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The Ultimate QWK Mail Management System Version 1
Tutorial for New Users
Copyright (c) 1993, Parsons Consulting
All Rights Reserved
RoboMail 1.0 -- Tutorial for New Users Page 1
A TUTORIAL FOR NEW USERS
Imagine for a moment how great it would be if every time you started
using a new software program you could have the program's author sitting
right by your side, ready to help keep you pointed in the right
direction. Well, here I am! Thanks to the miracle of perfect digital
duplication, I've decided to stop by and personally show you RoboMail's
stuff. Please print me out and put me down right next to your keyboard.
I'm Dan Parsons, the author of RoboMail, and I want to do what I can to
make sure that you learn to use the program quickly, while also becoming
familiar with some of its unique features and philosophical fine points.
RoboMail certainly isn't a "complex" program by today's standards, but
it does have more depth than some mail readers you may have used in the
past. If you'll give me some time now to help get you started on the
right foot, I'm sure you will end up getting more out of the program
much more quickly. I realize that tutorials of this type are usually
painfully dull, and I also realize that you may well be a hotshot
computer jock who normally dives right into new programs with no
problems at all. But please humor me. I think we'll both have some
ÄÄÄNÄÄÄÄ> If you've used the configuration screens to change your
ÄÄÄOÄÄÄ> configured directory for incoming mail, please take a moment
ÄÄÄTÄÄ> to copy the TUTORIAL.QWK packet out of your ROBOMAIL\IN
ÄÄÄEÄ> directory and into your configured incoming mail directory.
Lesson 1 -- Getting Help
RoboMail has extensive context sensitive online
ÚÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ· help and documentation which covers many functions,
³ ÛÛÛÛ ÛÛÛ º options and commands not discussed in this document.
³ ÛÛ ÛÛ º You can call up the help system at any time while
³ ÛÛÛÛ ÛÛ º the program is waiting for keyboard input by
³ ÛÛ ÛÛ º pressing the F1 key. Whenever you arrive at a
³ ÛÛ ÛÛÛÛ º screen you haven't seen before, please take a few
ÔÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍÍ¼ moments to explore all the options available to
you. You'll be glad you did!
Lesson 2 -- Checking Some Configuration Items
The ZIP file archive manipulation utilities are the only
configuration items which are essential to the success of our
tutorial, so let's check to make sure the default values will work
Press F2 at control panel and select "RoboMail Settings." Press
[PgDn] one time to access the "Utilities" configuration screen. By
RoboMail 1.0 -- Tutorial for New Users Page 2
default, RoboMail is configured to use the shareware programs PKZIP
and PKUNZIP from PKWARE, Inc. for access to ZIP format mail
packets. To continue our tutorial, we need to make sure that PKZIP
and PKUNZIP are available to RoboMail. To do this, press
RoboMail's DOS Shell hot key, [F7], to access the DOS prompt in your
RoboMail home directory. Next, type PKUNZIP and press Enter. You
should see the PKUNZIP help screen and ShareWare notice. Repeat
the procedure for PKZIP. If both utilities were found, we are
ready to continue. If not, you will need to do one of the following
to remedy the situation.
þ If you know that you have PKZIP.EXE and PKUNZIP.EXE on your
system, copy the files into your RoboMail directory or into
any directory specified in the PATH statement of your
þ Specify alternate zip and unzip utilities in the spaces
provided on RoboMail's "Utilities" configuration screen.
Check the help screen for detailed information on how to do
þ If you plan on using either of the other archive methods
supported by RoboMail, LZH or ARJ, convert the tutorial.qwk
packet to your desired format, place the converted packet
in the configured incoming mail directory ("IN" by default)
and verify that the archive utilities shown on the
configuration screen can be accessed by RoboMail.
When you're ready to continue, type EXIT and press [<ÄÙ] to return
to the "Control Panel" screen.
Lesson 3 -- Importing a Mail Packet
Whenever you run RoboMail in interactive mode, you will start from
the "Control Panel" screen, which gives you a quick overview and
one-click access to all the message data in your system. Right now
the screen probably looks a little barren, so let's jump right into
things and "import" a mail packet. The importing process extracts
message and other data from the incoming mail packet and translates
it into RoboMail's internal (and much more useful) format.
