This manual describes the Bravo system for creating, reading and changing text documents on the Alto. It is supposed to be readable by people who do not have previous experience with computers. You should read the first four sections of the Non-Programmers Guide to the Alto before starting to read this manual.
You will find that things are a lot clearer (I hope) if you try to learn by doing. Try out the things described here as you read.
I would appreciate any comments which occur to you while trying to use the manual. In particular, I would like to know what you found to be confusing or unclear, as well as anything which you found to be simply wrong.
This manual is written on the assumption that you have the user profile, fonts and other Bravo-related material from the Basic Non-programmer’s disk. If this is not the case, some of the things which depend on that stuff will not work the same way.
There is a one-page summary of Bravo at the end of this manual. It is intended as a memory-jogger, not as a complete specification of how all the commands work.
Bravo was designed by Butler Lampson and Charles Simonyi, and implemented mainly by Tom Malloy, with substantial contributions from Carol Hankins, Greg Kusnick, Kate Rosenbloom and Bob Shur.
1. Introduction
Bravo is the standard Alto system for creating, editing and printing documents containing text. It can handle formatted text, but it doesn’t know how to handle pictures or drawings; for these you should use Draw, Markup or Sil.
When you start up Bravo (do it now, by saying Bravo/eCR to the Executive), you will see two windows on the screen, separated by a heavy horizontal bar. The top one contains three lines with some useful introductory information; it is called the system window. The bottom one contains a copy of the material you are reading, which was put there because of the "/e" you typed to the Executive. If you had omitted the "/e", as you do when using Bravo normally, the bottom window would be empty, except for a single triangular endmark which indicates the end of a document. In the bar separating the two windows is the name of the document in the lower window.
As you do things in Bravo, the first two lines of the system window will give you various useful pieces of information which may help you to understand what is going on and to decide what you should do next. Usually, the top line tells you what you can do next, and the second line tells you what you just did, and whether anything went wrong in doing it. Make a habit of looking at these two lines while you are learning Bravo, and whenever you are unsure of what is happening.
No matter what is going on in Bravo, you can stop it and get back to a neutral state by hitting the DEL key. You can leave Bravo and get back to the Executive by typing
The characters which you type (Q and CR) are underlined in this example; the characters which are not underlined are typed by Bravo. This convention is used throughout the manual. Notice that you only type the first character of the Quit command; this is true for all the Bravo commands.
Each Bravo window contains a document which you can read and change. Usually you read the document from a file when you start Bravo, and write it back onto a file after you have finished changing it. Later, you will find out how to do this (see section 2.3). It is possible to have several windows, each containing a document; this too is explained later on (see section 4.2).
Bravo is controlled partly from the keyboard and partly from the mouse, the small white object with three black buttons which sits to the right of the keyboard. As you push the mouse around on your working surface, a cursor moves around on the screen. Pushing the mouse to the left moves the cursor to the left, pushing the mouse up (away from you) moves the cursor up; and so forth. You should practice moving the mouse around so that the cursor moves to various parts of the screen.
The three buttons on the mouse are called RED (the top or left-most one, depending on what kind of mouse you have), YELLOW (the middle one) and BLUE (the bottom or right-most one). They have different functions depending on where the cursor is on the screen and what shape it has. Don’t push any buttons yet.
Mouse lore:
You will find that the mouse works better if you hold it so that it bears some of the weight of your hand.
If the cursor doesn’t move smoothly when the mouse is moving, try turning the mouse upside down and spinning the ball in the middle with your finger until the cursor does move smoothly as the ball moves. If this doesn’t help, your mouse is broken; get it fixed.
You can pick the mouse up and move it over on your work surface if you find that it isn’t positioned conveniently. For instance, if you find the mouse running into the keyboard when you try to move the cursor to the left edge of the screen, just pick the mouse up and move it to the right.
2. Basic features
This section describes the minimum set of things you have to know in order to do any useful work with Bravo. When you have finished this section, you can read the other parts of the manual as you need the information.
2.1 Moving around
Move the cursor to the left edge of the screen and a little bit below the heavy black bar. Notice that it appears as a double-headed arrow. It will keep this shape as long as you stay near the left edge, in a region called the scroll bar. If you move it too far right, the shape will change. Keep the cursor in the scroll bar for the moment.
