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ASK-IT Page 1


(A Free-Text Retrieval System)

Copyright Notice

This software package and handbook are copyright 1987 by
EWR Systems Pty Limited. All rights are reserved worldwide. All material and
software may NOT be reproduced, transmitted, transcribed or translated into
any language by any means without the express written consent of EWR Systems
Pty Limited, P.O. Box 40, SPRINGWOOD, NSW 2777, Australia. An exception to
this condition shall be allowed for the copying of software for the purposes
of bona fide backup.

Single CPU License

The price paid to license one copy of ASK-IT software permits you to use this
product on one CPU only, and only after the license agreement has been accepted.


Trademarks used throughout this manual are: MS-DOS (MicroSoft), PC-DOS,
IBM-PC, IBM-XT and IBM-AT (International Business Machines, Inc), PC-Write
(Quicksort, Inc).

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EWR Systems Pty Limited makes no representations or warranties, express or
implied, with respect to all materials provided, or any other product of
EWR Systems Pty Limited, including but not limited to warranties or
merchantibility or fitness for a particular purpose. The licensee of these
products agrees that EWR Systems Pty Limited shall not be liable for any loss
of profits, consequential or other loss arising from any error or omission in
the product or accompanying materials and liability shall be limited to the
cost or correcting any such error or omission or the purchase price of the
software license.

EWR Systems Pty Limited reserves the right to make periodic changes,
enhancements, revisions and alterations of any kind to the software and/or
accompanying manuals without obligation to notify any person, institution
or organisation of such changes, enhancements, revisions and alterations to
the products.

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Table of Contents

Introduction............................... 5
Quick Start................................ 9
Menu Description........................... 17
Adding or Appending Files
Adding..................................... 19
Appending.................................. 20
Noise Words
What are Noise Words....................... 22
Changing NOISE.DAT File.................... 22
Removing Noise Words....................... 24
Re-sorting NOISE.DAT File.................. 24
Menu Description........................... 25
Error Messages............................. 26
Options.................................... 28
Getting Started............................ 30
2 Floppy Disks System...................... 31
Hard Disk System........................... 34
Paragraph Search, Retrieval and Display.... 36
Document Search and Display................ 41
Exiting program............................ 43
Advanced Features.......................... 44
Macros..................................... 45
Soundex.................................... 47
Plural..................................... 48
Unexpected System Errors................... 49

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(A Free-Text Retrieval System)


ASK-IT - a Free-Text Retrieval System (also known as a Natural
Language Information Retrieval System) is a research tool used to
retrieve all paragraphs contained in the systems indexed text files
with words used in the context of the given search argument. This
approach is different to the "Controlled Vocabulary Systems" that
require special indexing terms for both text indexing and retrieval.

The original Free-Text Retrieval Systems were written on main
frame systems for use by such people as mathematicians, physicists
and chemists to research scientific papers, searchers that would
have taken teams of skilled researches a great deal of time to
perform. Even then the likelihood of missing a reference through
a misunderstanding of the subject was quite common.

By storing all papers in a large database and then indexing same
allowed the requester to do his own research. As all the relevant
information was immediately presented it could, and sometimes did
provoke other lines of research based on the data displayed.

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The cost of these programs were, and still are very high for main frame
systems, the on-line disk storage requirements are also very high. These
requirements kept this type of program out of the range of all but the very
big companies and government organizations. However, just recently systems
have been written or adapted for Mini and Micro computers, but even these
are still very expensive or only index on key words or have limitations in
the way the data is presented.

ASK-IT has overcome most of the above limitations by 1) keeping the price
to a low level, so that anyone owning an IBM-PC/XT/AT or work-a-like can
afford a Free-Text Retrieval System on their system, 2) by breaking down
all indexed files to paragraph level, so that a paragraph became an entity,
3) presenting part of the beginning of the "hit" paragraphs in summary form,
allowing a decision whether or not to display a paragraph to be made.
Useing a paragraph as an entity, whether it be pre formatted or not,
allows it to be one of many things e.g. the description of a file in
a Filing System, a Book Synopsis, a Paper Extract, a Personal Record,
an Executive Information Summary, a Description, a Catalogue or anything
the user wants it to be.

ASK-IT uses a Multi BTree index to hold pointers
to all its indexed words. This makes the retrieval of words very fast,
also if a word does not exist, the system, and the user, knows immediately.

