Figure 1 lists the fields I defined for "concerts." The illustration resembles the print-outs you get with Profile II and III, but if you look closely, you'll see some significant differences—the labels for associated fields and the strange names listed under "type." I'll come back to these in a moment. One of the most wonderful enhancements can only be seen on the "Define Files" screen itself. Instead of viewing fields one by one, they all appear on the screen as you create them. You can shuffle the fields around, change their lengths and headings and then shuffle them again until you're satisfied with the result. In addition to being faster and more convenient, it lets you keep the total picture in mind as you go along.
Associated fields have been improved tenfold. Profile Plus and Profile III Plus allow you to tie the fields together by grouping them under any of the 26 letters of the alphabet. This establishes a vertical list, so to speak, through which the computer can scan for a particular item. Profile 16 lets you enlarge this list into a two-dimensional grid by specifying letter-number combinations.
Figure 2 illustrates how I applied this to "concerts." When dance companies are invited to perform, they are generally expected to give three to five performances spread out over a weekend. I've numbered the performances 1 to 5. The first column lists the day, which is associated field A1 (see figure 1 again). The second column shows the corresponding date, associated field A4, where I indicate which performance I plan to attend. I can scan, sort, and select according to any item in one of the vertical columns.
For instance: Which concerts can I attend on Friday? Is there a matinee on the 12th? When am I supposed to see the Acme company? I simply print a chronological list of next week's performances.
This "grid" can be up to 26 rows deep (A-Z) and up to 10 columns wide (AO, which is the same as A, to A9, B0-B9, etc.). What's more, the "horizontal" information tied to a particular item always surfaces with it! That's rather amazing.
Associated fields can be tricky. (See my article in the April 1983 Microcomputer News.) Profile 16 has certain functions that enable you to work your way around the pitfalls. We'll examine these in coming months.
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