Page Numbers: Yes X: 527 Y: 10.5" First Page: 63 Not-on-first-page
Margins: Top: 1.3" Bottom: 1" Binding: -8
Odd Heading: Not-on-first-page
Even Heading:
Laurel Manual
Table of Contents
1. Introduction65
What is Laurel?
What is this manual?
2. Basic notions and facilities65
How to obtain Laurel
How to run Laurel
2.1 The user interface66
Command invocation
Type-in conventions
2.2 The display67
Scrolling and thumbing
Adjusting region sizes
2.3 The table-of-contents region68
2.4 The upper menu69
Mail files
New mail
2.5 The selection commands menu70
Displaying messages
Selecting messages
Deleting and undeleting messages
Generating hardcopy
2.6 Composing and delivering messages71
2.7 The feedback region72
2.8 Leaving Laurel73
3. Additional facilities74
3.1 Filing and classifying messages74
Move to {file}
Mark characters
3.2 Additional editing and delivery facilities74
Secondary selection
Distribution lists
Get and Put
Message header format
3.3 Authentication and logging in77
3.4 Polling for new mail77
3.5 Command line options77
Mail file selection
In-box interrogation
Send message mode
3.6 The Laurel profile78
4. If things go wrong . . .80
5. Laurel and MSG80
Mail files
Mail file philosophy
Processing your mail away from an Alto
Moving mail files from Maxc
6. Look before you leap . . .82
Formatting messages for non-Laurel users
Secondary selection from the message display region
The Answer form
File version numbers
Space required for mail files
Hardcopy usage
7. Things a casual user doesn’t really need to know83
1. Introduction
What is Laurel?
Laurel is an Alto-based, display-oriented, message manipulation system. It provides facilities that permit its users to display, forward, classify, file, and print messages, and to compose and transmit messages and replies. Laurel is an initial component of what will ultimately be a distributed message system. Although the distributed nature of this system has inherent technical interest, it is largely transparent to the users of the system, who see a collection of logical facilities resembling those provided by MSG on Maxc. Eventually, the services of Laurel will surpass those of MSG, but at present, the two are roughly equivalent in function. The important distinction for now is that Laurel executes on an Alto and uses the display in a fashion befitting Alto-based software. It also produces files that can be manipulated by other Alto subsystems.
Many initial users of Laurel will be familiar with MSG and will naturally be interested in the functional differences between MSG and Laurel. This manual, in addition to presenting the facilities of Laurel, points out some of the incompatibilities with MSG. Prospective Laurel users with strong ties to MSG should read section 5 carefully before committing themselves to Laurel. The Laurel team fully expects that some potential users will find the transition to Laurel too uncomfortable to undertake at present. Accordingly, we have provided a "free sample" of Laurel in the form of a tutorial (see section 2), which can be run without any commitment to further use of Laurel or danger to MSG files. We would much prefer that Laurel users "go in with their eyes open" and not be unpleasantly surprised when confronted by incompatibilities.
What is this manual?
This manual is a reference document for Laurel. The Laurel team believes that most of the basic facilities of Laurel are self-explanatory, and that you can probably use Laurel quite competently after reading only the introductory sections of this manual. (There is also a tutorial available to guide new users; see section 2.) However, Laurel has features that are not immediately obvious, and after becoming acquainted with the system, you will want to read about these facilities. The Laurel team will be very happy to hear any suggestions you may have, and is particularly interested in your experiences in using the initial system. Comments should be sent to LaurelSupport (using the facilities provided by Laurel!)
The version described in this manual is Laurel 2.0. Laurel displays its version number in the upper-left corner of the screen. Future versions of Laurel containing major new capabilities will change the integer part of the version number, whereas maintenance releases will change the fractional part.