ASK-IT offers the ability to have up to 999 files indexed with the files
either on-line or off-line and on any of the directories of any of the
systems drives, with 999 words per paragraph and 9999 paragraphs per file

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and a maximum of 1 million indexed words in total. This gives a practical
minimum requirement of a system with PC/MS-DOS 2.11 - or greater, 512
kbytes RAM, 1 Floppy Disk Drive and from 20 Mbyte or more of Hard Disk.

A feature of ASK-IT is the ability to mark
one or more words, a line or a number of lines NOT to be indexed. This
feature allows certain words to be hidden (not indexed), and the ability
to change the data in the marked area without affecting the index.
The hidden data is still displayed but cannot be used in a search
argument. A caution though, the number of characters that are marked for
hiding must remain the same if the data is to be changed, or else the pointer
system for the rest of that file will be offset plus or minus the difference
in the character count. This discrepancy could be aggravated with each data
change, then reindexing the whole system is the only way to fix it.

NOISE words - as, and, the, by, it, etc. form approximately 50% of all
words in normal text. For this and other reasons ASK-IT
does not index them. To achieve this the system contains a file called
NOISE.DAT, in which all the words NOT to be indexed reside. You may alter
this file if you wish, either delete some of the words or add new ones (for
more information see the section - NOISE WORDS.)

Suggested uses -

* Executive Information Systems.

* Personal Resources.

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* Library Book Searches.

* Technical-Scientific Paper Research.

* Collection Classification and Search.

* Bases for your own programs.

* Legal Cases Research.

* Letter Archives.

* Filing Systems.

System requirements -

* Minimum -
IBM-PC or work-a-like with 512k RAM, 1 F-Disk and
PC/MS-DOS 2.11 or greater.

* Standard -
IBM-XT or compatible with 10 or 20 Mbyte Hard Disk, 512k RAM
and PC/MS-DOS 2.11 or greater.

* Recommended -
IBM-AT or compatible with 20 Mbyte or larger Hard Disk, 512k RAM
and PC/MS-DOS 2.11 or greater.

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First consult the section - DISK BACKUP, this is most important
as you should never use your original disks.

Four Steps to get your 1st result -

Note: Throughout this manual means press the Enter or Return Key.

Step 1.

* 2 Floppy Disk system -

Copy the following files to a floppy disk -







Now go to step 2.

* Hard Disk system -

Create a directory called "\AI". This is done so -

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Assume C: is the Drive you are going to use -

Enter -





You have now created a directory called "\AI", and are in it...

Copy the contents of your COPY disk (NOT the original) to this directory
so -

Place the your COPY disk in Drive A, and Enter -

C>COPY A:*.* .C:\AI\ /V

Step 2.

Enter -


The main menu will now fill the screen. Enter -


As this will be the first time you have indexed a file, by-pass the next
screen by entering -

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You will now be presented with a screen with four vertical columns of
numbers 1 to 68, and an option menu along the bottom of the screen.

Enter -


You are now asked to enter a number in the range 1 to 68.

Enter -


At the bottom of the screen you are now invited to enter the \Path\File
name (or only to Exit) of a file to be indexed.

Enter -


If you miss-spell the "d:filename.ext" or the file does not exist (was not
copied across) the system will indicate it cannot find the file and ask for
a response, then ask you to start again.

You are then asked for the next file for indexing.

Enter -


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This returns you to the main menu. Now -

Step 3.

Enter -

<4> - (INDEX FILES.)

You are now asked if any of the files to be indexed are on removable disks.
Give the appropriate answer -

2 floppy disk system - only

Hard disk system - only

You are now presented with an INDEX Menu. As you have no indexed files at
this moment your option will be number 1.

Enter -


You are now offered a reprieve, just in case you entered option 1 by accident.
In this case:

Enter -

Indexing will now proceed. First the old (if any) indexes will be removed,
then new index files will be created. When indexing starts on a file,
the file name is displayed.

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Indexing finishes with a summary of the indexed file(s).

Enter -

You are now returned to the main menu.

Step 4.

Now search on the file you just indexed, so -

Enter -


You are now in the search and retrieve program - ASKIT.EXE - and the the first
question you are asked is:



Now you are at the actual search request screen. The top portion is a quick
reminder of the search argument "word-joiners" and other word options.

