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Chapter 2. User's Reference Guide

The following part of The SOIC System User's Manual, the "User's Reference Guide," gives complete details about specific features of the SOIC System. The guide can serve as reference material when you want to look up information about a particular topic. We have also written the "User's Reference Guide" so that you can read it straight through if you wish. Because it is a reference guide, however, it is necessarily somewhat repetitious.

If you are already familiar with Windows programs, you may find sections 2.1 and 2.2 to be very elementary-you can certainly skip these sections.

2.1 The Parts of the SOIC System

The parts of the SOIC System that you can actually see-the parts that let you enter data, view the data, and give commands-consist of a number of box shaped windows. The following part of this manual describes the windows that you see when the SOIC System is running. The most important of these windows is the Data Entry Form, the window that you see when you start up the SOIC System. In addition to the Data Entry Form, on start up the screen shows several other important parts of the system, which include the menu bar at the top of the screen, the Button Bar, and the Status Bar at the bottom of the screen.

2.1.1 The Data Entry Form

The following figure shows the Data Entry Form:

SOIC data entry form.

On the main part of the form are a series of data entry fields. These fields contain white boxes placed immediately after the field labels. You can enter text in these boxes. The first field-the field in the top most left hand corner-is labeled Local ID. The next field, reading left to right, is Temporary ID. The fourth field is First Name.

On start up, the first field-Local ID-has a blinking vertical bar inside the box, near the right edge. This bar is the text cursor. It is a sign that this field is "selected," that it is the current focus of attention. If you begin typing, the letters and numbers that you type appear in this field. The text cursor shows you exactly where the text will go. If you have entered text, you can reposition the text cursor with the LEFT ARROW and RIGHT ARROW keys. If you then resume entering text, the text is placed at the new location of the text cursor. For more information on these topics, see Section 2.2.7 "The Arrow Keys".

You can also move the text cursor from one position in a text string to another with the mouse. Place the mouse pointer on the space where you want the text cursor to appear, and click. Note that the text cursor can move to the end of a text string, but no further. If you click on a blank space in the box to the right of the string, the text cursor moves to the end of the string. You can use the mouse to select text for editing. Place the mouse pointer at the beginning of the string, depress the button, move the mouse pointer to the end of the string, and release.

Some of the fields contain formatting characters. An example of this is the field Social Security, which contains underlining and two dashes. The dashes serve to break up the Social Security number into its standard format-three numbers, followed by two numbers, and then four numbers. When you type text into fields with formatting characters, do not type the characters or spaces to allow for the characters. If you type in spaces or characters, they appear as part of the text.

Whenever the Data Entry Form is active, one or another of the data entry fields is always selected. You can change the selected field-move the text cursor-by using the TAB key, or by moving the mouse cursor to a new field and clicking the mouse button. If you click outside of the boxes on the Data Entry Form, nothing happens.

It is possible to suppress the display of one or more fields on the Data Entry Form with the Suppress option on the Field menu. For more information, see Section 2.5.2 "The Suppress Fields Option".

2.1.2 The Title Bar

The title bar appears at the top of the screen, above the Data Entry Form. The title is "SOIC  " plus, in single quotes, the name of the table that is in use. When you open the program, the table in use is always an empty table called "untitled":

SOIC title bar.

The title bar also contains several standard Windows controls for manipulating the open application. These include three small boxes to the far right of the title bar. If you click on the box with an underline character, Windows minimizes the SOIC System without exiting from the program. If you click on the box with an X, you exit from the SOIC System. The box that in many programs can be used to switch between a maximum sized window and a reduced size window is grayed out and disabled.

The SOIC icon that appears on the far left is also a control. If you click on it, a Windows "system menu" drops down giving you controls that match the ones provided by the boxes to the far right:

SOIC title bar with System Menu displayed.

This menu is designed for controlling programs without using the mouse-you can also open it with ALT+SPACE BAR and then use the ARROW keys to select the option you want. Press ENTER to activate your selection.

