Jackmate

Reviewed by Matthew Jones

 

Issue 32

Mar/Apr 88

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Vogler Software

29.95

A traditional 'MAKE' program is a tool for programmers of large programs to help them with the job of compilation. Basically, MAKE uses a `makefile' to tell it about a program, and how each file of the program depends on others. After editing a number of files, MAKE looks at the makefile and then at the edited source, discovers what is out of date and re-compiles and re-links as necessary. Thus the programmer does not have to type lots of commands after editing.

JackMake is not that sort of program what it does is simply run each program in a list you prepare. While it could be used for the production of a single source file program, it is not really aimed at the programmer but is perfect for performing frequently done, and possibly complicated, command sequences. You can specify a command line to give to the program if desired. If you do a lot of switching between programs, such as between a spreadsheet and a graphing utility, you can use JackMake to do the tedious bit for you.

Preparing a new command list is very easy. First, select the menu option to clear the current list, then select 'Add a file' (also on a ctrl key), and this gives a modified file selector, which enables you to 'show' JackMake where the program resides. The program does not have to be in any particular folder or disk drive. After selection the command is shown ina window. This is then repeated for each program in the sequence. To add a command line, you must click on the command in the window, select a menu option, and then fill in a (quite small) line in a dialog. A nice feature is a button which says 'file selector'.

Clicking this reveals the file selector and allows you to select a data file for the command line. Unfortunately, using this deletes any command entered so far, so you can only use it once per command line. I would have preferred to be automatically offered a command line for each command added. The parameters are not shown in the window, and JackMake takes no consideration of the command type when running it, not clearing the screen prior to running a TOS program.

Once the list is prepared (you can save lists for re-use), you can choose a few aspects about its use. You can specify how many times the list will be repeated, or have it repeat forever. You can also determine whether it will show you a dialog informing you of actions it is about to take. This dialog gives three options: Okay (run the program), Skip, and Stop. If you have selected to not have the dialog and also the repeat forever option, it is still possible to interrupt the sequence with a key combination as JackMake loads the next program.

The manual, laudably printed on re-cycled paper (with two page explanation), is not particularly comprehensible. Along with the confusion of calling itself a 'MAKE' utility and then not actually being a true `MAKE', I had a struggle understanding quite what the purpose of the program was, or how to use it and was only enlightened once I ran the program itself. Fortunately, once you understand what it is trying to do, JackMake is good in use, so the manual is not too much of a hindrance more a drawback to selling it.

Other niggles with the program include bad spelling and also non-standard dialogs. For instance, the `Preferences' dialog does not have OKAY and Cancel buttons you have to click on the dialog title to exit!

Overall, this program could save you a lot of time if you often run a sequence of programs repeatedly (especially from different folders), otherwise it would appear to have no particular use.

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