At the cursor Enter -

cat - This word is NOT on the indexed file - DEMO1.DAT -

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ASK-IT immediately responds in the bottom box with -
the word "CAT" which was your search argument, is not in its index.

Now Enter -

dog girl mix - Notice the use of just one space between each word,
this is the "shorthand" for "PLUS" (or "+").

This time the screen changes and a "summary" screen showing that just
one "hit" was made with this combination of words. Also a one line summary
of the "hit" paragraph showing the file containing the paragraph and the first
30 words of the first and second line in the paragraph (see
OPTIONS on how to change this summary line.)

To display the paragraph press -

<1> - (or <1> ) - Display summary line #1.

You will now see the full paragraph with the search argument words
highlighted and flashing. Had there been more than one search argument
"hit", pressing or would have displayed the next paragraph in
sequence in the summary list. Likewise pressing or

would find
the previous summary paragraph.

To enter the file containing the displayed paragraph press -

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The screen will now display the name of the file - DEMO1.DAT - across
the top, and a display option along the bottom line.

and - (or and


Moves you up and down the file around the "hit" paragraph, paragraph by

- (or key.)

Starts you at the beginning of the file, then scrolls through the file
showing paragraph numbers as it goes. Pressing the bar stops and
starts the scrolling. Pressing the aborts the scrolling with
paragraph pointers set the same as before the pressing of the .
(See DOCUMENT Display/Search for a fuller description).

Press -

- (or key.)

Returns you to the paragraph summary to display other paragraphs.

Press -

- (or key.)

For another search argument entry and retrieval.

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Before you EXIT the program, there is another feature regarding the search
argument screen, in that last search used is still held by the system and can
be recalled to be modified or added to. Press -

and the last argument will re-appear. Press

and it will disappear, again and it will re-appear.

You can now append more words if you wish, or by using

or move through the words. Then

will Delete characters, and

will allow Insertion of characters, after which will
replace the remaining characters.

To EXIT the ASKIT program press -

or or

The first 2 options will return you to ASK-IT's
menu, the third option - at least 5 x's, will exit to PC/MS-DOS's command
line. If you used the words like or then ASK-IT
would search for these words, and if they are indexed, would indicate so.

For greater detail of ASK-IT keyboard command see
the section - COMMANDS.

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To chose an option either enter the option number or use the Up or
Down arrow keys to move up or down the menu, then press to activate.

Index/File MENU

[0] EXIT.








0. EXIT.
- Return to PC/MS-DOS command line.

- Displays all files both indexed and unindexed in the system.

- Produces a hard copy of all files in the system showing which
have and have not been indexed.

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- Allows adding or changing of the files in the system list.
On entering this option a warning message is displayed to alert
the user to the dangers of removing or changing file names of
files that have been indexed, as the system uses the position in
this list to locate files for display in the program ASKIT.

If you are cleaning up the file list prior to a system
re-INDEX, then you are required to enter the word "INDEX"
(either upper or lower case) to indicate to the system that
you know what you are doing. Using the code "INDEX" allows
the changing of any file name in the file list, if "INDEX" was
not entered then you can only change file name entries that
have NOT been indexed, or add new file names.

Note: All new or changed file names are checked for validity by
OPENing and then CLOSEing the file. Therefore the file must be
present on its designated Drive at the time of recording it.

- Calls the indexing program - see AINDEX for a full description.

- Call the access program - see ASKIT for a full description.

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There are two ways to add new files to the system -

* Adding, or

* Appending.

To ADD or CHANGE a file in the system you must do so
through the main menu -


this brings up the Main MENU -


Chose Option 3.

This will bring up a warning screen explaining that changing
file names of INDEXED files WITHOUT RE-INDEXING will cause
unpredictable results, so the key word INDEX (upper or lower
case) must be entered as a re-enforcement of your desire to
change indexed file names.

Enter only.

This displays the first 68 entries in the file name list. To
add a new file name -

Press (for UPDATE from the bottom line selection.)

