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About PacFORMS

 

Overview

PacFORMS is a system that enables the communications of complex, forms-based information used by our served agencies over a low speed radio data link. PacFORMS presents forms to the user as HTML web pages for a familiar format and for ease of filling in the data. When the user submits the form, PacFORMS creates a message to be sent over the radio that contains only the user data and some identification information. This dramatically reduces the size of the message to be sent, usually to less than 1-2 KB. At the other receiving end, the form is reassembled and presented to the user as a web page to be viewed, printed and/or saved.

Note: PacFORMS has been in use since about 2008 and forged the way for sending complicated forms data over low-speed radio. As of SCCo Packet Installer version 145C, PacFORMS is being replaced with PackItForms. PacFORMS will likely be removed from the integrated installer in the next major release.

Requirements

PacFORMS requires a browser that supports JavaScript. The PacFORMS HTML files can be displayed and used on any PC (including Apple) using most commonly available browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera).

PacFORMS is most commonly used with Outpost Packet Message Manager (hereafter called "Outpost"). Outpost is a Windows application, so the combination of Outpost with PacFORMS needs a Windows environment in which to run.

Installation Location

PacFORMS is typically installed in: C:\PacFORMS

Documentation

The release notes and Instruction files (Acrobat files) provide information about the HTML and associated files. These files can be found in:

{PacFORMSInstallDir}\Docs

Behaviour

PacFORMS can be used in combination with Outpost for message management, or as a stand-alone system if Outpost is not present. When used with Outpost on the sending end, PacFORMS is responsible for creating a text message from the form data and submitting it to Outpost. On the receiving end, Outpost hands the message to PacFORMS for display. When used as a stand-alone application, the user is responsible moving the packet message between the bulletin board system (BBS) and PacFORMS.

Since Packet radio is generally a slow speed link (like 1200 baud), the form is programmed, when submitted, to only send form-field IDs and the field entries as a text file.   Then once sent, the Packet operator on the receiving end can "reverse" the process and put the text back into the HTML form.   This process is accomplished by executing the program pac-read.exe either manually or through the Packet program Outpost (version 2.8.0c42 or later).   The pac-read.exe program currently only runs on a Windows PC.   The file generated by the pac-read.exe program is a stand-alone HTML file that is the same HTML Form filled out originally, but contains the information entered into it prior to sending via Packet.   This file can be transferred to any PC that has a browser that recognizes JavaScript.   Note also, that the form field information in this reversed HTML file can be edited and "submitted" again.

After the user fills out the form fields in these forms, the JavaScript in these forms provides two methods of extracting the form field information by means of selecting one of the two "Submit" buttons at the end of the form.   One "Submit" button sends the form field text directly to Outpost.   The other "Submit" causes a new window to open with the form field IDs and entered text in an ASCII format.   This text can then be captured and saved in a text file to be processed later in Outpost, other Packet application, or copied and pasted into a BBS terminal session.

Author

Contact the PacFORMS author: Phil Henderson, KF6ZSQ

 


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This page was last updated 15-Aug-2019