utilities menu

  • Scratch directory
  • Working Directory
  • Text edit command
  • Postscript viewer
  • Bug mail command
  • Plot program name
  • Plot file type
  • Text print command
  • Help mail command
  • Font selector
  • Spreadsheet command
    Last $Author: ballan $
    Utilities is a window which displays and allows modification of the global variables which control the interaction of ASCEND with UNIX. Below are explanations of the buttons and then some of the options.

      OK: This will close the window. If the sanity checks fail, the window
          will not close. Currently the only sanity checks are that the
          Scratch directory and Working directory must exist out in UNIXland.
    Save: This writes the current set of options to a file called
          ~/.ascend-config. (~ is your home directory.) ~/.ascend-config is
          read on starting ASCEND to get your UNIX defaults.
          EXCEPTION: The variables with names in ALL CAPS, e.g. PRINTER, are
          UNIX environment variables. You may change them interactively, but
          their interactive values are NOT saved. Your environment variables
          are typically set in your .login, .profile, .[ba,c]shrc, or .environ
          file and are used by programs other than ASCEND.
    Read: Fetches the values in ~/.ascend-config. This is in case you want to
          edit ~/.ascend-config by hand while running ASCEND or you want to
          verify that the changes you saved were properly saved.
    More: Rotates you through the pages of options. (2 at present.)
    Help: Is how you got here.

    WWW stuff

    We need the WWW variables explained here.

    Scratch directory

    Typically this is /tmp or /usr/tmp but it can be any existing directory you have write access to. The scratch directory is used to write temporary and plot files ASCEND creates. The temporary files are automatically deleted before you leave ASCEND, but the plot files are not (since people often want to save plots.) Other users on your system may be disturbed if you clog up /tmp with plot files.

    Working Directory

    Typically this is the directory you start ASCEND from but it can be any existing directory you have write access to. Our handling of the working.directory is a bit flakey at the moment because the commandline allows the user to cd without telling the rest of the interface about it. Intermediate files are sometimes written to working.directory.

    Text edit command

    This is a command to spawn your favorite text file editor. The default is vi in an xterm, but you can change it to your favorite flavor of emacs or whatever you like. Only one of us here actually uses vi, but since he wrote the Utilities window code he chose the default.

    Postscript viewer

    This allows you to specify your systems command for looking at Postscript files. Some ASCEND concepts are only rapidly communicable by pictures and we do such documentation via PostScript files. Ghostview (aka gv) is the viewer around here. (CMU)

    Plot program name

    This is the name of your plotting program. It should be able to take the file type given in plot.file.type as input.

    Plot file type

    The supported plot types are: plain_plot, gnu_plot, and xgraph_plot. (These may be abbreviated xgraph, gnu, and plain.) If you do not have gnu-plot or xgraph or xmgr, try selecting plain_plot and seeing if the output will work with your own plotting package. Gnu-plot, xgraph, and xmgr are all available for free on the net. We are not experts in building any of these 3 packages.

    Text print command

    Printing to a file:
    Set the print command to be
    > filename.you.want cat

    Printing to a printer: lpr -Pprintername

    Landscape printing: xa2ps -Ppostscriptprintername enscript -2rGPpostscriptprintername

    You may safely omit the -P[postscript]printername part of these commands if you normally do so in your Unix shell. Note that ASCEND (TCL, really) does not know about your Unix environment aliases.

    Printing from the probe or the display execute.print buttons to Unix is done by TCL executing a script consisting of $printcommand $scratchfilename. where $printcommand is the string you've set on the utilities page and $scratchfilename is set by ASCEND internally.

    Font selector

    This is a program that allows you to interactively determine font names available to ASCEND. The default (xfontsel) is the only program we know of which does this properly. (Xfontsel has it's own set of bugs, so we suggest you tamper with nothing to the right of ptSz on the xfontsel widget.) Once you have found fonts you like with xfontsel, you may wish to set the Font values in ~/.ascend.ad. Beware: fonts are Xserver dependent. The fonts available on one workstation often differ from those on another. ASCEND will make some substitution for unavailable fonts if it can, but the results are not always pretty. In at least one case we have found the default ASCEND comes up with to be Katakana (a Japanese typeface.) We find most machines know some sort of helvetica font.

    Spreadsheet command

    We have not been content with any of the free UNIX spreadsheet programs. The thing to be done is to write out the desired variables as columns of numbers suitable for import to any spreadsheet. Nobody gets PhD points for doing this code, so it's not done yet. If you want to do it, let us know and we'll be happy to consult. ballan@cs.cmu.edu has pseudocode for this laying around someplace.