Take a look at the words with highlighted letters on the title bars
of the control panel screen. To jump to any of the columns
on the screen, Hold down the [Alt] key any press the indicated
Press [Alt-I] now to make sure the cursor is position in the
Incoming Mail window.
Use the cursor keys to highlight the TUTORIAL.QWK mail packet and
press the [<ÄÙ] (Enter) key to start the import process. Here's
RoboMail 1.0 -- Tutorial for New Users Page 3
what happens while the import progresses:
þ RoboMail shells to DOS and calls the appropriate
unarchiving utility to extract the files in the mail
þ After returning from the shell, RoboMail will begin
scanning the control information in the packet. If the
packet is from a mail system that RoboMail has never seen
before (which in the case of our tutorial.qwk should be
true), RoboMail will stop to display the "Mail System
Settings" screen for the new system.
This screen is a "dialog box." In addition to standard mouse
clicks, you can use the following keys on this and all other
data entry screens to do your work:
F1 Context Sensitive Help
/ Move to next / previous item
SpaceBar Push, Check, or Select item
Tab / Sh-Tab Next / previous data element
<ÄÙ Move to next element or push button
Ctrl <ÄÙ Accept/Save data and continue
Esc Abort data entry and back up
For Text Fields Purpose
Ins Toggle INSert status
Del Delete character on cursor
BackSpace Delete character to the left
Ctrl-Backspace Delete Word Left
Ctrl-Y Delete to end of field
Home / End Beginning / End of field
Ctrl <-/-> Previous / Next Word
F10 Display pick-list (if available)
º STOP ÇÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿
ÈÍÍÍÍÑÍ¼ Please take a moment now to press F1 and review ³
³ the help screens for Mail System Settings. ³
By default, RoboMail will assign "Age 7 Days" as the "Conf
Default" archiving action for messages from this system.
That's a pretty good starting point, so let's leave those
settings the way they are for now. As you can see from the
fields on this screen, RoboMail correctly identified the
fact that the TUTORIAL.QWK packet came from a TomCat
door on a Wildcat! system, so all of the options on the
RoboMail 1.0 -- Tutorial for New Users Page 4
screen are already set correctly for you!
þ Save the Mail Door Settings screen by pressing [Ctrl <ÄÙ] so
that RoboMail can continue importing the mail packet. During
the next phase of the importing process, RoboMail will scan
the conferences available on the mail system. The default
values you set on the "Mail System Settings" screen are used
to initialize a separate settings screen for each conference
on the mail system.
º TIP ÇÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿
ÈÍÍÍÑÍ¼ Use [Ctrl <ÄÙ] as a shortcut to save and ³
³ continue on all data entry screens. ³
þ At this point, the mail system's welcome screen and a bar
graph will appear on the screen. The bar graph indicates
RoboMail's process as it imports the new messages,
bulletins and file attachments from the mail system into
its own internal database format.
þ After RoboMail has finished importing the packet, a new row
will appear in the top "System" window of the control
panel. This row summarizes the data on file from the
TUTORIAL mail system.
Lesson 4 -- Viewing Imported Data
Press [Alt-S] or [Tab] to access the system window and begin viewing
the newly imported data. In addition to messages, the TUTORIAL.QWK
also contains a welcome screen, a news file, a goodbye screen, a
file listing and some bulletins. The screens and file listing
should be indicated with green bullet points in the N, W, G and F
columns of the display. the new bulletins are indicated by a green
number in the "Bltn" column.
Take a look at the new information screens and bulletins by moving
the highlight bar to a cell in the System window and pressing <ÄÙ.
For now, though, stay away from the "Recent" column. Notice that
after you finish viewing an item, the bullet point will turn
red. That's RoboMail's signal that there's no longer any
information that is new to you on the screen.
Lesson 5 - Reading Recent Mail
The "Recent" column in the control panel's "System" window shows you
the number of messages that are waiting to be read and archived.
