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On-line Assistance in UniPOPS

UniPOPS is well-provided with on-line help facilities for both UniPOPS and UNIX commands. In addition, it contains a mechanism whereby you can let the UniPOPS System Manager and programmers know your comments, suggestions, or complaints about the package.

The HELP Facility

The HELP facility in UniPOPS permits you to get a short explanation of any verb, system adverb or system procedure. If more extensive assistance is required, then the EXPLAIN system can be interrogated (see Section 4.2). Examples of how to seek assistance on specific verbs and adverbs would be,


The HELP display will also list the adverbs associated with the relevant verb and their current values.

The seven HELP commands,


will provide a general description of their attributes, and generate an alphabetical list of all verbs, adverbs, procedures, array adverbs, pointer adverbs, string adverbs, and scalar adverbs respectively. The appropriate lists will also include the names of all user-defined procedures and adverbs. This is extremely useful, for example, if you have forgotten the name of the procedure which you defined twenty minutes ago !

To get a general explanation of the on-line assistance available in UniPOPS, type,




Note that these two instructions bring up a separate window in which to display their message. All other HELPs display their information in the UniPOPS window from which they were invoked.

The EXPLAIN Facility

The EXPLAIN facility provides you with a much more extensive description of any verb, system adverb, and standard procedure. Using UniPOPS in a "windowing" environment, the EXPLAIN documentation will appear in its own specially-created window, which will vanish on exit from the EXPLAIN facility. The EXPLAIN window can also be closed to an "icon" and consulted at any time (see Appendix C for details on how to use windows). Whether in "window mode" or simple "screen mode", the explanation will appear in the UNIX "more" format, pausing when the screen is full until you strike the space bar to obtain the next page. At the end of an explanation, you can request the facility to "back-up" through the previously-viewed EXPLAIN topics, select a new topic for explanation, print the current topic to your currently selected printer or exit the facility by typing the word DONE in the EXPLAIN window.

EXPLAIN is a hyper-text-like help facility, and subtopics suggested for further consultation are listed at the end of each display.

Examples of invoking EXPLAIN for verbs or system adverbs would be,


In addition to verbs and adverbs, EXPLAIN files exist for such general topics as,


A complete list of these general topics can be obtained via,




When all else fails !

Suppose that you do not know the name of a verb or adverb which you wish to locate and find out about. All is not yet lost ! What you have to do is to think of a "keyword" intimately associated with the topic in question, and call the pseudo verb IDENTIFY which will search the EXPLAIN files for occurrences of the "keyword". The syntax of IDENTIFY is,

	IDENTIFY [ "keyword" [ "depth" ] ]

If no attributes are present on the command line, IDENTIFY will prompt the user for a "keyword" and a "depth". Alternatively, the "keyword" can be included on the command line, as can the "depth" of the search, defined as follows,

	0 = A "quick" search of a representative subset of the HELP
	    library for occurrences of "keyword". If "keyword" is
	    included on the command line, but "depth" omitted, depth =
	    0 is assumed.

	1 = An in-depth search of all the HELP library.  This takes
	    considerably more time than the "quick search".

Suppose you wish to find how to "fix the y-scale" of the plot, then try typing,


This would suggest looking at the HELP files for FIXC, FIXHW, GAUSS, HOLDY and IFIX, from which it should be clear that HOLDY is the prime candidate.

Consulting the UNIX On-line Help Manual

The user can consult the UNIX help facility, "man", from within UniPOPS, to obtain documentation on UNIX commands. This is achieved via the pseudo verb SYSHELP, whose syntax is,

	SYSHELP [ system-command ]

If the optional attribute is omitted, the verb will prompt the user for the system-command of interest. A temporary window is opened and the appropriate "man-pages" are listed in this. After the message has been displayed, typing <CR> will exit the window, while typing anything else will redisplay the message. Suppose, you wish to find out about the UNIX directory command "ls", then type,


NOTE: Any UNIX command can be used from inside UniPOPS through the pseudo verb SYSTEM (see Section 12.2)

Sending Feedback to the UniPOPS System Manager

The pseudo verb REPORT can be used to submit a message to the UniPOPS System Manager. Such messages could contain comments, bug reports, suggestions, common abuse, etc. To send a message, just type,


and the user will be prompted as to how to proceed. If describing a problem, give as much information as possible (i.e. scan numbers, observing mode, problem description, etc.)

Information on the Current Status of your UniPOPS Session

Often you can become confused as to whether your plots will come out in "histogram, line or points" mode, how the top and bottom x-axes of that plot will be labeled, and whether command-logging (see Section 15.3) is in effect. STATUS is a 32-element array adverb containing various information concerning the status of the program. You can determine the value of any particular element in STATUS using the verb PRINT, or its pseudonym ?, (see Section 14.5), but DO NOT try to change any of the values. If a user does change a value in STATUS, the new value has no effect on the program and the program immediately resets the element to its proper value before any command is executed. At present, not all of the 32 elements of STATUS have a meaning, the rest being for future use. See Appendix H for the current format of the STATUS array.

As an example of the use of STATUS, suppose you want to find out how the top and bottom x-axes of your plot will be labeled. As the information you require is held in elements STATUS(1) and STATUS(2), (see Appendix H), you type,


The two numbers printed will correspond to the current situation and can be decoded by consulting Appendix H, or by typing,


Use the TELL verb (TELL STAT) to see a summary of the contents of the status array in a user-friendly form.

WHATIS Facility

If you encounter a symbol but don't know whether the symbol is an adverb, pointer, procedure, etc., you can use the WHATIS pseudo verb to find out. WHATIS must be the only command on the input line and must have an argument which is the symbol you are trying to find something about. For example, if you type,


you"ll get back:

	EDROP => Scalar Adverb

which indicated EDROP is a scalar adverb.

And, of course:


will return

	WHATIS => Pseudo Verb

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