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You are then requested to enter a number within the screen
displayed range. If the number you enter is that of a file
already indexed then your selection is rejected, otherwise
the selected number is blinked in highlight. The file name
(plus its path - if any) is entered in the bottom line up to
a maximum of 30 characters. The key terminates the
entry, and the system then checks the presence of the file by
OPENing it, this means the file must be present at this
point in time. If the file is NOT present then its status is
indicated by the system bell and you are encouraged to
re-enter the file name (it may have been a typing error the
last time). Pressing only (No file name) will abort your
request. If your request was successful then the right-most
12 characters of the file name is displayed in the screen
entry number area, with a foreshortened indicator "=" as the
first character if the file name was longer then 14

You may add as many file names as space will allow, and you
can put them in any of the vacant entries - no left
shuffling is required - AINDEX will take care of that.


With ASK-IT you can append a file to the end of a file, but only the
last file indexed.

The copy of the file to be appended is physically added to the end of
the last indexed file so increasing the size of that file. This means
the appended file has lost it identity as
far the ASK-IT is concerned, as it was never added to the indexed file

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The file that was appended still exists and has not been altered
in any way, and can be removed from the disk if required.

The advantage of appending a file rather than than adding
is that the appended file has not taken a file name position
in the file list file. If the requirement is to index data
as soon as possible, as it is part of the ongoing system,
then the APPEND approach is probably the better one. If however
the data to be indexed is unique, or the file size is reasonable
big then ADDING may be the better way to go. The choice is yours,
there are no real or hardfast rules in this area, the only advice
proffered is that if you are going to regularly maintain your indexed
files and do full reindexing, then it will be easier for you to have
shortish files for your word processing sake..

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What are NOISE words

Noise words are the words we use to join key words together
and as such are redundant with little value of their own.
As up to 50% of all words in normal text file are noise words,
the full indexing of a file would take up to twice as much disk
space. By naming all words we wish to be known as NOISE words,
we can indicate to the INDEX program words it must not index.

The system comes complete with a file containing most commonly
used noise words. You can see the contents of this file by using
the type command -


Changing NOISE.DAT.

As noted above the list of noise words are those used in normal
every day text. It may be desirable to include words that are used
often in your situation and which you feel would take up disk space or
you would never search on. The can be done quite simply by using an
ASCII only word processor or editor. Whereas the noise file must be
kept in alphabetic sequence it is not imperative that you insert
words in their correct place. It is however imperative
that you only have one word per line, meaning you must press the
return key after each added word.

ASK-IT Page 23

If you feel unsure that you may make a mistake it is highly
recommended that you make a copy of the present file -NOISE.DAT-
before you attempt any change to the file.

If you do not have an ASCII word processor or editor, and you feel
EDLIN is a bit beyond you, you could try the following method using
the COPY command -

C>copy con word.add

(This instruction will copy anything typed on the keyboard
to a file call -WORD.ADD- Note however you cannot change
any line other than the one you are working on.)

Now enter the words you require, one per line.
When you have finished -

Press then

- and your word file will be saved.

Next you must attach your new file to -NOISE.DAT-. This is done as
follows -

C>copy noise.dat+word.add noise.dat/v

Your new file will now be tagged on the end of NOISE.DAT, and
must now be resorted. Note - for further information on
COPY, consult your DOS manual.

ASK-IT Page 24

Removing noise words.

This can only be done by the use of a ASCII editor or word processor
such as PC-Write, or a word processor that has a document facility.

Don't forget to run -NEWNOISE- when you have finished, just in case
you upset the file sequence.

Re-sorting NOISE.DAT.

The batch file -NEWNOISE.BAT- is a procedure set up to sort the file
NOISE.DAT into the correct sequence. It is required that you have
a copy of your PC/MS-DOS program -SORT.EXE- in the same directory as
the NOISE.DAT and NEWNOISE.BAT files, or the PATH pointing to the
directory where they reside.

To run -


When you see the C> prompt again the job is finished.

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(Option 4 on the Main Menu)

Menu description.

Index/ReIndex MENU.

0. EXIT.





To chose an option, either enter the option number (0-3) or
use the UP or Down arrows to pick an option, then press key.

Description of each menu item.

0. EXIT.
- Return to PC/MS-DOS command line.

1. REINDEX ALL FILES. - This option is used when you first
start the system or at any time you wish to reindex the entire system.

If this option is selected then a second chance to abort is offered with
the message -


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"N" reply returns you to the INDEX Menu.

