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2 database programs for C64 and SD2IEC combo both possibly with the same symptom

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Posted (edited)

So this post runs in tandem with my other related post: is it just hit or miss with software running correctly on actual C64 with SD2IEC combo?  Sorry it has to be a longish post, but it really does need to be for me to describe things:


Courtesy of some really great forum members, I recently learned of 2 database programs for the C64 with SD2IEC combo. Bear in mind that I am trying to use these not on VICE but with the actual hardware. From feedback I've received, the first program FILE CABINET works well between VICE and real hardware, saving to d64 then using another copy program to "disk copy" that D64 to a physical disk when using a real C64. Note especially that the C64 is not dealing with an SD2IEC device and VICE is not dealing with a physical disk in this typical scenario. But in my case, I am going it with the old school C64 and new school SD2IEC combo.


Since I'm thinking that both programs maybe are experiencing the same "symptom" of not being able to store additional sequential file data, I thought I would make a separate post here to specifically talk about these two programs and see if we can get them working. I think they are otherwise really nice programs that can have some modern day use, though that of course is just my opinion. Again, the common denominator symptom: perhaps it's that both programs are not "set up" to accept data saving to the SD2IEC in regards to SEQ files. It's going to take those who are very knowledgeable about C64 with SD2IEC device I/O, and who are curious, patient, and willing to help here. So I will lay it out:


Program #1: File Cabinet

file cabinet.d64


(I also have the technical 4 page manual)


My Cliff Notes experience:


  • Loaded and ran FB64, navigated to File Cabinet folder housing: filecabinet.d64, empty 1541.d64 for data saving, autoswap.lst which lists those 2 specific names
  • Following along with the filecabhowto.pdf... after I entered the 4 field names and 4 fields of actual data, then pressing NEXT on the SD2IEC, it was thankfully showing SAVING COMPMAG. The directory viewing then showed it had successfully created and saved the COMPMAG file and at the load, I saw the ultra brief LOADING COMPMAG PLEASE STAND BY message... So at least this time the disk swapping was indeed working and I correctly initialized the disk.


However, once I loaded the COMPMAG file, when I went to try any of the other menu items: display, add, edit, delete or print... it showed those 4 field names I created but all the fields of data themselves were blank. In other words, it recorded the field names only but never recorded the actual data in any of the 5 field lines I had also entered within this 1 record pass I had done before saving.  


... So can anyone offer why and/or offer some program tweaking so it can save both the initial field names and all the data per record?



Program #2: Speed File  (April 1988 Compute!)


This program has some atypical workflow in that you: first design the format (which is quite unique, not often found and very cool), then write to disk, then add records, then re-write to disk. Also odd is that it doesn't allow you to go back and view any initially set up fields until you actually add records, and when you try to enter data into the fields, the field names themselves are not present, just a blank white line to accept the data appears. But otherwise a good feel here:


My Cliff Notes experience:


  • Loaded FB64 main menu. Selected the disk image which was the only disk in the folder this time, (no special data disk needed... I think)?  Program file itself loaded and ran fine.
  • Pressed D for design 1st. Use CTRL9 to set up the fields for data entry ability after the field names, CNTRL 0 for off. 15 max fields per record. I designed a field of 5, with each line being able to take data all the way til each line end.
  • After designing, I successfully saved the file to disk, as I later saw the data file name ITEMBLPRT. Keep in mind that ITEMBLPRT only has the designated 5 fields with no data in any of the lines; all data lines are blank at this point.
  • With the ITEMBLPRT file in memory (I saw its name main menu bottom), I pressed F then F3 to add records. I entered data for all 5 fields, and pressed ↑


So here is where it goes awry. Since the data was entered in for all 5 lines, I thought I would save this information, which still should be in memory.  I figured that I'd be saving the 5 lines of information that I entered into each field as being the concept of a record to the file, (I wouldn't call that a file as back on the menu; technically the file is still ITEMBLPRT)... but as I say, back at the main menu the only choice is W write current file to disk, not write record to file.


So I thought that maybe they meant that you add the info within the record then resave the whole enchilada data lines of record and all to the afore created filename ITEMBLPRT...

No... I had already made the file, and this record #1 is just that, the 1st record containing 5 fields of titles and holding the info-which-should-also-be-saveable to the big entity file ITEMBLPRT, so I am puzzled:


-if I (resave) the 5 lines of information of record #1 again using the file name ITEMBLPRT, it gives the disk error 63 that the file already exists.

-if I save these 5 lines of information under a new file name, say ITEMBLPRTD, the 5 data lines do not show upon program re-entry from a C64 reboot.


Long story short, in either case, the program did not record those 5 lines of data into the file. 


