flmsg - quick guide

flmsg is a simple forms management editor for the amateur radio supported standard message formats.  These current include:
It's data files are pure ASCII text that can be sent from point to point using the internet, amateur radio, or other electronic link.  The data files are designed to minimize the transfer size.  This is particularly important on amateur HF.  The data file and the transfer file are one in the same, but can be further encapsulated using either flarq or wrap for the purpose of confirming the received file integrity.

The File and Template menus are:

Menu's



Form Name

File Name

Drag and Drop Target
Can be used in lieu of the Drag-N-Drop
Panel







File:
New - clear all fields and name the default file "new.f2s" (new.m2s for radiogram)
Open - open an existing file flmsg data files have the extension

".i2s" for IARU form
".203" for ICS-203 forms
".205" for ICS-205 forms
".25A" for ICS-206A forms
".206" for ICS-206 forms
".213" for ICS-213 forms
".214" for ICS-214 forms
".216" for ICS-216 forms
".H203" for HICS-203 forms
".H206" for HICS-206 forms
".H213" for HICS-213 forms
".H214" for HICS-214 forms
".mds" for MARS daily report
".mis" for MARS IN/EEI report
".mns" for MARS net report
".nas" for MARS Army message
".nns" for MARS Navy message
".m2s" read as "message 2 send" for radiogram forms
".sws" for Red Cross Safety & Welfare report
".39s" for Red Cross 5739
".3as" for Red Cross 5739A
".3bs" for Red Cross 5739B
".p2s" for plain text, generic forms
".c2s" for comma-separated-value spreadsheets
".b2s" for blank forms

Save - save the current file to the name in the "file:" display box

Save As - save using a new filename that the user provides

View- write the data to specified type of file

Html delivery - viewed in default browser, contains only those elements sent to final recipient
Html file copy - viewed in default browser, contains ALL fields including record keeping
Text - viewed in default text editor - suitable for CW / Voice transmission

Q-forms

Import - Import the data fields from a Qforms eXtended Markup Language (xml) file

Export - Export the data fields to a Qforms compatible xml file

Wrap (Import / Export / AutoSend)

Import the data fields from a Wrapped data file.  If the data file is corrupt you will be given the opportunity to either allow flmsg to recover as many fields as possible or to view the file using the default text editor.

Export the data fields to a Wrapped data file

Create a wrapped datafile and save in the NBEMS.files/WRAP/auto directory.  If running, fldigi will find and automatically transmit the file.

Template:

Load - load an existing template file -  the default extension for the supported files are:

IARU template - "i2t"
ICS-203 template - ".203T"
ICS-205 template - ".205T"
ICS-205A template - ".25T"
ICS-206 template - ".206T"
ICS-213 template - ".213T"
ICS-214 template - ".214T"
ICS-216 template - ".216T"
HICS-203 template - ".H203T"
HICS-206 template - ".H206T"
HICS-213 template - ".H213T"
HICS-214 template - ".H214T"
MARS daily template - ".mdt"
MARS IN/EEI template - ".mit"
MARS Net template - ".mnt"
MARS Army template - ".nat"
MARS Navy templat - ".nnt"
Radiogram template - ".m2t"
Red Cross Safety & Welfare template - ".swt"
Red Cross 5739 - ".39t"
Red Cross 5739A - ".3at"
Red Cross 5739B - ".3bt"
Plain text template - ".p2t"
CVS-spreadsheet - ".c2t"
Blank text template - ".b2t"

Save - save the current form as a template file, using the default (or current) filename
Save As - save the current form as a template file, user provides the filenam

Note: data files and template files for ICS213 are identical.  The only difference is their location in the computer directory structure and their extension.  Message files and template files maintain their uniqueness by virture of their file name.  If you reuse a filename the old data will be lost.

File locations:

On XP: C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\NBEMS.files
On Vista: C:\Users\<username>NBEMS.files
On Linux: /home/<username>/.nbems
On Puppy: /root/.nbems
On OS X: /home/<username>/.nbems

Data files are located in the sub directory "ICS/messages"
Template files are located in the sub directory "ICS/templates"
View files (.rtf, .html, .txt) are located in the "ICS/" subdirectory.
The compression panel is at the bottom of the main dialog.  You can elect to compress any file during transmission.  Compressed data must be converted to a character set that can be transmitted by fldigi.  The choices are base-64, base-128 and base-256.  A limited subset of digital modem types can be selected from the 2nd combo box.  If flmsg and fldigi are executing concurrently then flmsg will command fldigi to change modem when a new modem type is selected in flmsg.  Each time these controls are changed (when a change is made to the form itself) the status blocks for transfer size and number of seconds to transfer is updated.

