Nuts & Bolts

New Approach

Lotus Approach 97 is the database program included in the Lotus software suite called Lotus SmartSuite 97. Similar to Microsoft Office, SmartSuite includes a word processor (Word Pro), spreadsheet program (1-2-3), presentation application (Freelance Graphics) and personal information manager (Organizer), as well as a multimedia tool called ScreenCam. This means that Approach works extremely well in the SmartSuite environment, and users of these programs would likely benefit from choosing this database. This program can be purchased as a stand-alone item, but Lotus' dedication to team computing makes Approach a good addition to any company that utilizes a network to group project teams together.

Approach is easy to install and work with. Lotus includes what it calls SmartMaster applications that allow users to begin working with an existing database, such as inventory management or invoice and order tracking, and even a Surf the Net database that catalogs favorite Web sites. Approach can be used to display data from all popular database formats, including dBASE, Paradox, DB2, Oracle and other SQL sources. This means you can import data into Approach and re-work it to generate reports or analyze data.

Approach's Internet capabilities include functions for saving an Approach file straight to the Internet or an intranet, or translating it into an HTML file and publishing it to a Web server. Advanced users can also build interactive programs that connect in real time to data within Approach by using popular Web browsers. This allows you to publish sales data on your Web site to give your roaming salespeople easy access to the information.

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This article was originally published in the March 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Nuts & Bolts.

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