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Additional Caucus Capabilities


This chapter discusses a mix of more advanced Caucus commands and modifiers. It begins with a discussion of the SET command. You may use this command to adopt Caucus to your own computer system environment. For example, you can use SET to tell Caucus to always use your favorite system text editor or end-of-text character.

The chapter also introduces the commands FORGET and FREEZE. These allow you to skip items you are not interested in and stop discussions on completed item discussions, respectively. The chapter concludes with a description of the ten Caucus command modifiers. These include timesaving shortcuts (PASS and BRIEF) and directions on how to PRINT Caucus text and move text to and from Caucus by using files on your computer system.

SET - Customizing Caucus

Caucus works with a wide variety of computers, operating systems, terminals and people. People, in particular, like to do things in different ways. That is what the Caucus SET command is about: adapting Caucus to work the way you want it to.

SET lets you choose your favorite editor, control how text appears on your screen, and even select what language Caucus uses. The general form of the SET command is:

SET object value

If you do not type a value, Caucus prompts you for it. Objects and examples of their values are described in detail in the following subsections. Your default settings are preset by Caucus until you use the SET command to change them.

Caucus remembers what you have SET. For example, if you SET FORMAT ON today, when you come back tomorrow FORMAT is still ON. If you SET VERBOSE OFF in one conference, it is OFF in all of the conferences that you belong to.


SET DICTIONARYcontrols what language Caucus uses. All of the commands, keywords, prompts, menus and help text in Caucus are located in a master dictionary. Dictionary 0 is the standard English dictionary distributed with Caucus and is your initial default dictionary.

Dictionary 0 includes 3 standard menu interfaces (an "executive" menu and the long and short "training" menus) as well as the command driven interface described in this manual. The default interface is the standard menu, but you can easily change this default by accessing the "MENUS" sub-menu from the Standard Menu. For more information on using the Caucus menu interfaces, see the separate Caucus Menu User's Guide.

The Caucus manager for your system can create new dictionaries ranging from minor prompt and help modifications to translations to other languages. You should contact your Caucus manager or conference organizer to learn which, if any, alternative dictionaries are available on your system. The value used with the SET DICTIONARY command must be a number from 0 to 999.


SET EDITORcontrols which text editor you use when editing text in Caucus. If you have a favorite text editor on your computer system, type SET EDITOR at the "AND NOW?" prompt. When Caucus asks you for the name of your new default editor, enter the name of your favorite editor.

If your system has no editor, or if you do not wish to use it, Caucus has its own built-in editor. This is your initial default editor and is described in detail in Chapter 10.


SET EOTselects the End-Of-Text (EOT) code. You type EOT to tell Caucus that you are finished entering text into an item, response, or message. EOT has the default value "dot" which means you must press dot (period) at the start of a new line to indicate you are through entering text.

You can SET EOT to the special values "2return" or "1eof", or to any word or character of your own choice. For example:

SET EOT . the initial default described above

SET EOT 2RETURN pressing return twice (once at the end of your last line of text and once more at the next ">" prompt) to indicate you are through entering text

SET EOT 1EOF typing your system's end-of-file character at the beginning of a line ends text entry. On most computers, this is either Control-D or Control-Z.

SET EOT .s typing .s at the beginning of a line ends text entry

SET EOT STOP typing STOP at the beginning of a line ends text entry

You must always type your chosen EOT value at the beginning of a line at the ">" prompt. This tells Caucus that you are finished entering text.


Some Caucus licenses expire after a certain length of time and must be renewed. If your site has such a license, you can find out when the license expires. SET EXPIRATION ON will display the expiration date each time you run Caucus. SET EXPIRATION OFF will turn off this display.


SET FORMAT controls whether Caucus reformats the text (item, response, or message) that you enter. Your initial default value (OFF) leaves your text just the way you typed it. You can instruct Caucus to "fill" or "wrap" lines within paragraphs of text by typing SET FORMAT ON at the "AND NOW?" prompt.

