logo for MegaDots Duxbury Systems, Inc. logo logo for MegaDots

MegaDots User Manual
Version 2.5, December, 2011

Copyright 2011 by Duxbury Systems, Inc.

Written by Susan Christensen, David Holladay,
Aaron Leventhal and Caryn Navy

published by Duxbury Systems
270 Littleton Road, Unit 6
Westford MA 01886

This edition is transcribed in
Textbook Format Braille
And Produced Using Your Embosser

License and Warranty

This software is copyrighted by Duxbury Systems, Inc. (DS), and sold as a LICENSE TO USE according to the class of license purchased. The normal license, applicable unless otherwise stated on your invoice or by other written agreement, is for a "single-user"; that is, the software may be used by one natural person on one computer at any one time. Even in cases where the software is received in more than one format (e.g. on from the web and on CD-ROM), there is only one license and the same "single-user" restriction applies. Customer may make copies, including backups, necessary to support valid use of the software, but no other copies. Customer must ensure that all copies bear the same copyright notices as appear on the originals.

If the software was purchased as a "site license," the license to use is for simultaneous usage by multiple persons on multiple computers owned by one organization in one building or group of buildings sited contiguously.

If the software was purchased as an "organizational license," the license permits simultaneous usage by a limited number of users on a limited number of computers owned by one organization, or members thereof. Usage is not restricted geographically. The limited number of users is by agreement.

DS WARRANTS its software products to operate to customer's satisfaction for a period of 90 days. DS will refund, to the original purchaser from DS, the price paid DS for microcomputer software if returned in that time. For minicomputer software, such refund will exclude any DS installation expenses plus DS time at DS service rates. Except as may be required by statute, DS makes no other warranties, disclaims warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, and assumes no liability for incidental or consequential damages.

The TrueType fonts "MegaDots window braille" and "MegaDots cleaner braille" are derived from the "Rursus Compact Font" and is available on the SIL Open Font License which can be viewed at http://scripts.sil.org/OFL_web (thus the license terms for MegaDots do not apply to this font).

License for Demonstration Software: Duxbury Systems, Inc. restricts your use of the demonstration disk to evaluation of the product. You may make copies of the entire demonstration disk for the purpose of making it more widely available. You may not copy individual files from the demo disk (or from your hard disk directory containing the demonstration copy of MegaDots) for any specific purpose not related to the evaluation of this software.

(see below for answers to some commonly asked questions concerning the License and Warranty statement)

Some Commonly Asked Questions

Q: If I purchase an update, may I give away my old manuals and disks?

A: No. Updating does not mean that another license has been issued, which is why updates are offered at a lower price. In any event, we recommend at least keeping your original disks because you may need them.

Q: May I install my single-user software at home and at work?

A: Yes, so long as both copies are not being used at the same time.

Q: May I install MegaDots on a network?

A: Yes, but you must have some system in place to insure that the number of users never exceeds the number permitted by your license(s). Most networks provide some way of doing this. See your network supervisor for suggestions. Reasonable administrative procedures may also be used.

Q: How do I know if I have something other than a single-user license?

A: A special license, such as a site license, will be indicated on the invoice and in the text of the license number itself.

Q: Can I install MegaDots on two or more computers in the office?

A: As with a network, you must have some system to insure compliance with the number of users permitted with your license(s). In other cases, you will need to purchase a license for each computer.

Q: My company bought this software for me. If I leave the job, can I take the software with me?

A: It depends. If the company bought the software, it remains the property of the company unless it is given to you. See the next question for more information.

Q: Can I sell or give away my software?

A: Yes, under the following conditions: (1) you provide the entire package, with all disks, manuals and subsequent updates, (2) you do not keep any copies, and (3) you inform the buyer or donee that she or he is subject to this license agreement, and provide a copy of it. It is also a good idea to put the transaction in writing and SEND US A COPY so the new user can receive support.

Program Credits

MegaDots was designed by David Holladay, Aaron Leventhal and Caryn Navy. Most of the software coding was done by Aaron Leventhal. John Boyer worked on the math translator add-on. Peter Sullivan has removed some very stubborn bugs. Thanks to Tomos Kindahl (Rursus) for the use of his fixed width console font.

A Tip of the Hat to MegaDots Users and Testers

A thank you goes to all those who have made suggestions and have assisted us in the production of quality software. We offer a special thank you to those who helped us in the early days when it looked like we would never get this bird to fly. This list includes: Susan Christensen, Warren Figueiredo, Valerie Edwards, Mandy Thompson, Gloria Buntrock and many others.


Chapter 1: Welcome to MegaDots -- 1-1

MegaDots 2.5 -- 1-l
What Is MegaDots? -- 1-1
What You Get in the MegaDots Package -- 1-2
System Requirements for MegaDots 2.5 -- 1-3
MegaDots Features Outlined -- 1-4
Chapter 2: MegaDots Installation -- 2-1

Discussion -- 2-1
Step by Step: Installing MegaDots 2.5 -- 2-2
What the Installation Does -- 2-3
MS-DOS and Windows Issues -- 2-3
Chapter 3: Your First Steps -- 3-1

First Impression -- 3-1
Typing Text -- 3-2
The Status Line -- 3-3
Translation at your Fingertips -- 3-4
Marking Text -- 3-6
Format Markup vs. WYSIWYG -- 3-6
The Clipboard -- 3-7
More Editing Shortcuts -- 3-8
Going New Places -- 3-8
The User Interface -- 3-9
Chapter 4: Styles and Other Fundamental Concepts -- 4-1

What are styles? -- 4-1
Using Styles -- 4-2
Style Groups Make it Easier -- 4-3
Hierarchical Styles -- 4-3
Importing a Document -- 4-3
Using a Different Style Sheet -- 4-4
Chapter 5: Your Preferences -- 5-1

Use "S" to Save Your Preferences -- 5-1
Inkprint and Braille Devices -- 5-1
Other Preferences -- 5-5
Blind-Friendly Editor Preferences -- 5-6
Editor Preferences -- 5-6
Advanced Features -- 5-10
Default Directories -- 5-10
Macro Key Usage -- 5-10
New Document Preferences -- 5-10
Load Preferences -- 5-11
Save Preferences -- 5-11
Point of Confusion: the Different Places You Can Indicate The Output Device -- 5-12
Chapter 6: Tutorial -- 6-1

Launching MegaDots -- 6-1
Working With CHICKEN.MEG -- 6-2
Working With SONGS.WP5 -- 6-11
Working with RJ-CAKE.HTM -- 6-15
Chapter 7: File Import -- 7-1

What a Long Strange Trip it has Been -- 7-1
File Name Problems -- 7-1
Files Types MegaDots Cannot Import -- 7-1
Files Types MegaDots Can Import -- 7-2
The Main File Import Engine -- 7-2
What Kind of File Did I Import into MegaDots? -- 7-3
Fine-Tuning with the Interpret Format Screen -- 7-4
Setting Importer Preferences -- 7-4
Issues for Importing Special Documents -- 7-5
If MegaDots Cannot Recognize the Document Type -- 7-5
Chapter 8: Simple Documents in Textbook Format -- 8-1

Informal Braille vs. Formal Braille -- 8-1
Step 1: Choose a Style Sheet -- 8-1
Step 2: Analyze the Use of Headings in your Document -- 8-1
Step 3: Analyze the Use of Emphasis in your Document -- 8-2
Step 4: Import the File/Do Data Entry -- 8-3
Step 5: WYSIWYG vs. Show Markup -- 8-3
Step 6: Check the Styles and the Text -- 8-3
Step 7: Insert a Running Head (if desired) -- 8-4
Step 8: Put in Inkprint Page Indicators (if desired) -- 8-4
Step 9: Preliminary Pages -- 8-4
Step 10: Translate and Output -- 8-5
Chapter 9 Spell Checker -- 9-1

Introducing the MegaDots Spell Checker -- 9-1
Using the Spell Checker -- 9-2
Blind User Interface -- 9-3
Questions About the Spell Checker -- 9-3
Obtaining Text From Your Optical Scanner -- 9-5
Using the MegaDots Spell Checker -- 9-6
Chapter 10: Printing -- 10-1

Introduction -- 10-1
Embossing -- 10-1
Printing on Ink Printers -- 10-4
Network Printing -- 10-7
Chapter 11: Tables and Columned Material -- 11-1

Elements of a Table -- 11-1
Chapter 12: Find and Replace -- 12-1

The Find and Replace Menu -- 12-1
Simple Find -- 12-1
Simple Replace -- 12-3
Find and Replace with a Marked Block -- 12-4
Using MegaDots Rules Files -- 12-4
Using Complex Find and Replace -- 12-5
Complex Find -- 12-6
Complex Replace -- 12-11
Writing MegaDots Rules Files -- 12-12
Chapter 13: Access Technology -- 13-1

JAWS -- 13-1
Window-Eyes -- 13-1
Shortcuts for MegaDots -- 13-1
Something Other Than JAWS and Window-Eyes -- 13-5
MegaDots Sounds -- 13-6
Using the MegaDots Editor -- 13-7
Printing Large Print -- 13-8
Large Print Access -- 13-8
Chapter 14: NIMAS Files and Nimpro -- 14-1

NIMAS Files -- 14-1
NimPro -- 14-2
Chapter 15: Beginner Braille -- 15-1

Background Information -- 15-2
How Beginner Braille Works -- 15-3
The Beginner Braille Menu -- 15-4
Supplied Beginner Braille Rules Files for the Patterns Series -- 15-5
Supplied Beginner Braille Rules Files for Braille Too -- 15-5
Linking Your Document to an Existing Rules File -- 15-6
Printing the List of Contractions Allowed in an Existing Rules File -- 15-6
Modifying an Existing Rules File to Use Different Contractions -- 15-6
Creating a Fresh Beginner Braille Rules File -- 15-7
A Brief Tutorial -- 15-7
Returning a Document Back to Standard Grade Two -- 15-8
Making Beginner Braille the Default for All New Documents -- 15-8
Variations to Beginner Braille -- 15-8
Using the Rules Files Supplied for the Patterns Series -- 15-8
Using the Rules Files Supplied for the Braille Too Series -- 15-8
Chapter 16: MegaDots for Teachers and Transcribers -- 16-1

Basic MegaDots -- 16-1
MegaDots and Opening Files -- 16-1
MegaDots and Optical Character Recognition -- 16-2
Ways MegaDots can be used with Blind Students -- 16-3
Editor Preferences for Transcribers -- 16-3
BANA 2010 Word Template -- 16-4
Assisting the Braille Translator -- 16-4
An Alternative to Six Key Perkins Entry -- 16-4
Direct Control of Translation and Format -- 16-5
Proofreading Features -- 16-5
Security Features -- 16-6
FIXIT Rules File -- 16-6
Training Mode -- 16-6
File Formats -- 16-7
MegaDots and Brailler Graphics -- 16-7
Chapter 17: British Braille -- 17-1

Introduction -- 17-1
The Simple Switch -- 17-1
Use of Capitalization -- 17-2
Abbreviations -- 17-2
Numbers -- 17-2
Punctuation -- 17-3
Translation Differences -- 17-3
British Preliminary Pages with prelim-b.meg -- 17-3
British Page Layout -- 17-3
Page Information Lines (PIL) -- 17-4
Title Page -- 17-5
Table of Contents -- 17-6
Lines -- 17-6
Headings -- 17-7
Extracts -- 17-8
Interpoint Pages -- 17-9
Style Differences -- 17-10
Tables -- 17-10
Computer Braille Code -- 17-10
Braille Import Issues -- 17-10
Keyboard Differences -- 17-11
Switching Modes -- 17-11
Format Control of End Notes Pages -- 17-11
Troubleshooting Tips Specifically for British Users -- 17-12
Chapter 18: Tips, Shortcuts and Techniques -- 18-1

Opening Files in MegaDots -- 18-1
Opening Files in MegaDots from Windows Explorer -- 18-1
Zipping Around the Editor Quickly -- 18-2
Speedy Manipulation of Inkprint Page Indicators -- 18-2
Macros Repeat Routine Tasks -- 18-3
Use Rules Files -- 18-3
Chapter 19: MegaDots from the Command Line -- 19-1

Information Displays -- 19-2
Plain Vanilla MegaDots -- 19-2
Loading MegaDots and One or More Files -- 19-2
Changing the Access with /a -- 19-2
Saving Preferences as Default with /f -- 19-3
Choosing Another Preferences File with /e -- 19-3
Influencing the File Importation -- 19-3
Combining Files with /c -- 19-4
Saving or Exporting with /s -- 19-4
Influencing Braille Translation with /t -- 19-4
Run a Macro with /k -- 19-5
MegaDots Quick Mode with /q -- 19-5
Other Command Line Programs that Come with MegaDots -- 19-6
Chapter 20: File Export -- 20-1

What is File Export? -- 20-1
Exporting Files -- 20-1
Exporting to "Your Copy of MicroSoft Word" -- 20-1
Specialized Braille Formats -- 20-1
Chapter 21: Troubleshooting -- 21-1

Don't Even Try on a 64-bit Windows System -- 21-1
Serial Number, Version Number, and Software Date. -- 21-1
Other Resources for Technical Support -- 21-1
Recovering from a Frozen MegaDots -- 21-2
Launching MegaDots from the DOS Prompt -- 21-2
MegaDots Crashes Immediately -- 21-2
MegaDots Freezes Immediately -- 21-4
Frequent crashes -- 21-4
Problems with Specific Files -- 21-4
Importing Microsoft Word Documents -- 21-6
File Importing Problems in General -- 21-6
Embossing Problems -- 21-7
Inkprint Printing Problems -- 21-8
Translation Problems -- 21-8
Braille Keyboard Problems -- 21-9
Screen Display Problems -- 21-10
Vista and NVIDIA Video Card Issues -- 21-10
Forcing Full Screen Mode in 32-bit Vista -- 21-12
Problems with Voice Access through JAWS -- 21-13
Chapter 22: MegaMath Translator -- 22-1

Verifying That The Software is Properly Installed -- 22-1
File Import -- 22-1
What Do I Need to Know to Use the Math Translator? -- 22-1
Learning More about Nemeth Code -- 22-2
Things Not Found in This Product -- 22-4
Data Entry -- 22-5
Making Precise Braille -- 22-9

Supplemental Manual (on disk)

Supplement 1: An Introduction to DOS

Understanding DOS
Navigation in a DOS System
Supplement 2: Basic Braille

Braille and Braille Translation
Braille Format
Literary vs. Textbook Format
Supplement 3: Using MSG Files to Control File Import

Supplement 4: Using The Style Sheet Editor

Modifying Style Sheets
The Structure of a Style Sheet
General Questions
Page Layout Questions
Special Pages Built into MegaDots
Style Questions
Supplement 5: MegaDots Markup

Import and Export Markup
Translation Markup
Supplement 6: Styles Built into MegaDots

Chapter 1: Welcome to MegaDots

Welcome to MegaDots! You are using the new generation of braille production software. MegaDots was created to make braille production easier and braille more accessible.

