Beebug1st January 1989
Published in Beebug #68
Mini Office II: A Dabhand Guide
It is a number of years now since Database Publications first released their budget-priced business software package called Mini Office. Originally written for the Beeb, it has now been converted for many other computers including the PC, and has received wide acclaim.
The latest version, Mini Office II, is indeed a comprehensive package, and a remarkably powerful one considering the low price (see review in Beebug Vol. 5 No. 8). This has made it a consistent best-seller.
The original documentation supplied with the package is in the form of a small ring-bound manual of some 98 pages. It is quite a reasonable guide, but certainly not comprehensive, and does not do full justice to the software. Neither does the manual serve well the needs of first time users of computers who would, I expect, make up a large proportion of purchasers of the Mini Office II.
Dabs Press has published some excellent guides for several of the popular Beeb software packages, and has now produced its own guide to Mini Office II for those who want more information. The book, written by Bruce Smith and Robin Burton, consists of some 250 pages with a very good index, and is realistically priced at £9.95.
It has separate sections on the use of each of the modules in Mini Office along with worked examples, and each section concludes with a chapter of useful hints and hips.
The layout and presentation of the book are good. It is well written in an informal and chatty style that I am sure will appeal to most people.
Dabs has rightly assumed that many purchasers of Mini Office will be first-time users of such software, so a good introduction has been included in the book, and each section begins with a clear and easy-to-follow explanation of what this part of the package can do for you.
The sections on labelling and the user of printers deserve special mention as they are really excellent, yet it is often areas like these that cause problems for so many in using packages like Mini Office II. There is also a chapter on the use of Dabs' own MiniDriver printer ROM, which is written for Mini Office and thus takes the pain out of getting good printed results from your work.
There is a programs disc available to go with the book priced at £7.95 which contains all the worked examples referred to in the text, and a number of utilities to enhance the package. One utility worthy of mention allows the sideways printing of spreadsheets, overcoming the problem of printers limited to 80 columns only.
This is another excellent book indeed from Dabs Press. It has much to commend it in terms of both content and presentation. I am sure it will be a most useful buy for newcomers to the Mini Office II package, and for those who are already serious users and want to get even more from it. Recommended.