automatically adjusts all cell references as they moved from one file to the next, ensuring accuracy and reliability.

Quattro Pro supports freeform consolidation, providing a means of referencing cells in different spreadsheets in formulas, or for simply viewing the contents of the cell in another spreadsheet. Users can reference any cell from any file in any formula.

Quattro Pro also supports 3-D type multipage consolidations in which cell values in the same row and column positions in different files are automatically grouped. Users can perform 3-D-type consolidations using Quattro Pro's wild-card linking codes. For example, the formula @SUM( [*]A1) adds the values in cell A1 of all currently loaded spreadsheets, and places the results in the current cell. It consolidates the value in many spreadsheets into one value.

External Database Access

Direct read and query access to databases in Paradox, dBase (II, III, III+, and IV), and Reflex file formats allows Quattro Pro users to easily manipulate external database information either in memory or on disk. Quattro Pro's powerful data connectivity extends the database query command to directly query database files stored on disk. Users do not need to load an entire database file into the spreadsheet to access the subset of information needed, thus eliminating the memory crunch experienced when querying large database files.

Additional database @functions, such as @DAVG AND @DCOUNT, allow Quattro Pro to directly perform summarization and aggregation functions on individual fields in database files within any formula.

Paradox Access

Quattro Pro's Paradox Access feature lets users run Quattro Pro and Paradox (version 3.5) at the same time, automatically load a Paradox table into a spreadsheet, work with the table in Quattro Pro, then return to Paradox by pressing CTRL-F10. If users implement Paradox 3.5 with Paradox SQL Link, this connection can bring SQL (Structured Query Language) data into Quattro Pro for further data analysis and presentation.

Paradox SQL Link provides a transparent connection to SQL servers. Once this connection is established, Paradox manages all communication without requiring the user to know SQL. Paradox 3.5 fully supports the security of the SQL server. Using Paradox SQL Link, users can create queries in Paradox, use Query By Example (QBE), and bring SQL data from mainframes, minis, or OS/2 serves into Paradox and then into Quattro Pro.

Paradox SQL Link automatically translates Paradox QBE statements into equivalent SQL statements for advance single-and multi-table data analysis. Additionally, users can perform many operations on SQL tables with simple Paradox menu choices.

Paradox SQL Link currently provides transparent access to six SQL database servers:

* IBM OS/2 Extended Edition Database Manager (version 1.2)

* Microsoft SQL Server (version 1.0)

* Oracle Server (version 6.0)

* Digital Equipment Corporation Rdb/VMS (version 3.1B)

* Sybase SQL Server for VMS and/or UNIX

* Tandem NonStop SQL Server gateway

What are the advantages of Paradox - Quattro Pro switching? Users can implement Paradox's powerful QBE and all the advanced features available in Paradox including joins, outer joins, and set queries to query a database. Quattro Pro's Paradox Access automatically imports the resulting Paradox table for further analysis. Users can easily make Quattro Pro graphs from Paradox data. Using Quattro Pro macros or Paradox scripts, users can automate many repetitive tasks. For example, a library systems analyst could produce simple scripts/ macros that allow a library staff member to download last week's circulation data from the SQL server without the staff member ever knowing how to perform a SQL query or even how to use a database program.

Additional New Features

Formula Protection requires that a password be submitted before the formulas in a spreadsheet can be edited. This means that hours of work can't be destroyed by accidentally deleting a spreadsheet's formulas. Formula protection also acts as a security measure, ensuring that sensitive formulas can't be modified.

By invoking Special Copy, users can copy the contents of a cell without copying its formatting, or copy the formatting only and not the contents.

By using the Sort by Columns feature, data can be sorted by columns as well as rows, allowing for greater flexibility in the type of data manipulated. This is helpful for financial and other data formatted in columns.

Enhanced file tools are available that allow users to quickly navigate directory structures with Quattro Pro's file dialog box. Users can select any drive, including network drives, by clicking on a button.

Technical Support

Borland provides telephone support free of charge. Questions or comments also can be submitted to Borland through their CompuServe Forum (type GO BOR from the main CompuServe menu) or mail correspondence. Electronic online support can be obtained through CompuServe, GEnie, and BIX. Downloadable information can be obtained through Borland's DownLoad BBS at (408) 439-9096. Toll-free automated fax support can be obtained as well.