"Y" starts the re-INDEX process, first cleaning-up the "old" indexes,
then doing the indexing proper.

- This option used index any newly added files the the INDEX LIST.

The operation once started will act in the same way as option 1.

- This option first displays a message asking for the name of
the file to be appended -

ENTER NAME of FILE to be APPENDED (d:filename.ext) -

The name of the file is then entered. A null entry - only, aborts
the request and then returns you back to the Main Menu.

Error messages.

A number of error messages could be displayed when an INDEXing request has
been made. Most of the messages are self explanatory -

No -NEWLY ADDED- Files to INDEX - Press any key to continue.

INDEXED Files have been changed, system must be RE-INDEXED.

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Unable to APPEND a File - No INDEXED Files in INDEX LIST.

DELETED - File NOT found. - (File in INDEX LIST not found.)

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(Option 5 on the Main Menu)

This is the search program module, and as such all the search operations
are carried out here.


The program starts by asking -


If you answer , then you have 5 options you can change -



3. DO YOU WANT A '1st 2 Line' SUMMARY DISPLAY (Y/-).

4. DO YOU WANT A '1st 3 Line' SUMMARY DISPLAY (Y/-).


1st. "Y" answer - will allow printing of displayed paragraph.

NON "Y" answer - (default) does NOT allow printing.

2nd. "Y" answer - switches OFF highlighting of search argument
words in displayed paragraphs.

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NON "Y" answer - (default) switches ON highlighting of
search argument words in displayed paragraphs.

3rd. "Y" answer - displays the first 10 characters of the first line,
and the first 60 characters of line 2 of the "hit" paragraph.

4th. "Y" answer - displays the first 10 characters of the first line,
and the first 30 characters of line 2 and 3 of the "hit" paragraph.

5th. "Y" answer - searchs on the the plural of all words in the
'search argument' as well.

If a NON "Y" answer is given to both options 3 and 4, just the file name
and the first 60 characters of the first line of any "hit" are displayed.

Options can be transient or permanent. The bottom line give the option to:

Continue, using the configuration you have just set up, or

Save the new configuration for now and future use, or

Restart allows either by-passing or re-entering of the configuration.

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Please read the following before you put your ASK-IT
disk in the computer -

The supplied disk may be write protected - the little square notch about
a quarter the way down the right hand side of the disk should be covered.
If NOT then place one of the sticky file protect tabs, that come with a box of
diskettes, over it. This prevents accidental deleting or overwriting of the
files on the diskette (see your operators guide manual for more details on
this subject.)

Next back-up your ASK-IT disk.

If you have only one floppy disk drive then check your operators
guide manual for information on one disk copying.

If you have two floppy disks in your system then place your
protected master disk in Drive A: and a blank formatted disk in Drive B:.

Next set the default drive to A: (C>A: will change C> to A>)

At the A> enter as follows -

A>copy A:*.* .B:/V

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The system will now proceed to copy all the files on the
ASK-IT disk in Drive A: to your back-up disk in Drive B:.

When the copy has finished, remove the disk and file protect your new copy
of ASK-IT. Then place your master copy in a safe place.


It is possible to run ASK-IT on a 2 Floppy Drive
system with 512k RAM, but it is not recommended for any thing but
a few small files. The disk head movement on floppy disk is very
slow when compared to a hard disk and the amount of available storage
is small. These two together make for a very slow and limited system.

However, if your need is such that you will be running on two floppy
drives, the following suggestions will help you to maximize the disk
space available.

Spread ASK-IT over 4 diskettes in the following way -

1) Move -AI.EXE- - to a disk called "AI",

2) Move -AINDEX.EXE- and -NOISE.DAT- to disk called "AINDEX".

3) Create a blank formatted disk called "ASKIT".

4) Put the file(s) to be indexed on a fourth disk.

With the programs and the indexes on the disk in Drive A:, you will not
be able to index a near full data disk. It is not possible to pre-determine
just how much data can be indexed this way, as the word mix and key-word

ASK-IT Page 32

to noise-word ratio both pay a part in the final size of the index (say
200 kbytes of text files at the most.)

Place the "AI" disk in Drive A: and the data disk in Drive B:. With
the default drive set to A>.

Enter -


Pick option 3. from the displayed menu. Then type in the word INDEX,
when asked.

