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User Tips

This file contains a few miscellaneous Aurora user tips which you may
wish to review. For complete documentation on how to install and use
Aurora, see the Users Guide (User.dox). Note that any key definitions
shown here are the Aurora-style defaults.

Basic Configuration
The editor should always be installed in an empty directory. Never
mix files from different editor versions.

Whenever you make a change to any of the editor configuration files

(such as Config.aml, Kbd.aml, Menu.aml, etc.), you must execute the
'recompile' command ('Recompile the editor' <alt f2> on the Set menu)
for your changes to take effect.

If you prefer to start Aurora by another name, you can simply rename
the file A.exe to whatever you wish (such as E.exe). Do not rename
any other files distributed with the editor.

You can re-install Aurora by selecting Full Installation from the

Macro List on the Macro menu.

The Keyboard
When adding new key definitions to Kbd.aml, be sure to place each
definition in the appropriate 'object' for the window in which you
would like the key to be active. For most editing key definitions,
this will be the 'edit' object.

If you have added or changed keyboard definitions, you will probably

also want to change any Menu definitions which show the old keys.

To prevent the editor from using the keypad <grey/>, <grey*>,

<grey->, and <grey+> keys as function keys, remove option 'g' from
'kbdoptions' in System.aml.

To execute a key or macro function from the Dos command line, use the
'-e' command line option. Key or event names must be enclosed in
double quotes. For example:

C>a -emymacro
// executes the function 'mymacro' after the editor is started

C>a -e"<shift f1>" -e"<alt =>"

// simulates <shift f1>, <alt => after the editor is started

The Mouse
If scrolling is too fast when using the mouse, change the Scroll
Delay on the Mouse Options dialog box to a higher value.

To hide the mouse pointer whenever a key pressed, change the

appropriate option on the Mouse Options dialog box.
The Menus
If part of a pull-down menu is displayed off the edge of the screen,
use the mouse to grab the menu border and drag the menu to a better

To hide the menu bar so that it is only displayed when <esc> or the
right mouse button is pressed, remove the menu bar on the Window
Style 1 dialog box.

The Ascii Chart <alt => can be displayed from within a prompt and
used to enter any character. The Enter Literal <ctrl [> command can
also be used to enter any character in a prompt. In addition, you can
enter any character by holding down the <alt> key, then entering the
decimal Ascii value of the character on the keypad, and then
releasing the <alt> key.

Use <pgup> or <pgdn> within a prompt, or click on the prompt retrieve

tab () to display a popup menu of all prompt history. You can copy a
string from the menu to the prompt by pressing the <enter> key or the
left mouse button.

Use the Prompt Style command on the Window menu to sample the four
editor prompt styles. Select Save Configuration on the Set menu to
make the current style the default prompt style.

To move the cursor a relative number of lines away from the current
position in the Go To Line <ctrl j> prompt, specify '+' or '-' before
the line number.

The Macro Expression prompt <ctrl v> on the Macro menu can be used as
a command line calculator, since the macro language compiler and
interpreter are available at this prompt. For example:

Macro Expression> say 1 + 2 + 30 - 40 <enter>

// displays -7
Macro Expression> msgbox (4 * 15) mod 7 <enter>
// displays 4 in a message box
Macro Expression> write 1 + 2 * 3 + 4 <enter>
// enters the string '11' at the cursor

The Desktop
You can prevent windows from remembering their sizes, cursor
positions, and settings by checking the appropriate options on
Desktop Options dialog box.

To use the existing Dos screen as the editor background when the
editor is started, change the Background Fill String to '' (null) on
the Video Options dialog box.

If your video card supports special video modes such as 132 x 43, you
can use these video modes within the editor by setting the Rows and
Columns to 'Dos' on the Video Options dialog box. Then select Save
Configuration on the Set menu, exit the editor, and set the desired
video mode in Dos before re-starting the editor.
Enter the 'showentry' command in the Macro Expression prompt to
display the screen as it appeared in Dos before the editor was

Syntax Highlighting
Syntax highlighting definitions are located in the Syn\ directory.

If you are using syntax highlighting with multi-line comments in your

program source code, you may wish to increase the number of lines to
scan backward in the appropriate syntax definition file in the Syn\
directory. Note however, that this may decrease scrolling performance
for highlighted files.

The Hilite Word <ctrl \> command highlights all occurrences of the
word at the cursor. This can be very useful for finding instances of
a word in a document, or marking occurrences of variables, functions,
or other identifiers in your program source code.

Individual keywords can be highlighted in colors other than the

default keyword color by treating the keyword as a public object
variable and assigning it the desired color attribute. For example,
in Syntax.aml:

: // end of keyword list

_if =colorbrightred on blue

_else =coloryellow on blue

To erase all of your existing prompt history, window positions, etc.,
simply delete Default.prj after you have exited the editor.

Do not attempt to manually update the file Default.prj. This file is

automatically updated by the editor during normal usage.

The File Manager

To open a file manager window for the current directory from the Dos
command line, enter 'a .'.

To open a file from the file manager while also closing the file
manager window, use <ctrl enter>, or check the option 'Quit on Open'
on the file manager options dialog box.

