With hordes of powerful minicomputer relational databases plunging down into the MS-DOS micro world, Ashton-Tate Corp, Torrance, California needed to do something to protect its leadership position in the personal computer market, and it reckons that it has done so with launch of its dBase IV (CI No 870). As well as the expected transparent access to IBM SQL databases, it includes, says Ashton-Tate, a much improved applications generator and major enhancements to the dBase programming language. This is the version of dBase that will be required to fit onto the Microsoft – Ashton – Tate – Sybase two-tiered SQL Server database architecture, giving the millions of existing dBase programs a way of easily gathering data from large SQL corporate databases (CI No 845). It is designed to run under both OS/2 and MS-DOS, and will look very different to users familiar with the earlier dBases. The main user interface, called the Control Centre, consists of six on-screen graphic panels, giving menu-driven access to file management, database queries, forms creation, report generation, label design. Users can design a database from the control centre by first identifying the particular fields, specifying the amount of space for each field, and naming the fields. A new applications generator enables the user to define tasks and the files to use, and it will then tie them together. dBase IV includes a built in, automatic program compiler which leads to a performance the developer claims is 10 times faster than dBase III. Automatic record and file locking capabilities provide for networked multi user operations. The system also includes 240 new or enhanced commands to the dBase III Plus programming language, making a total of 373. Ashton-Tate also announced the dBase IV Developers’ Edition. It says that all previous versions of dBase III and III Plus are fully upward compatible with dBase IV so that all data and program files supported by dBase III can be used in dBase IV without modification under either MS-DOS or OS/2. dBase IV will not be available until June of this year. The standard price is UKP595 here, $795 in the US. The dBase IV Developers’ Edition will cost UKP895, $1,295 in the US.