8-Bit Software Online Conversion

SECTION 2 ~~~~~~~~~ 2.1 The Master/Slave Principle ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As you may have already realised, the SYSTEMS server program works on the "Master/Slave" disc principle. From hereon in this manual the disc containing the SYSTEMS operating programs and datafiles will be referred to as the MASTER disc, and the discs containing all your own programs such as games, utilities, text files etc. (ie. the programs and files you wish to organise through the SYSTEMS program) will be referred to as SLAVE discs. The illustration below might help to explain the principle in more detail ... MASTER DISC (containing SYSTEMS server program) ! ! -------------------------------------- ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ) ! ! ! ! ! ) Games1 ! Games2 ! ViewFiles ! Utils1 )--SLAVE DISCS ! ! ! ) Utils2 Misc1 Interword ) 2.2 Preparing a Master Disc ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Preparing a Master disc for use with SYSTEMS server is very straightforward. All you need to do is freshly format a blank disc and copy the following files into the root directory ... SERVER1 SERVER2 SERVER3 SERVER9 !boot It is advisable that you keep the original disc as a backup which can be referred to in the event of a future disc error. Once all the above files have been successfully copied, you should now proceed to COMPACT the disc by using the DFS or ADFS *COMPACT command or equivalent. This helps maximise disc space in order to get the best operation from the program. Your master disc has now been prepared and is ready for use. 2.3 Preparing your Slave Discs ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As already mentioned, when I talk about SLAVE discs I am referring to your own discs containing your own programs (ie. games, Utilities). These discs need no computer preparation at all, as the SYSTEMS server will never write to a slave disc. However at this point you must develop a sensible and reliable referencing system for your slave discs, which will enable you to locate your required program in a fast and efficient way in the future. You should reference every disc you intend to use with the SYSTEMS program. A suggested way of referencing follows .... GAMES DISCS UTILITIES DISCS MUSIC DISCS MISCELLANEOUS GAME01 UTIL01 MUSIC01 MISC01 GAME02 UTIL02 MUSIC02 MISC02 GAME03 etc ... UTIL03 etc ... MUSIC03 etc ... MISC03 etc ... ______________________________________________________________________ Once you have decided on your referencing system, you should proceed to mark all of your discs with sticky labels so that the reference names/numbers are easily visable and are in some form of logical order. The referencing system detailed above is only a suggestion. You can use any referencing system you like - you could just number your discs from 001 upwards if you prefer. However it is important that you do reference your discs sensibly as the SYSTEMS program will refer to these references when directing you towards a particular program record. If you have many slave discs (and most people have), then you might like to reference just one or two of your slave discs to start with in order to get the hang of how the SYSTEMS program works before you commit yourself to putting details of all your slave discs on the database. Once you have referenced one or more of your slave discs, you may now proceed to create a database using the SYSTEMS program. 2.4 Program Databases ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Before we create a new database, it is worthwhile explaining exactly how the database system works. The SYSTEMS server uses the Master Disc to store information about your slave discs under a unique database name. This name is user-defined and can be anything you like (ie. GAMES). Before you are allowed general access to the SYSTEMS program, you must first "sign-on" an existing database by entering it's name. By doing this you are telling SYSTEMS server which database you would like access to which means that the relevant information can be loaded and presented accordingly. Many databases may be held on the same master disc thus providing you with the extra flexibility of "classifying" your slave discs into separate groups. This is especially useful if you have a mountain of slave discs to enter onto the SYSTEMS program. The illustration below shows how the database structure works ... SYSTEMS Server program ! ! ------------------------------- ) ! ! ! ! ) --DATABASES GAMES UTILITIES TEXT AMPLE ) Please be warned though that multiple databases will work totally independently from one another and information contained on multiple databases cannot be cross referenced with one-another when using the SYSTEMS server program. It is quite safe though (and recommended) to use multiple databases so long as you give them sensible and non-conflicting names. For example:- if you do NOT want to store information about your GAMES and UTILITIES slave discs on the same database, the method you would use is to create one database under the name of GAMES, and another separate database on the SAME master disc under the name UTILITIES. From thereon when you wanted to search for and load a particular game, you would use the GAMES database to search for your game without having to waste time searching through all the information