2.1.3 The Menu System

At the top of the screen, above the Data Entry Form, is a line containing five items: File, Field, Record, Code, Tools, and Help. This line is the menu bar, and it is the gateway to all other parts of the SOIC System beyond the Data Entry Form. Each of the items on the menu bar is the title of a pull down menu containing options from which you can choose. To open a pull down menu, you can type the ALT key plus the first letter of the title (which is underlined). For example, to open the File pull down menu, type ALT+ F:

SOIC Drop Down Menus

Alternatively, you can click on the word "File" with the mouse. Either procedure opens the File pull down menu. If you want to choose the New option, you can press ENTER, click on New with the mouse, or type the letter N, which is underlined. This opens the New dialog box.

If you want to choose a different option-say, the Open option-you can click on Open with the mouse, or type the letter O, which is underlined. Alternatively, you can move the highlighting to the Open option by pressing DOWN ARROW, and then display the Open dialog box with ENTER.

If you choose an option by clicking on it with the mouse, the option is immediately executed-there is no interval during which the option is highlighted but not activated, as there would be if you highlighted an option with DOWN ARROW and then activated it with ENTER.

We describe the file management dialog boxes in detail in Section 2.1.6 " Dialog Boxes to Manage Files and Tables". For now, consider the File pull down menu. The menu has ten options. Seven of the options are followed by three dots. The dots mean that choosing this option opens a dialog box that offers additional options. One option-Save-has an arrow symbol to the right of the option label. This means that choosing Save opens a "submenu" with more options.

Close and Exit have no dots or arrow symbols. This means that if you choose one of these options, it is executed immediately.

You can close a pull down menu and return to the Data Entry Form either by pressing ESC twice (ESC, ESC) or by clicking on the Data Entry Form with the mouse. As long as a pull down menu is open, none of the fields on the Data Entry Form are selected. If you return to the Data Entry Form by pressing ESC twice, the field that was selected when you opened the menu is selected again. If you return to the Data Entry Form by clicking on an area outside any of the fields with the mouse, the field that was selected when you opened the menu is also selected again. If you return to the form by clicking on a new field that was not previously selected, however, the text cursor moves to the new field.

If one of the pull down menus is open, and you want to move to a different menu, you do not need to return to the Data Entry Form first. Instead, you can use LEFT ARROW or RIGHT ARROW to move from one pull down menu to another.

If, after opening a menu, you decide that you would rather open another, you can do so with the mouse by moving the mouse pointer to the other menu. You can drag the pointer through the menus until you find the option you want, and then click the left mouse button.

The options available through the menu system are described in detail throughout the following sections:

2.1.4 The Button Bar

Immediately below the Menu Bar lies the Button Bar:

SOIC Button bar

All of the options available through the Button Bar are also available from the drop down menus on the Menu Bar. The Button Bar simply places these options in a conspicuous location so that they are easy to find. You can execute any Button Bar option by clicking on the appropriate button with the mouse. Whenever you move the mouse pointer over one of the buttons, a "tool tips" balloon appears to tell you in greater detail what the button does. The Button Bar buttons cannot be accessed through the keyboard.

2.1.5 The Status Bar

The Status Bar is located at the bottom of the screen, below the Data Entry Form:

SOIC status bar.

The Status Bar contains four indicators that provide useful information about the status of the system. The first of these, taking up most of the left hand side of the bar, is the Coding Progress indicator. This display appears when large tables are coded, and shows how much coding is left:

SOIC status bar with coding process status displayed.

The next indicator is the Record Number, which shows the record number of the current record, and how many records are in the table.

The third indicator shows the server that is in use for coding records-the 1990 Server. For more information about this server, see Section 1.2 "The 1990 Coding Architecture".

The last indicator displays the time of day. If you like, you can disable this display through the Settings option on the Tools menu.

2.1.6 Dialog Boxes to Manage Files and Tables

The first six options on the Files menu display dialog boxes that allow you to manage tables. The next two options, Import and Export, display dialog boxes for managing files. (The Convert Access option under the Tools menu also opens a file management dialog box.) Additional file management dialog boxes are available through the Data Source control in many of the table management dialog boxes.

