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Bond123 (TM)


Take an ex member of the original Cosmos development team, add in a partner with a background with Microsoft, stir in the concept of Environmental Bonds, and what do you have? A superb product with excellent technical application and some minor documentation/implementation bugs.

For those who have not yet been introduced to Environmental Bonds - they are sub-filing systems designed to allow non-AREV files to be manipulated by the AREV environment as though they were native. Applications already available include A/Share by Zadek for bonding to Pick machines, and the dBASE 3 and ASCII bonds provided by Revelation Technologies with release 2.0.

Bond123 is a product developed by Pat McNetherny of Icicle Software to bond to the Lotus 123 environment. Once installed on your system, it becomes possible to use all of the standard AREV tools on Lotus spreadsheets, thus spreadsheets could be queried, merged, painted, read from and written to and even indexed (but not GFEd!). It should be stressed at the outset that RevTech have confirmed that they have no plans to implement a 1- 2-3 bond of their own, despite some initially misleading reports to the contrary. The bond demonstrated by RevTech at various shows was in fact Bond123.


Reasonably priced at $249. A must for all power Lotus 123 users.


Icicle Software have obviously taken a great deal of care with the packaging of the product. The corporate logo, whilst not immediately relevant gives the package a corporate feel. The software comes in a card envelope carrying the logo and the standard licence agreement nobody reads anymore. Opening the envelope reveals a diskette, a slim manual and a user registration card. The presentation is literally the best I have seen for a new software product, the authors have obviously learnt the lesson of the Market Places' NEED for well presented packages.


Once an environmental bond is in place, you should not need any instructions on using it as it should not behave any differently than a normal AREV file. All that the documentation needs to do is to tell you

     i)   How to install the bonding software
     ii)  How to maintain bonds
     iii) Technical information about the bond

Using these criteria the documentation cannot be faulted. It is well structured and takes you step by step through installing the Bond, adding links and using the system. Tutorials are included, and amazingly do not include the word "Widget" anywhere.


The installation routine provided with the system is very well conceived. The software can be installed as a TCL command or added to one of the system menus, globally or locally to the account. At all stages help is available and easily understood. As far as I could determine, EVERY point at which it was possible to ask for help was covered. There was however, (the previously referred to) one silly bug on installing the software - the installation routine didn't work.......

This was due to a simple error (which has since been fixed) involving not trimming @SENTENCE before parsing it down. Even the best products can't have too much QC. Once I had got 'round this (by typing RUN DOS a:INSTALL at TCL instead of using the menu structure) the software installed quickly and cleanly.

The only feature I dislike about the installation is that it requires you to specify an amount of bytes to use as a scratch space in memory for the bond. This can be anything up to 64K. This is presumably so that Bond 123 can reserve an AREV variable for its own use to avoid having to MALLOC all the time, but on low string space systems, this could be a problem.


The tutorials explain virtually everything that you'd need to know about the bond in three simple tutorials using a Ski Shop and an amateur astronomer's meteor shower spreadsheet as examples. Working through them you see how easy it is to install a bond, attach it to a spreadsheet range, query the spreadsheet, paint windows for it and dynamically update it. The WK1 files are supplied as is the dummy data so that you can even start using the product without Lotus! (I use Enable so I have to export my spreadsheets into 1-2-3 format to test them with Bond123!)

Application Software

The windows for the product are clean and well presented and on-line help is always only a keystroke away. I particularly liked the attention to detail at all stages, EG to find out what spreadsheets are available to you press F2. The system scans to see what drives you have (drive A whirs briefly whilst the program checks if there is a disk there) and a popup of all valid drives appears. You choose the drive and press F2 again, and all valid subdirectories appear. You choose your Lotus subdirectory and a list of all valid spreadsheet files appears whether they have a .WK1 extension or not! (The program ignores extensions and checks the first few bytes of the file instead to see if it is a spreadsheet!). In use the software is unobtrusive, and functions well. All in all, Icicle have produced a most professional product.

Down Side

Surprisingly little. The only fatal bug was the installation program which has since been fixed. Other minor bugs appeared intermittently but disappeared after a reattach with no loss of data integrity. The documentation conatins a few typos, but nothing really serious. The only major drawback for network users is that record locking is not currently supported, but if you're using Lotus you know that already.

Supplier Details

     Icicle Software                    ICS (Sales) Ltd
     907 Front Street, Suite 204        Tempus Business Centre
     Leavenworth                        57 Kingsclere Road
     WA 98226                           Basingstoke
     USA                                Hants
     0101 509 548 5761                  0256 469460
(Volume 1, Issue 6, Pages 7,8)
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