SET IMPORT_MAIL import/copy

SET IMPORT_MAIL IMPORT imports your Vax or Unix mail into your Caucus mailbox, and deletes the mail from your Unix or Vax mailbox. If instead you wish to keep a copy of your mail in your Vax or Unix mailbox, enter SET IMPORT_MAIL COPY. On some Unix mail systems, the copy will not be saved in your Unix mailbox, but appended to the file "old_mail" instead.

You may also send Caucus messages as Unix or Vax mail. When the Caucus SEND or REPLY command prompts you for the name of the recipient, type the Unix or Vax mail address prefaced with an "=". For example, the recipient on a Unix system might be "=crtao!jvictor", or the recipient on a Vax system might be "=aulevax::roth".

(For Caucus managers only: The "=" prefix character can be changed like any other Caucus string. Its dictionary string name is ss_cmiesc. This string must be one character in length. It may be found in the dictionary file "america0".


Some users may prefer to read all of their mail with a separate Unix or Vax mail program. You may "export" your Caucus mail to your Unix or Vax mailbox, and read it from there.

To do this, type SET EXPORT_MAIL EXPORT. Any new Caucus mail that you receive will be automatically exported to your Unix or Vax mailbox.



SET LINE_EDITis for Vax/VMS computers only. It controls the VMS line-editing functions. The value must be the word ON or OFF. SET LINE_EDIT OFF lets you use Control-H as a backspace key and disables the VMS line-editing functions. The default value is ON with the line-editing functions enabled.

SET MYTEXT later/now/never

When you add an item or response to a conference, you will usually see your text as "new" sometime later. SET MYTEXTcontrols how this works. There are three possible values for MYTEXT:

LATER is the default. When you add an item, it immediately becomes NEW. When you add a response, it becomes NEW only when someone else adds a response after your response.

NOW means that any item or response you add to a conference becomes NEW immediately.

NEVER means that any item or response you add never becomes NEW. Anything that you say in a conference is automatically marked as SEEN. Many people find this convenient, since it means you do not have to re-read your own words.


SET PAGE selects the top-of-page character, which is related to the Caucus PRINT modifier. Each time you print something with the PRINT modifier, Caucus tries to start the printout on a new page. This works only.if you select the proper top-of-page character for your printer.

The top-of-page value must be a number between 0 and 255 that represents the top-of-page character code for your printer. The default value is 12 which is the ASCII value for Control-L. If your top-of-page does not appear to be properly set, contact your Caucus system manager or conference organizer to obtain the proper value.


SET PRINTcontrols the way your computer interprets the Caucus PRINT modifier. While installing Caucus, your system manager creates a default set of print instructions that tells your computer what to do when you PRINT text. If this default does not meet your needs, you can change your copy of the print instructions. When you type SET PRINT, Caucus prompts you to either edit the text of those instructions or return to using the instructions set up by your Caucus system manager.

If you edit the instructions, note that the first line of the text is the name of a file. The material to be printed is accumulated in that file. The remaining lines tell your computer's operating system how to print the file. If you are not familiar with files or the operating system, contact your Caucus system manager for assistance.


When you send a message to person X, you can ask Caucus for a return receipt. This means that you automatically get a "receipt" message as soon as person X reads your message. (See Sending Messages for more information.)

Normally, your receipt includes the person's name, date and time they read the message, and the subject of your original message. You also may ask Caucus to include some lines of the text of your original message. This can help you remember what the message was about.

SET RECEIPTSIZEdetermines how many lines from your original message appear in your receipt. The default value is 0. You may set RECEIPTSIZE to any positive number.


SET SCREENSIZEcontrols the number of lines which are displayed on your terminal at any one time. The value must be a number from 0 to 9999. The default value is 23, which is one screenful of text for most terminals.

If there are more than the value of lines of text to be seen, Caucus displays "<RETURN>=more, any key=stop" and waits for you to type something. You can press <RETURN> to see the next screenful or press <CANCEL> (or an 's' followed by <RETURN>) to interrupt the display.