To locate a filename within the file manager or a file picklist,

enter the first few characters of the desired filename until the
cursor is positioned at the file. To locate a directory, enter a
backslash character (\) before the first letter.

To create a separate file manager window from a directory in the file

manager, use <shift o>.
To display the amount of disk space used by an entire directory and
all subdirectories, use the Statistics command on the Command menu.

To generate a file manager listing of all files in all directories on

the C drive, run the Where macro and and specify a filespec of
'C:\*.*'. To generate a listing of all files on your computer, run
Where with a filespec of '*.*' (Warning: these filespecs may generate
listings with tens of thousands of files, which may take some time to

To display Windows/95 long names in the file manager, set the format
to Variable on the File Manager options dialog box.

To make more room for long names in the file manager, configure the
time to be displayed without seconds (on the International Options
dialog box), and the file size to be displayed in 1k increments (on
the File Manager Options dialog box).

Opening Files
To open a file from the Dos command line and place the cursor on a
specific line, enter the option 'l' followed by the line number. For

C>a myfile.txt/l253
// opens 'myfile.txt' and places the cursor on line 253

To open a binary file from the Dos command line (or the Open prompt)
using a specific line length, enter the option 'b' followed by the
line length. For example:

C>a myfile.txt/b240
// opens 'myfile.txt' in binary mode with a fixed line length
// of 240

To configure the editor so that real tab characters (Ascii 9) are

automatically expanded when files are opened, see the Tabauto macro.

Frequently-used search strings can be saved in a separate file and
copied to a find prompt as needed by using the Copy Block <alt c> or
Paste <grey*> commands. This can be especially convenient for long or
complex regular expression patterns.

To count the occurrences of a search string, use the 'a' search

option. For example:

Find> gizmo/a <enter>

// displays the number of occurrences of the word 'gizmo'
// from the cursor to the end of the file

Use regular expression searching to search for the beginning and/or

end of lines. Do not attempt to search for line delimiter characters
(such as carriage returns and linefeeds) in non-binary files. In the
normal, non-binary editing mode, line delimiter characters are
removed from the end of each line when the file is loaded and
re-appended to the end of each line when the file is saved.
The Find Occurrences <ctrl h> command can be useful for extracting
lines from a flat database file that match search criteria. For

Find Occurrences of> Joe/b

// extract all lines where 'Joe' is found within a column mark
The Find Occurrences <ctrl h> command can be used together with
regular expression searching to display a list of function headers in
your program source code. For example:

Find Occurrences of> ^[a-zA-Z_].*\(.*[~;]$/x

// finds C/C++ function definitions beginning in column 1

Find Occurrences of> ^ *{function}|{key}.*$/x

// finds AML function and key definitions

Selecting a file from a file manager scan window (generated by the

Scan Files <ctrl s> command) will position the cursor to the first
occurrence of the scan search string. Use the Repeat Last Find/Repl
<ctrl l> command to find other occurrences.

Manipulating Text
The 'quote' <shift f9> and Comment Line <alt f1> commands can both be
used for simple text quoting. <shift f9> performs block quoting,
while <alt f1> quotes and unquotes text on a line-by-line basis.

The editor is configured at installation to use Live word wrap when

<ctrl w> is pressed. If you prefer the standard old-style word wrap,
change the definition of <ctrl w> in Kbd.aml to:

key <ctrl w> setting 'W' TOGGLE // toggle standard word wrap

To reformat a very long line, perhaps imported from a word processor:

insert a blank line below the long line, move the cursor back to the
desired left margin in the long line, and enter the Reformat <alt r>
command on the Block menu.

To reformat a paragraph into a single long line (for export to a word

processor), set the right margin to 16000 before reformatting.

To reformat all of the text in a file, mark the entire file using the
Mark Line <alt l> command, and enter the Reformat <alt r> command on
the Block menu.

The Fill Block <ctrl k><f> command can be used to fill a marked block
with a repeating character or string. For example: to fill columns
40-47 of a data file with the date 12/25/96, mark the desired columns
by using the 'markcolumn' command <ctrl b>, and then enter the date
at the 'fillblock2' prompt.

The clipboard Cut Append <ctrl grey-> and Copy Append <ctrl grey+>
commands can be very useful for gathering separate blocks of text and
grouping them together in the clipboard.

To expand tab characters (Ascii 9) in the current file, use the

Expand Tabs <ctrl k><x> command on the Edit menu.

Have you ever been prompted to save changes in a file, and you forgot
what changes you just made? Try using the undo/redo feature to review
your changes. Just cancel the 'save' prompt and use the Undo <ctrl u>
and Redo <ctrl y> commands to backtrack and retrace your changes
before exiting.

To the change the line delimiter that a file is saved with, load the
file into the editor, change the current Line Delimiter setting (on
the Set menu) to the new line delimiter, and save the file.

To disable CUA-style <shift> key marking, remove the 'smark' command

from all key definitions in Kbd.aml.

Use the Mark Paragraph <alt 3> command to quickly mark the paragraph
at the cursor.

