Learning Alpha Outline
The book is structured in four parts: (I) Getting Started, (II) Alpha's Modes, (III) Extending Alpha, and (IV) Reference. This structure starts with the simplest aspects of Alpha and proceeds to the complex task of extending Alpha with Tcl.
Part I: Getting Started
Users new to Alpha will find basic descriptions of Alpha's standard features described in the first part of this book.
Chapter 1, What is Alpha?
Chapter 1, What is Alpha?, provides a description of Alpha for people who have never used it before, emphasizing Alpha's usefulness in a myriad of tasks (or modes) from basic text editing to web site management to document preparation with LaTeX to email. It supplies a quick comparison of Alpha to Emacs. After reading through this chapter people should have a basic understanding of what Alpha's capabilities are and if it is the right tool for them. Information on where to download Alpha, how to install it, and launch it, is given to get people started quickly.
In this chapter: discussion of what Alpha does and of what it is capable example: Alpha's built-in calculator text processing contrasted to word processing installing and launching Alpha memory requirements how Alpha works and where important files are located important advice about upgrading Alpha
Chapter 2, Basic Editing
Chapter 2, Basic Editing, covers the user interface, detailing some of Alpha's non-standard features, then shows how to edit files. Alpha has many editing features: key bindings (including Emacs emulation), paragraph formatting, automating indenting, how to set file attributes, do a word count, split an edit window, spell checking, etc.
In this chapter: the user interface, standard and non-standard features the status bar dynamic menus the wrap menu the file attributes menu; discuss Mac, Unix, IBM file types the mode menu mode lines, Insert Mode Line line and column indicator the File menu adding the Recent files menu and setting its prefs setting fonts and tab sizes for a file and globally the Text mode is the default mode for "Untitled" docs opening, editing, printing, and saving a text file setting printer font and font size the Printer Choices menu; printing with other applications the save state: MPW, Think, None read only files showing invisibles File Utilities (or Finder operations from Alpha) the Edit menu key bindings; turning on Emacs bindings; Emacs the Text menu the Window menu arranging windows; iconifying windows
Chapter 3, Searching and Replacing
Chapter 3, Searching and Replacing, explains search and replace operations, multi-file searches, creating search patterns, etc.
In this chapter: the Search menu find and replace in current file multi-file searches search patterns grep
Chapter 4, Marking and Linking
Chapter 4, Marking and Linking, introduces Alpha's marking and linking features. It explains what a mark is, how to mark a file, and how to use the Marks menu to jump to marks within the same file. It covers making hyperlinks to other files, web sites, and how to create mail-to links. It also shows how to style and color text.
In this chapter: the Color menu set marks; using the marks menu; sorting marks creating hyperlinks within files, to other files, to the web styling and coloring text
Chapter 5, Configuring Alpha
(Shouldn't this information come sooner? Like in the second chapter? Not necessarily. The point of the early chapter is for the person who is eager to find out what Alpha does in is natural state, before the customization and configuration. This chapter begins to show the real power of Alpha's customization. This is also an argument for putting the chapter ealier.)
Chapter 5, Configuring Alpha, shows how to do rudimentary customization of Alpha, such as adding custom key bindings, turning modes on and off, and tailoring your preference settings. This discussion will council the user on what menus and features to turn on depending on how they intend to use Alpha. It also introduces Alpha's capacity to work with (talk to) other applications.
In this chapter: turning on menus and features the prefs.tcl file setting preferences adding fonts to the default fonts list the UserModifications folder helper applications
Chapter 6, Advanced Editing
Chapter 6, Advanced Editing, covers typing shortcuts (called electric completions), macros, Document Projects, File Sets, and the creation of templates. With Document Projects and File Sets you can organize groups of related files, add menu items to the File Sets menu to quickly open files, define common header templates for files that are mode specific, place time stamps in your document to show when it was edited last, and store your own user profile so that your name, email address, and url are available to Alpha procedures that use those global variables.
In this chapter: the Electric menu using completions recording and using keyboard macros Document Projects; creating new projects and doc templates the File Sets menu compare files with Diff mode
Part II: Alpha's Main Modes
The purpose of this part of the book is to introduce Alpha's modes and other special features. The new and current user will benefit from these general descriptions of each mode capabilities. This part will answer, in detail, the question: "What can I do with Alpha?"