If you do not want Caucus to prompt you after each screenful, type SET SCREENSIZE 0. Caucus will display text without pausing after each screenful.


SET SCREENWIDTH tells Caucus the width of your terminal screen in characters. The value must be a number from 10 to 200. The default value is 80, which is the width of most terminals.


SET TAB controls what happens when you are entering text and press the <TAB> key. If your keyboard tab key does not work with Caucus, try typing control-I (which is the control sequence used by many systems). Caucus always replaces <TAB>s with enough blanks to take you to the next tab stop. Tab stops are normally 8 characters apart, and this is your initial default value. Use SET TAB with a different value to change the number of characters between tab stops.

SET TEXTENTRY terminal/editor/wordwrap

Whenever you enter an item, response, or message, Caucus prompts you, one line at a time, for your text. If you wish to edit your text as you enter it, you must type "EDIT" to get to your selected editor (see SET EDITOR above).

If you prefer, you can tell Caucus to go straight to your favorite text editor whenever you are entering text. That is the function of SET TEXTENTRY.

SET TEXTENTRY TERMINAL means "enter text one line at a time from your terminal". That is the default.

SET TEXTENTRY EDITOR means "use the text editor you selected via SET EDITORto enter text" (if you have not chosen a specific editor, it uses the Caucus default built-in editor).

SET TEXTENTRY WORDWRAP means that users may type the text of their items, responses, or messages as though they were using a word processor. The user does not need to press <RETURN> at the end of each line; Caucus automatically "wraps" each line on the screen as the user types.


SET VERBOSE controls the length of the Caucus prompts. SET VERBOSE ON tells Caucus to use the longer, more detailed prompts illustrated in this guide. SET VERBOSE OFF tells Caucus to use shorter prompts and is intended for more experienced users. The default value is ON.


TERMINAL defines the user's terminal type, and is used to determine how to display file attachments to items and responses. The list of terminal types is in the file attach_map in the MISC directory.

SET SHOWATTACH askme/on/off

SHOWATTACH controls what Caucus should do when displaying an item or response that has an attachment. OFF ignores the attachment, ON always displays the attachment, and ASKME asks the user if they wish to display the attachment.

SET TRANSFER kermit/xmodem/ymodem/zmodem

When uploading or downloading item and response attachments, Caucus needs to know which file transfer protocol to use. To chose a protocol, use SET TRANSFER. Caucus will automatically use the protocol specified in SET TRANSFER whenever you indicate that you would like to transfer an attachment.


The last two commands in the Caucus repertoire are FORGET and FREEZE. FORGET tells Caucus that you are not interested in an item. FREEZE stops all discussion on an item.


When you attend a live conference, you may find that some discussions do not interest you. The same may be true of parts of a Caucus conference. You can tell Caucus to filter out the items you do not want to see by typing the FORGET command at the "AND NOW?" prompt. The general form of the FORGET command is:


where the instance can be any of the forms shown in Other Ways to SHOW ITEMS.

When you FORGET an item, you forget about all of its responses as well. As far as you are concerned, that item no longer exists. If you type FORGET ITEM 3, and then type SHOW ITEMS 1-4, you see Items 1, 2, and 4. If you type LIST ITEM 3, Caucus tells you that "No items were selected".

You also may FORGET items as you look at them. After you have shown an item, at the prompt

ITEM 1...RESPOND, PASS, or ? for options: (pass)

type FORGET, and Caucus forgets that item for you.

Remembering Forgotten Items

When you FORGET an item, Caucus does not delete the item. It is not gone, just forgotten. You can recall the item at any time.

To see a list of forgotten items, type FORGET (without any object or instances) at the "AND NOW?" prompt. Caucus displays the item numbers of the forgotten items, and then prompts you to:


Type the number or numbers of the items you want to remember. Caucus marks these items as UNSEEN, and you can now access them as usual. If you decide to leave the items as forgotten, just press <RETURN> at the above prompt.