Even if you are new to computers or new to braille, MegaDots guides you into producing braille with the most exacting standards. The more you already know, the faster you will be able to use MegaDots' advanced features to their fullest extent.

MegaDots 2.5

This is MegaDots 2.5. MegaDots 2.5 uses the machinery of Duxbury DBT to import Word 2003, Word 2007, Word 2010, and Open Office files. The same machinery also imports Duxbury files and WordPerfect files. MegaDots also imports most textfiles and web (html) files.

MegaDots 2.5 can import and export MS Word/BANA Template files (Word files that use Susan Christensen's BANA 2010 Word Template).

What Is MegaDots?

MegaDots is a word processing program that knows the rules for braille. The style system is an innovative approach to document layout. Each style tells MegaDots exactly how to format one kind of paragraph in both print and braille. For example, the paragraph you are reading is Body text, and this chapter's top heading is marked as Heading level 1. Other style names include List, Menu item and Poetry. Once you learn which of the intuitively named styles you need and how to use them, making good braille is a snap.

At the touch of a key, you can view your document in print or braille. You can work with your document in two modes: "What You See Is What You Get" (WYSIWYG), and "Show Markup". In WYSIWYG, as you edit, the changes you make instantly transform your document, always showing how your pages will look in the final output. Alternatively, being in "Show Markup" gives you the ability to see all the commands that shape your document.

There are several different ways of viewing the braille text on the screen, including braille dots. Or, at any point during your work, ask MegaDots to produce an inkprint or braille copy on paper.

Whether you are sighted or blind, MegaDots has many features which help you to use it easily and efficiently. The features tailored for blind computer users make MegaDots easy to access with voice output, paperless braille displays and large print software. When you tell MegaDots that you are accessing it with one or more of these tools, it makes the screen layout compatible and gives you the information you need to work comfortably. MegaDots can even generate large print on the screen without any additional large print software. MegaDots also has a familiar look and feel for sighted computer users. The pull-down menus, colorful screens and point and click mouse interaction make working efficient and fun.

Often your document will come from somewhere else. MegaDots imports documents from many different file formats used by programs in DOS, Windows or the Macintosh. It also imports braille documents. When you import a file into MegaDots, the program looks at each paragraph and guesses which style it should be. To ensure that your output is high quality braille, you need to verify that each paragraph is labeled with the correct style.

What You Get in the MegaDots Package

The MegaDots package contains the following items:

The MegaDots 2.5 Documentation

Use the menu of documentation from Start Menu, Duxbury, MegaDots 2.5 Documentation. The MegaDots 2.5 Documentation consists of the following elements:

All MegaDots 2.5 Documentation can be produced in braille easily from within MegaDots. The User Manual, the Reference Manual, and the Interface Guide are also provided in Microsoft Word format so you can produce your own inkprint copies in the font size of your choice.

What You'll Find in the MegaDots User Manual

The User Manual is a comprehensive step-by-step guide to using the MegaDots software and its applications. Although it was written with the new user in mind, some of the chapters are more specialized, intended for those with more experience in braille transcribing or word processing.

See Chapter 2 to learn about installing MegaDots. See Chapter 3 to lead you through your first steps as you begin using MegaDots and doing some basic editing. See Chapter 4 about using paragraph styles.

Chapters 6 through 10 cover basic aspects of the software: setting your preferences, a software tutorial, file import, working with simple documents, spell checker, and printing documents.

See Chapter 21 if you need help Troubleshooting issues with MegaDots.

Other Important Documentation

The Reference Manual is the core of the MegaDots 2.5 Documentation. Organized alphabetically by topic, it gives information on the various tasks, terms, concepts, and prompts that come up when you are using MegaDots. Once you have learned the basics of MegaDots, you will probably use this documentation the most, whenever you need help on a particular aspect of MegaDots or braille. You can access this material by pressing F12 anywhere in MegaDots. Then select the topic you want from the list. You can press F1 twice to get help on selecting an item from a list.

The Interface Guide gives information about connecting specialized equipment (including embossers) to your PC.

But I Hate (unprintable) Computer Manuals!

For those who hate computer manuals, read enough of the documentation to get oriented to what MegaDots is and how to make best use of the software. We suggest that you read Chapters 3 and 4, and skim Chapters 5 and 10. Make extensive use of the Reference Manual (press F12 at any point in the program).

We do not encourage you to explore MegaDots without reading the manual. MegaDots is a rich program with many features designed to serve your needs. The documentation was written with the new user in mind and is easy to read and understand.

System Requirements for MegaDots 2.5

Here is the list of absolute requirements:

MegaDots Features Outlined

Here is a brief summary of MegaDots' features, with some pointers to more information:

MegaDots Word Processor

MegaDots allows you to create, edit, and format text and to perform all the basic functions of a standard word processor. See Chapter 3.

Intuitive Style System

The MegaDots style system lets you give one simple command to format each different kind of paragraph. Each style command takes care of all the details of formatting that kind of paragraph in both inkprint and braille. See Chapter 4.

User Interface

MegaDots offers several different "user interfaces" to make working with MegaDots as comfortable as possible for users with different needs. For those using voice output, refreshable braille, or large print screens, MegaDots provides accessible information and makes the screen layout free of clutter. See Chapters 3, 13 and 14. Sighted users get an intuitive interface with pull down menus and mouse support.

Context Sensitive Help

When you need more information on the current screen, menu, or prompt, just press F1 and helpful information on that topic emerges. In addition, by pressing F1 twice, you are told what kind of information window MegaDots is using and how to deal with it.

On-Line Reference Manual

The comprehensive information found in the Reference Manual is accessible from anyplace in MegaDots by pressing F12.

Access to User Manual

You can call up any chapter of the User Manual (and additional material) by pressing F11.

Help Screen Index

The Help Screen Index allows you to access any help screen on any subject from anywhere in MegaDots by pressing F10 H H from the Editor.

Multiple File Capacity

When you use MegaDots, you can keep a number of documents open simultaneously. MegaDots keeps them all in memory so that you can switch between files instantaneously and move text from one file to another.

Smart File Import and Export

MegaDots 2.5 imports a few file types, including Microsoft Word files, Word Perfect files, Open Office files, some textfiles and web (html) files. See Chapters 7 and 20 for more information.

MegaMath Math Translator for MegaDots is built in

This feature lets the user enter, translate, and produce technical braille (braille using the Nemeth Code for mathematical notation). See Chapter 22 for information on getting started with MegaMath. Using the Nemeth style sheet turns on MegaMath. There is a list of math symbols in the Nemeth Help (F10 H N). This feature used to cost extra in previous versions of MegaDots.

Beginner Braille is built in

MegaDots gives you the choice of grade one braille or grade two braille. You may want to customize your braille translation. Beginner Braille lets you select which contractions or short form words you want in your braille. Some students learn best reading braille which is between grade one and grade two. For example, you may want to start off a student just learning the ed, er, and sh signs. Later, once they have learned all the contractions, you can introduce the short form words. See Chapter 15 for the details. This feature used to cost extra in previous versions of MegaDots.

Working with Files from Optical Scanners

MegaDots' ability to import files of different types lets you work with files created with optical scanning. In addition, the file importer and the spell checker have some special features to speed up the processing of scanned documents.

Find/Replace Facility

MegaDots' simple find option lets you search for text, exactly as you typed it, and then optionally replace it with something else throughout the file. The more flexible complex find option lets you search for more context-sensitive items, such as any three digits inside of parentheses, and then optionally change them throughout the file. You can also combine many rules for changing text in a single rules file, and perform all of the changes automatically with a single command. See Chapter 12.

Macro System

The macro system lets you save multiple keystrokes in a macro command along with a single keystroke combination to call the macro. Then pressing the calling keystroke combination performs all the keystrokes that you saved in the macro. By saving your frequently used keystroke sequences in a macro, you can speed up repetitive work and make it less tedious. Macros are saved onto disk files which can be edited if necessary. See Chapters 5 and 18.

Voice Access Features

The user can choose between several kinds of audio prompting that use spoken messages or sound effects. MegaDots has several options to help blind users use speech to read braille material.

Large Print Screen

MegaDots' own large print screen option enlarges the characters on the screen by doubling their height and width. When you are using this option or a separate screen enlargement program, MegaDots automatically limits what is on the screen so that you can see everything in enlarged characters.

Large Print Output

MegaDots can produce large print output on virtually all kinds of inkprint printers (laser printers, dot matrix, and inkjet printers). You can choose whatever font size you need.

(note: Print quality varies between different printers depending on the printer features available.)

Refreshable Braille Display Access

When you access MegaDots with a paperless braille device, messages and prompts appear on the braille display. In addition, all the screens appear in grade two braille with lines that correspond to your braille device.

Accurate Braille Translation

The MegaDots braille translator is extremely accurate. MegaDots produces high quality braille in grade two, grade one, and Computer Braille Code, letting you switch easily between these braille codes within a document. MegaDots also translates from braille to inkprint.

"Perfect" Round Trip Translation

When you translate an inkprint document into braille and then back to inkprint, you get the original document, together with any changes you made in braille, without errors introduced by translating back and forth. This gives you the astonishing freedom to view your document and/or make corrections in the form you feel is the most appropriate at the time, translating back and forth when you need to.

WYSIWYG Display of Braille

WYSIWYG (pronounced wizzy-wig) is computer jargon for What You See is What You Get. In this mode the screen displays what the braille pages look like, allowing you to edit in braille, effortlessly seeing the consequences of your changes on the braille layout.

Five Display Modes for Viewing Braille

If you can display MS-DOS with a full screen, MegaDots offers five ways to view braille: ASCII, Small Dots, Big Dots, Special Font and Expanded Display. If you cannot display MS-DOS with a full screen, MegaDots offers a True-Type font for showing braille dots on the screen. See Chapter 5.

Two Keyboard Modes

MegaDots lets you use the full keyboard or use six keys as a simulated six-key braille keyboard. See Perkins keyboard entry in the Reference Manual.

Auto Correct Braille

Two forms of "auto correct braille" are available. They let you edit a braille document with MegaDots either correcting any mistakes in your braille data entry or translating your inkprint data entry into braille continuously as you work.

Proofing Bar

A proofing bar is a highlight that stays on the line with the cursor. By drawing attention to just one line at a time, the proofing bar helps sighted persons proofread their inkprint or braille. A color screen is recommended. Type control-Z P to toggle the proofing bar on and off.

Transcriber View

When Transcriber View is turned on, the inkprint uses the same indent, runover and blank lines as the braille. It also shows transcriber notes. This inkprint display is designed for braille transcribers who are concerned about the format of their inkprint entry. To turn this on, look in the new "Advanced Features" screen of the Preferences Menu.

Braille Text Insert

This feature lets you insert braille text into your document. Press control-F5, enter the inkprint text, and press return. If you are currently in braille, MegaDots turns the text into braille before inserting it. The inserted text is "still warm" -- it is highlighted in your document which allows you to easily proofread it as well as delete it, copy it into the clipboard or anything else. This is an easy way of inserting braille without having to subject your document to a round trip translation. As a bonus surprise, after you press control-F5 you can use F2 to pull up a list of past insertions. Properly used, this feature offers a few dozen tiny clipboards.

Linear Braille Format (LBF)

MegaDots automatically generates braille files marked with Linear Braille Format indicators for VersaBrailles and other linear braille devices.

Ten Forms of Simulated Braille on Inkprint Printers

There are now ten different forms of Simulated braille output for inkprint printers, providing convenient braille proofreading for sighted persons. See Chapter 10.

Interpoint Braille

When you make interpoint braille (using both sides of the page), MegaDots automatically moves to an odd numbered (front) page where it needs to. You can also suppress running heads and page numbering on even numbered pages.

Textbook Format

MegaDots makes it easy to create the inkprint page indicators used in textbook format braille. You have a choice between the "classic" textbook rules and the "new" textbook rules. In addition, it is loaded with special "transcriber-friendly features" for special items, such as accented letters, colored text, guide dots, guide words, etc. See Chapters 8 and 11.

Magazine Layout

A simple pull-down menu accesses the specialized items used as separators in braille magazines.

Computer Braille Code (CBC)

Materials in computer notation can be brailled as easily as standard literary text.

British Braille

MegaDots supports British Braille (with or without capitalization). British braille uses slightly different translation and a substantially different braille format. MegaDots is a unique bridge: a file formatted for British braille can easily be produced in North American braille and vice-versa. Chapter 17 explains how to create British braille.

Grade One Foreign Language Braille

MegaDots can produce foreign language material in grade one braille, showing accented letters with a simple accent mark or with the special symbols described in the rules for brailling textbooks. MegaDots supports Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese.

Systematic Approach to Headings

With a simple command you mark a heading's level in the structure of the document as 1, 2, 3, etc., and MegaDots takes care of all the details of formatting the headings in both inkprint and braille. MegaDots comes set up to do level 1 headings in braille as major headings (centered) and level 2 headings as minor headings (blocked in cell 5). It is also easy to change these settings to fit your own needs. See Chapter 5.

Systematic Approach to Emphasis

You can select how inkprint emphasis shows up in braille. Choose braille italics, braille boldface, color and heading emphasis indicators, etc.

