SF-171 Version 1.02
(for OPM Rev 6-88)
(c) copyright 1991
R. Eric Swanson
4100 Flintlock Rd
Atlanta, GA 30327
This program allows the user to enter data into a database for
the Standard Form 171 U.S. Government job application. Once
entered, the information can be edited then printed onto the
forms with any printer typically in use for character printing.
The program is designed to use the printed forms as provided by
the U.S. Government, or better yet, photocopies of these forms.
The program was built using FOXPRO 2.0, which should insure a
solid foundation with no major bugs. Using FOXPRO also caused
the program to be much larger than one might expect, since the
entire FOXPRO library of functions is linked into the .EXE file.
Thus, a hard disc is recommended, although the files can fit a
high density floppy. I apologize for the size of the program,
but I didn't know it would be so large until I had almost
finished writing it. Fortunately, the memory management
functions of FOXPRO allow the program to load into less than 300k
of available memory. The program should run on PC XT/AT's and
up with DOS version 3.0 or higher, given sufficient disc space.
* * * * * * * * * * * PROGRAM USE * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
After the program files have been uncompressed, the following
files should be found:
README. This file.
SF-171.EXE The main program file.
SF_171.DBF The main database for all SF 171 Forms.
SF_171A.DBF The blank database for 171A Forms.
SF_BLANK.DBF A blank database for adding comment pages.
SF_171.CDX The index for the SF-171.DBF.
The program is started in the usual way by typing:
When the program loads, it checks for monitor type and selects
either color or monochrome color sets. With a color monitor or
with some LCD laptops which emulate color, the user may prefer to
force the program into black and white. Black and white is set on
with a command line switch, by starting the program by typing:
SF-171 M .
BEFORE ENTERING DATA, BE SURE TO READ THE GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS
FOR THE SF 171 FORM (PRINTED WITH THE SF 171A PAGE ON THE REAR)
When the program begins, a main menu appears with four choices.
< Print Forms >
< Quit >
Use the cursor keys to choose what to do next. The highlighted
choice is selected by hitting the ENTER or key. Also, the
highlighted letters in each choice line are hot keys, ie., typing
the highlighted key selects that option. In addition, the
program supports a mouse, thus, options may be selected by moving
the mouse cursor to the option line and clicking the left mouse
button. Finally, the Quit function in most option menus may be
activated by hitting the key. To exit the program, a
different hot key is used, to prevent accidental exit.
Selecting the choice starts the data entry for the
first Section of the Form, the Announcement Title and Number.
Type the appropriate information in the space provided. After
each field is completed, hit the ENTER key to record the
information in the database. The program moves to the next
input, where more space is available for additional information.
In many text fields on the form, there are more than one line
available for typing and an effort has been made to provide
similar space in the database. For this reason, there may appear
to be more lines available than needed. Just leave the extra
fields blank. Note that text entry is a bit strange, in that one
may enter text beyond the end of the text field, with the text
shifting toward the left as each new character is typed.
However, only the left most characters are recorded into the
database, as one will see after the ENTER key is hit. At any
time, the entire field may be erased by hitting the F2 key.
Text fields may be navigated with the Right and Left cursor keys,
with Right and Left moving from word to word.
Again, the mouse may be useful to quickly move to a point in the
field, which is selected by clicking the mouse. A block of text
may be marked with the mouse by moving the cursor to the first
character, clicking and holding the left mouse button, then
moving the cursor to the end of the block before releasing. The
highlighted block may be removed with the DELETE key. In
situations with multiple text fields, the UP and DOWN keys will
jump from one field to the next, as appropriate.
After the each Section is completed, a menu appears at the bottom
of the screen, allowing the user to move to the next Section, to
go back to the previous Section, or to quit the Entry/Edit mode.
Again, the highlighted letters are Hot keys, which directly
select the desired option. The next Section may also be selected
with the PAGE DOWN key and the PAGE UP key will move to the
previous Section. Hitting the key at any point terminates
As one moves thru the Sections, other data types appear. Date
fields accept only numeric input in the typical Month/Day/Year
format. Entering an invalid date is not allowed by FOXPRO.
However, a date may be blanked out with the F2 key, if no entry
is desired in that date. Logical fields, either Yes and No boxes
or single Check box fields appear the same in the data entry
dialog. The left most entry is the current choice for the field.
Using the cursor keys to move the highlighted field from the left
to the rightmost box will select that choice when the ENTER key
is hit. Unfortunately, the UP and DOWN keys work like the LEFT
and RIGHT keys with these fields, which may be confusing, since
text fields are treated differently. Just remember that the
choice is not finally selected until the ENTER key is hit.
Move thru the entire form, section by section. Fill in all the
required fields, just as you would with a typewriter. Be sure to
read the instructions for filling out each section as you move
thru the form. Due to space limitations, the field descriptions
which appear on the screen may not provide a complete description
of the information required. Always look to the appropriate
section on the printed form for the full description.
