WinFlex 7.00 is a business management system based on the original Flexware system from Microfinancial and Manzaneta Software, which runs on networked Intel compatible personal computers under Microsoft Windows Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, and Windows 2000.
There are a number of internal architecture changes between WinFlex 7.00 and Flexware 4.40 and 5.30 which are explained below. The original Flexware actually ran on Apple ][ computers under Apple Pascal, and on Sage and Stride computers under UCSD P-system, and the environmental limitations of these systems dictated many of the design parameters of the original architecture. Windows and UNIX are totally different, and many of the earlier limitations have been removed.
WinFlex 7.00 is a totally new product. All Flexware code that runs under Flexware 4.40 or 5.30 runtime environments will run under WinFlex 7.00 without any changes. Most (and soon all) Macintosh Flexware source code will also run with little or no modification.
Totally new database engine. WinFlex 7.00 allows databases up to 4.0 Gigabytes (up from Flexware's 32 MB limitation). Also, deleted records are handled totally differently than Flexware handled them, reclaiming space used when records are deleted. This means that "database reorganizations" will not need to happen nearly as often. While already much faster than the Flexware 4.40 and 5.30 database, additional speed enhancements are in the works.
Windows file system integration. All work files are created as Windows files, rather than P-system files. With WinFlex 7.00, you will never have to "krunch" a work volume, and will never see the Flexware messages "Can't Make FOLT.WRK" or "Can't Create MEMFILE".
Multiple copies can run from each workstation. With WinFlex 7.00 under Windows 95, 98, 2000 or NT, multiple copies can run at the same time on a single workstation - up to 16 simultaneous copies! This means you can run reports, post between modules, print invoices and enter data all at the same time on the same machine.
Windows menuing. All Flexware menus are formatted as Windows pull down menus
Send reports to popular spreadsheet programs. The current release of WinFlex 7.00 contains a report writer that emulates the Flexware report writer, which also creates files readable by most of the popular spreadsheet programs.
Full support for Microsoft Windows networking. Additional networks will be supported in the future. We recommend Windows NT Server for a server platform for use with WinFlex System. We also have clients using WinFlex with Novell and hybrid Novell / NT Server environments. If your organization has a particular networking requirement, please contact us.
Flexware is organized into "volumes", which were set up as follows:
Root volume - The volume that p-system boots up on, where FOLT created it's work files. Only one copy could run at a time per user on Stride and Sage computers, or per PC under DOS, because of this.
PROG: - The volume where all of the support programs and library files that make up Flexware reside.
COMP: - The volume where compiled data entry screens reside.
SEQ: - The volume where sequential processor files - either compiled or in source code - reside. On larger systems, there might have been a volume SEQ2 under Flexware 5.30, or SEQSRC for source code.
WORK: - Space for temporary files. Could only be used by one user at a time. Frequently required manually deleting leftover work and temporary files.
WinFlex 7.00 is organized a little differently:
WinFlex.exe - This is the WinFlex 7.00 executable file.
WinFlex.key - This is your software license validation file. It also stores the default information for the computer that it is loaded onto - which database files to use on startup, user number, output device for printing, etc.
Runtime: - Like Flexware, this "volume" is the file where necessary files to start the WinFlex system reside. Unlike Flexware, this is internal to WinFlex. WinFlex runtime support libraries reside here as well. Unlike Flexware, NO work files are created here.
Work files that formerly were created in the root volume are now created in RAM. The runtime file can be read-only.
Work files in WinFlex are created in the directory specified in the setup program. The setup program is modeled after flx.setup. Since these are Windows files instead of P-system files, the problems associated with p-system files - needing to be created in one contiguous piece, reserving all available disk space on a volume until the file is closed, etc., no longer apply. Deletion of individual temporary files are under the control of the programs that created them.
SEQ source files and report source code files must be in their appropriate directories. If the WinFlex home directory is c:\winflex\, the SEQ source files should be in c:\winflex\seqsrc\ , and reports can be in the directory c:\winflex\reports\. Reports that reside in the database can still be run from there.
WinFlex 7.00 will permit each computer to run up to 16 concurrent copies of itself under Windows 95 and Windows NT. All of these users have the same “user ID” to WinFlex, and only count as one user for licensing purposes. They are assigned an invisible secondary “process ID” which is used internally to tell one from the other. Each computer must be assigned a unique user ID. Processes that are allowed to happen simultaneously on the same computer will cause database collisions and data loss if performed by two computers with the same user ID. These internal “process ID” numbers are used to keep track of which copy owns what work files. This is how it is possible to run more than one report at a time in the same directory on a computer - WinFlex knows which copy of itself owns which files.
WinFlex will create a file in your root “C:\” directory: WinFlex.key . Each machine should have a copy of this file. It is the equivalent of Flexware’s MF.CONTROL file. It contains your validation key. WinFlex will impose severe limitations on your software if your validation key file is not correctly “validated”. Among the limitations is a limit on the database index size, and a limit on the number of records that can be loaded at a time. While these limitations shouldn't be a problem when evaluating WinFlex, they are designed to make it nearly impossible to run a real business for any practical length of time without purchasing and properly validating the product. The database restriction is the only limitation - the "demo" is a full featured copy of the product. Fortunately, the system is flexible enough to allow an extension of the database limitations, or provide a time limited version with the database limits removed, for a more complete evaluation.
If you are operating WinFlex on a server, a validated copy can be kept on the server and copied to each of the other computers. If the file is not properly created, WinFlex will create it, defaulting to a demonstration, unvalidated condition. While we can revalidate your system at any time if you should accidentally corrupt or loose your key file or loose the validation information, for security reasons we will only forward a replacement key file to the “e-mail address of record” for your organization.
Update announcements will also be mailed to this e-mail address. Updates, patches and replacement copies of the software, as well as the manuals, can be downloaded at any time from our ftp: server. All of our manuals are available on-line on our web site for quick lookups using your web browser, or the Hypertext version of the complete documentation is available for use on your in-house server. This saves both your company and ours the expense of printing, storing, and distributing paper manuals that are rarely consulted, and that change with customizations and updates to the system.
Intel compatible x486 or Pentium computers running Microsoft Windows 95, 98, 2000 or Windows NT. While WinFlex 7.00 will run on most networks, we prefer Microsoft Windows Networking. For server software we recommend Microsoft NT Server.
WinFlex 7.00 will run on computers as small as x386 computers with 4 MB RAM, but it is not recommended. A typical WinFlex workstation will have 16 MB of RAM. WinFlex actually uses less than 1 MB of RAM while running, however most workstations running WinFlex will be running multiple copies if WinFlex and other applications concurrently. Having enough RAM greatly improves performance of any application under Windows by cutting down of the frequency of virtual memory page swapping to disk.
Like any other multi-user software, the faster the network, the better the performance.
Other than the database, WinFlex requires about 20 MB of disk space for a full set of business applications. Database space for an average size company to maintain 2 years of transactions on-line will be somewhere around 60 MB. If you require a secure database, an encrypting version of our database engine will be available as an option shortly.
Current limitations and our “to do” list :
Currently, the data entry screens in the on-line system look like traditional Flexware screens. Actual Windows style data entry screens, with tab key focus and cut-and-paste are all being worked on, and should be available soon. In the current version there is mouse support for field selection on vertical screens and line selection on scan screens.
We decided to release WinFlex with the current report writer, rather than wait for the new reporting system. A new report writer and new “report wizard” will be available soon.
Integration with Internet protocols for remote access to your WinFlex software, both Netscape support for remote access to screens and point to point tunneling protocol database data transfer will be part of our system over the coming months, making WinFlex one of the very few true "enterprise" data systems.