2. Basic notions and facilities
Laurel is a display-based, interactive program that manipulates a particular class of files, called mail files. In essence, a mail file is just a sequence of messages, each of which is a text string formatted according to certain conventions. The details of these conventions are not of major interest to most userssuffice it to say that messages have a header and a body; a header contains (at least) a sender, a subject, one or more recipients, and a date. For each mail file, Laurel constructs and maintains a table-of-contents that summarizes the messages residing in the file. Mail files are private to each user, meaning, at present, that your mail files reside on your own Alto disk(s). Laurel provides facilities for manipulating mail files, examining and responding to messages, composing and sending new messages, and cataloging, filing, and printing messages. These functions are discussed below.
How to obtain Laurel
We recommend strongly that new users obtain a Non-Programmer’s disk to be used primarily for processing and managing messages (see section 5 for the reasons behind this recommendation). The BASIC NON-PROGRAMMER’S DISK already has Laurel installed, so if you have obtained a copy of this disk (by the procedure described in the Alto Non-programmer’s Guide), you may skip the next paragraph.
Two Alto command files are available on most file servers for obtaining Laurel. If you are a new user, you should issue the following commands to the Alto Executive:
>Ftp FileServer Retrieve <Laurel>LaurelNewUser.cmCR
This obtains Laurel and starts it up in a tutorial mode. If you are already familiar with Laurel, you should retrieve and execute <Laurel>, which merely retrieves the files necessary to run Laurel.
Note to Mesa programmers: Laurel 2.0 is a Mesa 4.1 program and therefore requires the Mesa 4.1 version of to be on your disk. For this reason it can’t coexist on a disk with a version of Mesa other than 4.1.
Before using Laurel’s hardcopy command for the first time, you must edit your Laurel profile (file Laurel.Profile) to declare the name of the printing server to which your hardcopy is to be sent. See section 3.6 for information on the Laurel profile.
How to run Laurel
To invoke Laurel, type
to the Alto Executive. This is the default method of invoking Laurel. Command line options are discussed in section 3.5.
To invoke the Laurel tutorial (after obtaining it with @LaurelNewUser), type
>Laurel HelpCR
2.1. The user interface
Laurel is a highly interactive system in which economy and clarity of expression are essential. In striving to provide a convenient user interface, Laurel borrows a number of conventions familiar to users of other Alto subsystems. This section describes the principles that underlie the Laurel user interface.
Command invocation
Most Laurel facilities are invoked by use of the mouse, with the keyboard being used almost exclusively for text entry. Commands are generally represented by words or phrases on the display screen. You invoke a displayed command by moving the mouse until the screen cursor points at the desired command, then clicking a mouse button (usually RED). If you hold down RED and move the cursor to point at a command, the command will appear inverted (i.e., white letters on black background). When you release the button, the command name will appear grayed (i.e., black letters on a gray halftone background). If, while holding down the mouse button, you change your mind about the command you intend to select, simply move the cursor until the inverted name is restored to its normal state, then release the button. A fine point: position the cursor so that it points at the command, not so that it rests on top of it.
Normally, you use RED to invoke commands. Some commands have such a significant effect on the current state that you must confirm them explicitly, and in such cases Laurel will prompt you. If you are certain in advance, you may invoke the command by clicking BLUE. Laurel will then suppress the prompt for confirmation and execute the selected command immediately.
Laurel prompts you for confirmation by displaying the message
Type ESC to confirm, DEL to cancel command.
in the feedback region at the bottom of the screen. It also displays a large flashing question mark in the cursor. You may confirm by typing ESC, CR, Y, or space, or by clicking YELLOW. If you type DEL or N, the command will be aborted. Ultra-fine point: if you change your mind after pressing YELLOW, but before releasing it, clicking RED will turn it into a DEL!
Type-in conventions
Laurel observes most of the standard Alto type-in conventions. When it expects you to supply text, it displays a blinking caret at the appropriate place on the screen. Striking BS or Ac deletes the character to the left of the caret; Wc deletes the word to the left of the caret. Type-in may always be terminated by typing ESC; sometimes other characters will terminate input as well (see below). Commands that do not permit you to make a secondary selection may also be terminated by clicking YELLOW.