These additional dialog boxes allow the SOIC System to work with external data stored in Access or Xbase files.

The table management dialog boxes are part of the SOIC System, and look the same no matter which operating system you are using-Windows 95, 98, 2000, or NT. The file management dialog boxes, however, are generated by Windows itself, not by the SOIC System. Under Windows 95, 98, and NT, the file management dialog boxes have substantially the same appearance. (Examples shown in this manual were generated using Windows 98.) Under Windows 2000, file management dialog boxes have a somewhat different appearance. Some controls are in new locations, and there are controls that do not exist under Windows 95, 98, and NT. The Windows 2000 file management dialog boxes, however, have all the functionality provided by dialog boxes in earlier versions of Windows.

Note that the menu bar and part of the Data Entry Form are still visible while the dialog boxes are open. Though visible, these parts of the program are inactive. You cannot access them until you close the dialog box and return to the Data Entry Form.

We describe the uses of each dialog box in the section on the Menu Bar option used to invoke it-see the following:

In the following part of this section, we describe common methods of moving about and manipulating dialog boxes, and common elements that all the dialog boxes share. If you have questions about basic Windows operations, you can consult any Windows manual or guide.

Take as an example the Open Table dialog box, the box users will probably see most often. The Open Table dialog box looks like this:

SOIC Open table dialogue box.

This dialog box contains the following:

  • A text entry field (labeled Table Name).
  • A list box.
  • Buttons.
  • A "drop down combo box" (labeled Data Source) that combines a drop down list with a display field. Moving the Focus in a Dialog Box

When the Open Table dialog box is initially displayed, the text cursor is in the text entry box of the Table Name field (the only text entry field in this dialog box). Therefore, you can immediately begin typing in the name of a table that you want to open.

You can choose and activate another element in the dialog box by clicking on it with the mouse. Clicking on Cancel closes the dialog box without taking any action. Clicking on OK accepts whatever text is placed in the Table Name field, and the program then tries to open that table. Clicking on a name in the Table Names list box places that name in the Table Name field. Clicking on the Data Source display field (or on the arrow button next to it) opens a drop down list that allows you to open various kinds of external, non SOIC tables or files.

In addition to using the mouse, you can also move the focus from one element to another with TAB or SHIFT+TAB. Tab cycles the focus forward through the elements; SHIFT+TAB also cycles the focus, but in the opposite direction. Unlike the mouse, TAB selects elements but does not immediately activate them. You can use tab to select the Cancel button, for example, without closing the dialog box. To actually close the box, first select Cancel and then press ENTER. (Alternatively, to close a box you could simply press ESC, no matter which element in the box is selected.) How to Tell if A Dialog Box Element is Selected

Sometimes it is necessary to look closely to tell whether a dialog box element is selected. Sometimes the signs are obvious enough. When the Table Name text entry field is selected, the text cursor appears in the text entry box. When the Data Source element is selected, reverse highlighting makes the selection easy to see.

Other selected dialog box items, however, display subtler markings. Signs that an element is highlighted include a dotted line around the element label, and sometimes a darkening of the object's border. For example, in the following illustration, the OK button is selected, and the Cancel button is not:

SOIC Dialogue box.  Dark border around OK button indicates the OK button selected. Text Entry Fields

A text entry field, such as the Table Name field in the Open Table dialog box, typically consists of a label (Table Name:) and a text entry box. When the field is selected, the text cursor appears in the box. Text entry boxes support all standard Windows text entry features (though all the text entry boxes in the SOIC system are single line boxes, and enter does not create a new line).

From the keyboard, you can move forward through text with RIGHT ARROW and back with LEFT ARROW. HOME moves the cursor to the beginning of the line, and END moves immediately after any displayed text. You can move word by word with CTRL+RIGHT ARROW or CTRL+LEFT ARROW. You can select text by placing the cursor at the beginning of a text block, and then holding down shift as you move the cursor to the end of the block. You can delete selected text with delete. You can even cut, copy, and paste within and between text fields using CTRL+X, CTRL+C, and CTRL+V. Insert is not supported-the normal insert mode is in effect at all times, and pressing insert does not allow you to type over and replace existing text.