To rearrange all the words in a paragraph in sorted order:

1. Use the Mark Column <alt b> command to mark column 1 of the
entire paragraph.
2. Enter the Reformat Block <alt r> command to place each word on
separate line.
3. Enter the Mark Paragraph <alt 3> command to re-mark the separated
paragraph with a line mark.
4. Enter the Sort Block <ctrl k><o> command to sort the words.
5. Enter the Reformat Block <alt r> command to re-join the separated
lines back together into a paragraph.

To view or edit a new location in the same file and then return to
the original location at a later time, use one of the following

1. Make a copy of the current edit window by entering the Copy Window
<ctrl c> command, and then move to the new location in the file.
When you are finished, close the copied window with the Close
<alt q> command to display the original window and cursor position.

2. Set a bookmark at the original location using the Quick Bookmark

<ctrl 2> command, and return to it later using the Prev Bookmark
<ctrl 6> command.

Working with Very Large Files

If possible, open files in binary mode with a fixed line length.
Loading is extremely fast when opening large files in binary mode and
memoptions is set to 'o'.

If you are performing extensive 'search and replace all' operations

in a very large file, or you are making other large-scale changes to
the file, you will get better performance if Undo is disabled on the
Set menu.

Use the Block commands instead of Cut and Paste. Block Copy, Move,
and Delete are more direct and faster.

Displaying real tab characters 'as-is' (Ascii 9) can increase the

speed of most column block operations, block sorting, and block
formatting, and will also increase the speed of the display. For real
tab display options, see the Margins and Tabs dialog box and the
TabOpt configuration setting.

Aurora can be useful for editing very large files when running under
OS/2 or Windows. Although other editors may exploit the virtual
memory capabilities of these environments, Aurora uses its own
virtual memory (optimized for text editing), and will not force other
OS/2 or Windows applications to be swapped out or discarded when very
large files are loaded and edited. The 'memoptions' setting in
System.aml should be set to 'o' for the best performance.
If you are using Aurora under Windows or OS/2, limit the amount of
available XMS/EMS memory to about 50-75% of the real physical memory
in your computer. This will decrease the probability that the
operating system will swap to satisfy the memory request. XMS/EMS can
limited in System.aml, or by adjusting the Dos box settings in
Windows or OS/2.

Setting 'memoptions' to 'o' in System.aml allows large files to be

kept open (in Dos) while they are being edited. This feature can
greatly increase the loading performance for very large files,
especially in binary mode. However, in some cases there may be
conflicts with other programs trying to access the open file. If this
is a problem for you, set memoptions to '' (null).

Before saving changes to very large files, you may wish to conserve
disk space by disabling Backup on the Set menu. Obviously, this
should only be done if you have backup files elsewhere.

If you only need to browse the first part of a very large file, or if
you have started loading a very large file by mistake, you can press
<ctrl break> to interrupt the loading process at any point. Note that
the loaded file will be truncated, and you will be prompted with
'Truncated file - are you sure?' whenever you try to save the file.

AML Macros
To obtain context-sensitive help on a macro language statement or
function at the cursor, press <shift f1> for a brief description, or
press <shift f2> for extended help. Note that most extension
functions (Ext.aml source code) are not documented. For these
functions, the cursor is moved to the function definition in Ext.aml.

To compile and run an external macro in the current edit window, just
enter the 'compilemacro2' <shift f10> and 'runmacro2' <shift f11>
commands. These commands help to simplify macro development and

You can use the 'pickmacro' <shift f12> command to obtain a picklist
of macros in the Macro\ subdirectory. To run a macro from the
picklist, move the cursor to the desired macro and press the <enter>
key or click the left mouse button. The Macro List <ctrl f12> command
displays macros with a brief one-line description.

Before modifying any internal macro code (Ext.aml, Kbd.aml, etc.), be

sure to make backup copies of your AML files. You should be
reasonably familiar with the macro language before attempting these
types of modifications.

To protect your internal AML extensions against upgrades, try to keep

them in the file User.aml. If your User.aml extensions override
existing internal macro code in Ext.aml, Kbd.aml, etc, comment-out
the substituted code to conserve resources.

AML has a simpler function call syntax than most programming

languages. Here are a few things to keep in mind when calling AML

If function calls with arguments are used in expressions, the entire

function call should be enclosed in parentheses, not just the
arguments. For example:
x = fun1 (1) + fun2 (2, 3, 4); // Basic, Pascal, C
x = (fun1 1) + (fun2 2 3 4) // AML

Function calls which have no arguments, and which are preceded or

followed by operators, do not need parentheses:

x = fun1 () + fun2 (); // Basic, Pascal, C

x = fun1 + fun2 // AML

If a single function call is an argument to another function, and is

not preceded or followed by an operator, then it must be enclosed in
parentheses. For example:

x = fun1 (1, fun2 (), fun3 (2, 3, 4)); // Basic, Pascal, C

x = fun1 1 (fun2) (fun3 2 3 4) // AML

New macros and AML configuration files will continue to be posted on

the Aurora Support BBS (see for access details). Many of
these macros may only be available to licensed users. You may wish to
check the BBS periodically for new macros.