... So in conclusion, if anyone feels like playing in the sand, actually, mud, with me here, please share your thoughts and/or experiences with these. They are really both promising and really quite nice programs otherwise and I simply don't have the technical know-how to bring these 2 to life.





Edited by newTIboyRob
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Posted (edited)

So, an update on the second program, speedfile. At times, trying to navigate through it was kind of like flying the plane blind, as other than the 4 page aforementioned Compute! article, which did give quite a bit of detail, and 1 page of on screen function help within the program, a true and full picture of this program was not painted and there was no follow up discussion on this program that I could find on the net. Surprising, since it was the counterpart to Speedscript, which is an excellent word processor as its brother.


So I will basically answer my own questions here, but in so doing, this will be helpful for others I think.  May sound obvious, but in this program it still is the same old concept: a file name stores X amount of records, each record contains X data fields, and each subsequent record in the file is like an index card in the box. That I knew. But what I didn't quite factor in at first is that in this program, you basically need to just keep renaming the file with updated records a different file name because if you try to overwrite it you will get a disk error. This file non-overwritability does occurs with some programs, but the ones I have more frequently encountered allow the overwrite concept. That explained a lot.

So I had designed the page as I mentioned in first thread email, but it turns out that this program, at least this disk version of it, actually DID store all 5 lines of the data, and different data in fact in RECORDS 1 and 2, but it fails to record the field TITLES and it imbeds the data information in a way that is not visible when you try to view a record!   Now the magazine article didn't tell you that, and both this nonmentioning and just that concept itself are both just ridiculous to me. So naturally when I pulled up the blank screen and saw no titles and no data on the screen, I concluded that it didn't save any information. I think most people would have arrived at the same conclusion to be honest. So to reiterate, it did save the field data in the field lines, but not the field titles, and those data field lines contain data which is "hidden" within blank white lines in the designated data field. 


Who would've thunk that the data is there, recorded in the record of the file, but just invisible when you call up the record?  Not I said the fly.


And I don't know about you, but when I make a record and pull it up, I want to SEE EVERYTHING, titles included. For example:




YEAR:    1973

SECT:    5

ROW:    B


and then you just scroll to the next record. ALBUM: WHO'S NEXT etc.


So to play "peek a boo" and find the recorded data hidden within this program: from the main menu, you press F1, and then F8 (Shift F7) as if you are going to MODIFY the RECORD... but then use that as a "VIEW" Record (because if you use that VIEW RECORD elsewhere, you will only see the blank screen of the record again). After the F8 press, simple cursor arrow presses reveal that information you had saved in the record field lines, but again not the titles of ALBUM ARTIST, etc. were viewable. I only discovered all this by a haphazard accident....in a matter of moments... but it made it worthwhile, because at least everything had saved. None of this is mentioned in that article or the internet.


But that leads to some final thoughts here: 


  • We have a program that doesn't show any of the field titles you previously designed, thus no carrying of those through the next record/s, its other data is embedded hidden data, and there's a lack of showing the combo of field titles and data
  • When you first design the field and name the file, it doesn't actually save to the SD2IEC at this stage. It it just file prep. So if you go to write that file now, you are writing a blank file with no field titles and no records yet, all of which is pointless. If/when you add records, it is then and only then when you should write the record to the file, renaming the file new names every time you add records.
  • Bear in mind that there is no file overwrite, otherwise a disk error occurs if you try to save any newly made records to the old file. So in essence you are better off using file names such as FILETAKE1 FILETAKE2 knowing that your last file contains all the previous data of previous records plus the current info.


So as much as I wanted to love this database (I am still searching for one that both works with the SD2IEC and I like) it turned out to have some major faults here and make me think otherwise about it :(  


So what may be my last question on this program #2, as I don't use VICE, and maybe someone can spend a few minutes and try the above disk image on VICE with an SD2IEC:  if you design the field titles, are you seeing those title names (such as album, artist) in the record/s, present in record #1 and carrying through to subsequent records, and also are you seeing field data coming up next to the field title names together and viewable, so in essence you see the complete 1 full record page as in my above example? 


That would tell us that maybe this disk image is lacking information to make it run more solidly, or completely, so both record titles and record info are both present and viewable when making and retrieving a record.

Edited by newTIboyRob
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Posted (edited)

Retried the file cabinet program. No luck yet again for completeness. So until and unless anyone either tries and shares, or talks here, we have a dead tennis ball, or balls, as it were. So to sum up my experiences with these 2 programs on this thread:


file cabinet......  records field titles but no field data

speedfile......     records "hidden" field data but no individual field titles


Wonderful. The search goes on for a database where the twain shall meet. Also where both the program disk, data disk and SD2IEC all get along.

Edited by newTIboyRob
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