Caucus understands two special instances that relate to forgotten items. FORGOTTEN selects those items that you have forgotten. NOFORGET tells Caucus to temporarily ignore the fact that an item has been forgotten. For example, suppose you told Caucus to FORGET ITEM 2. Then the command LIST ITEMS FORGOTTEN displays the title and author of Item 2, while SHOW ITEMS 1-3 NOFORGET displays the text and responses in Items 1, 2, and 3, even though Item 2 has been forgotten.


The FREEZE command stops discussion on an item. When an item is frozen, no one can add any more responses to the item. You may only freeze items that you added to the conference. (The organizer can freeze any item.)

There are many reasons for freezing an item. For example, you may use an item to conduct a survey on a particular topic and need to collect your results by a certain date. After that date, you FREEZE the item since any new responses are unnecessary. For another example, you may use an item to discuss the pros and cons relating to a business decision. Once the final decision has been made, you can publish the conclusion in the item and then freeze it to terminate further discussion.

The FREEZE command works very much like the FORGET command. The general form of the command is:


where the instance can be any of the forms shown in Other Ways to SHOW ITEMS.

Thawing Frozen Items

You also may unfreeze or thaw a frozen item. To see a list of frozen items, type FREEZE (without any objects or instances) at the "AND NOW?" prompt. Caucus displays the item numbers of the frozen items and prompts you to:

Thaw (unfreeze) which of these items? (none)

Type the number or numbers of the items you want to thaw. If you want to leave them as frozen, just press <RETURN>. You can only thaw items that you added to the conference. (The organizer can thaw any item.)

Using FROZEN as a command-line modifier

You can also LIST and SHOW frozen items. The FROZEN modifier reduces the list of items you've specified to just those which have been frozen. To use this modifier, add the word "frozen" to your command line, e.g.:




Command Modifiers

The general form of a Caucus command, as described in Chapter 3, looks like:

verb object instance modifier

This section describes all of the Caucus command modifiers.

A modifier is like an adverb. It focuses the action of the verb. For example, in the command LIST ITEMS ALL BRIEF, the word BRIEF is the modifier. It does not affect what is listed (all the items), but how it is listed (condensed to one line of information per item).

There are ten different Caucus command modifiers: PASS, BRIEF, LIFO, PRINT, >outfile, >>outfile, <infile, NOATTACH, NOASK, and NOCOMPLAIN. The following paragraphs provide detailed descriptions of each modifier.


The PASS modifier tells Caucus not to prompt you for a response or reply when you SHOW items, responses, or messages. For example, the command SHOW ITEMS NEW PASS shows you all new items without prompting you for responses. When you want to review, not comment on, certain conference material, using the PASS modifier is more convenient than typing PASS at the end of each item.


The BRIEF modifier shortens the display when you LIST items, responses, or messages. When you use BRIEF, Caucus displays only one line of information per selection. The BRIEF modifier is very useful when you want to scan a large number of items or messages.

The BRIEF modifier can also be used with the SHOW RESPONSES command. When used in this way, Caucus only lists the number, author, and date/time of each response of an item or items.

For example, SHOW RESPONSE 1 BRIEF might produce the following:

1:1) Jeff Victor (jvictor) 26-JUL-93 17:45

1:2) Charles Roth (roth) 28-JUL-93 16:41

1:3) Michele Richens (richens) 3-AUG-93 13:44


The LIFO modifier is used with SHOW ITEM or SHOW RESPONSES. It displays responses in reverse order ("last-in, first-out"). For example, SHOW RESPONSE 5 LIFO displays the title line for item 5, followed by the last response to that item, followed by the next to last response, and so forth.

You also may type LIFO at the "RESPOND, PASS, or ?" prompt to display the response to the current item in reverse order.


The PRINT modifier prints information from the conference on the printer attached to the host computer system. When you PRINT text, it does not appear on your screen, but is sent directly to the printer. For example, the command SHOW ITEM 1 PRINT prints the contents of Item 1 on the host computer's printer. Item 1 does not appear on your screen, nor are you prompted to add a response. You can use the PRINT modifier with any of the SHOW, LIST, or HELP commands.