Quattro Pro 4.0, like previous versions, is receiving excellent coverage from the software guidebook publishing field. A quick survey of a major bookstore revealed the following titles:

Biow, Lisa, Quattro Pro 4 Made Easy, Osborne/McGraw-Hill.

Burns, Patrick, Quattro Pro 4.0 Presentation Graphics, Bantam.

Burns, Patrick, Using Quattro Pro 4.0, Special Edition, Que.

Campbell, Mary, Quattro Pro 4.0 Handbook, Bantam.

Cobb, Stephen, Quattro Pro 4 Inside & Out, Osborne/McGraw-Hill.

Greynolds, Elbert B., Learn Quattro Pro 4 in a Day, Wordware.

Hyde, Michael, Quattro Pro: Everything You Need to Know, Prima.

Keogh, James, Quattro Pro: The Pocket Reference, Osborne/McGraw-Hill.

Kraynak, Joe, 10-Minute Guide to Quattro Pro 4.0, Howard W. Sams.

O'Hara, Shelly, Easy Quattro Pro, Que.

Reisner, Trudi, Quattro Pro Quick Reference, Que.

Roche, Don, Quattro Pro Quick Start, Que.

Simpson, Alan and Douglas Wolf, The ABC's of Quattro Pro 4, Sybex.

Weisskopf, Gene, Mastering Quattro Pro 4, 4th Edition, Sybex.

Hardware Requirements

Quattro Pro 4.0 uses Borland's advance memory management technology, VROOMM (Virtual Runtime Object-Oriented Memory Manager). VROOMM lets Borland continue adding functionality to Quattro Pro without increasing hardware requirements. Quattro Pro 4.0's minimum hardware requirements remain the same: an 8088-based XT with 512K RAM.

Quattro Pro's minimum system requirements are an XT-class PC with 512K RAM (640K RAM recommended), a hard disk, and DOS 2.0 or later. These modest hardware requirements make Quattro Pro the ideal spreadsheet standard for libraries that want to advance to the next level of spreadsheet capabilities and performance without giving up their existing investment in XT-class machines.

If users choose to implement the Paradox Access feature, Quattro Pro requires 2MB RAM and a 80286 (or better) PC. To display graphs, a graphics card and high-resolution monitor are needed. WYSIWYG display requires an EGA or VGA monitor.

Quattro Pro supports the LIM 4.0 standard for expanded memory (EMS), allowing spreadsheets to use a full 8MB of expanded memory. Quattro Pro stores numbers and pointers to labels and formulas as well as the labels and formulas themselves in EMS. This technique provides a dramatic increase in the maximum size of a spreadsheet, allowing Quattro Pro to store all spreadsheet components, including the graphic subsystem, in expanded memory.

VROOMM

What is VROOMM technology, and why is it important? VROOMM, Virtual Runtime Object-Oriented Memory Manager, is a proprietary technology developed by Borland that optimizes memory utilization by reducing spreadsheets commands to compact program objects. VROOMM gives Quattro Pro the ability to offer next-generation features without compromising spreadsheet capacity or performance on the user's current machine, even if it is an 8088-based PC with 512K RAM.

To accomplish all this, VROOMM incorporates breakthrough memory-management and program-linking technology. Quattro Pro actually tunes itself. Only the functions actually used are loaded into memory; the remaining memory is used for data.

Pricing and Upgrades

Quattro Pro 4.0 is available for a suggested retail price of $495. The Quattro Pro LAN Pack, which adds one additional user to the network, retails for $395. Registered owners of previous versions of Quattro Pro can upgrade for $79.95. Borland continues to offer its competitive upgrade to owners of Lotus 1-2-3 and Microsoft Excel for $99.95.

Bruce Flanders is the director of technology at the Kansas State Library in Topeka, Kansas.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Information Today, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Flanders, Bruce
Publication:Computers in Libraries
Article Type:Product/Service Evaluation
Date:Jun 1, 1992
Words:2798
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