Several Laurel commands require text arguments. In particular, commands that manipulate a file need to know the name of the file on which they are to act. Text arguments appear in {brackets} following the command name on the screen.
When you invoke such a command with RED, Laurel prompts you to fill in the brackets by displaying a blinking caret within the brackets. If there is already text within the brackets, the caret follows the text. In addition to the type-in conventions described above, the following rules apply: If you type ESC, CR, TAB, or space, or click YELLOW, the caret disappears and the contents of the brackets remain unchanged. If you type BS or Wc the contents of the brackets will be edited as if you had just typed that text. If you type anything else (except as described above), it replaces the complete text within the brackets. Type-in is terminated by ESC, CR, TAB, space, or YELLOW. Typing DEL aborts the entire command.
If you invoke the command with BLUE rather than RED, Laurel executes the command immediately, using the text argument already contained within the brackets, with no further action on your part. This is true of all commands that have text arguments in brackets, with the exception of the user command.
2.2. The display
Laurel maintains four regions on the display screen. From top to bottom they are: the table-of-contents region, the message display region, the composition region, and the feedback region. The table-of-contents region holds a directory of the messages residing in the current mail file. The message display and composition regions are used to examine messages received and to compose messages to be sent, respectively. The feedback region displays various information (frequently error notifications) appropriate to particular Laurel commands. Each region will be discussed in detail in subsequent sections.
The display also has three command menus. The topmost menu, just above the table-of-contents region, contains a number of miscellaneous commands and status information. The commands, like all commands on the Laurel screen, appear in bold-face type; the status information is in normal type. We call this simply the upper menu. Below the table-of-contents region and above the message display region is the selection menu. The commands in this menu are used to manipulate selected entries in the table-of-contents. Below the message display region and above the composition region is the composition and delivery menu. As the name implies, this menu contains commands that facilitate the composition of new messages and responses to old ones. The composition region is separated from the feedback region by a single horizontal line.
Scrolling and thumbing
The table-of-contents region, the message display region, and the composition region each have a scroll bar in the margin to their extreme left. Within this scroll bar, the RED and BLUE mouse button behave as they do in Bravo. The cursor will appear as a double-headed arrow when positioned in the scroll bar and will change to point up or down when RED or BLUE is pressed.
Thumbing differs substantially from the Bravo style. At the top of each of the scrollable regions is a horizontal bar that separates the region from the menu above. When the cursor is positioned just below this bar and YELLOW is depressed and held, a short vertical line segment appears on the bar. Moving the mouse to the left or right causes a corresponding movement in this line segment. The position of the line segment relative to the left edge of the horizontal bar identifies a location within the text associated with the region. Thus, moving the line segment to the extreme right edge of the bar identifies the end of the associated text; positioning it in the center of the bar specifies the middle of the text. When YELLOW is released, the identified position is brought to the top of the region.
A portion of the thumbing bar appears as a dashed line, whose position and length correspond to the text displayed in the window. Thus, positioning the line segment at the left edge of the dashed line identifies the beginning of the currently displayed text. (Releasing YELLOW at this point naturally has no effect on the display.)
As you will see shortly, it is possible to select entities within the table-of-contents and composition regions. The position of the selected entities in each region is indicated on its associated thumbing bar by a short vertical line segment. This segment is always present, and should not be confused with the line segment that appears when you depress YELLOW. You can therefore obtain the effect of Bravo’s Normalize command by pressing down on YELLOW and positioning the cursor so that it coincides with the permanent segment on the thumbing bar. Releasing the mouse button then causes the selected text to be moved to the top of the region.
Adjusting region sizes
You can adjust the boundaries of the three major regions using the small squares at the upper right-hand corner of the two lower menus. Point the cursor at the desired box, then press down and hold YELLOW. By moving the mouse up or down, you drag the box with you to a new position on the screen. When you release the mouse button, the menu will move to the new position, and the contents of the adjacent regions will be adjusted accordingly. A fine point: you may find it more convenient to hold down YELLOW and move the cursor to the vicinity of the box. The box will capture the cursor when it comes sufficiently close.
