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Versions of Approach for MS-Windows / NT

Last updated: 14 Dec 2006 by

The versions recommended are:

All versions can simultaneously access the same database files (.dbt/.dbf or paradox or other formats), but do not share an index file between v3.02 and any other version because the "SmartIndex" format is not compatible. SmartIndexes are only built for dBase files, which is the default type when creating a new database with Approach.

Do not convert a V2.* ".vew" or v3.02 ".apr" file to any newer version than v97 directly. This is discussed further in the article "Upgrading ...". elsewhere in the FAQ. Once converted to v97 and saved in that format, you will no longer be able to use the ".apr" file in v3.02.

Once in v97 format, your ".apr" file can be opened and used with all newer versions of Approach and it will remain useable in v97 unless you use a new feature, like the "dialog editor" that was introduced in v9.5. You will get a warning about the conversion so you can avoid this problem. The version of LotusScript was updated also in the v9.5, so your scripts may not run correctly in earlier versions unless you "recompile" them.

New ".apr" applications created in v9.5 and newer versions are saved in the new format automatically which makes them no longer work in earlier versions.

Version history:
v1.* = the first version released by Approach Software of Mountain View. (circa 1992)
v2.0 = the last version before it was bought by Lotus. (circa 1993)
v2.1 = the first version released by Lotus. View files have .vew file extensions. Developed for MS-Windows 3.1 (16 bit). Despite the new version number it was basically unchanged from v2.0 but contained many fixes for problems in the original release.

v3.00 = a substantial new version released in 1994. Completely new macros. View files have .apr file extension. Developed for MS-Windows 3.1 (16 bit). Problems are encountered (even with v3.01 and v3.02) if it is run on Windows NT v4 (see 'Approach and Windows NT')
v3.01 = a free bug fix of version 3.00. If you are having any problems with v3.00 or 3.01 then get 3.02 before you bother to post. Everybody is going to tell you to get it anyway!
v3.02 = a free bug fix of version 3.01. If you are having any problems with v3.00 or 3.01 then get 3.02 before you bother to post. Everybody is going to tell you to get it anyway! This version will work on all newer versions of Windows except XP.

v96 = Sometimes erroneously referred to as v4. A substantial update developed for MS-Windows 95 (32 bit). Introduction of LotusScript, the Find Assistant, etc. It was a terribly buggy release -- avoid it!
v97 = Developed for MS-Windows 95 and NT 4.0 but apparently runs fine on NT 3.51 (32 bit) Included in Lotus SmartSuite 97 or stand-alone. This version was given to owners of v96 for free due to the bugs in v96. The first version with bug fix updates available on the web -- the "C" patch (apfixpak.exe) is essential! Features include stored finds (very handy) and "Find/Replace" facility. This runs fine on Windows 95 but slows down considerably in design mode on Windows 98 and later.
v97a = v97 with the first apfixpak "A" applied. Apply the latest apfixpak and the version will revert to v97

vME = "Millennium Edition". Release Mid 1998. Mainly a compatibility update for Windows 2000 and a bug fix update with new 'Internet-FastSite' features. It runs faster on Windows 98 compared to Windows 95.
Release 9 or 9.0 = refers to vME. Release 9 was buggy and was very slow in design mode due to putting too many things into the Windows registry (a Microsoft recommendation!).
Release 9.1 = a free bug fix release of vME in December 1998 which was a service release primarily for corporate customers and was not generally available. It relieved the registry problem found in the 9.0 release.

Release 9.5 = July 1999. A major update version released both as a stand-alone product and then as part of SmartSuite Release 9.5 around July, 1999. This version finally overcame the slow down in design mode problem mention since v97 on Windows 98 and later. It had enhanced 'Web functionality and Notes/Domino/DB2 interoperability'. Approach received a true "dialog editor", and the normalize feature of Notes Reporter let you use Approach to do reports on Notes databases better. It uses the v97 .apr file format by default, but if you use the Notes Normazlier or Dialog Editor or create a new .apr file it will convert the file to the newer v9.5 .apr format. Lots of bugs lead to the release of 'A', 'B' and 'C' bug fix patches for the SmartSuite version. Only one patch for the stand-alone product was made available. (Approach v9.5 was the latest stand-alone version)
Release 9.6 = November 2000. Certified for Windows 2000. Included a few bug fixes. Only available as part of Smartsuite 9.6.
Release 9.6.1 = June 2001 bug fix for v9.6.
Release 9.7 = Nov 2001. Certified for Windows XP. Finally fixed printing of crosstabs. Only available as part of Smartsuite 9.7. This release finally fixed the crashing of APR files created in W95 running now in W2000.
Release 9.8 = October 2002. In addition to Windows XP compatibility updates and new filters for Microsoft Office file formats, many bugs were fixed including the problems with "expanding" fields in reports -- new reports will work correctly even if you run them in an older version, but old reports remain unfixed. Certified for Windows XP. Only available as part of Smartsuite 9.8.
Release 9.8.1 = October 2003. Released only to IBM Passport Advantage customers who purchased SmartSuite v9.8 or a maintenance agreement for SmartSuite v9.8 under this program. Falsely listed as a "fixpack" on the Lotus support web site, it is a full release but contains only compatibility updates and a few bug fixes.
Release 9.8.2 = October 2004. Another update labeled a "release".
Release 9.8.3 = October 2005. Another update labeled a "release", but with major bugs in the Approach component making it non-functional. A "fixpack" for these problems was posted in December 2005.
Release 9.8.4 = October 2006. Another update labeled a "release".

Along with the SmartSuite 9.8.1 release, it was announced by Lotus/IBM that future releases will be available only through the IBM Passport Advantage program. While "retail" versions will be announced and they will be for sale on the IBM web site, they are purchased without any support and will not receive fixpacks. This announcement was not well received on the online forums where owners of SmartSuite 9.8 that were obtained outside of the Passport Advantage program felt betrayed by this change in policy. Note that small companies and individuals do not need to apply to join the Passport Advantage program -- there is an "Express" option that lets you buy the product thru the program directly and get support for only that one product.

The announcements and "fix lists" for the SmartSuite 9.8.x releases are available on at where you will need to log in or register on the site to view it.

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