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  1. Technology
March 16, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Dublin, Ireland company Workhorse Systems Ltd announced availability of its innovative Workhorse Unix office automation software (previewed in CI No 858) at Uniforum – and the product appeared to be attracting considerable attention from both OEM customers and large Unix users. The reason for the interest is that the product seems to be a serious attempt to emulate and support the way that offices work, rather than simply automate individual office functions. For instance quite complex sequences of tasks, involving several types of staff within an organisation, can be defined to Workhorse, which will then perform, in the designated order, such diverse functions as extracting data from files, putting reminders in diaries, making decisions based on predetermined conditions and redirecting the flow of work accordingly, submitting work for approval by the appropriate person, issuing status reports, and assembling and printing documents. The product provides a calendar, diary and mail, but does not include database, spreadsheet or word processor; the idea, according to the company, is that users can include a word processor or database of their choice. The product can interface to SQL-based database management systems and to word processors that produce ASCII files. In addition, Workhorse says that applications written in C, Basic or Cobol can be integrated with the system. At this stage, there seems to be little in the way of established competition in the area. One of the better known existing products is Staffware, from UK-based Financial & Corporate Modelling Consultants Plc (CI No 624), which has made some impact including an OEM deal with Unisys Corp. Workhorse maintains that its product has a broader range of functions than Staffware in its present form: Esther Dyson’s Release 1.0 newsletter, reviewing Staffware last December, praised the product but picked out reliance on a proprietary database and clumsiness in the user interface as major deficiencies. Workhorse currently runs on systems supporting Santa Cruz Xenix V/286 or /386, and on Altos 1000 and 2000 machines; it costs from $3,500 for up to eight users. The company, which is selling OEM, through dealers, and direct to a few end user accounts, has offices in Dublin, London and San Diego and is planning an East Coast US office.

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