Now push down the RED (top or left) button and hold it down. Notice that the cursor changes to a heavy upward arrow. This indicates that when you let the button go, the line opposite the cursor will be moved to the top of the window. Try it. This is called scrolling the document up.
Next push down the BLUE (bottom or right) button and hold it down. Now the arrow points down, indicating that when you let the button go, the top line on the screen will be moved down to where the cursor is. Try it. This operation takes a few seconds, so don’t get impatient. Practice scrolling the document up and down until you feel comfortable with it. It is useful to know that if you don’t move the mouse, scrolling with RED and BLUE are symmetrical operations: one reverses the effect of the other.
You may have noticed that the text on the screen doesn’t fill up the window, but that more text appears when you scroll up. The reason for this is that in addition to space on the screen, Bravo needs space inside itself (in the Alto’s memory) to display lines of text on the screen. When a line has only a few characters, it doesn’t take up much internal space, but when it runs all the way across the page, like the lines in this document, it takes a lot of internal space. When Bravo runs out of internal space, it stops displaying text and leaves the rest of the window blank. You can tell that there is more text in the document (i.e., that you aren’t seeing the end), because when Bravo gets to the end it displays a triangular endmark as the very last thing to mark the end. If you don’t see the endmark at the bottom of the displayed text, you can be sure that there is more text in the document which isn’t being displayed.
If you keep the cursor in the scroll bar, near the left edge, and hold down YELLOW (the middle mouse button), you will see the cursor change into a striped right-pointing arrowhead. Think of it as a thumb, and the entire left edge of the window as the pages of a closed book, corresponding to your whole document (not just to what is displayed). If you stick the thumbnail into the book and flip it open, you will find yourself someplace in the book. If the thumb is near the middle, you will be about in the middle. If it is all the way at the top, you will be at the beginning; if all the way at the bottom, you will be at the end.
The tip of the arrowhead acts like the thumbnail, and letting go of YELLOW is like flipping open the book. You will also see another striped arrow, enclosed in a box. This one is called the bookmark; it points to your current location in the document. After you let up YELLOW, if you hold it down again without moving the mouse, the thumbnail and the bookmark should coincide exactly, making a solid arrowhead; this happens because the thumbing operation moved the document exactly to the place indicated by the thumbnail. To move forward a little, push the thumbnail down a little below the bookmark and thumb again; to move back, push the thumbnail up a little above the bookmark. To get to the beginning, push the thumbnail up until the tip of the arrowhead is right on the horizontal line at the top of the window. Try thumbing your way through the document until you feel comfortable with it. Also try thumbing and then scrolling up and down.
2.2 Changing the text
In order to make a change in the text of your document, you have to:
say where you want the change made, by making a selection;
say what you want done, by giving a command.
You always make the selection first, then give the command. If you change your mind about where you want the change made, you can always make another selection. Making a selection is just like pointing with a pencil: it doesn’t have any effect on the document. Only commands can change the document. You never have to worry about getting rid of a selection, since it never does any harm. If you make a selection, and then give a command that doesn’t require any selection, that is perfectly all right; the needless selection will be ignored.
You make selections by pointing with the mouse and pushing one of the buttons. To try this out, move the cursor into the region of the screen where the text of the document is displayed. Notice that the cursor is displayed as an arrow which points up and slightly to the left. Point the arrow at a character (any character) in the document, and click RED. The character you pointed at should be underlined; if it is, you have just selected it. If it isn’t, look nearby and see if some other character is underlined. If you find one, then that is the one Bravo thought you were pointing at. Experiment until you feel confident that you can point easily at characters.
You should note that each selection erases the previous one; there is only one selection at a time, and it is the most recent one. Also, you can make a selection at any time, except when you are in the middle of a command. Once you have started a command, you must either finish it normally, or abort it by striking DEL, before you can make another selection.
Something useful to know: if you hold RED down, you can move the cursor around and the selection will follow it. The selection won’t freeze until you release RED (or move the cursor out of the text area). Try this too.
Now try a selection using YELLOW instead of RED. Notice that instead of underlining a character, Bravo now underlines a whole word. A word is defined as consecutive letters and digits, or consecutive punctuation characters. For convenience, apostrophe is counted as a letter. Also, a number containing a decimal point is a single word.