Summer 1992

Mesa reads 1-2-3 files, macros

by Simson L. Garfinkel

Boston: Mesa, a traditional spreadsheet that will read and write Lotus 1-2-3 files and execute 1-2-3 macros, will enter beta testing in May, according to David Pollak, president of Athena Design and the program's author.

The program can evaluate both 1-2-3 and Excel-style formulas, draw bar graphs, and it has phenomenal recalculation speed. An early version of the program viewed in January could perform in excess of 15,000 cell recalculations per second. The program could further display multiple windows (views) for a single spreadsheet, and support drag-and-drop interaction for color, fonts, and graphics. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Athena showed Mesa at the February meeting of the Boston Computer Society's NeXT User's Group.

Some of NeXT's largest Wall Street customers have contacted Athena, said Pollak, indicating that they intend to "populate their machines with Mesa" as soon as the program can evaluate Lotus 1-2-3 macros. The first release of Mesa will be feature-for-feature compatible with Lotus 1-2-3 Release 2.0.

"These firms have millions of dollars invested in 1-2-3 spreadsheets and are not interested in fundamental paradigm shifts," Pollak said. Improv, Lotus Development Corporation's spreadsheet for NeXTstep, has no macro language.

"The market has had an unfulfilled need for a standard-paradigm spreadsheet ever since Ashton-Tate ax-murdered PowerStep," said Bruce Henderson, NeXT team leader at San DiegoÐbased Pages and one of the original developers of the Ashton-Tate spreadsheet. Although it will be compatible with Lotus 1-2-3, Mesa does not use 1-2-3's menu structure or command language. Instead, Pollak has developed a user interface for Mesa specifically designed for NeXTstep that has the "look and feel" of other NeXTstep programs.

"There's a specific reason for not having the slash commands: It may violate the Lotus user-interface copyright," said Pollak. "I'm doing everything possible to stay away from infringing on anything that may be their intellectual property."

Mesa will probably cost between $349 and $599, Pollak said. The program may be sold by Athena Design or licensed to another NeXTstep software firm.

Created by Stone Design's Create(tm) at 2005-09-05 19:30:40 -0500