The number is shown as a fraction, with the number of unread
RoboMail 1.0 -- Tutorial for New Users Page 5
messages shown over the total number of messages available. Let's
start reading messages now, so highlight the "recent" cell for the
TUTORIAL system and press [<ÄÙ].
At this point, RoboMail will display a directory of all the
conferences on the tutorial system which have recently imported
Now select the "Basic Training" conference by highlighting the
conference number "0000" and pressing [<ÄÙ]. RoboMail will now
display the first available message in the conference.
What's this? ... Yet another configuration screen?
Yes! RoboMail recognizes that this is the first time you are
entering this message conference and presents the conference
configuration screen automatically, so you can review the default
settings it has assigned, based upon your settings from the Mail
System Setup screen we saw earlier. There are quite a few special
options here, so (you guessed it)...
º STOP ÇÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿
ÈÍÍÍÍÑÍ¼ Please take a moment now to press F1 and review ³
³ the Conference Settings help screens. ³
Leave the conference settings the way they are for now, and
press [Ctrl <ÄÙ] to save the setting screen. Nirvana! At long
last, you are using RoboMail to view a message.
At this point your guided tour continues on RoboMail's main message
viewing screen, so start reading there and have fun. I'll see you
back here in a bit....
Lesson 6 - Bulk Processing
Welcome back to the Control Panel. I hope you found the message
guided part of the tutorial informative. If you followed the
instructions for archive assignment in the tutorial messages
properly, you should now see a "0/8" in the "Recent" column of the
TUTORIAL system. This means that there are 11 messages that have
been read, but not yet "processed" into the trash or archive
Depending upon the speed of your system, you may elect to wait and
do all the message processing in one step, rather than a conference
at a time as we did while reading the tutorial messages. To do
this, you highlight the system you want to process and press the
RoboMail 1.0 -- Tutorial for New Users Page 6
processing hot key, [F5]. Try that now. When the menu comes up,
select "Recent TUTORIAL messages." After processing, there will
still be some previously read messages showing in the recent
Why do we still have these recent messages laying around? As
you may recall, we didn't assign any archive actions to the
6 messages in the advanced features conference. RoboMail makes it
easy to correct these sort of situations with the [F4] bulk
To see an example of this, place the cursor in the Recent messages
column and press [F4] to display the Bulk Action Assignment dialog
box. The dialog box defaults to assigning the Conference Default
archiving action to all Recent messages that do not already have an
action assigned. That's what we want to do, so press [Ctrl <ÄÙ] to
start the process. If you want to assign a specific action to all
recent messages, including those that you have already assigned an
action to, make sure to enable the "Replace Existing Assignments"
Now that all the recent messages have an action assigned to them,
use the [F5] key to "process" them into the archive or trash. Your
Recent messages column should now show a zero.
Lesson 7 - Managing Outgoing Mail
RoboMail's OutBox holds all outgoing messages until they are
"exported" (to a .REP packet) for upload to the mail service.
During an earlier part of the tutorial, you should have created at
least on outgoing message. If your TUTORIAL system outbox does not
have at least one message indicated in its outbox, press [C] to
compose a new outgoing message.
You can review outgoing messages simply by highlighting the outbox
column on the control panel and pressing [<ÄÙ]. Do that now. When
an OutBox message appears, look up at the right side of the message
header. Use the [Y] key to make sure that the "CopyChron"
checkbox is selected.
If you wanted to keep the message from being exported during
subsequent export procedures on this BBS, you would toggle the
"Hold" check box on by pressing [H].
If you want to discard the message, press [D] to toggle the
"Discard" check box on. Any message that has this check box set
will be thrown away (not exported) during the next export operation
for the system.
You can also re-edit an OutBox message by pressing [E]. To edit
RoboMail 1.0 -- Tutorial for New Users Page 7
the address information only, press the [Alt-E] key.
The [X] key is used to export the OutBox mail from a single system
to a REPly packet. Try pressing [X] now to export your outbox
message(s). Once the packet is exported, RoboMail will display an
"R" in the outbox column to let you know that a REP packet for the
system exists in your configured outgoing mail directory. It's
no problem if a reply packet already exists and you decide you want
to export more messages. Just hit the [X] key and RoboMail will
open up the existing reply packet and add more messages to it.
