Converting Amiga Superbase

Converting Amiga Superbase to Superbase Classic

Background

When Superbase was bought from Precision Software by Software Publishing Corporation in 1991, they decided after the release of Superbase 4 1.31 for Windows and the Amiga that they were not interested in other platform versions of Superbase and sold the source code to other companies that were interested in the target platform. That included the Amiga version of Superbase.

For anyone who is contemplating converting from the Amiga version of Superbase to the current Superbase Classic line, they can be comforted by the fact that in many ways the product looks very similar to even the oldest Amiga version (the very first graphical Superbase version was released for the Amiga in 1985). In fact, the data, queries, updates, labels, and key assignments files are all directly compatible from the Superbase 4 1.3 Amiga release. Form files are not, but there is a converter to convert most forms from their Amiga format to a basic Windows PC look.

Conversion

Step 1— Convert to 8.3 File Names

The first step when converting from Amiga Superbase to the Windows version is to ensure that the data files and form files use DOS-style 8.3 file names. This is necessary and usually easier to do on the Amiga version than to wait until they have been brought across, especially if you are also converting forms and/or programs. First make the system 8.3 compliant and retest before doing the remaining steps.

Step 2 — Check Your Amiga Version

Next make sure of which version is being used currently. If it is Amiga Superbase 1.x, 2.x, or 3.x Professional or Personal, then it will be necessary to export the data into ASCII-Delimited format. If you are using Superbase 4, any version, then all of the files except forms should be compatible directly with Superbase on Windows.

Step 3 — Except for Superbase 4 Amiga Version, Export the Data

The data files from Superbase 4 for the Amiga are directly compatible with Superbase Classic, so nothing needs doing there. For older versions, it is necessary to export the data. Use a field separator like ASCII character 165 and a record separator like ASCII character 166 (these are not typically found in the data and that way the fields with embedded newline characters will be preserved). Once the data for each of the files has been exported into appropriately names target files (foo.sbf becomes foo.txt), the files can be transferred to the appropriate target machine or format.

Step 4 — Save Programs as Text

To move the program files (*.SBP) it might be a good idea if you are using a Superbase older than Superbase 4 for the Amiga to save them as TEXT. This should be possible using the Superbase command line and the syntax SAVE "PROGNAME", TEXT. In the case of the data definition files (*.SBD’s), query files (*.SBQ), update files (*.SBU), labels files (*.SBB), and function key definition files (*.SBK), these are already stored as text and do not require additional changes.

Step 5 — Transfer Files to DOS Format

When transferring the text files (all of the previously mentioned file formats including programs and exported data) using Cross-DOS or something similar, it is a good idea to make sure that the extended ASCII characters are converted from Amiga ASCII to DOS ASCII. This should be the default setting for text files, though it may be necessary to check the configuration information here if you use extended ASCII characters in your data or programs, since it is important that this is correctly configured in order to convert the data without loss. If you are transferring binary files like Superbase 4 *.SBFs then read about form files below.

Form files are a special case. Forms have always been incompatible between platforms in Superbase, in part because different platforms have supported different capabilities. As such, the forms need special handling. They should be transferred as binary files, not text! Once they have been brought across they can be converted using a command line utility called “convsbv.exe”. This utility can be downloaded from here: /downloads/lib-10-samples-and-utils/CONVSBV.ZIP. In most cases this utility will be able to convert the form files, though later versions of the form file format (SBASE 4) may not work since later owners have made changes to the form file format that we do not have the source code to support.

Step 6 — Converting the Files

If you are working with Amiga Superbase 4, then the files should be directly compatible. If not, read on.

On older versions of Amiga Superbase we exported the data files to files ending in *.TXT. You should also have transferred the *.SBD files. In Superbase for the PC, create an empty file definition (one field is required so give it a single field). Save this file and close it. Now using either the command line or a tool like Windows Explorer, copy the new file’s *.SBF file to each of the various *.SBD files’ names. This will provide each of them with an empty database to fill. Make sure before you begin the next step to copy the *.SBD files to a backup directory! Now, open each file (ignore protests about the failure to find any index files that are mentioned) and import the data file stored as *.TXT that you transferred from the Amiga. Make sure to set the appropriate characters for field separator and record separator (above we recommended 165 and 166). This should fill the files with the data that you transferred over. Now using the backup SBDs, rebuild the indexes.

Step 7 — Start Working With the New Superbase

Now that the data is across, you can either convert the forms or rebuild them. The new Superbase has considerably more power and features than the older Amiga versions (including the Superbase 4 release), so there is a lot to get to know. Talk to people on our news server, post questions, and read existing postings.