When the empty "INDEX LIST" appears on the screen press only - to
indicate to the system you wish to UPDATE the "INDEX LIST".

Select a blank entry, say 1

Press 1

The empty entry (1 in this case) will be highlighted, and the
file name to be indexed can be entered. Be sure to prefix the file
name(s) with B:, the disk drive your data files are on. The program AI
will check for a valid file as soon as you have entered the file name.
If the entered file does not exist you will be prompted to re-enter or

When you have entered all the file names remove the data file from
Drive B: and replace it with your "AINDEX" disk.

Now transfer the INDEX LIST file from Drive A: to Drive B:.

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Enter -


Remove the "AI" disk from Drive A: and replace it with the your
"AINDEX" disk from Drive B: and replace your data disk in Drive B:.

Enter -


The system will now create a multi BTree index for the text files on Drive B:
displaying an audit trail of its results. When indexing has finished you
will be asked to press any key to continue. Normally you would be returned
to the AI program, but as the program does not exist on the disk you will get
a DOS error message (which you can ignore) and the command line prompt - A>.

Remove your data disk from Drive B: and replace with your "ASKIT" disk,
and copy the indexes from the "AINDEX" to it.

A>COPY A:*.PTR B:/V, and


You now have an indexed and accessible system, albeit slow and cumbersome.

To run, place your "ASKIT" disk in Drive A: and your UN-AMENDED (in any
way) text file(s) disk in Drive B:.

Enter -

ASK-IT Page 34


Run as described elsewhere in this manual.

NOTE - the ASKIT program tries to load the AI program on exiting. As AI.EXE
is not on Drive A: a DOS error message will be displayed followed by the
command line prompt - A>, this is normal.


It is advisable to set up a directory just for ASK-IT's
programs and indexes. However, the indexed ASCII text file(s) can reside
anywhere in the system, just as long as they are available when required by
ASK-IT. i.e. files residing on floppy disks must be
available for inserting into the requested drive, (same drive as when indexed)
when asked for.

Create a new directory on your hard disk (we will assume it to be Drive C:).

C>CD/ - to ensure you are in the root directory.

C>MD/AI - makes a new directory called C:/AI/

C>CD/AI - change to your new directory.

Place your protected copy of ASK-IT in Drive A:.

Enter -

C>COPY A:*.* .C:/V

ASK-IT Page 35

This will move a complete copy of ASK-IT to your new
directory on your drive C:

You are now ready to enjoy the true benefits of ASK-IT.

ASK-IT Page 36


The search program -ASKIT- has three main areas -

1). Paragraph search, retrieval and display.

2). Document search and display.

3). Exit the program.

Paragraph search, retrieval and display is the main operation within
ASK-IT, whereas Document search and display relies
on the former to identify the document (file) to be worked on.

PARAGRAPH Search, Retrieval and Display.

Search arguments.

A search argument is a group of words, values or dates connected in
such a way as to define a intuitive request that best describes the user's

The object in phrasing an argument is to use only the keywords that are
most likely to be used in the sought after text. As noise words are not
indexed they are irrelevant to a search argument, in fact they should not
be used at all, as the words AND, OR and NOT can be used as word connectors
to make a search more meaningful. e.g. cat and dog not horse. This is
interpreted by -ASKIT- to mean "find all the paragraphs that have both of
the words CAT and DOG in them, but not the word HORSE."

ASK-IT Page 37

If a search results in more than 80 "hits" you are asked to rephrase your
search argument as it was too wide. To narrow it you must add more key words.
To help you do this the original search argument can be recalled for
modification, before another search is undertaken.

Word connectors -

- AND, '+' or 'a space' - have the same meaning - PLUS.

- NOT or '-' - both mean - NOT.

- OR, ',' or '|' - all mean - OR.

- w/### - means WITHIN ### words. (NOT valid with PLURALISM, WILD
CARDS or more than two(2) words.)

Examples of word connectors use -

- This means the sought paragraphs must
contain all the words - BOY, GIRL, BABY and INFANT.

- This means both words BOY and GIRL must be in
the paragraph but not the word BABY to get a successful "hit".

- Any paragraph containing the
words BOY, GIRL, BABY or INFANT but NOT containing the word CHILD will be
a "hit" paragraph.

