Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 126 / FEBRUARY 1991 / PAGE 78

New Year's resolution: making Windows work. (Power Up )
by Clifton Karnes

Without a doubt, widows 3.0 is the hot software of 1990. If trying 3.0 is your New Year's resolution, here are some tips to help you get started fast.

When you run Windows for the first time, you'll see Program Manager, a menu system that uses icons rather than program names.

In Program Manager, icons are placed in windows called groups. If you let windows' setup program install applications for you, you'll probably have four groups available: Windows Applications, Non-Windows Application, Main, and Accesories. You can add or delete groups, and you can add your own programs to a group. We'll add a windows application to a group first, because that's simpler than adding a DOS application.

In the SYSTEM subdirectory automatically set up by Windows, you'll find a handy utility called SysEdit. This Windows application loads all your system files - the DOS files AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS and the Windows files WIN.INI and SYSTEM.INI - into four small windows ready for editing.

Windows' setup program doesn't automatically install SysEdit; Microsoft must not want everyone monkeying around with system information. We, however, are tinkerers, so let's get SysEdit on a group.

First, make your Main group active. Next, select File from the Program Manager menu bar and New from the pull-down menu. You'll see a dialog box that asks if this is a new group item or program item. SysEdit is a new program item, and since that's the default, simply click on OK.

The next dialog box asks you to provide a description (the name the program will have in the group) and the command line (the name of the program's executable file). For description, enter SysEdit, and for command line,type SYSEDIT.EXE (in upper-or lowercase). Click on OK, and you're done. Sysedit and its icon should appear on your Main group. To run it, double-click on the icon.

Installing DOS applications is more involved. A DOS application will run best if you create a Program Information File (PIF) for it. Let's create a PIF for GW-BASIC, DOS's BASIC interpreter. Make the Accessories group active and double-click on the PIF Editor icon.

When the editor appears, you'll see a dialog box with several fields already filled with defaults. The first field ask for the program's name. Supply the name with its COM, EXE, or BAT extension. For our example, you'd type GWBASIC.EXE (your interpreter's program name may differ).

The next field asks for the window title. This is the name Windows will use when the program is minimized to an icon. Type the word BASIC here. The Optional Parameters box includes any command line arguments or switches you'd like to supply. The last field asks for the startup directory. Type C: \DOS, substituting the path to DOS directory if it's different.

If you're running Windows in 386-enhanced mode, click on the Advanced button. In the Other Options box, you can set as hot key for your application and disable any standard Windows hot keys if they conflict with your application's commands.

To specify a hot key for GW-BASIC, click in the Application Shortcut Key box and press the key combination you want to use. I suggest using a Ctrl-Alt plus a function key, for example Ctrl-Alt-F1.

Now save your PIF file with the name GWBASIC.PIF. To install GWBASIC on a group, follow the same procedure you did with the Windows application SysEdit. In the Command Line box, type GWBASIC.PIF. Now, from any application running under Windows, you can press your hot key and be magically transported GWBASIC.

One of Windows' nicest features is that it can automatically load applications. Let's say, for example, that you want the File Manager automatically loaded on your desktop.

Double-click on SysEdit to load your configuration files and select WIN.INI. If you look on the second line, you'll see LOAD =. Simply type WINFILE after LOAD =, and you're in business. If you have another program - CALENDAR, for example - that you'd like to load automatically, type its program name on the same line, separated by a space.

If you have data files associated with applications (you can associate application with the Associate selection from the File menu in the File Manager), you can simply put the name of the associated data file after LOAD =. When WIN.INI runs, it will load the program and data file.

To try this autoloading feature, create a text file with NOTEPAD (on the Accessories group), and save it with any name you choose. NOTEPAD automatically supplies the TXT extension, and Windows automatically associates TXT with NOTEPAD.

Now, in your WIN.INI file, enter the name of the text file on the LOAD = line after WINFILE. If your text file is NOTES. TXT, for example, your LOAD - line would look like this: LOAD = WINFILE NOTES.TXT Now exit Windows and reboot for a little magic.