2.3. The table-of-contents region
This region provides an index to the messages in the current mail file. Each entry in the index is numbered and contains the date sent, the sender, and the subject. It is also possible for each entry to have a mark character for classification purposeswe will discuss this in section 3.1. Laurel does not permit you to modify the information in the table-of-contents window (except the mark character).
When Laurel begins execution, it normally gets the default mail file and displays its table-of-contents in the top region on the screen. It also places a selection pointer (which appears as a small black triangle pointing to the right) next to the last entry in the index (or first unexamined entry, if there is one). This pointer is used to identify messages that you wish to manipulate, and can be repositioned with the mouse buttons. We will discuss it in detail shortly.
2.4. The upper menu
The upper menu contains some obvious status information: the date and time, the version of Laurel you are running, and the amount of free space remaining on your Alto disk. There is also a space reserved for posting the status of your in-boxsee section 3.4. Of the remaining items, which are all commands, we discuss only Mail file and New mail here. The other commands are documented in sections 2.8 and 3.3.
Mail files
Laurel maintains one or more mail files for you. You should think of mail files as folders in which you organize the messages you receive. When Laurel is first started, it normally checks to see if you have a file folder labelled "Active.mail", and if not, it creates an empty file and labels it for you. This file is called your default mail file and is generally used to contain new messages that you have not yet processed. You will see how additional mail files are created in section 3.1.
To direct Laurel’s attention to a mail file other than the current one, proceed as follows. Point the cursor at Mail file in the upper menu and click RED. A blinking caret will appear in the brackets following the command, inviting you to type the name of the file you wish to examine. (See the description of {brackets} in section 2.1.) After you have supplied the file name, Laurel will fill the table-of-contents region with the entries from the designated file. You can then use the facilities described in subsequent sections to manipulate this file.
Mail file {file} always reads from the file whose name is displayed in the brackets. However, it observes two conventions that simplify type-in. First, if the displayed name does not contain a period, Laurel implicitly appends ".mail" to the displayed name before accessing the file. Second, if Mail file is invoked with BLUE rather than RED, Laurel omits the prompt for a file name and uses the name currently displayed.
A fine point: Laurel acts on deletions (see section 2.5) whenever either Mail file or Quit is selected. Thus, you cannot Undelete messages in a mail file once you have switched Laurel’s attention to a different file.
New mail
Messages that are waiting for you reside in your in-box. The in-box is also called the mail box, but we will avoid this term to prevent possible confusion with mail file. You instruct Laurel to move the contents of your in-box to your current mail file by pointing the cursor at the New mail command in the upper menu and clicking RED. The command will then appear on a gray background and the cursor will assume the shape of an hour-glass, confirming that Laurel is busy shuffling messages. You will also observe the free page counter changing. When all messages have been transferred, the gray background and hour-glass will disappear, and the table-of-contents window will be updated to reflect the new messages placed in your mail file. Transferring the contents of your in-box to your mail file renders the in-box empty.
As the New mail command is completed, the table-of-contents region is scrolled so that as much as possible of the new mail is displayed, and the selection pointer is set to point at the first new message. You will also observe that each new entry has a "?" to its leftthis indicates that the contents of the associated message have not yet been examined. The "?" is a mark character; you can change it to provide a (primitive) classification of the messagesee section 3.1.
2.5. The selection commands menu
Displaying messages
Normally, to examine the contents of a message, you must first select its table-of-contents entry with the selection pointer (see below). However, after obtaining new mail from your in-box, Laurel automatically selects the first new message for you. To display a selected message, simply point the cursor at the Display command in the selection commands menu and click RED. The selected message will then appear in the display region just below the menu. You may scroll the message or adjust the boundaries of the region for more convenient reading.
