6.0033 Summary: Database and Text Retrieval S/W (MAC) (1/59)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 26 May 1992 17:34:28 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0033. Tuesday, 26 May 1992.

Date: Sat, 23 May 92 16:54:52 -0500
From: Brian W. Ogilvie <ogil@midway.uchicago.edu>
Subject: SUMMARY on Mac text retrieval/freeform database

Here is a summary of the information I received through various channels
(including email, Usenet, and the HUMANIST mailing list) regarding
freeform database and text retrieval software for the Mac.

The product which received the most frequent mention was ThoughtPattern,
from Bananafish Software (bananafish@applelink.apple.com), a Personal
Information Manager (PIM) which allows freeform data entry and retrieval
as well as more structured alternatives with index "tags."

On Location and Gofer, text location utilities, both received a few
mentions. On Location suffers from not being able to do complex Boolean
searches, and Gofer is slow because it does not use index files.
Neither, to my knowledge, supports synonyms. These look useful if you
need to find a file where you mention a particular thing, but not for
subject-based text retrieval.

One respondent mentioned the PowerSearch (grep) feature of Nisus, the
Mac word processor which grew out of the QUED/M text editor. Those
interested in pursuing this route should examine the TidBITS review of
Nisus, available from sumex-aim.stanford.edu in the file /info-
mac/digest/tb/tidbits-nisus.etx (I think).

Another respondent thought that FoxPro would meet my needs. If you have
some structure to your data it may be worth a shot. I'm not sure that I
can be that organized when I'm hunched over my PowerBook jotting down
notes from dusty tomes and manuscripts.

Also in the more traditional DBMS department is SQL*Oracle. The person
who mentioned this thought that it was rather slow on the Mac, however.

I received one message from Personal Language Software, the developer
of a "natural-language" text retrieval application. Though too
expensive for me, those with research funds or rich relatives might
want to consider it. It includes many powerful features, including
thesauruses for related terms and natural-language queries. At
present it works only on text files, but the developer is working on
popular word processor file formats.

No one responded concerning Sonar, a text retrieval program from
Virginia Systems. I received a demo version of Sonar from them and
played around with it a bit; it looks like one could do very nice things
with it. If you already have lots of text/word processor files with
information you'd like to retrieve quickly, Sonar might be worth a look.
Price may be a problem; the basic version costs $295 and the
"Professional" version, which features faster retrieval among other
improvements, is about $800. If anyone would like my impressions of the
demo, drop me a note.

I think that I'm going to try ThoughtPattern; it looks like the best
option for what I want to do. Thanks to everyone who responded to my

If any Humanists would like a copy of excerpts from the responses I
received, please drop me a note (b-ogilvie@uchicago.edu). The
complete file, including the above remarks, is about 550 lines. I
have also posted it to the Usenet newsgroup comp.sys.mac.apps.