80-Bus News


Spring 1985 · Volume 4 · Issue 1

Page 14 of 31

the relevant part highlighted in inverse video. Little concession is made to the cleverness of the Gemini screen addressing, as the program is intended for use with CP/M machines in general. To this end the screen is treated in the simplest fashion consistent with tidiness and readability.

I’m slowly working through all the 80-BUS stuff I’ve got on disk, so next time, instead of my saying ‘I think it was written up somewhere’ I’ll be able to say exactly what, when and where! That’s some 1.8M bytes on three disks covering about 100 files. Mind you, it’ll take some time, as I have to decide the search criteria and introduce the search keys as required. A further problem is that I don’t have all of the past 80-BUSes, only the parts I’ve written or edited, Paul has the rest, if he hasn’t reformatted and re-used the disks.

The problem is what to make Gateway look for! As, for instance, in the case of letters files, Gateway doesn’t know that CEGB and electricity are related until you do a cross search for either or both. This problem is eased a little within Gateway by an option which says ‘ignore’ case, so ‘Central Electricity Generating Board’ and the word ‘ELECTRICITY’ could be tied up without further intervention. But you still have to know what way you want the data presented and how to find it in the first place. In some ways Gateway could be likened to the early days of the laser, a solution looking for a problem. It needs imagination to figure out what you want Gateway to do, once you’ve decided, Gateway can do it.

The Pathway

The companion program to Gateway, Pathway, is something else. Parts of it have immediate uses. Now most of you will be aware that not all text processors write straight ASCII text to a file. WORDSTAR for instance riddles the text with ‘bit 7’ set and uses only line feeds instead of CR/LF’s within paragraphs. If you use the CP/M ‘TYPE’ command (without CCPZ) on a piece of WORDSTAR text, you’ll see what I mean. Other text processors leave text controls lying about to a greater or lesser extent.

Gateway will handle text from any source, but merging different bits of text from different processors leaves a problem for the text processor ultimately used to edit the result. Ideally Gateway would like standard ASCII text, or at least, all the same type of text, but conversion from one source to another is a bit of a pain. CONVERT, part of Pathway does just that. It has three tables, the input conversion table, the output conversion table and a video conversion table. Each table consists of 256 comparison strings. The data is read from an input file and all incoming characters are compared with the input table and are either left unchanged, converted to another character or converted to an n-length string. The idea is to convert all input to a given standard, say ASCII. Likewise, on the way out to the output file, all characters are compared with the output table and similar conversions can take place. A third table may be used for the output to convert video control strings which might be used for special functions on some video terminals or printers.

The main purpose of Pathway is to format and print text without the intervention of a text processor. The text would {normally} come from Gateway output files, but any text may be used. The input and output conversion tables used by CONVERT can be invoked, so special print controls may be inserted as required. Pathway also accepts an extensive set of ‘dot’ commands within the text, akin to WORDSTAR, for such things as line length, page length, headings, footings, margins and many more. Unfortunately these commands are not exactly compatible with those used by WORDSTAR. The net result is neatly formatted text, to suit the printer in use from any old source file regardless of the original format.

Gateway and Pathway are all clever stuff, and represent a different and very efficient way of dealing with large amounts of text identification and retrieval. I suppose it would really come into its own for use with disk versions of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica or for cataloguing libraries or some such. Using it to cross index my letters files and on my bits of 80-BUS text seems a trivial occupation for a program of the obvious power of Gateway. I feel a little intimidated by the concept of the program. Perhaps I feel inadequate because I can’t think of a really good job for it to get to grips with. I like it, I use it (it’s not difficult), I just find it difficult to enthuse over it.

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