held on the UTILITIES database. Likewise if you wanted to locate a utility you would search the UTILITIES database for this purpose. ______________________________________________________________________ The above is a good example on how to classify "whole databases" as the difference between GAMES and UTILITIES is very distinct (ie. you would never mistake a game for a utility). However you must take care not to make your database names too broad. For example it is NOT recommended that you create one database called PDPROGS (public domain programs) and another called EDUCATION as there are many PUBLIC DOMAIN EDUCATIONAL programs floating around the BBC world, and you would end up being stuck as to the database under which to store them. 2.5 Running SYSTEMS server ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Having prepared your master disc by following the procedures in section 2.2 of this manual, you should now run SYSTEMS server by performing an automatic boot using the usual <Shift> + <Break> method. If nothing happens then check that the OPTION command is correctly set by entering *OPT 4,3 and then trying again. If this still fails to work then the program can be loaded and run by using one of the following alternative methods .... PAGE=&1900 (important - page MUST be &1900 or higher) *FX 255, 15 (optional - speeds up disc drive read/write head) CHAIN"SERVER1" (loads and runs SYSTEMS server) Or ... *EXEC !boot <return>. Having booted the main program you will shortly be confronted with the sign on screen and the computer will prompt you for a USERNAME. This is the point where you would normally "sign-on" your database and proceed into the main program. If you are using SYSTEMS server for the first time then you will have no database to sign on, and must therefore create a new one as follows. 2.6 Creating New Databases ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Decide on a database name bearing in mind all that has been said in section 2.4 of this manual. To recap on this the following points to consider are listed below ... 1. Are you going to store everything on one database? If YES then you may ignore the rest of these steps. 2. Decide on how you are to classify your separate databases taking care not to make the names too vague. It is not recommended you create and use more than 5 databases overall. 3. Is there any way that a program held on one of your slave discs could fall into more than one of your chosen database classifications? If YES then rethink your classifications. Enter your chosen database name (or the first on your list if creating more than one database) at the USERNAME prompt and press <return>. REMEMBER that your database name must not be greater than 7 characters long if using DFS or 10 characters long if using ADFS. The computer will pause briefly before you will see a screen similar to the following .... ______________________________________________________________________ NEW USERNAME <database name> ie. GAMES FILENAME NOTEFILE RESERVE CONFIRM Your chosen database name will automatically be entered into the USERNAME field. You must now complete the rest of the screen so that your database can be successfully created. Each database you create will cause 3 datafiles to be saved onto the master disc. The first of these files will be the USERNAME you have just entered. Two more filenames need to be defined, the first being a FILENAME for your database, and the second being a NOTEFILE name. These names can be anything you like, but it is recommended that you make them similar (but not identical) to the USERNAME. For example if you create a database under the username GAMES, then it is recommended that the FILENAME and NOTEFILE fields are entered as GAMES1 and GAMES2 respectively. For example if I was to call my database UTILS, then it would be prudent to call my Filename UTILS1 and my Notefile UTILS2. There is no real importance as to what you enter into the Filename and Notefile fields, as you will never be referring to them directly again as they will be exclusively used by the SYSTEMS program for the storage and retrieval of data. The only points to bear in mind when completing the Filename and Notefile fields are ... 1. Make sure you keep the length of the fields within current filing system limits. ie. 7 characters maximum for DFS and 10 characters maximum for ADFS systems. 2. Do not include any punctuation. 3. Do not route name to another directory. ie. GAMES1 and GAMES2 are acceptable, but $.BBC.GAMES1 or L.GAMES1 are not. Having done this you now move onto the RESERVE field. This field controls the number of records to be reserved for the entering of subsequent program information. For example if you enter 50 then the computer will create 50 blank or "dummy" records on the master disc in order to reserve the necessary room. Any value from 1 to 999 is permitted, and pressing <return> without entering a value will cause a default value of 50 to be assumed. If you are using an ADFS system then it is not important if you consequently run out of space as the facility to "expand" your database is provided from within the program. However, if you are using DFS then it is strongly recommended that you reserve the maximum number that disc space will allow, as you will not be able to "expand" your database later due to the limitations imposed