If you want to see messages already out in a REPly packet, you can
recall the messages to the OutBox by highlighting an OutBox column
containing an "R" and pressing the [R] key.
As an exercise, try using [C] to compose a new outgoing message for
the tutorial system. Once you've saved it, use the [X] key to
export the new outgoing message, and then use the [R] key to bring
all messages in the REP packet back into the outbox.
Lesson 8 - Chron File Usage
You may have noticed that your "Chron" file now contains copies of
the messages that you have previously exported. Whenever you save
a message, the "Copy to Chron" check box is available for you to
specify that you want the export process to place a copy of the
message into your Chron File.
If you would like to re-submit a chron file message to your OutBox,
simply press [O] while viewing the message. Try it now if you like.
The archiving action for all messages placed into the chron file is
controlled by the current status of the "Chron Action" setting on
the Mail System Settings screen (highlight the system ID and press
[<ÄÙ], or press [F2] and select "System Settings" to see them).
Lesson 9 - Viewing Folder Messages
To clean up your system and get it ready for "real" mail, highlight
the TUTORIAL System ID and press the DELete key. RoboMail will ask
for a couple of confirmations before deleting all traces of the
tutorial system from your RoboMail installation. Note that the
"RoboMail Tips" folder you created remains behind since it contains
a copy of the message you placed into it, rather than the (now
deleted) message itself.
You can view messages in file folders by highlighting the Folder
Name and pressing [<ÄÙ]. Use the [Tab] or [Alt-L] keys to access
the "Folders" window.
RoboMail 1.0 -- Tutorial for New Users Page 8
Folder messages always get "Keep" status and they stay where they
are until you mark them with Discard status. When you view the
messages, everything works exactly like it did when you were
viewing regular mail, except there is no way to assign "Age" status
to a message, and the origin system and conference is also
displayed in the message header. You can still reply to a folder
message, and RoboMail will use the origin System ID and Conference
for addressing the message.
Lesson 10 - Mail Packet Archiving
RoboMail's "Mail Importing" configuration screen contains an option
which controls the number of previously imported mail packets that
RoboMail will archive. It is set to one by default.
When RoboMail archives a mail packet, the first character of the
extension is changed to an exclamation point. For example, your
TUTORIAL.QWK packet is currently located in your incoming mail
directory under the name TUTORIAL.!WK. If you would like to take
the tutorial over again, just hit [F7] to shell to DOS and rename
the file back to TUTORIAL.QWK. Type EXIT to return to RoboMail
and then highlight the "." entry in the incoming mail window and
press [Enter] to refresh the incoming mail directory display.
Lesson 11 - Robocomm Setup
If you are currently using Robocomm to handle your mail gathering
and delivery, simply start Robocomm and go to the "Data & Logs"
configuration screen. Set the first option on the screen, "Path
for mail packets (*.QWK)" to your RoboMail "Incoming Mail"
directory. Set the second option, "Path for Reply Packets (*.REP)"
to your configured outgoing mail directory.
For example, If you installed RoboMail into a \ROBOMAIL directory,
and Robocomm is on the same hard disk drive, you would set your
Robocomm settings as follows:
Path for mail packets (*.QWK): \ROBOMAIL\IN
Path for reply packets (*.REP): \ROBOMAIL\OUT
That's all there is to it! See the section of this document called
"Running RoboMail by Command Line Switches" for time-saving tips on
how to have RoboMail do most of its work database management
automatically, before and after your Robocomm agendas.
RoboMail 1.0 -- Tutorial for New Users Page 9
I hope you've enjoyed this brief tour of RoboMail and that it
has been helpful in getting you started with the program. To learn
more about the program, just dive in and start using it. Remember
that online help is always a keystroke away, and the topic-oriented
ROBOCOMM.DOC is available to give you overviews of the major
functional areas in the program.
RoboMail 1.0 -- Tutorial for New Users Page 10