Configuring flmsg

There are four separate configuration dialogs for flmsg:

Personal data that will be used on various forms.  The Call is a required field.  If you leave it blank the program will nag you when you try to save a file, create a wrapped file, or use the autosend function.

  • Date format - select the date format that will be used for both ICS213 and Radiogram
  • Time format - select the time format that will be used for both ICS213 and Radiogram

  • Wrap - automatically open the target folder (directory) when the file is exported
  • All flmsg data streams can be compressed to reduce transmission time.  The compression will only be applied to the data part of the transmission, and it will only occur if the compression actually reduces the size of the file.  The compression information is recorded in the event log (see below).
  • Naming files - automatic file name generation as:
    CALLSIGN-YYYYMMDD-HHMMSS(Z)-NNNN where
    CALLSIGN is the operators callsign
    YYYYMMDD is year, day, month
    HHMMSS is hours, minutes, seconds local or Zulu at time file is created
    NNNN is an auto incremented serial number
    You can elect to use any or none of the autogeneration components
    Filename extensions are f2s for ICS-213 data, f2t for ICS-213 templates and
    m2s for radiogram data.
  • Radiogram serial numbers can be auto-incremented.  The auto-increment number is also used for the file name.  In the example shown the next Radiogram will be number 104 and the associated file sill be W1HKJ-104.m2s
  • MARS roster file - Callsign entries in the MARS forms is from a combo box that is filled in from a configuration file.  This file is a simple CSV, Comma Separated Value, text file.  An example of it's contents is:

    CALL, LNAME, STATE, BCALL, POSITION
    AAR1AA,LNAME1,VT,,
    AAR1AB,LNAME2,NH,AAQ1EQQ,RS TUV
    AAR1BC,LNAME3,ME,AAQ1ERR,AB CDE

    Note that empty fields are still separated by a comma.  This file can be managed using a text editor or any spreadsheet program.

  • Radiogram format -
    • # words per line to be used when formating the radiogram message text
    • Auto increment the filename numbering
    • Assign a value to the next auto increment number
    • Add the ARL numeric descriptors to end of html form

Configure server interface to fldigi.  Used for xmlrpc interface to fldigi.  Allows flmsg to control fldigi modem selection for a limited subset of the fldigi modem types.

AutoSend

flmsg can connect directly to fldigi using fldigi's ARQ socket service.  Fldigi acts as the server and flmsg the client.  Pressing the "AutoSend" button will initiate an immediate transfer of an encapsulated file to fldigi.  You should have fldigi prepared to accept the file for transmission.  The frequency (radio and audio) and modem type should be correct and if you are in a QSO then your contact should be prepared to receive the transmission.

Qform data file

flmsg can read and write Qform ICS213 data files.  The Qform data file is larger by virtue of the xml structure.  The file size ratio is less when the content is larger.

Viewing the data in a printable format

The program can produce a viewable document in ASCII text and Hypertext Markup Language (html) file formats.  After creating the document flmsg will request the file to be opened by the default viewer / editor for that type of document.

Html Text Format

The html Text Format file that the File/Write menu item produces can be opened with any web browser program.  Use that software for printing the report.

Command line parameters

Flmsg may be invoked from the command line (or parameters added to the launcher target).
--help
--version
--flmsg-dir "full-path-name-of-folder for all FLMSG folders"
--auto-dir "full-path-name-of-folder for autosend files"
  auto-dir and flmsg-dir can be separate and unique
--p FILENAME - print and exit
--b FILENAME - print and stay open

The --p and --b options are used by fldigi when it automatically opens flmsg to display a received flmsg data file.

