A review on Lotus SmartSuite Millenium Edition 9.5

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28th Sep 2000
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So far having looked at Microsoft products and all it's different versions of the same application has made it interesting to review Lotus products and find that it has not taken this approach. Instead this edition is a one-size-fits-all type of application.

This suite includes the wordprocessor, Word Pro (which started life years ago as Samna Ami Pro); the spreadsheet, Lotus 1-2-3, the database, Lotus Approach and their version of a presentations application that being Lotus Freelance Graphics. Other utilities include the screen recording tool Lotus ScreenCam, Net-It Now, which converts documents into Java and HTML and additional features such as ViaVoice sound recognition for Word Pro and Lotus 1-2-3.

These applications are all tied together through an interface called Lotus SmartCenter, that offers quick access to various commands without having to open these associated applications. A menu can attach itself to the top or bottom of your screen and can be opened simply by clicking on it.

Word Pro

When Lotus acquired this application as Samna Ami Pro, in the very early stages it provided good competition for Microsoft Word, however, Lotus transformed this application and made it worse, thus allowing Microsoft to run away with it's success of Word.

However, this current version of Word Pro certainly appears transformed and has appeared with some very useful features and well-thought out interfaces. Easy access is now given to the various toolbars that Word Pro uses. This application also uses divider tabs within a document that represents sections. Those that have moved from using Word into Word Pro can take this transition gently by making use of an icon bar that produces a help window that will inform you how to accomplish that same task but using Word Pro instead of Word.

Lotus 1-2-3

This spreadsheet has been around for many years and has been known to be called the 'Grand-dad' of all spreadsheets, (I remember my first spreadsheet, it was called Visicalc, consisted of 20 columns and 20 rows ...... those were the days)! It certainly was the most popular spreadsheet application on the market until Microsoft Excel took over. This latest version is still as solid with many excellent features and maybe for the first time the charting feature may even be better than Excel. Here you simply highlight your data, click on the chart button and that's it. There are however, still some features that cannot be compared with the easiness at which Microsoft Excel executes specific commands. One of those being the use of dates, in 1-2-3 if you type the first date in the series and then highlight a succession of cells, Excel will automatically give you the option of the type of series you want, whether it be daily, weekly or monthly.

Lotus Approach

To create a new database is comparatively easy, you have a window that allows you to quickly name each field and at the same time specify the size and data type. Approach also includes a variety of wizards, an extremely useful one that is a must for novices, helps them to create calculated fields. Wizards only go so far however, if you require a more complex database then quite in-depth skills are necessary.

Unfortunately Lotus does not have such a hold on the market as it did when Lotus 1-2-3 reigned supreme, however, for you Lotus diehards, this combination of applications appears extremely useful and nicely upgraded thus making it a good all round business suite.

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