To examine the next message listed in the table-of-contents, click Display again. The selection pointer will be moved to the next entry, and the text of the message will be displayed. Thus, although Laurel permits you to move the selection pointer explicitly (see below), you need not do so. Simply click Display repeatedly and Laurel will advance the selection pointer by one entry each time.
A fine point: Laurel will skip over deleted messages (see below) when advancing the selection pointer. To display a deleted message, you must select it explicitly, then click Display.
Selecting messages
Entries in the table-of-contents region are selected in the same way that lines of text are selected in Bravo. Position the cursor to the right of the scroll bar next to the entry you wish to select. The cursor will appear as a right-pointing arrow when it is properly positioned to change the selection pointer. Click RED. The selection pointer will move to the indicated entry. By performing explicit selections, you may examine the contents of your mail file in any order you wish.
More generally, you can select any consecutive group of entries in the table-of-contents. This is not particularly useful if you only wish to display messages, but can be convenient if you wish to delete a group of messages (see below), move a group of messages to another file (section 3.1), or generate hardcopy (below). You first select a single message, as described above, then extend the selected range by moving the cursor either up or down and clicking BLUE. Thus, selections are made with RED and BLUE in much the same way they are in Bravo. YELLOW has no effect.
Deleting and undeleting messages
After examining some of the messages in your mail file, you may wish to delete them. The Delete command, when activated by pointing the cursor at it and clicking RED, will cause a line to be drawn through all selected entries in the table-of-contents. You may find it convenient to use Display and Delete alternately when processing newly-arrived junk mail.
If you discover that you have inadvertently deleted some messages that you want to keep, simply reselect them if necessary, position the cursor over Undelete, and click RED. The lines drawn through the table-of-contents entries of the selected messages will be removed.
Deleted messages are expunged (i.e., removed permanently) from the current mail file whenever a Quit (see section 2.8) or Mail file command is executed.
Generating hardcopy
To print a copy of one or more messages in your mail file, select the message or messages in the table-of-contents, point at Hardcopy, and click RED. Laurel will generate hardcopy of each message in the form of an inter-office memorandum, one page (or more if necessary) per message, and send it to be printed on your default printing server. Messages that have been deleted (i.e., whose table-of-contents entries have lines through them) will not be printed, even if they are selected.
There are no options that you can exercise at the time you issue the Hardcopy command. However, by changing your Laurel profile, you can control certain aspects of the hardcopy formatting as well as a few other things such as the name of your printing server (see section 3.6).
2.6. Composing and delivering messages
Composition is the process of building the header and body (see the beginning of section 2) of a particular message. Delivery is the process of transmitting a composed message to its specified recipients. Laurel separates these two actions and supplies distinct commands appropriate to each in the composition and delivery menu.
Laurel provides four ways to initialize the content of a message. You may compose a new message, or answer one you have received, or forward an existing one to a new recipient, or get a previously-composed form or message from a file on your Alto disk. In the composition and delivery menu (below the message display region), there are four commands corresponding to these actions: New form, Answer, Forward, and Get. Simply select the one you wish by positioning the cursor appropriately and clicking RED. If the composition region contains an undelivered message, these commands request confirmation before constructing a new form. As in other such contexts, selecting these commands with BLUE automatically supplies confirmation. Even after confirmation, Undo (see below) can still be used to recover the previous contents of the region.
It is important to understand that New form, Answer, and Forward only provide a message form; you must edit the form before requesting that it be delivered. Get will be described in more detail later (section 3.2).
New form gives you a new message form in the composition region. The form contains "To", "Subject", and "cc" fields, which you should fill in as appropriate. Laurel provides a subset of Bravo’s editing commands to permit you to compose these fields and the message body. Laurel provides the Append, Delete, Insert, Replace, ESC (repeat) Undo, and secondary selection functions of Bravo, but does not handle italics, bold-face, multiple fonts, or any "looks". For important additional editing functions, see section 3.2. In short, the message you compose is simply an unformatted text string. However, Laurel does supply automatic line breaks as Bravo does, so you need not type CRs except to produce white space.
