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Helix Lives!

Helix users flex their muscles in grass-roots recovery

20 December 2002--What is perhaps the most exclusive club in the software world got a new toy today as Helix Technologies announced the release of its much-anticipated version 5.1, which the company says will be its last pre-macOS upgrade of the product.
The latest release continues the tradition of extending the Helix paradigm that has evolved through more than a dozen major revisions since its introduction, at this time of year back in 1984.

Helix uses a group of three primary and eight secondary objects, to construct—in an almost unbelievably short time--a practically infinite variety of software applications that most often involve data storage, retrieval and interpretation. To call them merely “databases” vastly understates what they do and what they are. An individual can create a personal Swiss Army Knife that manages everything they want to manage. Businesses generally use Helix to integrate as many of their business processes as possible in one tool. These applications may be used by an individual or deployed to a workgroup that may be in one or more locations.

Helix 5.1 is the first version in the product’s history that was designed by people who actually used it to create real-life solutions to data management problems. Once these lunatics were allowed the run of the asylum, so-to-speak, a wonderful thing happened to the Helix development environment: features became enhanced beyond mere functionality. A new set of eyes on the source code has, in part, resulted in a more complete and consistent design experience.

One example of this experience is tactile. Helix has always been known, even by its detractors, to be among the most rapid of the RAD tools available for the Macintosh. Speeding down the information management superhighway with most of your commands at your fingertips, it hardly seems that as inconsequential a task as having to use the mouse could slow you down, but it does. A byproduct of bringing Helix’s interface into compliance with more of Apple’s HIG specification enables a great deal more in the way of navigation from the keyboard. And extending Helix’s keyboard management capabilities means that more menu commands have keyboard equivalents and more can be created by the designer.

In all, new to the Helix environment in version 5.1 are 4 new features, 26 usability improvements, 14 functionality changes, 7 bug fixes, 9 terminology changes that bring significant functional nomenclature in line with the rest of the modern computing world as well as various improvements to specific products in the family, such as the inclusion of a set of AppleScripts that will allow a network manager to gracefully shut down a Helix server and its clients from a remote location.

New users will find the level of functional fluidity to be up to the standards of the Macintosh environment they seek when evaluating a software investment. And while many existing users might find themselves in need of a refresher course, as they become attuned to the improvements and new habits replace old ones, they will find the experience well worth the effort.

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