More about .SHOWFILE

Right now everything seems to be waiting for everything else. I’m waiting for the printer to finish the manuals, a couple of important emails to be replied to, and various other things that are hanging fire in as many ways, so there isn’t much that amounts to Wintertree news to talk about.

But it’s a great time to describe a few new wrinkles in the command .SHOWFILE (which was added, by the way, after those manuals were already at the printer).

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Everybody into the Boole!

There are three flavors of User Variables in TableMaster: ones with no variety specified (they were the originals), which are integers; Decimal variables, for floating-point numbers; and Text variables, for strings. There is actually a de-facto fourth kind, essentially Boolean variables.

George Boole was a 19th-century mathematician who formulated what came to be known as Boolean algebra, which dealt with variables having values of “true” and “false” rather than numeric values, usually represented as 1 and 0. If that sounds familiar — like the fundamental nature of digital electronics, from your watch to TableMaster — you’re right: it is. Most computer languages have some sort of Boolean variable. Delphi (which is basically Pascal, named for another mathematician) certainly does. And so does TableMaster … sort of.

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Sex, pluralism, and TableMaster

If you were expecting something either salacious or political here, sorry, it’s just about system variables and output formatting codes. I’ve spent the past few days adding more output formatting codes in order to get them into the manual before it goes to the printers. While I was at it, I added a new sort of system variable, too, to help with pronouns.

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Printing Irregular Plurals

TableMaster has a lot off output formatting codes that can handle a fair percentage of the plurals in the English language. From simple things like changing house to houses through complex ones like changing mouse to mice, plus control of everything from the location of possessive apostrophes to changing ‘is’ to ‘are’, there are a lot of them, and they can give handle a lot of variations in output. For example, “1 man is carrying a box and a bag” and “4 men are carrying boxes and bags” are both produced by the same line: “<1d6> m\en \r carrying \abox\s and \abag\s.“* It’s the six different output formatting codes that make all the changes automagically.

There are, however, some irregular plurals that are so uncommon that they’re not worth wasting a letter for a formatting code (there aren’t many left) to implement. For instance, it’s fairly unlikely that someone is going to want to pluralize corpus into corpora. Certainly they won’t be doing it very often. You can, however, handle that with a small custom table if you happen to have a need for an irregular plural that doesn’t have an output formatting code in TableMaster.

Read on to see how.

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