At present, the Laurel editor is not quite compatible with Bravo, though it may be in the future. In particular, you should be aware of the following differences. An Undo will undo the previous command. Undo always undoes the previous command exactly where it was given. To move text from one place to another use Delete followed by Insert ESC. New form, Answer, Forward, and Get may also be undone.
In general, Laurel imposes format restrictions only on the message header. By definition, the header ends at the first blank line (i.e., two successive CRs). You should therefore be careful not to delete the blank line provided by Laurel in each of the three initial forms. The header itself consists of a sequence of fields, some of which are required to be present. When composing a message you should always fill in the "To" field and the "Subject" field; you may delete the "cc" field if it is not needed. When the message is ultimately delivered (see below), Laurel will supply your name and the date, so you need not include them explicitly.
Answer and Forward initialize a message form in different ways, but both take information from the message currently displayed in the message display region (which is not necessarily the one selected in the table-of-contents region). Answer fills in the "To" field with the sender of the currently displayed message and sets the subject to be "Re: sender’s subject". It also sets the "cc" field to include all of the recipients of the message being answered. If you don’t like these substitutions, you may, of course, change them using the editing facilities. Forward copies the message body from the display region into the composition region. After clicking either Answer or Forward, you must complete the message by editing any remaining uninitialized fields in the message header and body.
Laurel identifies fields that it expects you to replace by supplying a keyword bracketed by black rectangles, e.g., ;Recipients;. Laurel will refuse to deliver any message whose header contains one of these fields. This protects you from simple oversights, such as forgetting to supply a "Subject" field.
Once you have composed the message you wish to transmit, you may initiate its delivery to the recipients by pointing the cursor at Deliver and clicking RED. Laurel will fill in your name and the date (though they won’t appear in the composition region) and proceed to send the message. A gray background will appear behind the Deliver command and the cursor will change to an hour-glass. If Laurel discovers an error in the list of recipients, it will give you an opportunity to cancel the delivery and correct the mistake. When the list is acceptable (i.e., all specified recipients are known to have in-boxes), Laurel will deliver the message and remove the hour-glass and gray background. After successful delivery, the word Deliver will disappear and will be replaced by "delivered". If an error occurs during delivery, an explanation of the error condition will be displayed in the feedback region. You may cancel delivery while the message "Type DEL if you wish to cancel delivery" appears in the feedback region.
Before filling in your name in a composed message, Laurel will check to see if the message header already contains a "From" field. If so, Laurel inserts a "Sender" field with your name and leaves the "From" field untouched. It is the "From" field that is normally displayed in the table-of-contents. The name Laurel furnishes is your logged-in user namesee section 3.3.
Deliver tells you the number of recipients to whom it will deliver the message. If this number exceeds 30, you must confirm the delivery. This is intended to minimize unintentional deliveries to large distribution lists. Deliver also tells you the size of the message (in characters).
2.7 The feedback region
Laurel uses the feedback region for three classes of information: status reports, exceptions, and confirmation requests. Status reports are displayed by various commands, e.g., Deliver, to report circumstances of interest to you but which require no direct action on your part. Exceptions are notifications of errors committed by you (or Laurel) and are flashed to alert you that some corrective action is probably required. Confirmation requests (see section 2.1) flash both the feedback region and a "?" in the cursor, alerting you to the need for immediate action before Laurel can continue.
2.8 Leaving Laurel
To exit from Laurel and return to the Alto Executive, point the cursor at Quit (in the upper menu) and click RED. Laurel will prompt you for confirmation. After you confirm, Laurel will act on the deletions indicated in the table-of-contents region, eliminating all messages from the mail file that have lines drawn through their table-of-contents entries. If you invoke Quit with BLUE, Laurel will omit the confimation prompt. When you re-enter Laurel at a later point, these messages will no longer appear in the table-of-contents. They are gone forever.
Leaving Laurel by any means other than Quit is not recommended and will slow down subsequent re-entry to Laurel.