Chapter 7, Text Markup
Chapter 7, Text Markup, describes the TeX/LaTeX, BibTeX and HTML modes. Entire manuals could be written on each one of the modes, but this chapter provides enough of an overview that the intelligent user can begin marking up LaTeX or HTML files. It shows how to set up Alpha to work with your favorite TeX processor or web browser. Also, Alpha's integration with Frontier is discussed.
Chapter 8, Internet Tools
Chapter 8, Internet Tools, describes the FTP, WWW, Eudora, and Internet Config menus. It shows how to edit files stored at a remote ftp location and how to use Alpha as a front end for Eudora (a popular email program).
In this chapter: the FTP menu remote file sets the WWW menu the Eudora menu reading and sending email from Alpha accessing Eudora mailboxes using Internet Config with Alpha
Chapter 9, Modes for Programmers
Chapter 9, Modes for Programmers, discusses Alpha's main modes for programming, specifically C, Java, Perl, and Tcl. It shows how to use Alpha as an external editor for CodeWarrior, MPW, and Think.
In this chapter: available language modes common language mode features using Alpha as an external editor for compiling programs C and C++ modes Java mode Perl Mode Tcl Mode
Part III: Extending Alpha
Scripting Alpha packages is a large enough subject for a book of its own. This part is not written for the hard core programmer, but is intended to assist the intelligent general user in adding custom features to Alpha.
Chapter 10, Scripting with Tcl
Chapter 10, Scripting with Tcl, introduces Tool Command Language, shows how to use Alpha's built-in Tcl Shell, explains the distinction between modes and additions, such as menus, extension, and features, and covers Alpha specific Tcl procedures. It also covers installing new modes, Alpha's developer utilities, and basic debugging techniques.
In this chapter: introduction to Tcl; basic Tcl entities; defining procedures Tcl primitive functions; control structures useful built-in AlphaTcl commands the Tcl shell packages: modes defined additions: menus, extensions, and features install new modes; the Install Menu developer utilities debugging
Chapter 11, Creating Custom Additions
Chapter 11, Creating Custom Additions, shows exactly how to add menus, extensions and features to Alpha. It also shows how to define preferences for your custom additions. This chapter serves as basic tutorial for non-programmers, providing step by step instructions for scripting additions (including code examples, specifically adding a "User Menu" and adding an "Text Insert" submenu to the global "Utils" menu).
In this chapter: adding global menus; the User Menu example adding submenus; the Text Insert example defining key bindings and using key binding utilities adding preferences; Text Insert continued adding Finder operations; new folder example
Chapter 12, Creating New Modes
Chapter 12, Creating New Modes, describes how to create a new mode for Alpha. You see how to script a mode by following a tutorial that adds a new user defined text markup mode. It also shows how Alpha communicates with other applications through AppleEvents and AEGizmos.
In this chapter: anatomy of a mode scripting a new mode; the Personal Markup Language (PML) automatic keyword highlighting using AppleEvents and AEGizmos customizing existing modes sharing your new mode reinstalling custom packages after upgrading Alpha
Part IV: Reference
Chapter 13, Alpha Commands
Chapter 13, Alpha Commands, provides descriptions for all Tcl procedures which are Alpha specific.
Chapter 14, Alpha Variables
Chapter 14, Alpha Variables, lists important variables.
Chapter 15, Key Bindings
Chapter 15, Key Bindings, lists key bindings for the major Alpha modes: TeX and HTML.
Part V: Appendices
Appendix A, How to Get Alpha
Appendix A, How to Get Alpha, tells where to download Alpha, discusses the different versions of Alpha, lists all known packages available for Alpha, and where to get them. Also provides information on how to register Alpha.
Appendix B, Alpha User Support
Appendix B, Alpha User Support, covers getting help, subscribing to the various Alpha mailing lists, and reporting bugs using Alpha-Bugzilla.
Appendix C, Preview of Alpha 8
Appendix C, Preview of Alpha 8, describes the next major release of Alpha that is currently under development.
Glossary, a listing of terms used in this book together with their definitions.