Automatic Table Formatting

You can switch between 8 different ways of formatting a table in braille with a single command. MegaDots works out all the formatting issues for you.

Automatic Columnar Format Creation

MegaDots automatically takes a list of items and lays out the rows and columns of columnar material.

Automatic Table of Contents Creation

The special Create Contents feature builds a table of contents based on the headings that occur in your text. Works with North American or British braille formats.

Automatic Footnotes

MegaDots automatically formats footnotes in literary, textbook and British format braille.

Auto backup feature

If this feature is on, every time you save a MegaDots file, the previous copy is saved under the name *.BAK first. To turn this on, look in the new "Advanced Features" screen of the Preferences Menu.

Auto save feature

You can have MegaDots save your current work every so often (you specify how many minutes between saves). Each document is auto saved only if it has been changed. If it has, it's saved with a .SAV extension. To turn this on, look in the new "Advanced Features" screen of the Preferences Menu.

"Hypertext" list of heading paragraphs

By pressing Control-J G <space>, you can see a list of all the headings in your document. This lets you quickly find the section of text you are looking for. It can also instantly show if the pattern of headings is inconsistent.

Imports MS Word/BANA Template files

The BANA 2010 Word Template was created for use with Duxbury DBT. Even so, MegaDots 2.5 can now read files created with the template; to give the user one more option to create quality braille.

Exports files MS Word/BANA Template

MegaDots can export to MS Word/BANA Template. These files load into Duxbury DBT as if they were created with the BANA 2010 Word Template. MegaDots can be used to create quality files for Duxbury DBT.

Chapter 2: MegaDots Installation

Your MegaDots software package contains an installation CD-ROM and a card giving your MegaDots Serial Number and Password. You need administrative privileges while installing MegaDots.


64-bit Issues

MegaDots does not run on a PC running 64-bit Windows. Most computers sold these days have 64-bit Windows. Here are five alternatives:

Our apologies to the reader, our information about these different solutions is imperfect at our deadline. We are unsure if restricting sharing between the host machine and the virtual machine might allow JAWS to work better.

Full Screen Mode

MegaDots installation has a key question about operating in a full screen mode. Full screen mode only works on older computers. When you run MegaDots without full screen mode, be aware that you can enlarge the window size to almost fill the screen.

The first time you open MegaDots, the window will be small. Here is the simple solution.

Press Alt-spacebar, and then P, to set the Window Properties. For an XP machine (virtual or real), change the font to MegaDots cleaner braille; otherwise choose Lucida console. For all computers, set the font size to the largest size that works. Press OK. If asked whether to save the changes for future windows, choose Yes.

The main reason this can be a major issue is that MegaDots offers a particularly attractive way of viewing braille dots on the screen that is only available with full screen mode. While we have done our best to improve the viewing of braille dots on the screen without full screen, we can appreciate the effort to use full screen mode.

If you install MegaDots saying you can use the full screen, and in fact MegaDots does not run, you can always re-install answering "No" to the question about full screen mode.

On some computers, the maximum MS-DOS window you can use is too small. TameDOS is an inexpensive software program that helps MS-DOS programs (like MegaDots) to run in a larger window than you can have without the use of TameDOS, and with other enhancements. You can download this program from www.tamedos.com. TameDOS can be run in a virtual machine like the XP Mode of Windows 7 and VM-Lite. When you run TameDOS, you need to right click on the TameDOS title bar, and go to Text Preference, font, to select "MegaDots cleaner braille" as the font to use.

Other Issues

The first time you import a Word file into MegaDots, you are prompted if you want to install the BANA Braille 2010 Word Template. We recommend you do so.

If you use MegaDots with speech, you need to make a change in the control panel to avoid very sluggish speech with JAWS or Window-Eyes (using the Performance button under System, Advanced to favor background services over applications). The details are in Chapter 13 of the User Manual.

MegaDots is an MS-DOS Program with a Windows Installer. You cannot install MegaDots 2.5 on a pure MS-DOS system since it uses a Windows-based installation program. If that is an issue, you can install MegaDots 2.2 on a pure MS-DOS system.

Step by Step: Installing MegaDots 2.5

What the Installation Does

The installation creates a Program Directory (usually c:\mega25) and a work directory (c:\megawork).

The installation creates two icons on the Desktop:

The installation creates or adds to a Duxbury Group from Start Menu, Programs. The Duxbury group has the following icons:

The file extension MEG is registered to MegaDots.

If you have one or more JAWS or Window-Eyes directories, the MegaDots script files or set files are copied into them automatically.

MS-DOS and Windows Issues

When you run MegaDots, you notice that the key shortcuts do not follow Windows standards. For example, to exit MegaDots, type Alt-X. Avoid clicking on the Windows close box, since Windows cannot easily tell MegaDots to shut down. We hope you appreciate the speed and efficiency of MegaDots, and come to learn its commands.

MegaDots was written as an MS-DOS program. It still is an MS-DOS program. The new Windows Installer sets up all the Windows icons and shortcuts for you. When you run the program, it is an MS-DOS program. This means that you cannot use the Windows clipboard to move material in or out of MegaDots (except in the limited way provided by the Windows control menu by pressing Alt-Spacebar E). It also means that inside of MegaDots, you can only use short (8 dot 3) file names to locate files on your computer. We recommend that you copy all files for MegaDots into a single directory using simple 8 dot 3 names (without spaces). So copy an evening with Mr. Lincoln.docx to lincoln.doc. Then import c:\megawork\lincoln.doc into MegaDots.

Chapter 3: Your First Steps

This chapter orients you to MegaDots, with instructions on creating, editing and saving a document. It also explains everything there is to know about getting around MegaDots itself. After you read this chapter, it is essential that you also read Chapter 4: Using Styles, Chapter 5: Your Preferences and Chapter 6: Tutorial.

At this point, if you are using voice, refreshable braille or large print, you should have set MegaDots to work with your particular technology. Also, you should have a working directory where you want to keep your documents. If you have not done either of these, or need help launching MegaDots, follow the instructions in Chapter 2 under the heading Launching MegaDots.

First Impression

Click on one of the desktop icons for MegaDots 2.5. When you launch MegaDots, it takes you directly to the Editor. This is the blank part of the screen where your cursor is blinking, inviting you to type and edit a document. Important document information is shown on the Status Line at the bottom of the screen.

If you are not using access technology, the Main Menu is already visible on the top line of the screen. In either case, press F10 to get into the Main Menu. If you're using voice, refreshable braille, or large print, the Main Menu will appear on the upper left corner of your screen, arranged vertically. The Main Menu reads: File, Edit, Styles, Document, Tools, Preferences, and Help. Each of these choices leads to another menu in MegaDots.

To select any of the menus listed, press the first letter of the name, or use the right and left arrow keys. If you are using a mouse, you may use the mouse cursor to select a menu. Access the File Menu from the Main Menu by pressing F. Do some preliminary exploring of these menus. Move item by item with the Up and Down Arrow keys. Press Escape whenever you get too far or want to back up one level. Arrow to another place in the Main Menu and press <Enter> to enter another menu.

Once you are finished touring the menus, press Control-E, the shortcut which takes you to the Editor from anywhere else in MegaDots. This is the same as pressing Escape enough times to go all the way back to the Editor.

The File, Edit and Styles menus are useful mainly when you are first learning MegaDots. For each item listed, the menu shows you a shortcut for that command. The File Menu shows that the Translate command has the shortcut F5. It is more convenient to press F5 when working on a file than to find your way to the File menu, then the Translate option, and then back to the Editor. These shortcut keystrokes work only from the Editor. For a list of commands that can be used at all times see "The Most Important Keys in MegaDots" on your Command Summary.

The File Menu has commands that create, open, import or export a document, or move between documents. It also has commands to print, translate into braille or inkprint, close, and save your document.

The Edit Menu contains the most common editing functions. Delete, copy or emphasize a portion of your text. Jump To a line or page number. Select an item to put into your document from the Insert sub-menu, which contains all items that cannot be typed in directly on a keyboard. These commands are all described later in this chapter.

The Styles Menu is where you go to find the appropriate style for a paragraph in your document. Each style tells MegaDots how to format a paragraph in both inkprint and braille.

The Styles Menu offers logically arranged lists of styles called style groups. This makes it possible to find the style you need more quickly. Headings are in the Heading Group. Body text and List are in the Body Group. When you don't know what group a style is in, you can use the All Group. Please read Chapter 4 to learn about styles. There is also the Interpret format command, that offers advanced information and control of document format and styles. This feature is discussed in depth in Chapter 7.

The Document Menu lets you customize how MegaDots handles the document you are working on. In its screens you fill out forms to Control how MegaDots translates, formats and prints the document. As described in Chapter 5, you change the standard upon which newly created documents are based by entering the same information in equivalent screens under Preferences, New Document.

The Tools Menu lets you run the more powerful features built into MegaDots such as Find and Replace, Create Table of Contents and the Style Sheet Editor. This is also where you start up the Spell Checker feature.

The Preferences Menu lets you fine tune MegaDots for your own needs. Customize how the MegaDots Editor works, set up your inkprint and braille printers, and make use of Macros. As was noted earlier, this is where the New Document preferences are set. Once you get comfortable in MegaDots, read chapter 5 to set up MegaDots to your individual taste.

The top menu bar Help is labeled Help=F1 to remind you to press F1 at any time for help specific to what you're doing. In the Help Menu itself there is information on general topics. For example, the Interface Guide contains detailed instructions on using MegaDots with braillers and access technology. In addition, the Reference Manual contains hundreds of topics relating to using MegaDots. It is available from the Help Menu or anywhere in MegaDots by pressing F12.

Typing Text

We are now ready to create your first document. We will also explore editing, saving and translating, as well as the basic nature of interaction with MegaDots.

When you begin MegaDots with a fresh document, it starts you off in the Body text style. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are entering text:

MegaDots is designed to make creating documents as easy as possible, with as little formatting work done by you as possible. All you have to do is type, and press <Enter> at the end of each paragraph to specify a paragraph break. All indentation, line spacing, etc. is handled by style choices.

Enter a "Dear Abby" letter, which we will use to practice the editing features. Make sure it has at least four medium sized paragraphs. When you are done, use the Left, Right, Up and Down Arrows to move the cursor to the capital A in Abby. Press the delete key once. This is how you delete a single character. Now type in a capital B and a small o. As you type, watch the new text push the old text over. This is called Insert mode.

To change old text by typing over it with new text, turn off Insert mode by pressing Insert. The Insert key is a toggle, a keystroke which switches a feature on or off. Whenever you use a toggle, the Status Line informs you of the current setting with a short message, such as "Insert off". In addition, when MegaDots is used with speech, two rising tones indicate a mode is switched on, and a flat tone indicates it is switched off. Finally, when there is a top menu bar, MegaDots shows Insert mode is on by displaying an <INS> indicator in the upper right corner.

The Status Line

The bottom line on the screen is the Status Line. It is filled with information relevant to where you are in a MegaDots document. Sometimes it contains a message. If you've been following along exactly, right now it says "Insert off" and you need to press any key, such as Left Arrow, to get the normal Status Line information back.

The first letter (I or B) indicates whether the document is in inkprint or braille. The letter is followed by an asterisk when you have made changes since you last saved this document. Since you have not yet saved your letter, the Status Line shows I*.

The name of the document follows immediately. Right now, the Status Line shows that your document is called untitled.meg, because you haven't named it yet. If you are not using large print or refreshable braille, MegaDots lists the full path name, which prefixes the file name with a drive letter and name of the directory the file is in. Otherwise MegaDots may abbreviate the name to just UNTITLED to save room. You can always get the full path name of a document by pressing Control-W D. When you learn how to open more than one file at a time and cycle through them, the name on the Status Line lets you know what document you're working on.

Save your document right now by pressing F4. This command takes you out of the Editor to ask what you want to call the file when you save it. You have the chance to accept the name untitled.meg by pressing <Enter>. Since this is non-descriptive, type in the name bobby.meg and press <Enter>.

Now that you have saved and returned to the Editor, the asterisk has disappeared, indicating you have saved all of your changes.

In the middle of the status line is the cursor position: first the page number, then the line number, and finally the column number. For example, if you are on page 1, line 3, column 17, it is indicated by "P1 L3 C17". You can also find out the line and column by pressing Control-W L. You can find out the current page number by pressing Control-W P.

The next item on the Status Line indicates the style of the current paragraph. Your Status line should say Body text. Some styles, such as Outline, are hierarchical; MegaDots indents each new level further than the previous level. The hierarchy is shown by a plus sign and a level number. In an outline, the status of a main entry shows as "Outline+1," while the status of a sub-entry shows as "Outline+2." You can also get the style information by pressing Control-W G.

The final item on the Status Line varies in inkprint or braille. In braille the name for the braille cell at the cursor is shown. Inkprint displays the type of emphasis, such as Normal or Boldface. There is no room for this final information if you use refreshable braille with 40 or fewer cells or large print. To get the same information, type Control-W C.

Translation at your Fingertips

Press F5 to translate your text into braille. The different ways braille is displayed on the screen are called braille views. MegaDots chooses an initial braille view that depends on the type of access you use. If you are using access technology, the view you start with is the only one that will work well for you. If you are not using access technology, take a moment to try the five braille views:

If you are using refreshable braille, stay in ASCII. This is the only way your device will display the correct braille. If you use voice access, the default Expanded braille view allows you to read braille as spoken text and still edit cell by cell. In either case, press Up or Down Arrow to read each new line. This is easier than review mode because you don't need to stop at the bottom of the screen. However, since this skips over blank lines and page breaks, it does not divulge the text's formatting. To check the document's layout, go into Cursor Go Everywhere mode with Alt-E. This is similar to review mode except that you're not limited by the top and bottom of the screen. You can put your cursor on any braille cell or position in the text. This is important for proofreading the format but is not needed when you are editing content only. If you use speech synthesis and really want to go into review mode to check each cell, type Control-Z D A first to get the ASCII braille view.

You may have noticed that the Control-Z command that we used to change braille views first brought up the Zippy Menu. The Zippy Menu contains useful shortcuts and is discussed at the end of this chapter.