If more space is needed than that provided for job descriptions
on the form, exit the mode and use the FORMS> option at the Main Menu and select the
choice. For other fields, further information may be added on a
blank continuation form, also selected from the
Menu. With either choice, an empty form is added to the end of
the database (starting with page 5) and the EDIT mode is
activated at the top of the added form. As many extra forms may
be added as desired, although the size of the main database
increases with each extra page. An option to
is provided, which removes only the last page that was appended
to the database. One should exercise care in adding pages, with
the most important added first such as the SF 171A pages, since
the last page added will be the first one deleted using the
choice. The main 4 pages of the SF-171 are
off limits to this option.
The section numbers for the added SF 171A pages and the blank
pages are numbered starting at 50 with 3 sections added per page.
There section numbers have no relationship with any numbers on
the forms, being used only to keep track of the order in which
the screens are displayed. When entering information for the job
history sections and on the extra pages, several screens are
required per section. To aid the typing process, the original
database is setup with dummy "filling" entered for the beginning
and ending lines of multiline fields, such as the job description
fields and the continued fields of the blank form. Type over or
erase these lines.
The program will print on normal SF 171 forms, once the printer
is adjusted for margins at the top and left sides. Print trial
forms on blank paper to provide a reference for adjusting the
margins. Overlay the trial sheets on the form to check placement
of printing. It is suggested that the user start with printer
internal margins of 0 inches (or characters) for both top and
left margins, then change the Top and Left settings in the
program. The program records the last internal Top and Left
margin settings when exiting so that the next time the program is
started, these values are automatically used. The initial
default values as stored in the database file are: Top = 0 and
Left = 4 (these work with my DeskJet+ printer).
There is a good possibility that the printing will be "off"
vertically by an amount that is less than 1 line, ie., the
printing may not be placed precisely in the space allowed on the
form. If the user has a dot matrix printer or other printer
which uses tractor feed, some experimentation with the initial
position of the forms may be required to achieve the proper print
location. If the user has a printer which supports use of
individual sheets of paper, as do laser printers, then one
solution is to use photocopies of the forms. Once the
information is entered into the database, print trial forms on
blank paper. Make photocopies of the SF 171 pages, adjusting
the placement of each page in the copier to move the form
slightly up or down the page on the resulting photocopy page.
Check the position by overlaying the trial print pages on the
photocopy pages and holding both in front of a light source.
Once an acceptable placement is achieved, make several copies of
that page and use these copies for final printing of the SF 171
forms. The U.S. Government allows the use of copies of these
forms, and even suggests that the applicant fill in the SF 171
leaving sections 1, 48, and 49 blank, so that final submission of
the forms can be made with copies, after these sections have been
filled in for a specific job announcement.
If using photocopies of the form, be careful to use a copy
machine that produces dimensionally accurate copies. Some
copiers do not reproduce at exactly 100% scale. If the scale is
hot 100%, the print position may be correct at the top of the
form, but it will be wrong at the bottom pf the page.
BEFORE PRINTING, BE SURE THAT ALL UNUSED OR UNNEEDED FIELDS ARE
BLANK, ESPECIALLY THE LONG FIELDS FOR JOB DESCRIPTIONS AND FOR
THE BLANK COMMENT FORM PAGES.
* * * * * * * * LICENSING AND REGISTRATION * * * * * * * * * *
This is a SHAREWARE program which was developed outside of the
U.S. Government. As such, the user is asked to pay a nominal fee
of $12.00 for the use of the program. Once the user pays the
registration fee, he or she is granted a license to use the
program on one machine at a time. The user is encouraged to
share the ORIGINAL COMPRESSED FILE with other users, provided
they are aware of the shareware nature of the program and the
license requirements for use. Please DO NOT CHANGE THE FILES IN
THE ARCHIVE, or else the next user may suffer.
The author offers this program "as is" with no warranty as to
functionality or accuracy. The author accepts no liability for
damages which may arise from the use or misuse of this program.
A Registration Form is printed on every exit from the program,
once a non-zero ZIP code is entered by the applicant. I hope
this does not prove too great an annoyance, but I wanted to
remind the user of the need to register. Of course, this
printing may be disabled by turning off the printer, or by
zeroing the ZIP Code, before exiting the program.
When sending the registration form, feel free to comment on the
program. If enough interest in the program develops, I may
continue to work on and improve it. For example, rewriting the
program in "C" would produce a much smaller program, but would
take quite a while to get everything right, the way I do things.
Scanned versions of the SF 171 Forms could be incorporated such
that the program would print a graphic image with the application
information included automatically on the form, using a laser
printer, ink jet, or other high resolution printer.
Perhaps the U.S. Office of Personnel Management would agree to an
electronic version of the SF 171. This program could easily be
modified to produce a file with all the information entered in a
standard format. This file could then be uploaded to a Bulletin
Board System at the appropriate application office, saving the
time and effort required to print and mail in the regular forms.
This would also save the time and expense of re-entering the data
at the receiving office. None of these ideas are likely to be
pursued unless you, the user, provides some encouragement by
sending in your registration!
Finally, I would say that any payment is a contribution toward my
unemployment/retirement fund and is thus deeply appreciated.
Good Luck with Your Job Search!
R. Eric Swanson
Ex "Rocket Scientist"
(Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die)
Labor Day, 1991