by a DFS system. If at all possible, you should use ADFS format discs. When you have finished entering all your new database information you should have a screen similar to the following ... ______________________________________________________________________ NEW USERNAME GAMES FILENAME GAMES1 NOTEFILE GAMES2 RESERVE 50 CONFIRM Finally you will be asked to CONFIRM you entries. If you are happy that all information has been entered correctly, then you should confirm your entries by entering YES and pressing <return>. After confirming you will see some screen activity whilst the computer sets up your database and reserves the necessary number of records. This can take anything from seconds to minutes depending on how many records you decided to reserve. If the computer generates a SYSTEM ERROR of "Disc Full" or "Can't Extend", then you have tried to reserve more records than disc space will allow, and you should <break> the program, reformat your master disc, re-copy the system files and start again, this time entering a lesser amount in the RESERVE field. Having created your database successfully, the computer will return you to the "sign-on" screen and ask you for a USERNAME. Provided you haven't already used up all available disc space creating your first datafile, then you may wish to create another database at this point by following the instructions in section 2.6 again. Be sure however not to enter the same USERNAME, FILENAME or NOTEFILE as in existing databases as you will end up overwriting these and losing a lot of information. If you are learning to use SYSTEMS server for the first time, it is recommended you work with one database for the time being. Now you have created your database(s), you may now go on to use the SYSTEMS server program proper. The rest of this manual gives step by step instructions on how to do this, and also includes usefull do's and don'ts when using the program. It is recommended you read through the whole manual at least once so that all important points that need to be mentioned are understood clearly. ______________________________________________________________________ SECTION 3 ~~~~~~~~~ 3.1 "Signing-on" Your Database(s) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Whether you have just created a new database, or have just booted the SYSTEMS server program, you will always be requested to "sign-on" a database by entering an appropriate USERNAME before being granted access to the main program. This procedure is very simple and just involves typing your database name at the prompt (ie. GAMES) and pressing <return>. Provided the username you have entered exists, the computer will load and run the main SYSTEMS program. If the computer displays a screen headed "NEW", then the username you have entered does not exist, and the computer is prompting you to create a new database (see section 2.6). 3.2 SYSTEMS server MAIN MENU ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Provided you entered a valid username, the corresponding database will be installed into memory and the main menu will be presented, rather like the following illustration ... Loading Gateway Browsing Facilities Revising Facilities Deleting Facilities Compact Current Database Install Program Database Add New Program Record Extend ADFS Database Close SYSTEMS Server No RECORDS 50 SERIAL No F9U No ACTIVE 0 DATABASE GAMES No DELETE 0 VERSION 6a No SPARE 50 SUBTYPE COM This screen is the "main menu" screen and it is to here that you will be returned after performing each function or command. Before we go into the use of SYSTEMS server in detail, a very brief explanation of each command will follow ... Loading Gateway: This command provides the user with the facility to load and run a chosen program from the database, without having to exit SYSTEMS server and manually run the program from BASIC. All common types of loading programs are supported including LOAD, CHAIN, *RUN, *LOAD, *LIST, *TYPE etc. Browsing Facilities: This option allows the user to enter the database record system at any point desired and browse backwards and forwards through the database. Full database lists can also be obtained from within this option on either screen or printer. Revising Facilities: As browsing facilities, except the option is provided to Amend record information, directory paths (if applicable) and program notes. ______________________________________________________________________ Deleting Facilities: Provides the opportunity to remove entire databases, or mark selected records for removal at a later time. The process of deleting records is quite involved and will not be explained at this point in the manual. Searching Facilities: Very powerful group of facilities with user-definable searching patterns. Full screen and printer options provided along with the "almost exact" or "fuzzy" search options included as standard. Compact Current Database: Used in conjunction with Deleting Facilities in order to remove records "marked" or "flagged" for removal. Install Program Database: This option will "sign-off" the current database and provides the option for a different database to be installed and run. Add New Program Record: Option for entering information about your slave discs into the program. This option must be used at least once in order to store some information on the master disc before