Remember as you cursor around your braille document that the bottom right of the Status Line shows the name of the braille cell you are on.

Once you find a braille view that you like, you may want to experiment with entering some braille. One method is to use the same characters as ASCII braille uses. For example, type an exclamation point to get the "the" contraction.

The easiest way to enter braille is to press Control-F5. MegaDots pops up a window where you can enter in any inkprint text you like. When you are done, press Enter, and MegaDots translates and inserts the text right into the braille, and highlights it for you so that its easy to read. If you like it, press Control-X to turn off the highlighting, otherwise press Control-D and it is deleted.

Another braille entry method is to use six-key Perkins keyboard entry. For this feature to work, during MegaDots installation you should have answered yes to the six-key Perkins keyboard question. If not, you can rerun the installation program and choose to install six-key keyboard support. Press Alt-Scroll Lock to toggle Perkins entry. If you have a top menu bar, MegaDots should display the number <6> in the upper right corner. Type braille by using the middle row keys S, D, F, J, K and L in combination. To learn more about Perkins entry, or if it doesn't seem to work, see Chapter 21: Troubleshooting. When you are finished with Perkins entry, toggle it off by pressing Alt-Scroll Lock again.

After you have explored enough in braille, press F5 again to return to inkprint.

Marking Text

You're ready to begin editing large bodies of text. Many editing tasks are made easier by using block marking. With it you can delete, duplicate or emphasize an entire area of text at once.

In your "Dear Abby" letter, find a phrase to delete. To mark the block, move your cursor to one end of the phrase and press Control-X. This is like dropping an anchor. When you move your cursor to the other end of the phrase, all the text in between your cursor and the anchor is now marked, or highlighted. To delete the marked text, press Control-D.

Let's italicize the word "Dear". Move your cursor to the beginning of the word and press Control-X. Use the Right Arrow to highlight the word. Control-F puts you in the Markup Text Menu, which can also be reached from the Edit menu (F10 E F). From here you can emphasize your text any way you like. Choose Italics by simply pressing I. This takes you back to the now italicized word "Dear" and turns block marking off.

The method just used is inconvenient if you want to emphasize something new as you type it, instead of correct it afterward. In this situation, press Control-X and start typing. The text becomes highlighted as you continue typing. When you have entered the end of the text you want to emphasize, issue the Control-F command.

When you perform an action on text highlighted with Control-X, MegaDots assumes you are finished and unhighlights it. However, you may want to do something else to the text. For example, you can mark it as both grade one and italics. To do this, mark it using Shift-Control-X. This holds the highlighting on until you press Control-X to turn it off.

Format Markup vs. WYSIWYG

Up to this point you have been using the Editor in the WYSIWYG display. WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get, because it shows how your document will appear on paper. The MegaDots Editor has two more ways of displaying the format of your document: Format Markup and All Markup. We also refer to either of these views as Show Markup. Format Markup displays the text with its internal formatting commands. All Markup is the same as Format Markup, but it shows translation commands too. We'll stick with Format Markup for now.

Use Alt-W to toggle from WYSIWYG into Format Markup. Before the first italicized letter in "Dear" is the Begin Italics markup command. This consists of the letters E and i (Emphasis italics), enclosed by left and right arrows. After the word "Dear" is the End Italics markup command. This is the same except for the backslash in front of the letter E. The markup is consistent for each type of emphasis entered from the Control-F menu. For example, the markup for boldface uses "Eb". If you do not know what a markup command represents, put your cursor on it and press Control-W C. See Supplement 5 for a list of the other markup codes in MegaDots.

You can delete the italics command in Show Markup mode. Move your cursor to the Begin or End Italics command and press Delete. Both markup commands disappear.

This is a good time to talk about the Long lines wrap toggle (Alt-L). When this is on, everything fits on your screen so you can view and edit it all without using any special controls. Usually, with a large print program you have to pan around and with refreshable braille, you have to move left and right. When this feature is on, you don't get the exact WYSIWYG display, but editing is much easier. If you use large print or refreshable braille, Long lines wrap defaults to being on.

Long lines wrap is also useful to any user when the lines of text are longer than the width of the display. This may happen when working with a laser printer or compressed text, for example. Remember that Long lines wrap does not affect the final format of your document, so you can toggle it as much as you need. Before printing your document, you may wish to turn off Long lines wrap so you can check the format, as page breaks and page numbers may be different.

The Clipboard

Another important feature of block marking is the ability to move text from one location to another. This is useful when you want to rearrange or repeat text, or bring things together from several places. You can even move blocks of text from other documents. Here are the commands to transfer text from one place to another.

Highlight one of the paragraphs in your letter with the Control-X command. Put the end of the highlight at the beginning of the next paragraph. This includes the end of paragraph <Enter>, displayed as an underlined less than sign (<=) if you are in Show markup mode (Alt-W toggle).

Control-K (Kut) cuts and deletes the block from the current position and moves it to the clipboard, which acts as temporary storage for text. Once the block is in the clipboard, move the cursor where you want to put the text and press Control-P to paste in the block. Use Control-P to paste it in as many times as you want -- there is no limit.

If you want to duplicate some text, use Control-C to copy it into the clipboard. The highlighted text stays where it is and also goes into the clipboard.

When you Kut or Copy text into the clipboard with Control-K or Control-C it replaces what was clipboarded before. If you want to keep what was in the clipboard and add more to it, use Alt-K (Append-Kut) or Alt-C (Append-Copy) instead.

More Editing Shortcuts

Now that you have learned basic editing, you are ready to learn the shortcuts. Some editing commands are called MegaDots Verbs, because they perform an action only when you give them text on which to perform it. The following commands are Verbs: Copy, Delete, Format, Jump to, Kut, Trans, Voice and Where Am I.

If you call on a Verb command while highlighting text, it works on the highlighted area. Otherwise, MegaDots asks you what to do.

For example, press Control-D. MegaDots asks "Delete what?" and gives you the Object Menu: Character, Word, Fragment, Line, Sentence, paraGraph, Page, Heading area or Document. If you select paraGraph, for example, MegaDots will delete from your cursor to the end of the paragraph. This is often more convenient than highlighting the text first. Remember that G is for paraGraph, and P is for Page (P is bigger than G). If you need help with any of the Object types, put your cursor on the Object type and press F1.

Another example is putting a word in Boldface. Instead of using Control-X, it is much faster to type Control-F W B for Format Word Boldface.

Another handy shortcut is to use Control-Delete, instead of Control-D W to delete a word. In addition, Control-Backspace deletes to the beginning of a word, which is easier than using Backspace to delete characters when retyping an entire word.

Going New Places

You have learned how to move around your document with the four arrow keys. Take some time to play with these even faster ways to move your cursor:

Use Control-Home to go to the top of your document. Now we can test the find command. Type F9 and enter a word or phrase that occurs in your text. MegaDots will stop when it finds this text and report back "Found". Press Control-N to find the next occurrence, or Control-L to find the last occurrence. Press F9 again when you want to define a new search. Find and Replace is one of the most powerful features in MegaDots. To make the most of it, read about Complex Find and Replace in Chapter 12. An example of using Complex Find and Replace is to ask MegaDots to search for all paragraphs marked as a Heading that begin with "Chapter".

The Jump To command is another MegaDots Verb. Use it to move to an exact place within your document. For example, Control-J P lets you specify a page number to jump to. You may want to write down line numbers of important places in your documents; you can use Control-J L (Jump To Line) to go straight there. Finally, Control-J G brings up a list of paragraphs and their styles that are in your document. You can browse it and press Escape to go back to where you were, or press <Enter> on a paragraph you actually want to move to.

Another quick way of navigating your document is Bookmarks (Alt-J). Bookmarks allow you to "tag" specific locations in your document, and return to these locations at any time with a few keystrokes. See Chapter 18 for more information on Bookmarks and other efficiency tips.

The User Interface

MegaDots has a consistent user interface designed to be friendly to all users. The purpose of this section is to give detailed information about how to navigate through MegaDots, such as which keys apply to what screens. To some users, this is a very natural process. However, if you just jump in and use the program, you may miss some valuable features and shortcuts. If you are planning to train others in MegaDots, please read this section carefully.

Consistent Screens

The needs of sighted and blind users diverge when it comes to the screen layout. To sighted persons, overlapping windows have an "intuitive" appearance. To a blind person, reading only what's inside of the most recently opened window can be a major struggle.

If you are using access technology, the window you are working on is always in the upper left corner of the screen and all decorative extras and other windows are completely hidden from view. The name of a window is always on line 1, line 2 is blank, and the information starts on line 3. If you are using voice access, Control-V will read the entire contents of a window.

Every window in MegaDots falls into one of the following categories: help, menu, list, user list, form, and quick form. The following keys are used in every window:

If you get lost or need help

In any window in MegaDots you can press F7 to print or braille everything in that window. To quickly find out where you are, press Control-W. Control-W anywhere in MegaDots gives you orientation information. If you are using voice, pressing Control-V will read the contents of the window.

To get help on what you're looking at, press F1. The help may be several screens long, so scroll down until you see "Press Escape to end message". This is the last line. As always, pressing Escape takes you back to where you were before.

If you are really lost press F1 again, from the first help screen. The second help screen gives you generic information about the kind of window you are dealing with: how to navigate through the window, make changes, save your work, etc.

Help on general topics, such as where to go for more information, is in the Help Menu (F10 H).

Remember that pressing Control-E will always bring you back to the Editor, and Alt-X takes you right to the Exit menu.


Here are some keys to use in Menus:

Sometimes there is a shortcut "hotkey" available for an item on the menu that allows it to be used from the Editor. If there is, it is listed next to the item. In addition, the greater than symbol > indicates choosing this will bring up a submenu. Ellipses (...) indicate information will be requested from the user.

Several MegaDots menus are essential. One is the Alt-X Exit Menu, which contains three choices: Yes, exit now; No, return to Editor; and Save, then exit. It warns you how many documents will lose their changes if not saved. On a color screen this is like a traffic light: green means it is safe to exit, red means stop and check.

The Insert Menu, which you can get by pressing Control-Insert, contains items such as page breaks, guide dots and special characters. Finally, the Control-Z Zippy menu switches between different Editor views, and is the quickest route to layout Control.


Here are some keys to use in Lists:

A list is similar to a menu, except the list of choices may not all fit on the screen at once. Lists are also alphabetized.

Lists allow for "incremental search." To try this, press Alt-B, the hotkey for pulling up the Body Styles list. As you type in each letter, the highlight moves to the next style that begins with what you have typed so far. To select the style Letterhead, type in just LET. Typing in just L or LE puts you on Left flush, because it comes before Letterhead.

Whether you use the Arrows or incremental search, press <Enter> to select the item.

A very important list in MegaDots is the on-line Reference Manual. Press F12 to pull up the list of topics. Browse through the list or go directly to an item by using incremental search. Entries contain definitions, step by step instructions, and pointers to more information. For example, to learn about accented letters in MegaDots type ACCENTED <Enter>.


Here are some keys to use in Forms:

A form is a window with multiple questions, or fields. Answering them correctly is important, because this is how you change the way MegaDots behaves.

When you press F9, an alphabetized vertical list of all the form's questions appears. Because this is like any list in MegaDots, you can arrow around or type the first letters of the name of the field you want in order to find that selection. Now press <Enter> to move there in the form.

When you move to the question you want, you can press F2 to choose from a list of possible answers. If you still don't know what to do press F1 for help. Sometimes when a question asks for a number there are too many choices to have a list of them. Enter the information manually by just typing it in and pressing <Enter>. If you press <Enter> before typing the answer, the cursor will move into the information and you can edit it. When you press <Enter> to accept an answer, you are automatically moved to the next field.

To accept all the changes you have made in a form, you must press F10. To cancel changes in a form, press Escape or the right mouse button.

Quick Forms

Here are some keys to use in Quick Forms:

A quick form is a form with a single question that must be answered for MegaDots to perform a command. For example, when you press F3 to Open/import, MegaDots asks for the name of the document. If you give it a valid file name, MegaDots brings up the document. Press Escape to cancel the operation.

User Lists

Here are some keys to use in User Lists:

A User List is a List that you can change and add things to. For example, you can add to your list of Braille Devices under the Preferences Menu. When you do that you must also supply information on your specific brailler. You probably haven't gotten this far. You set up your brailler in Chapter 5: Your Preferences.

Selecting an item in a User list is different than in a list, because you can change the information associated with that item, such as the Carriage Width for a brailler.

This information is presented in a MegaDots Form. Once the information in it is completely correct, you press F10 to accept it. However, you must also press F10 in the User List itself to keep any of these changes.

Working with the Mouse

For sighted users, a mouse makes it easier to move through menus. The left mouse button lets you select an item from a menu. The right mouse button acts like an Escape Key, closing any window.

In the Editor you can click anywhere in the text to move the cursor there. Clicking and holding the mouse somewhere on the window border scrolls the text in that direction.

Mark a block by clicking and dragging the mouse. To mark more text than is on the screen, keep dragging until you get to the top or bottom of the Editor's window border, so MegaDots continues in that direction.

Once you mark a block, pull down the Edit Menu and click on Format. Your block is still highlighted, and with a click in this menu you can choose to mark it as italics, underlined or anything you desire. Cancel the command by pressing the right mouse button.

To end a highlight and return to normal editing, click anywhere in the text.

Many windows have reminders on the bottom telling you the keystrokes available, such as F1=help, F10=Done, etc. These are actually buttons you can click on to save time.

Voice-Only Commands

MegaDots contains special features for users who rely on speech output. The Control-W Verb Where Am I, which is useful to any MegaDots user, is especially handy with voice.

Another MegaDots Verb, Control-V (Voice), is useful only with voice access. Outside of the Editor, Control-V reads the contents of any window. Inside the Editor, Control-V brings up the Voice What? Menu. Press Control-V G to hear the current paragraph, or Control-V D to read to the end of the document.

Reading stops when you press any key. For many speech output users, stopping the speech leaves the cursor at what was just heard. If this works for you, the speech may sound somewhat jerky.