ASK-IT Page 38

- Means find any paragraph where the word BOY is
WITHIN plus or minus 6 words of the word GIRL. NOTE: This connector can
only be used with two words and NOT in combination with other connectors.
Also as the maximum paragraph size is 999 words long the word count cannot
be greater than 999.

Wild cards.

The use of "wild cards" in a keyword is possible. Wild cards are "*" and

- "*" is used as a suffix to a word. e.g. inter* - all words that start
with inter will be located.

- "?" is used to replace a character(s) in a word. e.g. m?n - the "?"
will be replaced with any character that will find a word that has been
indexed. (MAN, MEN, etc.)

"$" and "$$" suffixes.

- "$" indicates to -ASKIT- to search the MACRO file for a macro with the
word prefixed with a "$". e.g. AUTO$ - use the macro called "AUTO".

- "$$" tells -ASKIT- to convert the prefixed word to a SOUNDEX code and
search using the code not the word. e.g. SMITH$$ converts to code - S003.


A successful search will present the user with a summary screen of all the
"hits" of the search argument. The summary display content depends on the
options that are set.

ASK-IT Page 39

If the "hits" fill more than one summary screen then the key will page
through the screens.

The bottom line of the summary screen indicates which keys to press to display
a paragraph.

PRESS - ummary,xit or isplay-(Opts-Nxt,Prev or Line#)-

ummary - re-displays the word "hits". If more than one screen full,
pressing again will display the next screen full.

or - Exit to the search argument input screen.

or - Displays a paragraph shown on the summary screen. Pressing
or will change the bottom line display to accept the summary line
number of the paragraph to be displayed.


Entering the summary line number followed by will immediately display
the full paragraph. ( "##" is the number of "hits".)

or - Displays the next paragraph to the one being displayed,
or the first paragraph if it is the first operation after the initial "hit"

or - Displays the previous paragraph to the one being displayed,
or the last paragraph if it is the first operation after the initial "hit"

ASK-IT Page 40

or - Enters the document (file) that contains the displayed
paragraph - (its name is displayed on the top line of screen, above the
displayed paragraph).

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DOCUMENT Search and Display.

Having displayed a paragraph, you may wish to check its context with other
paragraphs in the document (file).

This can be done by pressing or while the paragraph is being
displayed. The document (file) can now be viewed three ways -

1). Scrolling through the document (file), starting at the beginning and
pausing where you like.

2). Direct displaying a requested paragraph.

3). Move backward and forward through the document (file), paragraph by

Pressing or causes a new bottom line display-

DISPLAY OPTIONS - ,,=All,=Exit or +#+

or - Scrolls the document (file) contents up the screen with
the paragraph numbers highlighted. The numbering is only accurate on standard
ASCII files, and where a paragraph contains at least one normal ASCII character.

The scrolling can be stopped and re-started by pressing any key.

To exit scrolling, press while scrolling is suspended. (See the bottom
line for a command summary.)

ASK-IT Page 42

or - Displays any paragraph in the document (file). After pressing,
the following bottom line is displayed-


Enter the paragraph number you wish to display and press . (#### is the
number of paragraphs in the document/file). The paragraph is then displayed
with the bottom line re-displaying the "DISPLAY OPTIONS...." menu above.


- Displays the previous paragraph.

or - Displays the next paragraph.

In both the above cases the previous/next paragraph relates to the last
displayed paragraph. If you choose to scroll through the document (file) the
system still points to the last displayed paragraph.

Paging past the end or beginning of the document (file) loops around to the
opposite end of the document (file). e.g. in a 53 paragraph document/file the
sequence would be 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 1, 2, etc.

ASK-IT Page 43

EXIT Program.

There are two ways to exit -ASKIT-

1). Directly to the DOS command line.

2). To ASK-IT's main menu program -AI-.

To return directly to DOS's command line, Enter-

XXXXXXX - at least five (5) X's followed by .

To return to the main menu -AI-, Enter-


There is a reason for the doubling of each character in the words EXIT
and QUIT. If either of the two words are entered normally, -ASKIT- will
evoke a search, as it takes any words entered on the search argument line
as a normal search argument.

ASK-IT Page 44



A feature of ASK-IT is its ability to "hide" a string
of words. ASK-IT will not index any
of the words in a "hidden" string, so they cannot be searched on.
Hiding is done by surrounding the string with square brackets "[]".
A whole line, or a number of lines can be so hidden, by placing the left
square bracket at the start of the line. The end of a line will automatically
close the brackets.