The --flmsg-dir parameter is used to change the default location of all of the files associated with flmsg.  This should match with the same command parameter passed to fldigi.  This allows the user to run multiple instances of flmsg / fldigi with each keyed to the other.  For example the user might have separate flmsg/fldigi pairs for HF, VHF etc.  The default is

XP - C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\NBEMS.files\
Vista/Win7 - C:\Users\<username>\NBEMS.files\
Linux/Unix/OS X - $HOME/.nbems/

The --auto-dir parameter is used to further change the name of the folder used to contain the file that is sent automatically by fldigi.  Fldigi's command line parameter --auto-dir must match.  This is in addition to and over rides the --flmsg-dir parameter.  The default is:

XP - C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\NBEMS.files\WRAP\auto\
Vista/Win7 - C:\Users\<username>\NBEMS.files\WRAP\auto\
Linux/Unix/OS X - $HOME/.nbems/WRAP/auto/

Event Log

Events are recorded at various debugging levels (default is INFO) to assist the user in reporting problems to the developers.  The most recent event is at the top of the dialog.  The event log is opened from the Help | Event Log menu item:


Headers

A new feature in this version of fldigi is the ability of the program to track origination and modification of many of the message types.   The program also keeps track of the stations in the transmit path for a specific message. 

An example plaintext message:


When exported as a wrap file becomes:

[WRAP:beg][WRAP:lf][WRAP:fn W1HKJ-13.p2s]
<flmsg>1.1.14
:hdr_fm:19 W1HKJ 201214042019Z
:hdr_ed:19 W1HKJ 201210041840Z
<plaintext>
:tt:20 A plain text message
:to:5 Harry
:fm:4 Dave
:dt:10 2012-04-10
:tm:5 1339L
:sb:17 Bumps in the road
:mg:105 Life seems to have more than it's share of bumps in the road.  The secret is to stay alert at the wheel.

[WRAP:chksum A358][WRAP:end]


The :hdr_fm: is a first-to-last list of sending stations, each separated by a new-line character.

The :hdr_ed: is a first-to-last list of editing / modifying sations, each separated by a new-line character.

Each entry consists of the station callsign and the Zulu date time in YYYYMMDDMMHH format.

These can be viewed from within flmsg using the "Help | Header Trace" menu item:


Custom Forms

flmsg now has the capability of working with locally prepared custom forms.  Custom forms may be created either using a special comma separated value (csv) format or with html forms.

Custom Html Forms

The basis of a custom flmsg form is an html form.

You can use LibreOffice to create a form and then export it to an xhtml format.  You can also use LibeOffice to import an MS word document first.  LibreOffice is available for free for all of the operating systems on which flmsg will execute.

You then use a text / web editor to add some elements;  Geany, Gedit, Notepad++ / Bluefish, Kompozer are suitable editors.

The html flmsg form must include these statements:

    <META NAME="EDITABLE" CONTENT="true">
    <META NAME="MENU_ITEM" CONTENT="Example">

in the  “header” (between the <HEAD> and </HEAD> tags)  of the html file:

The second line, “CONTENT=” value is the name of the form as it will show up in flmsg in the Form, Custom menu:



flmsg supports the following html form input types:

This is the “Example” form.  It demonstrates the use of all of the supported controls.

---------------------------------------- raw html ---------------------------------------

<h2>A Simple HTML Form Document</h2>
<form>Enter your name: <input name="name" value="W1HKJ" size="20"
maxlength="40" type="text"> and password: <input name="password"
size="9" maxlength="8" type="password"><br>
<p>Please indicate which areas of the world you would like to visit:</p>
<p> <input name="cb1" type="checkbox">Asia<br>
<input name="cb2" type="checkbox">Africa<br>
<input name="cb3" type="checkbox">North America<br>
<input name="cb4" type="checkbox">South America<br>
<input name="cb5" type="checkbox">Antarctica<br>
<input name="cb6" type="checkbox">Europe<br>
<input name="cb7" checked="checked" type="checkbox">Australasia<br>
</p>
<p>Please indicate which area of the world you live:</p>
<p> <input name="rb" value="1" type="radio">Asia<br>
<input name="rb" value="2" type="radio">Africa<br>
<input name="rb" value="3" checked="checked" type="radio">North America<br>
<input name="rb" value="4" type="radio">South America<br>
<input name="rb" value="5" type="radio">Antarctica<br>
<input name="rb" value="6" type="radio">Europe<br>
<input name="rb" value="7" type="radio">Australasia<br>
</p>
<p>
Please select your modem speed:
<select name="speed">
<option value="none">No modem</option>
<option value="vslow" selected="selected">9600 or lower</option>
<option value="slow">19200</option>
<option value="ok">38400</option>
<option value="fast">over 38400</option>
</select>
</p>
Please enter your address:<br>
<textarea name="address" rows="5" cols="50">106 Whitfield Drive
Toney, Alabama 35773</textarea><br>
<p>
</form>

--------------------------------- normal HTML view --------------------------------------

A Simple HTML Form Document

Enter your name: and password:

Please indicate which areas of the world you would like to visit:

Asia
Africa
North America
South America
Antarctica
Europe
Australasia

Please indicate which area of the world you live:

Asia
Africa
North America
South America
Antarctica
Europe
Australasia

Please select your modem speed:

Please enter your address:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The “<INPUT” fields must all be inside a FORM (the “<form>” and “</form>” tags).  Use the Example form above as a guide for the curently supported INPUT types.