Control-V even reads braille as if it were print, something screen reading software does not do. Use Control-V L when you need to know how the braille lines divide, without having to decode ASCII braille.

Chapter 4: Styles and Other Fundamental Concepts

What are styles?

Each paragraph in a MegaDots document has exactly one style. A style is a label which designates all aspects of both the inkprint and braille formats for the entire paragraph. The style remains the same throughout a paragraph.

Most word processors do not require the use of styles. Instead, the user issues detailed formatting commands, such as "center this text", or "use the Helvetica font". This approach lets you fashion your inkprint how you want it to look. There is a rich variety of inkprint formats. For example, a top level inkprint heading may be boldface or normal, centered or left justified. In contrast, braille has very strict formatting.

An increasing trend in word processing is to use styles. Styles create consistently formatted text. MegaDots uses one style for each paragraph because in braille, each paragraph's format is patterned after a clear and distinct model. For example, a braille Heading level 1 is always centered, has a blank line above it, and can never be on the last line of the page.

Styles take care of the details of braille format. Once they are applied, MegaDots also creates consistent, well-formatted print and large print.

Using Styles

You can label a paragraph with a style from anywhere within the paragraph. Label several paragraphs at once by highlighting them with Control-X. Then press Alt-A to pick the style you want from a list of all available MegaDots styles. To get a description of a style, press F1 (help) on that style in the list. Each style on the list has an intuitive name that describes how the paragraph is used. For example, the most commonly used styles in MegaDots are Heading level 1, Body text and List.

To learn the basics of using these styles, we'll format a recipe for apple cake. Press F3 to open a document. MegaDots asks you what document you are going to open. Type C:\mega25\practice.meg <Enter> to load the file called practice.meg from the MegaDots directory.

Now we're in the Editor, at the beginning of the document where it says "Stina's apple cake". If you're not in Format Markup now, press Alt-W to toggle it on. It's easier to check and set styles when you're in Format Markup, because the end of each paragraph is clearly marked. Also, if you use voice, when you move to a paragraph with a different style, the new style is voiced.

Look on the Status Line or press Control-W G to find out what style the paragraph "Stina's apple cake" is. Right now it is Left flush, and we want to change it to Heading level 1.

Press Alt-A to pick the style. The first style on the list is Heading level 1. To accept this, press <Enter>. You are returned to the Editor where you see that "Stina's apple cake" is now centered with a blank line below it. If you look at the Status Line or press Control-W G, you will find the style is now Heading level 1. This is correct, so we'll move on to the list of ingredients.

Notice that each ingredient is its own paragraph, now labelled Left flush. The correct style for this list of ingredients is List. Press Alt-Down Arrow (move by paragraph) to move to the first item of the ingredients list. Now press Control-X to begin highlighting. Highlight down to the last ingredient. Don't go past the last ingredient's end of paragraph mark, or you'll effect the next paragraph as well. Press Alt-A to pick a style. Now type LI to move to the List style quickly and press <Enter> to select it.

The list is now formatted correctly. Paragraphs with more than one line have become outdented. This means that subsequent lines after the first are moved over to show they are part of the same paragraph.

In addition, MegaDots puts a blank line to show transition before the first item of a list and after the last. This brings up an important point. The styles automatically put blank lines where they belong. There are very few occasions in MegaDots where it is appropriate to enter blank lines by creating empty paragraphs. One occasion to create an empty paragraph is if there are two lists in a row, and the second one has no heading. Insert an extra <Enter> where the blank line should be. Be careful when you put empty paragraphs in your document; you do not want braille with extra blank lines.

Style Groups Make it Easier

Because the list of all styles is quite long, pressing Alt-A is a cumbersome way to select a style. MegaDots provides an easier way by dividing styles into eight logical categories, called style groups.

Most of the styles you will use are in the Body group (Alt-B). In our practice document practice.meg, the baking instructions need to be changed to Body text. Highlight all the instructions and press Alt-B <Enter> to select Body text from the Body group.

When you choose Styles from the Main Menu, you get the alphabetical list of style groups:

Some of the style groups are self explanatory if you explore them. To learn more about a style group, press F1 on that selection in the menu. In addition, you can press F1 to learn about an individual style when you are in a list of styles.

Hierarchical Styles

Some styles have sub-levels to a main level, or hierarchies. Some important examples are Outline, Poetry and Index. We'll enter a practice outline to learn how to set the levels. Start a new paragraph, and press Alt-B O to set the style to Outline.

Right now, if you query MegaDots for the style name, it reports Outline +1, because everything is on the main level. For this main level, type "I. The reasons I like Apple Cake" <Enter>.

Now you're ready to enter the second level of the outline. Press Alt-Right Arrow. Each successive Alt-Right Arrow moves us down another level to Outline +2, Outline +3, etc. Alt-Left Arrow moves us back up a level. Move to Outline +2 now, and type "A. It's so tasty" <Enter>.

Finally, let's enter a third level. This time we'll enter the text before setting the level. Type "1. Appley yummy" <Enter> "2. Sweet to my tummy". Now highlight the two items with Control-X and press Alt-3 to jump straight to the third level. Pressing Alt-digit in this fashion is a shortcut that moves right to the level you want. You now have an outline with three levels.

Importing a Document

When you import a document, MegaDots guesses what the style of each paragraph should be, and sometimes guesses incorrectly. Blank lines in the original document help MegaDots guess the styles but are removed in the conversion to MegaDots. When paragraphs are labelled with the correct styles, blank lines are put in appropriate places.

After you import a document, press Alt-I to learn more about the styles that MegaDots has assigned. You can use this screen as a means of just learning about your file, or you can use it to further manipulate the file. You can disallow the use of certain styles and then ask MegaDots to re-import the file.

From the Editor, you can spot incorrect styles by paging through and checking out any strangely formatted paragraphs. The Status Line always shows the style of the current paragraph. If you are using voice or refreshable braille, you can also review the current style by pressing Control-W G (Where Am I - Paragraph).

The most convenient way to check styles for voice users is to simply go into Format Markup view by pressing Alt-W. This enables MegaDots to voice style changes between paragraphs.

If you are using refreshable braille, checking styles is made easier by a markup view called Style Changes in Text. Normally, pressing Alt-W simply brings up Format Markup, but in refreshable braille, Style Changes is the default markup mode. It shows style transitions as commands right inside the text. Other users can access this feature from the Zippy menu by pressing Control-Z M S. Wherever there is a change of styles in the text, an extra line is shown on the screen which tells what the next style is. For example, when a Heading level 1 goes to Body text, there is an extra line in between the two paragraphs that says "Style = Body text". This prevents users from having to constantly review the Status line or press Control-W G.

You can also browse through all the styles used in your document with Control-J G. The browsing feature is quite powerful. When you are in this screen, you can actually use the same Alt commands to change styles and hierarchy levels as in the Editor. In addition, pressing Tab makes the current paragraph have the same style as the previous paragraph. To view only headings, press the space bar. This shows a basic outline of your document. Press space bar to move back to all paragraphs. From either view, you can press Enter to move to that paragraph in the document, or Escape to move back where you started.

Using a Different Style Sheet

A style sheet is a collection of styles and rules for page layout designed to create a particular kind of document. You can create different types of documents by just changing the style sheet. Each style sheet instructs MegaDots to format the text in inkprint and braille a little differently.

Style sheet selection is in the Document menu. Here are the style sheets that are currently shipped with MegaDots:

Most work in North America requires LITERARY or TEXTBK. Virtually everything in the United Kingdom uses BRITUP. When writing a braille letter, you may consider using NONUMS if braille page numbers are not needed.

All of the style sheets include a standard set of styles. You can change what each heading level means with Headings setup under the Document menu. This is explained more in Chapter 6: Tutorial.

You can also change the meanings of other styles and create new style sheets with the Style Sheet Editor, as explained in Supplement 4. However, MegaDots' styles have been planned very carefully, and there is usually no reason to change them.

Chapter 5: Your Preferences

If you are a beginner, use this chapter to set up your Braille devices and Inkprint devices, and then see Chapter 6 for the Tutorial. Come back and use the rest of this chapter when you're ready to explore more of MegaDots and its options.

Use "S" to Save Your Preferences

If you only learn one thing about Preferences in this chapter, it is that you need to explicitly save your preferences in MegaDots. If you like a change you have made, after pressing F10 you must still press S to Save your preferences, and then enter for the filename prompt. If you do not do that, your changes only last during your current session with MegaDots.

Inkprint and Braille Devices

From the Editor, press F10 P to get to the Preferences Menu. In the Preferences menu and the Preferences forms you will be filling out, pressing the F1 Help key at any point provides guidance as you go through the process of setting preferences. When you're setting a particular item in one of the information fields, pressing F2 lists any appropriate choices available.

Inkprint Devices

Before you can print a document, you must tell MegaDots what kind of ink printer you will be using and how it is setup and connected to your computer. Press I from the Preferences Menu so that you can enter information about your Inkprint printer.

The Inkprint Devices User List screen contains a list of all the ink printers that you have setup for use in MegaDots. If this is your first entry in the list, MegaDots will alert you and automatically prompt you to insert a new device by displaying the Printer manufacturers list. If there are printers already in the Inkprint Devices User List, either press F10 to accept the current printers list or press Insert to insert a new printer into the list.

From the Printer manufacturers list, select your printer's manufacturer. A list of the selected manufacturer's printer models will appear in the Inkprint printers list. Select the model type of your printer.

If you can't find your exact model type, consult your printer's documentation to find what other types of printers your printer can emulate, or mimic. Press Escape to exit the current Inkprint printers list, then try to setup one of the models that your printer can emulate. See the next section in this chapter (Compatible Inkprint printers ...).

Once you have selected an inkprint device, you will be presented with the Setup an Inkprint Device window. This window allows you to modify how MegaDots communicates with your printer. If you wish to know what a setup field does, or if you need help in setting the value of a field, move your cursor to that field and press F1 to access the specific help screen for that item.

Compatible Inkprint Printers (HP and Others)

Not all inkprint printers are compatible with MegaDots. Often the most inexpensive inkprint printers are not compatible with MegaDots. The printers that are most likely to be compatible with MegaDots are those that support PCL 5, PCL 5c, PCL 5e or Postscript. PCL stands for Printer Control Language. Often you can find this information on your printer manufacturer's web page by looking up "emulations" or "printer languages."

If you are choosing an inkjet printer for use with MegaDots, note that quite a few HP printers are compatible in the DeskJet, OfficeJet, Business Inkjet, Photosmart, and Color Inkjet product lines. Many of these printers (with some exceptions noted below) support text printing from DOS applications like MegaDots. The best font support among inkjet printers can be found in the few HP models that have scalable typefaces built into their firmware. These include: the HP DeskJet 850, 855, 870, 890 (but not 895), 1100, and 1120 series; the HP OfficeJet 1150, 1170, and 1175 series; and the HP Business Inkjet 2250, 2280, 2600, and 3000 series. Other DeskJet, OfficeJet, Business Inkjet, and Color Inkjet models, and most PhotoSmart printers, have a limited range of bitmap font sizes built into their firmware. For basic monochrome laser printing from MegaDots, the HP LaserJet 1150 or 1160 should be adequate. Models numbered 1300 or higher are more expensive but give better performance.

Avoid the following HP inkjet printers, which are Windows-only printers. Don't try to use them with MegaDots: the HP PSC-1200, 1210, 1315, and 1350 series printers; the HP DeskJet 710, 712, 720, 820, 1000, 3250, 3320, 3325, 3420, 3520, 3550, 3650, 3740, 3745, 3840, 3843, and 3845 series printers; the HP OfficeJet 4110, 4215, and 5510 printers; and the original HP PhotoSmart Printer (with no model number).

In the HP LaserJet category, most printers are compatible with MegaDots. However, avoid the HP LaserJet 1000, 1005, 1010, 1012, 3100, and 3150 series, and avoid the HP Color LaserJet 1500, 2600, 3500, and 3550 series.

There are 5 protocols for driving printers that are widely supported. These are PCL 5, PCL 4, PCL 3, Postscript, and the Cannon BJC600 family.

Inkprint Devices Connection Port: COM1, LPT1, or MegaPrn

The Connection Port prompt can be frustrating. The choice of COM1 (serial port) and LPT1 (parallel port) are not used very much on modern computers. The choice MPRN is your link to your inkprint printer on most modern computers.

When you print to a printer set up with a Connection port of MegaPrn, you get a dialog box from the MegaPrn program listing your Windows printers, from which you select the desired Windows printer. The MegaPrn program is a simple printing engine which directs your output to the Windows printer that you select.

The MegaPrn choice is also available in setting the Connection port for a braille device. MegaPrn is also available for use as a stand-alone program to a direct a printer-ready file or a brailler-ready file to the printer or brailler of your choice. MegaPrn is preferred over Embossit 3.0 (see below) when the braille contains graphics.

To reset the parameters in MegaPrn, go to the MS-DOS prompt, go to the MegaDots directory (usually c:\mega25), and then type MegaPrn. This action clears the registry entries containing the defaults, so you can reset them the next time you use MegaPrn from within MegaDots.

Finishing the Inkprint Printer Setup Process

After you have finished setting up a new inkprint printer, press F10 twice to save the setup information. MegaDots will ask you if you wish to make the new printer the default inkprint printer for all new documents. If you answer yes, the new printer will be set as the default inkprint printer (the default inkprint printer can be changed under Preferences - New Document - Inkprint Document Setup). All new documents that you create in MegaDots will automatically use your default inkprint printer. If you don't set a default inkprint printer for new documents, then all new documents will default to the generic inkprint type.

As with other preference changes, your changes are not saved for future MegaDots sessions unless you use the Preferences menu's Save preferences option and specify a .env filename for your preferences file.

Braille Devices with Embossit 3.0

MegaDots 2.5 has built into it a program called Embossit 3.0. Embossit 3.0 is the embossing engine used in Duxbury DBT 10.7. It is an especially good tool for working with embossers that require special handling. These include the Tiger embossers, the Ohtsuki, the Gemini, and the Dot 'n Print. You can use Embossit 3.0 to produce braille from MegaDots to any embosser hooked up to your Windows network.