This feature will do more than just hide words, values and dates can
also be hidden, which means they can be changed without affecting the
files' index. This will only hold true if character count of the
changed "hidden" data remains the same.

Using this feature it makes it possible to have a program updating
"hidden" date, while ASK-IT still knows the location
of each indexed word.

Programs like In-house Library Systems, Stock Lists, Client Files, etc.
can be created, having the best of both worlds.

ASK-IT Page 45



Macros are a way of setting up search arguments, holding them on a
file -MACRO.DAT- and calling on them by name as part of a search argument.

An example of an entry in the -MACRO.DAT- file -


The first word in a MACRO is the name of the MACRO. In the above, the
word AUTO (the first word in the line) is the name of the macro.
The other words are those you need to associate with the word AUTO.
Notice the format - each word is separated by only a comma word connector,
there are NO spaces. It is allowable to use other word connectors in the
MACRO string - "," "|" "+" or "-".

To indicate to the system you are using a macro word, you must append
a "$" sign, so - "Auto$" in a search argument will evoke the above MACRO.

The above example when called by entering "Auto$" will be seen by
ASK-IT as -


You can see that if you are continually using certain "sets" of words to
searching on, you can save time and typing errors by setting up the word
sets in the macro file for easy access.

ASK-IT Page 46

To add to MACRO.DAT just use you normal ASCII word processor, or
any other that has the provision to "scrub" the output file of its
soft control characters.

The format of MACRO.DAT is one MACRO per line, with as many MACRO's as
you like.

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SOUNDEX is a coding system that tries to locate sound-a-like words and
names. By using the provided program -SOUNDEX.EXE- you can calculate
the SOUNDEX code for any word you like. This code can then be inserted
into relevant paragraphs so that search can be performed using the code.

To search using SOUNDEX codes, the user appends the word in the search
argument with "$$". So "smith$$" would find both the name "SMITH" and
"SMYTH", assuming the SOUNDEX codes had been placed in the corresponding

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PLURAL words.

With the PLURALISM option active, words used in the search argument
are automatically appended with their PLURAL word. This saves having to
repeat each word to ensure you find all cases.

The conversion used is as follows -

y - IES
y - YS
ss - SSES
? - ?S
s - S
o - OES
o - OS
us - I
um - A
au - AUX
ex - ICES
ex - EXES

This will cater for the majority of words used, but it wont find words
that are misspelled.

ASK-IT Page 49


Unexpected System errors can be caused by any of the following conditions -

- No files on -INXFILE.DAT-

- No INDEXED Files.

- -CONFIG.SYS- not allocating enough FILES (30) or BUFFERS (30).

- Wrong level of PC/MS-DOS - must be 2.11 or greater.

- RAM to small - 512 kbytes at least.

- INDEXED files changed or removed from system. Re-INDEX will fix.

- INDEXS can become corrupted by external means. Re-INDEX the system.

NOTE: Re-INDEXING the system will usually overcome any problems you may have.

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This is a program to remove the high-order bit from all characters in
an ASCII text file. Care should be taken that this program is only run
against text files as it could completly destroy other files types.

REMV-HIB does however have a number of safegards to help prevent
accidental running against the wrong file types-

* Output file with a different name.

* If output file has same name, a check before re-naming.

* Exit facility before conversion is started.

This program as limited use, and is designed to remove the high-order bit
that is inserted by certain word processors in word-wrap mode. When the
high-order bit (bit 8) is removed the character reverts to a normal control

ASK-IT generally takes care of high-order bits, by ignoring them. However
when scrolling through a file in 'file view mode' this high-order bit is
left as is.

ASK-IT Page 51


ASK-IT Page 52


  3 Responses to “Category : Word Processors
Archive   : ASKIT.ZIP
Filename : ASKIT.DOC

  1. Very nice! Thank you for this wonderful archive. I wonder why I found it only now. Long live the BBS file archives!

  2. This is so awesome! 😀 I’d be cool if you could download an entire archive of this at once, though.

  3. But one thing that puzzles me is the “mtswslnkmcjklsdlsbdmMICROSOFT” string. There is an article about it here. It is definitely worth a read: