Worth Keeping: DataEase

In the world of Vimich Traffic Logistics, Inc., the only paper employees touch is when they read the morning news.

The company – which manages transportation activity for more than 50 tier one suppliers to the main automotive manufacturers – has a staff of 10 to 15 people who spend their days communicating in the sort of paperless environment that has long been promised by a host of other software providers. But Vimich didn’t turn to any of the usual suspects to help run its business. The company used DataEase, the DOS-based software that just won’t die.

The DataEase application at Vimich has more than 80 tables and 900 reports and procedures. Since all functions are handled in electronic format, invoices or documents that would have been handled manually in the past are accessed on the desktop.

Next month, Vimich will switch over to an Oracle database, but Mike Clavette, a former Vimich developer who used DataEase applications for eight years, still champions the product.

“When you have something that’s so powerful, yet so easy to use, why replace it?” says Clavette, who has since opened TPS Network, a software firm developing custom business and Internet solutions that focus on improving efficiency and customer service, based in Windsor.

DataEase was developed in 1983 by Sapphire International (also called @Ease), based in the UK. In 1986, DataEase won the PC Magazine Editor’s Choice for version 2.5 and once again in 1989 for version 4.0. It was also named in the Best of 1988 listing of products.

By 1992, the company had developed version 4.53, which was considered to be the most stable of the entire line of products. Sapphire says the DOS and OS/2 version are still used in more than 1,500,000 PCs in 40 countries around the world.

Now in version 5.5, the company has created a series of new features, including Net Plus, an e-commerce client/server which allows the user to develop enterprise wide applications for the Web; WebEase, which allows for easy publishing; and WebPlus, which aids in quick integration applications. The new products allow the user to upgrade to a Windows environment without having to deal with a complete overhaul and major expense. Long-time users say they feel it is easier to upgrade an existing application instead of having to rewrite in something newer.

“There’s really no point in replacing something so efficient and economical just because there is more to choose from now,” says Diane Simard, a manager at Richelieu Hosiery in Cornwall, Ont., who has used DataEase since 1989. “When it comes down to it, why go to the trouble of getting a new license if you’re happy with what you already have?” she says.

Over at Vimich, the DataEase application works in conjunction with: Intel Net-satisfaxion (fax server software), prophesy mileage (mileage software), and Bczar (rating software).

“Part of the appeal definitely is how flexible it (DataEase) is,” says Clavette. “It works seamlessly with the other applications and is so adaptable,” he says.

Despite its movement to increase the product’s Windows compatibility, Sapphire has said it will continue to support the DOS version as a potential entry point for small and medium-sized businesses.

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