Warning: do not use Embossit 3.0 for files that contain graphics. Embossit cannot handle graphics data. If you have files using graphics, use the MegaPrn method described above.

To use Embossit 3.0, you need to set up a configuration within Embossit first. Use the Start Menu, Programs, Duxbury, Embossit 3.0. The instructions in the Embossit Helpfile describe setting up your Windows Printer, your Embossit configuration, and your MegaDots embosser configuration.

When you set up your embosser Preferences in MegaDots, you need only three things:

Braille Devices without Embossit 3.0

Before you begin brailling, you must tell MegaDots what kind of embosser you will be using and how your embosser is setup and connected to your computer. MegaDots keeps a list of your embossers in the Braille Devices User List, which is accessed from the Editor by pressing F10 P B (just B from the Preferences Menu).

If this is your first entry in the list, MegaDots will automatically ask you to install a new device, and display the Braille Embossers List. (If there are embossers already in the Braille Devices User List, press <Insert> to insert a new embosser into the list.) From the Braille Embossers List, select your embosser model.

Once you have selected a braille device, you will be presented with the Setup a Braille Device window. This window allows you to modify how MegaDots communicates with your embosser, and how your braille formatting is affected by the embosser. If you wish to know what a setup field does, or if you need help in setting the value of a field, move your cursor to that field and press F1 to access the specific help screen for that item.

After you have finished setting up a new embosser, press F10 twice to save the setup information. MegaDots will ask you if you wish to make the new embosser the default embosser for all new documents. If you answer yes, the new embosser will be set as the default embosser (the default embosser can be changed under Preferences - New Document - Braille Document Setup). All new documents that you create in MegaDots will automatically use your default embosser. If you don't set a default embosser for new documents, then all new documents will default to the generic embosser type. After you've answered these questions, MegaDots automatically saves your preferences.

Note: If you regularly use more than one embosser or share files with other MegaDots users, you may wish to unset the default embosser for new documents. You must also make sure that each of your already existing MegaDots files have no embosser set. Doing this will make your files "generic" files which are embosser independent.

Other Preferences

Following is an explanation of the rest of MegaDots' preferences. It is important that you go over this information at some point, but if you have not read the Chapter 6 tutorial yet, we recommend you do that first.

After you have changed your preferences, you must use the Save Preferences option to save your preferences to a file. If you do not save your preferences, they will not be there the next time you use MegaDots.

As mentioned earlier, the default filename for preferences is environ.env. When you start MegaDots, the software automatically loads the preferences in the environ.env preferences file.

When MegaDots asks you for a filename for saving your preferences, just press <Enter> to accept the default name, or enter a different filename with the extension .env. Why would you create a different preferences file? You can save different preference files for different people, or for different types of documents. You can load different preferences files either from the Preferences Menu or from the DOS command line when you start MegaDots. To start MegaDots with the preferences file silly.env, type mega /esilly <Enter>. Notice that there is no space between the /e and the name silly.

Blind-Friendly Editor Preferences

When MegaDots is shipped, the default preference settings are designed for sighted persons. However, it is easy to change MegaDots from a sighted-oriented program to a program tailored for use with voice output, large print screen display, or refreshable braille display. For more detailed information about using access technology in MegaDots, see Launching MegaDots in Chapter 2, and see Chapter 13 (Access Technology). Also, please make use of the online help available by pressing the F1 key on each field of the Editor Preferences. There is a wealth of information available in these help screens that is updated faster than the MegaDots manual.

Editor Preferences

From the Editor, press F10 P E to go into the Editor Preferences. For further details on these prompts, make use of the help key (F1) on the individual prompts.

Perkins Keyboard Entry

MegaDots allows for a regular full ASCII keyboard or a Perkins-style braille keyboard. This preference controls when the Perkins keyboard turns on automatically. You have the choice of Always, Braille, Editor, and Never. Always means at all times, even in menus. Braille means when you are dealing with a braille document, Editor means any time you are in the Editor, and Never means that Perkins-style keyboard will be invoked only when you specifically turn it on. MegaDots always lets you switch between regular and Perkins-style keyboard modes manually by pressing Alt-Scroll Lock at any point in the program.

In order to work, the braille keyboard software needs a compatible keyboard. See the help screen of this field for the details of what to do if the braille keyboard is not working.

Auto Correct Braille

Auto Correct Braille improves your braille data entry by using the full power of the MegaDots braille translators. If you use this feature, it only works when you are dealing with a braille document. The choices are N for No, B for Braille entry, and I for Inkprint entry. N means no auto correction (this is the default). B means that your data entry is in braille. MegaDots takes your data entry and does a back translation and then a forward translation into braille again to locate and fix any braille errors. I means that your data entry is in inkprint. MegaDots takes your data entry and does a forward translation into braille to minimize any braille errors. Experiment with this feature. It is very impressive when it instantly changes the braille on a character by character basis.

Braille View Mode

This option specifies your preferred on screen braille viewing mode. The choices are Big Dots (large braille dot patterns), Dots (smaller dot patterns), ASCII (uses the standard set of ASCII characters to represent braille characters), Expanded (each line of braille is back translated into inkprint except for the line containing the cursor), and Special Font (a unique font designed to clarify the braille contractions).

There is also a shortcut to setting the Braille View mode, outside of the Preferences Menu. In the Editor, just press Control-Z D.

Experienced braille transcribers may prefer Big Dots or Dots. Persons inexperienced with braille may prefer the Special font or the Expanded display. Blind users and the more computer oriented prefer the ASCII or the Expanded display. The Expanded display is designed to allow a blind user with speech to quickly examine the layout of a braille document without their voice synthesizer trying to pronounce ASCII braille. The Big Dots, Dots, and Special font modes require EGA or VGA graphics.

If you answered no to the installation question about using the full screen, then your only real choice is between dots, ASCII, and Expanded.

Braille shadow dots

The Braille shadow dots setting controls the appearance of the Big Dots on the screen. It has no effect if your Braille view is not set to Big dots. With Big dots, you have a choice of Heavy, Light, or No shadow dots. However, remember that "Big Dots" is not available to you if you answered no to the installation question about using the full screen. If you answered no to that question, MegaDots uses the "MegaDots cleaner braille" font to show braille dots. On a 32 bit Vista or Windows 7 system, and answer "Braille shadow dots" question with "H" for "Heavy", then you get shadow dots even with the special font.

Voice synthesis

Answer Yes if you are using voice output. MegaDots forces your screen reader to say certain prompts if it knows you are using voice output for access.

Refreshable braille

Answer Yes if you are using a refreshable braille device. This choice allows MegaDots to output prompts and help screens in braille.

Simple Windows

Answer this question Y if you are using screen access technology (i.e. you cannot read the standard screen). The Simple Windows setting blanks out the rest of the screen when a window pops up. Answer this question N if you are not using screen access technology to use your computer.

Unframed text window

This question changes the appearance of the main editing window in MegaDots. Answer this question N for a sighted-oriented screen layout: top line menu bar and a frame around the editing area. Answer this question Y if you would like to clear the screen of these distractions. In Unframed mode, the MegaDots program resembles the WordPerfect editing screen in which lines 1-24 are available for editing, with a bottom status line.

Audio cues

This prompt controls the degree to which MegaDots uses sound cues or uses verbal or braille messages.

Cursor go everywhere

This just sets the default value. You can switch at any point with Alt-E. Use "cursor go everywhere" if you are using access technology and you are reading a file for format. "Cursor go everywhere" lets your cursor land on blank lines (and other places where no text can be placed). This makes it easier for a blind user to know where the blank lines are.

Large Print Program

Answer Yes if you are using an external large print program such as ZoomText or LP-DOS.

Long Lines Wrap

This just sets the default value. You can switch at any point with Alt-L. Long Lines Wrap formats the text to fit on your screen regardless of your output device, so please remember that this mode does not accurately reflect the final format of your document. Use "long lines wrap mode" if your output device has a wider carriage width than the screen display. For example, if your printing device has a carriage width of about 50 characters, and your screen display (large print) shows only 40 characters, you should use long lines wrap.

Limit screen columns

If you are using a large print program or a refreshable braille device, give the maximum display width. This value is automatically set by the /a2 through /a5 command line codes. It is set to 40 by /ar. If your refreshable braille display does not have 40 cells, then change this value.

Limit screen rows

If you are using a large print program, give the maximum display height. This value is automatically set by the /a2 through /a5 command line codes.

Turn colors off

If you answer Yes, MegaDots goes into monochrome mode. This feature should be used if you have difficulty making out the letters on the screen because they blend into the background. This can be a problem with some older LCD laptop screens and monitors.

Text size

This gives the size of the characters on the screen. Use N for normal (80 characters across, with 35 rows), S for 43 or 50 rows of text, L for MegaDots large print program, T for tall characters, and W for wide. Use C rather than N to view an entire page of braille on the screen at one time in the ASCII, dots, or special fonts. This is the preferred choice for sighted braille transcribers. Do not use the Large, Tall, or Wide character sizes when you are using a large print program such as ZoomText or LP-DOS.

Markup view Mode

This just sets the default value. This choice displays formatting commands with your text. Set your preference for the method used when you first enter MegaDots: N for No markup (WYSIWYG), F for format markup and A for All format and translation markup. Format markup is just like show codes in Word. Alt-W toggles between WYSIWYG and either Format markup or All Format depending on which you last used. You can also use the Control-Z Zippy Menu to change the markup view mode.

Proofreading cursor

A proofreading cursor turns the line containing the cursor bright green. This is highly useful for proofreading purposes (especially for braille transcribers). You can also toggle this on and off with control-Z P from the Editor.

Big Cursor

This creates a larger cursor in and out of MegaDots. This is recommended for users with laptops, who may have difficulty locating the cursor. Another way to quickly visually locate the cursor is to press the ESC key in the editor. The cursor will flash and grow in size for a second, then return to normal.

Advanced Features

Auto Save

If you use the feature, MegaDots automatically saves your work after the specified time has passed. This protects you from ever losing more than a few minutes work in the event of a system failure. The automatically saved files have an extension of .SAV.

Auto Backup

If you use this feature, MegaDots makes a backup copy of your previous copy every time you save to an existing file. This protects you in case you accidentally save bad data over good. The backed up files have an extension of .BAK.

Expert User

If you answer this question "yes", you lose the verbal prompt of the name of the new screen you are starting.

Transcriber View

When the Transcriber View Mode is on, then the inkprint uses the same indent, runover, and blank lines as the braille. It also shows transcriber's notes. The Transcriber View does not use the dimensions of a braille page.

Default Directories

This option is used if a file operation (load or save MegaDots file, import or export a file, etc.) usually happens in only one directory. By specifying a default directory, you can simplify file operations since you do not have to specify the directory name. This feature is designed to make file operations easier on a computer network.

Macro Key Usage

A macro is a sequence of keystrokes (text and/or commands) which can be executed in one stroke. For example you could define one macro command to insert a new print page indicator and then execute three Page Down commands. To create a macro, press Alt-M from the MegaDots Editor. For a full description of macros, see the help screen under macros in the Preferences Menu.

New Document Preferences

You can save yourself a lot of work by entering all your default settings in the New Document Preferences screens. For example, if you are producing many documents in textbook format, it gets tiresome to go to the Document Menu to set the Style Sheet to TEXTBK97 for every document. Instead, you can set the default style sheet for all new documents to be TEXTBK97 by using the New Document screens in the Preferences Menu. If you need to prepare one document in literary format, then you can select the LITERARY style sheet in the Document Menu for that document. In the United Kingdom, the default for new documents should be the BRITUP style sheet.

New Document - Translation Menu

This menu lets you control key elements of braille translation. For example, you can specify how the many forms of inkprint emphasis are to be represented in the braille.

New Document - Braille Document Menu

This menu controls which embosser is used as a model for formatting braille documents. This menu also lets you specify some obscure aspects of braille layout: Do you want to suppress even page numbers? Do you want fold lines on the braille page (i.e., are you going to mail a braille letter in a conventional envelope?). How do you want tables formatted if they do not fit in the line-for-line format? To learn more about these issues, go into this menu and explore the help screens.

New Document - Inkprint Document Menu

This menu controls which inkprint printer is used as a model for formatting inkprint documents. This menu lets you specify some aspects of inkprint layout. Do you want large print output? Do you want spaces underlined? Do you want orphan or widow control? Again, you can use the help screens to learn about these issues.

New Document - Heading Preferences

This menu system lets you adjust all the aspects of inkprint and braille headings without having to change the styles that the headings are based on.

Load Preferences

The load preferences option lets you switch to a different preferences file. You can have many preferences files if you choose. Different users or different kinds of projects may require different preferences files.

Save Preferences

The save preferences option allows you to save your preferences in a file with a .env extension. You can switch preference files by using the load preferences option. You can also use the /e switch when you start MegaDots to specify which preferences file you want to use in your current session with MegaDots. See Chapter 19 for more details.

Point of Confusion: the Different Places You Can Indicate The Output Device

There are four separate places in the MegaDots menus that specify output devices. We will discuss all four.

Braille or Inkprint Device Preferences

You can describe your output device in the Braille devices Preferences or the Inkprint devices Preferences. This gives MegaDots custom information, such as carriage width and output port, about particular devices. This information is built into the preferences file, and is not part of each document. To really make a device be the default, you also have to change the New Document Preferences.

New Document Preferences (Braille document or Inkprint document)

In the Braille Document Screen in the New Document Preferences, you specify which braille device is your default to use for formatting. When MegaDots asked you Make the Braille Blazer the default brailler for all new documents? and you answered Yes, then MegaDots automatically inserted Braille Blazer as the default embosser in this menu choice.

Each time you start a new document, the document is marked with the name of the default embosser. When MegaDots wants to learn about that embosser (carriage width, output port, etc.), it looks at the braille device preferences.

Braille Document Setup

In the Braille Document Setup Screen in the Document Menu, you can also specify which embosser is associated with the current document. If you want to change the brailler for your current document, you can change it in the Document Menu. So if you own a Braille Blazer (your default braille device), you can still tell MegaDots to format one particular document for a VersaPoint.

At the Point of Printing

When you press F7 from the Editor to print an inkprint or braille document, MegaDots presents you with a default output device and a default port. You can change your mind seconds before you print your document.

Making a Generic Document

You may want to produce a MegaDots file for another MegaDots user who has an embosser. Just put a blank for the embosser name in the Braille Document Setup screen in the Document Menu. When the document is embossed, MegaDots uses the printing defaults on the system with the embosser. The same applies for the Inkprint Document Setup.

Chapter 6: Tutorial

This chapter gives a step-by-step tutorial for using some of the most important commands and concepts in MegaDots. Each command is listed so that you can duplicate it on your computer.

This tutorial will give you a general idea of the scope of MegaDots' capabilities. Once you've gone through this tutorial, you will need to use the Reference Manual, and the rest of our documentation, to learn more about the features that meet your specific needs.

Before we start, we should point out the the last item in the Help Menu calls up a browser window with a long list of MegaDots documentation. Press F10 H U from the Editor (you can press control-E in MegaDots to get back to the main editing window).

To use the Reference Manual online, press F12 from anywhere in MegaDots. To highlight the topic you want to learn about, just begin typing whatever name you think might be used for that topic. The cursor highlight moves to the first item that matches what you have typed so far. (This way of moving in a list is called incremental search). You can also move the highlight by using the arrow keys or the mouse. When the highlight is on the topic you want, press <Enter> to bring up the help for that topic. See the example in this chapter under Step 2: Selecting a Style Sheet.

Many of the instructions below use quick hotkeys to perform commands. You could find the same commands in the various menus, using the keyboard or the mouse, but we want to reinforce these hotkey shortcuts, like pressing F3 to open a file, or F4 to save a file. Note that these keystrokes work only when you're in the Editor, not when you're in a menu. For mouse basics, read the next-to-last part of Chapter 3.

This tutorial assumes you have installed MegaDots and have read Chapters 3 and 4 so that you are familiar with the basic concepts of MegaDots. It also assumes that you have set up your preferences for your access technology (if any), and your inkprint printer and braille embosser. Some of the text below reviews material covered in Chapters 3 and 4.

Launching MegaDots

At the Windows desktop, click on the MegaDots icon.

[Speech users: Press Control-E. You should hear the word Editor. If you don't hear that, press Control-Z A V to set up a voice-friendly screen, and then save your preferences by pressing F10 P S <Enter> Control-E.]

If you accepted the installation defaults, then the MegaDots shortcut launches MegaDots with the working directory set to c:\megawork. It does that without using the MegaDots preferences system. To see if you have a Working directory set in your preferences, get into the Preferences Menu by pressing F10 P. Then select Default Directories by pressing D. A form containing the item "working directory" appears. With "Working directory" highlighted, press F1 for help. The help window describes what filling in this item does. Press Escape to leave the help window and get back to the default directories form. If this item is blank, launching MegaDots from your MegaDots shortcut sets your working directory based on the properties in that shortcut. But you can set something here to override the properties setting in your MegaDots shortcut. There are also other items to fill in on this form, but all of them are optional. If you are curious about an item, highlight it and press F1 for help and then Escape to leave the help system.

Here's one change to make. For Temporary files directory, enter the location c:\megatemp. MegaDots often creates temporary files, especially when you import files from other programs. By filling this in, you tell MegaDots where to save those temporary files. Then, when you are doing cleanup on your hard drive, you can delete all of the files in the temporary files directory.

When you're ready to submit this form to MegaDots, press F10. This brings you back to the Preferences Menu. The last thing to do is to save your preferences, so that this new information will still be there the next time you launch MegaDots. Press S. The default filename for your preferences appears. Press Enter to accept that filename (which is usually C:\mega25\ENVIRON.ENV).

Now we'll copy some files from the MegaDots directory to your megawork directory. Press Alt-F10 to temporarily leave MegaDots, which leaves you at the MS-DOS prompt. The prompt C:\megawork> appears, because you have made megawork your current directory. Type the following commands to copy some files into this directory:

COPY C:\mega25\CHICKEN.MEG <Enter>
COPY C:\mega25\SONGS.WP5 <Enter>
COPY C:\mega25\RJ-CAKE.HTM <Enter>
DIR <Enter>

You see a directory listing that shows the files CHICKEN.MEG, SONGS.WP5 and RJ-CAKE.HTM. There may be other files in this directory depending on how much work you have already saved in it.

Now we're ready to go back into MegaDots. Since we left MegaDots loaded in memory, just type EXIT <Enter> to get back into MegaDots right where you left off.

Working With CHICKEN.MEG

Now we'll open the file CHICKEN.MEG. Press Control-E to make sure that you're in the Editor. Press F3 to open a document. MegaDots prompts you for the filename. Press F2 to get the list of files in your current directory. Now, to select the file CHICKEN.MEG, press C. The cursor highlight moves to the first filename beginning with C. If you don't have your own files in this directory, the highlight is on CHICKEN.MEG; otherwise, type additional characters, use the arrow keys, or use the mouse until the cursor highlight moves onto CHICKEN.MEG. Then press Enter to open the file.

The text is on the screen in print form. It's also printed in the manual at the end of this chapter. However, the file we supplied has some things that we'll instruct you to change, to match the text printed at the end of this chapter. After we print out a page in inkprint and a page in braille, we'll do the following things to make the text match what's printed at the end of this chapter:

Chicken File Step 1: Moving around the document

Experiment with moving around in the text with the up and down arrow keys. Also press Control-End to move to the end of the document and then Control-Home to move back to the beginning. If some text seems to be missing at the end of each line, that's because your default inkprint printer for MegaDots can print more characters per line than the screen can show. In that case, press Alt-L. Pressing Alt-L toggles the "Long lines wrap" viewing feature on or off. When you press Alt-L, the message "Long lines wrap on" or "Long lines wrap off" appears on the bottom line of the screen, where you find status information. [Speech users: either this message is spoken, or you hear two rising beeps for turning it on or one flat tone for turning it off. This is consistent for all toggle commands in MegaDots. Determine how these cues are given by setting Preferences - Editor - Audio cues. The default is "Messages."]

Chicken File Step 2: Selecting a style sheet

Before doing anything else, let's tell MegaDots what kind of general rules to follow for brailling the document. You do this by telling MegaDots which style sheet to use. To get a quick description of the term "style sheet," press F12 STY <Down Arrow> <Enter>. After reading the help, press Control-E to return to the Editor.

We'll Select the appropriate style sheet for CHICKEN.MEG. Among other things, the style sheet will tell MegaDots how to braille inkprint page indicators, which tell the braille reader the location in the original inkprint copy. We'll insert the inkprint page marking commands later. Press F10 D S to get to DOCUMENT - Style sheet selection. Press F2 for the list of style sheets. Select Textbk if you're in North America, British in Britain, or Aussie in Australia. After pressing <Enter> to select the style sheet, press Control-F10 to submit the new information to MegaDots as you return to the Editor.

Chicken File Step 3: Examining the Status Line

Press Control-Home to make sure that you're at the beginning of the document. Examine the status line at the bottom of the screen. The first character, always I for inkprint or B for braille, is I. The asterisk which follows means that there have been some changes since the document was saved, in this case the change of style sheet. The next item is the name of your current document C:\megawork\CHICKEN.MEG. Next comes "P1 L1 C24," showing you the page, line, and column numbers of your current position. Then comes "Heading level 1." This is the style name for the paragraph you're currently in. The last item, the word "Normal," shows that the character at the cursor location has no emphasis like italics or boldface.

[Blind users: Some of the status line information is also available from the Control-W "Where am I?" menu. Pressing Control-W followed by G for the paraGraph's style name, D for the Document's filename, P for the Page number, L for the Line and column positions, or C for the Character information (the rightmost item on the status line). Press Control-W G (G for paraGraph, since P is already used for Page). The message "Heading level 1," telling you the current style, is spoken (if you use speech) and appears on the status line (and on your braille display if you have one). The next key press takes the special message away and brings back the regular status line.]

Chicken File Step 4: Saving a file

Press F4 to save your file. The "Enter filename" prompt appears, with the default answer of CHICKEN.MEG. Let's choose a different name, to avoid changing the starting file. Since MY-CHICK.MEG sounds too sexist, let's type CHICKEN1.MEG <Enter>. MegaDots tells you that it's saving the file. On the status line the asterisk changes to a space and the filename changes. You can press F4 <Enter> at any point to save what you have done so far.

Chicken File Step 5: Making print and braille hard copy

Now let's print out one page in regular print and one page in braille. Press F7, the hot key for printing. Since your document is currently in print rather than braille, a screen entitled "Print a document" appears. The screen includes a form with various printing options, based on your preferences, to be accepted or changed. If you have not set up your inkprint printer preferences yet, MegaDots is asking you to do that now, the first time that you try to make inkprint. When you have finished doing that, you're back in the "Print a document" form. Let's make one change: to print out just one page, move down four lines to the item "To page:" and type the digit 1. If you have an inkprint printer, get it ready to go and press F10 to go ahead with the printing. When MegaDots has finished sending text to your printer, it returns you to the Editor wherever you were before. If you don't have an inkprint printer, just press Escape to go back to the Editor.

Next let's print out one page in braille as well. Press F5 to translate the document into braille. Press F7. A screen entitled "Braille a Document" appears. Again, it includes a form of printing options, based on your preferences, to be accepted or changed. As with inkprint printing, if you have not set up your brailler preferences yet, MegaDots is asking you to do that now, the first time that you try to emboss. When you have finished that, you're back in the "Braille a document" form. To print out just one page, move down four lines to the "To page:" item, type the digit 1. If you have an embosser, get it ready to go, and press F10 to go ahead with the brailling. When MegaDots has finished sending text to your embosser, it returns you to the Editor. If you don't have an embosser, press Escape to return to the Editor. Press F5 to translate the document back into inkprint again.

Chicken File Step 6: Exploring Headings

Press Alt-<Down Arrow> to move down to the next paragraph. Now the status line shows the style to be "Heading level 2." The first heading, with the Heading level 1 style, is centered. The second heading, with the Heading level 2 style, begins at the left margin. The level number in the style name reflects the hierarchy of headings in a document, with the main level heading at level 1, the next level of headings at level 2, etc. You can control how the different levels of heading are brailled or ink printed in Document - Heading setup. But MegaDots users who are not proficient transcribers usually do not change from the default settings. With the default heading settings in place, a level 1 heading is brailled as a major heading (centered and preceded and followed by a blank line), and a level 2 heading is brailled as a minor heading (blocked in cell 5 and preceded by a blank line).

Chicken File Step 7: Selecting a markup view

Another choice about how a document appears on the screen is "Markup view". The term markup refers to commands within the text which affect how it is to be printed or handled in some way. Choosing the Markup view determines how much of this markup is shown on the screen. Of the four choices, the two most commonly used are No markup, also known as WYSIWYG (for What You See is what you get) because the screen display looks like what you get on paper; and Format markup, which we often call Show markup or "WYSIWYG off." For now, choose No markup, by pressing Control-Z M N. The Control-Z takes you to the Zippy Menu (a quick menu for making some of the most common changes). If you're not familiar with this menu, do some exploring before pressing M for the Markup View menu and then N for "No markup". The Markup view menu shows you that in the Editor pressing Alt-W toggles between No markup (WYSIWYG on) and Format markup (WYSIWYG off).

Now press Alt-W. The message "WYSIWYG off" appears on the status line, and the display changes, to show some cryptic-looking commands. For example, the "end of paragraph marker" at the end of each paragraph appears as a symbol that looks like a less than or equal to sign. [Speech users: your access software may say "graphic or ASCII symbol 243."] Press the <Left Arrow> key, and the cursor lands on an end of paragraph marker. On the status line, the rightmost item is now "End of Para." With WYSIWYG off, the cursor position on the status line no longer shows the page number; instead it shows the line number from the top of the document followed by the column position. Press Control-W P. You get the message, "This command does nothing in Show markup, because page numbers exist only in WYSIWYG. ..." Now press Alt-W one more time, turning WYSIWYG display on again, and then Escape (just to press a key to get the regular status line back). The cursor is still at the end of a paragraph. Although the display no longer shows the End of paragraph marker (less than or equal to sign), the status line still shows "End of Para."

Press <Down Arrow> to move back to the word "Why." Sighted users see that there is a blank line between the first heading and the second one, but the cursor skips over it. That's because the blank line does not come from an actual carriage return character that can be deleted. It's there because MegaDots knows that it's supposed to leave a blank line in print after a paragraph in the style Heading level 1, and a blank line before a paragraph in the style Heading level 2. Press Alt-E, to get the message "Go everywhere on." Alt-E toggles the Cursor go everywhere feature on or off. With Cursor go everywhere on, press <Up Arrow>. This time the cursor does land on the blank line before the second heading. Notice that on the status line the character information (the rightmost item) is the word "Uneditable." This tells you that the blank line is not directly editable. For example, you can't get rid of it by simply pressing the Delete key with the cursor in this position. It's there because of the use of styles. If you wanted to get rid of the blank line, you would have to change the styles of the surrounding paragraphs. Now turn off Cursor go everywhere by pressing Alt-E again. This feature is intended primarily for blind users. [Blind users: This feature allows you to know about formatting information displayed on the screen, such as blank lines, spaces indented for a new paragraph, page breaks, and page numbering, without having to use the screen reviewing features of your speech or refreshable braille program. When you're editing text, Cursor go everywhere is unwieldy and is not recommended. But you might use it when you are reviewing the screen for format information.]

Chicken File Step 8: Changing a style

Press Alt-<Down Arrow> one more time. Now the cursor is on the word "Moses." The style is still Body text, and the display shows the answer indented to column 6. We want this answer to start at the left margin, using a hanging indent.

To do this, we need to change the style to List. Press Alt-B to bring up the list of different body styles. Type LI to highlight the style name List and <Enter> to select it. The format of the paragraph changes immediately, and the status line now shows the style name List.