A good source for understanding basic HTML forms is http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_forms.asp

Once you have your custom form ready, just drop it into the Custom subdirectory in nbems.files (Windows) or .nbems (Linux) directory.

Flmsg checks once a second for any new or deleted custom files and updates the Form, Custom menu.

Once you click on the Custom form in flmsg, it will open a screen like this:



Use the “Edit Form” button to open an editable form in your web browser.

flmsg will add a “Submit Form” button to the bottom of your form.  Do not add that button during your form development. 

Pressing the "Submit Form" button transfers the data back to flmsg.

When you have the data in the form filled out, save it from the File, Save menu and then use the “AutoSend” button in flmsg to send it to fldigi. The receiving end must also have the same custom form in their Custom folder for them to be able to view it in a browser and print it.

Use the “View Form” button in flmsg to view a “Read Only” version of the form.

Of course if you want a printed version, just use the print function of your web browser while viewing the form.

The custom html entry form needs to be at both the sending and receiving end.  The raw data can be received without the form, but it will only display as a comma separated value table.  The custom html form can be transmitted to new receiving stations via any means, email attachment, "flmsg file trnasfer", or "flamp file transfer".

On Line Site for Custom Html Forms

Custom forms may be uploaded and downloaded from the NBEMSham Yahoo group.  Access to the custom form file folder can be easily obtained from the "Help | Download custom forms" menu item.  Click this menu item will open your default web browser to this site:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/NBEMSham/files/Custom_flmsg_forms/

You must be a member of the group to have upload privileges.

Custom CSV Forms

Custom forms consist of three documents, 1, 2, 3 and 4 as illustrated by the example files in the table below.  A custom csv template should also be distributed with your new custom document.  That will insure that user documents will correctly correspond to the custom forms.  Lines 5 and 6 illustrate a completed spreadsheet and it's transfer document.  Lines 7 and 8 are the final view documents for (5).

1
ARCdaily.c2t
user fill-in template for the Red Cross Daily Report (in the IRC/template folder)
2
ARCdaily.htm
html pretty print template for the Red Cross Daily Report (in the CUSTOM folder)
3
ARCdaily.txt
text print template for the Red Cross Daily Report (in the CUSTOM folder)
4
ARCdaily.csv
empty spreadsheet delineating the data fields for the ARC daily report (in the CSV folder)
5
ARCdaily_001.csv
completed user form for report #001, Red Cross Daily Report (in the CSV folder)
6
W1HKJ-14.c2s
flmsg transfer document for above completed form (in the ICS/MESSAGES folder)
7
W1HKJ-14.htm
html view of (6), will be written to the NBEMS.files/temp_files folder
8
W1HKJ-14.txt
text view of (6), will be written to the NBEMS.files/temp_files folder

The flmsg spreadsheet (csv) handler detects a first line in the csv body:

CUSTOM_FORM, "form_name"

for example:

CUSTOM_FORM, ARCdaily

Which will cause special handling for both View ... html, and View ... text, when detected and the files "form_name.html" and "form_name.txt" are present in the folder

nbems.files\CUSTOM

then those template files will be used for the viewer.  If not found then the standard spread sheet view will be presented to the user.  This maintains complete backward compatibility with the current flmsg.  flmsg will create a new subfolder under the nbems.files (~/.nbems) folder hierarchy.

The form templates, html and txt should be placed in the CUSTOM folder.

Good usage dictates that blank spaces in file names and field names be replaced with the underscore character.
Field contents should be enclosed in double quotes when the field contains a comma.

It might be advisable to also distribute a how-to file for each custom form.  The how-to would detail what each csv line requires, which ones should not be modified, etc.

The developers are working on an embedded web server within flmsg that will allow further enhancement of the custom form concept.  When completed it will be possible to use the custom form for both data entry and display.