File Manager 22.2 Getting Started Manual

Contents > Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Interacting with Fileman

As an end user, you do not interact directly with Fileman. Since it is an infrastructure package, the only ones who deal directly with Fileman are super-users and programmers.

So, why learn about it in the first place? As we said in the Introduction, Fileman underlies all of the packages you do use. Learning the basics of Fileman means getting a head start on all the packages you need to use for your job, and any packages you may need to learn in the future.

Your User Interface

In VISTA, there are three native methods for displaying information and prompts to the user: scrolling mode, screen mode, and list mode. In addition, development teams for some packages have added a Graphical User Interface (GUI) for a windows-like look and feel.

In scrolling mode (often called “roll-and-scroll”), you will respond to one prompt at a time. The prompts will be given to you in a pre-determined order, designed by the package’s development team. You can receive help at any prompt by typing one or two question marks.

In screen mode, you will see an entire screen “form”, which you can navigate through using command keys. Typing one or two question marks will give you more information about a specific field. You can use <F1>H to get help for navigating screen forms.

The third kind of display, list mode, is less common. In list mode, you see a list of your data, and an action area in which you can type commands. As with the other modes, you can get help in list mode by typing one or two question marks.

GUIs are popular with users, but it’s important to remember that they are not part of Fileman. They are written in other programming languages and added on. Getting help in a GUI-based application will depend on how the GUI has been set up. The documentation for the specific package should include information on how to get help.

The environment used by a specific package—scrolling mode, screen mode, list mode, or GUI—is determined by the package’s development team. You, as the user, cannot switch to a different mode. You should therefore become familiar with scrolling mode and screen mode (and list mode, if applicable), so that you can use all the applications your job requires.

Responding to Prompts

As a user, your interactions with Fileman will consist mainly of responding to prompts. The prompts will ask you to enter information, or choose information from a list. When you respond to a prompt, pressing the Enter or Return key on your keyboard is how you tell Fileman that your answer is complete. If you type an answer, or choose an item, and do not press Return, Fileman will think you’re still working on it and will continue waiting patiently for you.

Basic Prompts

A basic Fileman prompt looks like this:


With a prompt like this, Fileman is asking for information. Usually, when Fileman is expecting information, there will be a colon at the end of the text; the colon is your clue that you need to enter something. In this case, Fileman is looking for the name of a county.

Many Fileman prompts look more like this:


With this prompt, a default answer (also called a default) is supplied by Fileman. You can easily see that it is a default because it is followed by two slash marks. Defaults work a little differently for different kinds of prompts; sometimes you’ll see the most common answer, sometimes you’ll see the most recent answer, sometimes you’ll see something else.

To accept the default, press Return. To enter a different answer, just start typing. Your answer will appear immediately after the slash marks, like this:


When you press Return after typing your answer, Fileman checks to make sure your answer fits the kind of answer expected. If it does, your answer is accepted. Whether this also changes the default answer will depend on how the programmer set up this particular prompt.

Select Prompts

When a prompt begins with the word “Select,” Fileman is expecting you to choose an answer from an existing list. Select prompts almost always have default answers.


Because select prompts are expecting a very specific response, it’s not a bad idea to type a question mark so you can get a better idea of what Fileman is looking for.

Incorrect Responses

If you respond to a prompt (whether a basic prompt or a select prompt) with an incorrect response, the world will end, and all life as we know it will cease to exist.

Wait, that’s wrong. All that happens is that the computer alerts you, and asks you to try again. The world doesn’t end, and life goes on.

What constitutes an incorrect response? That depends on the situation. You may have typed in a word where Fileman was expecting a number. You may have entered a social security number without dashes, when Fileman was expecting dashes. Fileman has some pretty clever ways of checking input to make sure it’s the kind of input expected. A big part of that checking has to do with field types, which we discuss in the next chapter.

Skipping a Prompt

If a prompt does not have a default answer, you can skip it by pressing Return without entering any information. This tells Fileman to leave that field blank and continue on to the next prompt.

Remember that if a prompt does have a default, then pressing Return without entering information is how you accept the default. Pressing Return in this case is not really “skipping” the prompt; it’s accepting the answer shown.