In Electron User 3.12, I reviewed Slogger's STARSTORE, a powerful ROM-based database. Now an alternative version is available, STARSTORE 2.

Essentially they are the same except in one important aspect; STARSTORE is RAM-based and can be used with both disc and tape systems whereas STARSTORE 2 is disc-based and will only work if you have a disc system.

To see just what STARSTORE is capable of, take a look at the STARSTORE review. Here I'm just going to cover the main differences between the two.

The space available for data storage with a RAM-based database is limited by the amount of free RAM, around 18K on the Electron. In this type of database, all the records are present in memory at the same time.

With a disc-based database you are only limited by the amount of free space on the disc, which can be as much as 320K with an ACORN PLUS 3.

The records are stored on disc and the database will read and write records from and to the disc rather than store them in the memory. Therefore, the advantage of STARSTORE 2 over STARSTORE is the vast amount of data it can handle.

Unfortunately, discs are relatively slow when compared with RAM, and STARSTORE 2 can be painfully slow at times. I must admit that it's not a fault of the program - it is limited by the speed of your disc system.

Slogger has totally rewritten the menu structure of the database to bring it up to date and make it as user-friendly as possible.

Much are and attention to detail has gone into the layout and appearance and it now features pop up menus, cursor selection and helpful prompts whenever possible.

It is a joy to use and so simple than even children can get the hang of it without difficulty.

On power up or after CTRL-BREAK, you are straight into STARSTORE 2's main menu and the options are the same as before.

The package can handle 9999 records with a maximum of 90 fields which can be 255 characters in length. Provided of course that you have enough storage space on your disc.

You can browse through the records using the cursor keys and examine, alter and update any of the fields. Data is pulled off the disc as and when needed.

Sorting records can be quite a time-consuming process and is measured in minutes rather than seconds. It is a chore that would be better left until you have plenty of time to spare.

An extra print option has been included which allows you to format the output. Record fields can be printed in any order and printed at a set tab position across the page.

Like STARSTORE, it is possible to generate STARWORD mailmerge files. STARWORD can take a file of names and addresses created from a STARSTORE database and include them in a standard letter.

The manual is comprehensive, well-written and easy to understand, giving some useful examples on how to set up a database.

The whole package is foolproof and well presented. STARSTORE 2 is a superb database for the Electron user who uses discs and it adds another dimension to those using STARWORD.