Normal mouse actions for text entry are also available. You can move the text cursor with a mouse click. To select a block of text, hold down the mouse button with the mouse pointer at the beginning of a block, drag the mouse pointer to the end of the block, and release the button. Display Fields

Display fields contain information that can be changed by various program actions. The display fields themselves cannot be directly edited. In the Open Table dialog box, the Data Source field is a display field that cannot be directly edited. You can change its contents, however, through a drop down list. Clicking on the field or its associated down arrow button opens a list from which you can choose an alternate data source. List Boxes and Drop-Down Lists

The Open Table dialog box contains one list box: the File Names list box immediately below the File Name field. You can copy a file name to the text entry box by selecting it from the list box. Clicking on a name with the mouse copies the name to the text entry box immediately. You can also move the focus to the list box with TAB, and then move the focus down the list of file names with DOWN ARROW. When you reach the file name you want, press ENTER to copy the name to the text entry box.

As in the case of a text entry box, you use the arrow keys to move about within the dialog box element, and tab or SHIFT+TAB to move from one element to another. This is a general rule for dialog boxes.

If the file name you want is too far down the list to be immediately displayed, you can scroll down the list with DOWN ARROW, or use the mouse to operate the scroll bar on the right hand side of the list box.

Some lists would take up too much room in a dialog box if they were displayed in full, even with the scroll bar feature. Such lists expand when you click on them with the mouse. There is one drop down list in the Open Table dialog box: the Data Source drop down list. The field containing the drop down list normally looks like this:

SOIC Drop down election box (closed).

When the list is opened, the field looks like this:

SOIC Drop down election box (opened).

The items on the list represent file management dialog boxes that allow you to open files created using the Access, dBASE, or FoxPro database management systems. You can move up or down the list with the ARROW keys. To actually display one of the other dialog boxes, you must first select the appropriate name from the list and then press ENTER.

2.1.7 The Message Boxes

To manipulate a drop down list from the keyboard, without using the mouse, press DOWN ARROW or UP ARROW to scroll through the list items without dropping the list. You can also drop the list with ALT+DOWN ARROW, then move up or down the list with the ARROW keys. When you have highlighted the item you want, press ENTER.

In addition to dialog boxes for table and file management, the SOIC System contains a variety of message and dialog boxes to provide you with information or alert you to potential problems. Some of the messages provide relatively routine information, such as announcing that a table is done coding. Other messages warn you of potentially dangerous conditions. An additional kind of message warns you that an error has occurred.

When a message or warning box appears, you must choose one of the buttons in the box to close the box and proceed. You can do so by clicking on one of the buttons with the mouse. Some boxes may only have a single OK button. To close the box and proceed, you must click on that button (or press ESC or ENTER). Other boxes may have several buttons. The Cancel button always closes a box without taking action, and is equivalent to ESC. OK closes the box and accepts the action, if any. It is equivalent to ENTER. Other options, such as Yes or No, take their meaning from the text in the box.

Unlike the pull down menus, you cannot close a message box by clicking outside of it on the main window.

Consider three sample message boxes. The first message box, shown in Section 1.5.5 , is an information box that appears when you are done coding a table. The box contains a single button, OK. To close the box, you can either click on the button with the mouse, press ESC, or press ENTER.

The second message, shown below, is a question box that appears if you choose the Delete option from the Record menu, or press CTRL+D. It seeks to verify whether you really want to move a record out of the table and into the Trash Can. Click on OK or press ENTER to proceed; click on Cancel or press ESC to back out of the deletion.

SOIC Message box with choices of OK or CANCEL.

The third message, is an error message. It appears if, when one of the table management dialog boxes is open, you click on the OK button without first entering a table name.

SOIC ERROR message box.