any other option becomes valid. Extend ADFS Database: Provided to reserve more disc space when the current number of records available is exhausted. Option will only work reliably using ADFS system and is liable to crash the program if using DFS. Close SYSTEMS server: Will "sign-off" current database, close all files (Dismount ADFS discs) and exit the program. You will also notice that additional information is provided at the bottom of the screen. This information is constantly updated and will be altered accordingly every time you make a significant alteration to your database. A brief explanation of each information field is provided below ... No RECORDS Number of records reserved on Database No ACTIVE Number of records currently holding information No DELETE Number of records pending removal from the system No SPARE Number of spare (unused) records available SERIAL No Identifies you as an individual customer of 8.B.S. DATABASE The current database name signed onto the system. VERSION Program version number. SUBTYPE Version subtype - for 8.B.S. use only. ______________________________________________________________________ 3.3 Selecting and Entering Commands ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ SYSTEMS server works on the "menu bar" selection method whenever possible. Selections are made simply by highlighting the appropraite option using the UP and DOWN cursor arrow keys and then pressing RETURN. For example, if you are using the SYSTEMS server for the first time (having just created a new database), then the first thing you will want to do is ADD some information onto the system under the current database name. To do this from the main menu you would press the DOWN ARROW key until the blue highlight bar was over the "Add New Program Record" option and then press <Return>. When data entry is required that cannot be entered using the "menu bar" method, then a flashing block cursor will appear on the screen prompting you to enter informaton via the keyboard and press <return>. Full instructions on how and when to enter information is always provided in this manual when necessary. 3.4 Information Required for Each Record ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ If you are intending to use the program seriously, it is essential obtain as much information as you can on the programs contained on your "slave discs" in order to have the necessary information to hand when you start entering information onto the system. The information required for each record is highlighted as follows ... PROGRAM NAME .... The full name of your prog. (not the disc filename) ie. "Strykers Run" CATEGORY ........ Possible categories are:- GAME UTILITY ASCII TEXT WORD PROCESSOR DEDICATED FILE ROM RAM IMAGE MISCELLANEOUS IGNORE FIELD DISC ............ Disc Reference (see section 2.3) LOADING OPTION .. Possible options are:- CHAIN *RUN *EXEC *TYPE *LIST *LOAD LOAD REFERENCE ONLY SOURCE OF PROGRAM ... Where was the program obtained from ie. 8-bit Software, Superior Software etc. FILENAME ............ The disc filename of your program ie. STRYK1 DFS ADFS ............ Is the program stored on a DFS or ADFS disc? ______________________________________________________________________ DIRECTORY ROUTE ..... The Directory route of the program. ie. $.GAMES.STRATEGY if using ADFS or ... $ if using DFS PROGRAM NOTES ....... Finally, 3 lines will be provided for you to enter any notes on the program in question. Please do not be alarmed if this seems to be a lot of information for only one record. Once used to the program the entering of information can be done quite speedily, and little of the above information is mandatory as many fields can be "skipped" out if required. 3.5 Adding Records to the Database ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ To add new information just highligh the "Add New Program Record" option from the main menu and press <Return>. You will then be presented with a blank record to complete with the cursor flashing at the top "PROGRAM" field, rather like the illustration below ... ------------------------------------------------------------------ PROGRAM ! CATEGORY ! DISC ! OPTION ! SOURCE ! FILENAME ! DFS ADFS ! ------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------ RECORD No 1 You may now proceed to enter details of one of the programs stored on your slave discs. To take an example here we will assume that we want to store details of a game called "Krazy Ladders" onto our database. Details of how to enter each field of information will now be explained step by step ... PROGRAM: Enter the full name of the program and press <return> (not just the disc filename) - to take our example here we would enter "Krazy Ladders" and press <return>. CATEGORY: You will be presented with a "menu bar" selection table at this point and you are required to highlight the appropriate option and press <return>. We know in our example that Krazy Ladders is a GAME so we highlight the GAME option and press <return>. DISC: You should have referenced or indexed all your slave discs into some logical order. You should enter the reference number of the slave disc containing this program into this field. In our example we know that Krazy Ladders is on disc number GAM001 so we enter this and press <return>. ______________________________________________________________________