Magazine article The CPA Journal

Take Another Look at Lotus Agenda

Magazine article The CPA Journal

Take Another Look at Lotus Agenda

Article excerpt

With most databases, you create database tables first and key data later. Lotus Agenda is the only database that lets you key data first and then create tables afterward.

Call your local computer store and chances are they have never heard of Lotus Agenda. They know about Lotus 1-2-3 and perhaps FreeLance Graphics, but they scratch their heads in bewilderment when you ask about Lotus Agenda.

One can hardly blame the puzzled clerk at the local computer store for knowing nothing about Agenda. Lotus no longer actively markets Agenda and never put much effort into its sale and distribution in the first place.

Mitch Kapor, father of 1-2-3, created Lotus Agenda. When Kapor left Lotus Development Corporation, he took with him Lotus' enthusiasm for Agenda.

Victor Cruz, spokesman for Lotus Development Corp., says Lotus stopped developing Agenda after selling only 100,000 copies. They thought Agenda was too difficult to learn, so they bought a no-brainer program called the Threads Organizer from a company in the United Kingdom. Threads looks like a notebook and a day calendar, so it is obvious what it does. Agenda is more subtle. Lotus has sold 450,000 copies of Threads.

Agenda might be a little complex at first, but for the curious, it is a completely flexible tool. For its small community of users, it is a well kept secret.

James Fallows, political analyst and author of Looking at the Sun, a study of Asian economies, praised Agenda in The Atlantic magazine in May of last year. Mr. Fallows says, "A significant number of journalists use it."

He uses Agenda to track sources and store notes for his books and magazine articles. He even uses Agenda as an accounting program to track expenses.

Dr. Earnest Forman, Professor of Management science at George Washington University and author of Expert Choice decision-model software, says, "Agenda is a wonderful program. I put everything in there and use it to track activities, writings, research, decision models, and to keep track of software. Agenda has even helped me clean up my office." Forman wishes Lotus would let someone take over its maintenance.

In today's world of Windows, Agenda looks a little dull. Its facade is an ordinary character-based screen. You might ague that with today's emphasis on graphic interfaces and brightly colored documents, there is more effort spent on appearance than on content. How would the U.S. Constitution read if James Madison had used Microsoft Word? Would he have spent more time on the wording of the Bill of Rights or drawing neat little boxes? If you think the Constitution might have suffered, Agenda is a product you can feel good about. …

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