Check with your system manager or conference organizer if you are uncertain which printer Caucus will use or whether the PRINT command is enabled. (See also the SET PRINTER command in SET MYTEXT .)

Note that if you are dialing into a host Caucus system from a remote location, using the PRINT command would result in your information being printed on the host system's printer. To print material on your local printer, you need to send the information to a file on your own computer. You can then print these files when you return to your system's normal operating prompt. (See also the >outfile and >>outfile discussions immediately following and the description of the Caucus Kermit and zmodem macros in Chapter 11.)


The >outfile modifier is similar to PRINT. Instead of displaying or printing text, it places the text in your specified outfile. For example, the command SHOW ITEM 1 >SAVE copies the contents of Item 1 into the file called save. Any previous contents of save are erased and replaced with Item 1. If the file save does not exist, it is created. Think of the ">" in >outfile as an arrow pointing to where the text is going. You can use outfile with any of the SHOW, LIST, HELP, or SEARCH commands.


The >>outfile modifier (notice the double ">>") is nearly identical to the single arrow >outfile modifier except that it appends text to the specified outfile. For example, SHOW ITEM 2 >>SAVE appends the text of Item 2 to the end of the information already in the save file instead of erasing and replacing the file's contents with Item 2. If the file does not exist, it is created.


The <infile modifier has the arrow pointing in the other direction. This means that text is read from the identified infile and entered in the conference. For example, the command ADD ITEM <MEMO creates a new item with the introductory text of the item taken from the file memo. You can use the <infile modifier with the ADD command.

You also may use <infile whenever Caucus prompts you to enter text. Type "<infile" at the beginning of a line and Caucus enters the contents of the file as though you had typed it yourself. When Caucus reaches the end of the file, it prompts you to continue entering text from your terminal.


When you are SHOWing items and responses, you may be prompted to decide whether or not you want to show files attached to those items and responses.

If you do not want to see any of the attachments, you may use the modifier NOATTACH. This will cause Caucus to ignore any attachments.


When you type an incomplete command (such as "LIST ITEMS", with no instance), Caucus normally will ask you to supply the specific instance.

You may use the NOASK modifier to tell Caucus not to prompt for a specific instance. (This modifier is mostly of use to macro writers.)


When you type a complete Caucus command (such as LIST ITEMS NEW) that does not match any items or responses (if, for example, there are no new items), then Caucus will tell you "No items or responses in this conference matched your request".

You may tell Caucus to not display this "complaint" by using the NOCOMPLAIN modifier on the original command.

Trouble-Shooting and Advice

The print and file transfer modifiers do not work if they are not enabled for your user account. Caucus will tell you if this is the case. You should then contact your Caucus system manager or conference organizer to discuss your alternatives.

You also may wish to check with your Caucus system manager or conference organizer to learn what, if any, Caucus macros have been set up relating to printing, file transfers, and remote access capabilities. Because these are developed specifically for your computer system, they are often more efficient and easier to use than the standard Caucus options.

EDIT filename

Users may create and edit their own named files (or "scratchpads") from within Caucus. To use this feature, the user must enter

EDIT filename

at the AND NOW or Main Menu prompt. Caucus invokes your favorite editor (defined by SET EDITOR) on file filename. After you are finished editing, you may use that file as input to an item, response, message, or mail distribution list. Files created with EDIT are permanent and remain from one Caucus session to the next.

! Command Escape

Typing "!" at the "AND NOW?" prompt allows you to "escape" to the operating system without leaving Caucus. For example, if you have a PC running MSDOS, typing "!DIR" lists all the directory files as though you typed "DIR" at a system prompt. The Caucus system manager has the option of turning the command option on or off for groups of users. Caucus will warn you if the command escape sequence is not enabled.

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©1997, Twin Cities Free-Net
Last modified: March 1997