Looking ahead, many paragraphs below need the same change. Fortunately, you don't have to change the style for each paragraph individually. We'll change all the paragraphs in this list of answers to the List style by first marking them all as a block and then using the List style command. Press Control-X to start marking a block. Now we'll move down to the last answer in the document, by using the Simple Find feature. To do this, press F9 and type experienced <Enter>. Then press Alt-B LI <Enter> to select the List style. Now that you have selected this style for the marked block, block marking is turned off.

Now we'll add one more answer after the current paragraph. Press Alt-<Down Arrow> to move to the beginning of the next paragraph, which begins with the word "Exercises." Then press <Left Arrow>, and the cursor is at the end of the previous paragraph. Now press Enter to begin a new paragraph. Notice that the status line still indicates List for the style, as desired. Now type the text Guide dog instructor: To see how well the guide dogs handle chicken distractions.

Now press Alt-<Down Arrow> to move to the word "Exercises." This starts a new section with some questions about MegaDots. This line should be a heading, but the status line tells us that it's in the Body text style. Since this heading is a sub-heading under "More About Chickens," let's make it Heading level 2. Press Alt-H 2 <Enter>.

Chicken File Step 9: Inserting a page break

We also want to start a fresh page here in both inkprint and braille. To start a fresh page in inkprint, press Control-Insert I F. To start a fresh page in braille, press Control-Insert B F. In the current WYSIWYG inkprint display, the forced inkprint page break shows a page break line. However, since a forced braille page break does not affect the inkprint printout, that will not show up in the WYSIWYG display until you translate to braille.

[Blind users: Press <Up Arrow>, and notice that the cursor moves up to the last line of text before the page break. So you don't notice the page break unless you turn on Cursor go everywhere.]

For the practice, let's delete the forced page break commands and put them in again. To delete them, you must switch into Show markup display. So press Alt-W. Two paragraphs appear with the style "Section info," one for the forced inkprint new page and one for the forced braille new page. To delete each command, move the cursor to that Section info paragraph and press the Delete key. After deleting both of them, create them as before, using the Control-Insert menu.

Chicken File Step 10: Italics

Press Alt-<Down Arrow> to get to the paragraph that begins with "Answer these questions." Since you're still in Show markup display, this line shows commands <Ei> and <\Ei> (each beginning with a left arrow and ending with a right arrow). The arrows show that these are markup commands. The E stands for Emphasis and the i for italics; the backslash is used only in the termination command. Press Alt-W to switch back to WYSIWYG display, and these command markers vanish but the italicized text is displayed in a different color. The phrase "questions below to the best of your ability" is italicized, but the italicized phrase should be just "to the best of your ability." To change the extent of the italics, we must remove the italics and create it again. To remove the italics, we must switch back into Show markup. So press Alt-W. Get the cursor on the opening <Ei> markup command or the closing <\Ei> command (it lands on the initial arrow). Then press the Delete key. This deletes italics markup but not the text.

Now, to italicize the words "to the best of your ability," mark that text as a block, using Control-X or dragging the mouse. Then press Control-F I and the correct italics markers are there.

Chicken File Step 11: More editing

Use the Reference Manual to get an explanation of doing exercises. To do this, press F12 EXE <Enter>. If you want a printout of this information, press F7, highlight the printer or embosser to use, and press <Enter> or F10. Press Control-E to return to the Editor.

First let's change the style for the paragraph of directions. The Reference Manual information tells us to use the style called Directions. Get the cursor anywhere on that paragraph and press Alt-B or Alt-A followed by D <Enter>.

Press Alt-<Down Arrow> to move to question 1. Notice that the style is Exercise+1. The +1 (plus one) refers to level 1 in a hierarchy. In the Exercise style, level 1 starts at the left margin, and higher levels are indented further. The three sub-parts of this question need to be at level 2, to be indented. Move to Part A. If we wanted to change the level for just Part A, we would not do any block marking. But to change the level for all three parts with one command, begin marking a block. Move to Part C, and press Alt-<Right Arrow>.

Now in question 2 let's add some answer choices for the blank, with the style Exercise+2. Move to the end of the document with Control-End. Press Enter to start a new paragraph. The new paragraph picks up the Exercise+1 style. To change to level 2, press Alt-<Right Arrow>. Then type the three answer choices, pressing Enter after each one: a. Poetry <Enter> b. Body text <Enter> c. Menu item <enter>.

Finally, let's add question 3. If you have not already done so, press Enter after the third answer choice for question 2. You are in a new paragraph, which has picked up the style Exercise+2. To change back to Exercise+1, press Alt-<Left Arrow>. Type the text of Question 3: "3. If a chicken is just learning Grade two braille, which MegaDots add-on should her teacher purchase to produce braille that's customized to use only the grade two contractions that the chicken has learned so far?" (historical note: Beginner Braille used to cost extra).

Chicken File Step 12: Using a bookmark, and adding a text break

Now let's add a text break line, a centered line of 3 asterisks, just before the answer given by the MegaDots team. In the CHICKEN.MEG file, we placed a MegaDots bookmark at the spot for adding the text break line. To find the correct spot, get to the bookmarks user list by pressing Alt-J. There are two bookmarks, called "End of e-mail" and "Last save." On the "End of e-mail" item, press Enter to get to the position marked in the file. The cursor is on the word "Staff." Then press Control-Insert L T, to add a text break line.

Chicken File Step 13: Adding your own bookmark

Now add your own bookmark on your favorite answer to the crossing the road question, so that you can share it with a friend later. To find the paragraph you want quickly, use the "Jump to" command; press Control-J G to get the list of paragraphs. Let's say your favorite answer is Albert Einstein's. In the Paragraphs list, press Home and then A. That takes you to "Agent Mulder." Then press L, and that takes you to Albert Einstein. Now press Enter to get to that paragraph in the text. To add the bookmark, press Alt-J to get the bookmarks user list and then the Insert key. MegaDots asks you for a name. Type the name Favorite answer <Enter>.

Chicken File Step 14: Adding a footnote

Now we'll add a footnote to explain who Douglas Adams is. First look up footnote in the Reference Manual. Use the Paragraphs list again, to move quickly to the Douglas Adams paragraph. Press Control-J G Home D <Enter>. Move the cursor to the character after the space which follows the colon, and press Control-X to start marking a block. Then type # author of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The number sign at the beginning is typed by pressing Shift-3, and it tells MegaDots to do automatic footnote numbering. Then press Control-F N to make the blocked text a footnote. In Show markup, the footnote text is on the screen enclosed by <En> and <\En> markup commands; it looks like the footnote for Agent Mulder. Then press Alt-W to switch to WYSIWYG. In print the text of the footnote moves to the bottom of the page. The format of footnotes in North American braille differs between literary braille and textbook braille. Press F5 to translate to braille, and examine the format of the footnote. Then press F5 to translate back to inkprint and Alt-W to switch back to Show markup.

Chicken File Step 15: Adding a running header

Now we'll add a header for the inkprint copy and a running head for the braille copy. Press Control-Home to go to the beginning of the file. Press Enter to start a new paragraph and then <Up Arrow> to move onto the blank paragraph. Type the word CHICKEN SUPPLEMENT. Then give the Header style command by pressing Alt-R H <Enter>. This creates a header for the inkprint copy as well as a running header for the braille copy.

Chicken File Step 16: Adding inkprint page indicators for the braille copy

Now we'll insert inkprint page marking commands, to tell the braille reader their location in the inkprint original, in this case the printout at the end of this chapter. Use the Reference Manual to look up "inkprint page indicator." There are four inkprint pages. We must mark the beginning of each page. Press Control-Home to move to the beginning of the document. Move to the first character of text after the running header, namely the letter W in "Why." Then Press Control-<Enter>. MegaDots prompts for the inkprint page number, with 1 as the default. Press Enter to accept 1. In Show markup, you see "#1" enclosed by arrows. Inkprint page 2 in the printout begins with the text '"road,"'. Press F9 "ro <Enter>. With the cursor on the opening quote before the word "road," press Control-<Enter>. This time the default answer is 2, since MegaDots is keeping track of the inkprint page marking commands you've entered so far. So press Enter to accept 2. Print page 3 begins with the word "Hippocrates." So press F9 Hippo <Enter>. With the cursor on the letter H in "Hippocrates," press Control-<Enter> <Enter> to accept 3. Finally, inkprint page 4 begins with the heading "Exercises." Press F9 exercises <Enter>. With the cursor on the E in "Exercises," press Control-<Enter> <Enter>.

In Show markup display, the inkprint page marking commands appear as a number sign followed by the inkprint page number enclosed by markup arrows. If you make a mistake, you can delete this item by moving onto it and pressing the Delete key. When you have finished adding the inkprint page marking commands, press Alt-Z to bring up the "Print Page List." This is a handy tool for manipulating inkprint pages. But for now, press Escape to return to the Editor.

Chicken File Step 17: Numbering the pages in inkprint

The style sheet takes care of placing the braille page number on each braille page. But it does not do anything to number the pages when we print out inkprint. To do that, we need to place a "current page number" marker in a header or footer. So let's put it in the header that we've already created, marking that part to appear only in inkprint. After the words "CHICKEN SUPPLEMENT" in the header, press Control-X to start marking a block. Then type <space> - <space> Page <space> Control-Insert C Control-T I. In the Control-Insert menu, pressing C (for Current page number) places a marker at your current position which becomes the current page number when you print or switch to WYSIWYG display. Pressing Control-T I for the marked block marks its translation as Inkprint only. That means that it does not appear in braille embossing or braille WYSIWYG display. In Show markup display <TI> and <\TI> markup commands show that the text is marked as Inkprint only. If you make a mistake entering the Inkprint Page Indicator, cursor onto it and press the delete key.

Chicken File Step 18: Saving, printing, and brailling the final version

Now that you have finished making changes, press F4 to save the file again. When the default name CHICKEN1.MEG appears, press <Enter> to accept it. If you have an inkprint printer, get it ready and press F7 F10 to print the document in regular print. The "Print a document" form tells you that printing is from page 1 to page "end," because you were in Show markup display. If you were in WYSIWYG display, MegaDots would know the final page number and show it in this form. When MegaDots has finished printing the document, you are back in the Editor. Press F5 and Alt-W to view the document in braille WYSIWYG. (Braille transcribers may have "Transcriber view" set to Yes in Preferences Menu - Advanced preferences, in which case translating automatically switches between Show markup display in print and WYSIWYG display in braille.) If you have a braille embosser, get it ready, and press F7 F10 to emboss.

Chicken File Step 19: Producing other kinds of output - Braille 'n Speak file and large print

If you or some of your students use a Braille 'n Speak or Braille Lite, let's also create a file to be read on it. With the document still in braille, press Control-F4 (for File export). MegaDots asks if you want markup in the exported file. Press n to say NO. At the "Enter filename:" prompt, change the extension in the default answer from DOC to BRL and press <Enter>. Now, in the list of file types, press B, and Braille 'n Speak is highlighted. Press <Enter> to select it. This creates a file which you can download to your Braille 'n Speak or Braille Lite. If you want more information on using the Braille 'n Speak or Braille Lite with MegaDots, look that up in the Reference Manual. Since there are so many entries starting with the word "braille," you can press F12 F9 speak <Enter> <Enter> or F12 F9 lite <Enter> <Enter> as a shortcut. The Reference Manual refers you to the Interface Guide for details. You can bring up the list of topics in the Interface Guide by pressing F10 H I <Enter>. You work with this list just as you work with the F12 list of topics in the Reference Manual.

Now to make large print output, press F5 to translate back into print and go to DOCUMENT - Inkprint document setup by pressing F10 D I. Highlight "Starting point size" and type 14 <Enter> (or whatever point size you want. Also highlight "Page indicators in large print," and type Y <Enter>. Then press Control-F10 to submit this information to MegaDots as you return to the Editor. Press F7 F10 again to print large print. If you want more information on making large print output, begin by looking up large print in the Reference Manual.

Since you have finished working with CHICKEN1.MEG, press F6 to close it. This does not delete the file from the megawork directory on your drive. It merely tells MegaDots not to keep it open for further editing in this session.

Working With SONGS.WP5

Now we'll open the file SONGS.WP5. Press Control-E to make sure that you're in the Editor. Press F3 F2 to get the list of files in your current directory. Begin typing the characters in the name SONGS.WP5 until that name is highlighted, and press <Enter> to open the file.

When MegaDots has finished opening the file, the status line shows the filename C:\megawork\SONGS.MEG. This shows the name that MegaDots will use for saving the file, unless you change it. MegaDots has replaced the .WP5 extension with the .MEG extension, to avoid overwriting the WordPerfect file and to show that you are creating a MegaDots file.

This file, which was created by an optical scanning system, contains the lyrics for three songs, "Bread and Roses," the Spanish song "De Colores," and "This We Know." We will do a few things with this file:

Songs File Step 1: Using the "Interpret format" window

Press Alt-I to bring up the "Interpret format" window. The resulting form gives a lot of information about how the file was imported. We find the name of the original file and the file type WordPerfect 5.0. Style selection is set to "Normal," indicating that MegaDots was not told anything special about the type of material in this file. "Optical scanner clean-up" is set to "None," indicating that the scanning was so good that MegaDots does not realize that this file comes from a scanned document. "Print page indicators" is set to "Allow," indicating that we want inkprint page indicators. Moving down, we find that there are a total of 49 paragraphs. Four of these have the Heading level 1 style, and 45 have the List style. Move the highlight to Heading level 1 and press F2 to get a list of all the paragraphs using this style. The first one shows Al@ which seems to be some scanning garbage, and the others seem appropriate as song titles. Press Escape to leave this list and get back to the "Interpret format" window. We will make two changes, as follows:

Press Home <Down Arrow> to highlight "Style selection" and press F2 for a menu of choices. You can highlight any one of them and press F1 for Help to learn more about that choice. Select Poems. (You can select Poems quickly by highlighting "Style selection" and pressing P.) In addition, we do not want inkprint page indicators for this file. So highlight "Print page indicators," and press D for "Disallow." Then press F10 to tell MegaDots to reimport the WordPerfect 5.0 file. When MegaDots has finished reimporting, it leaves you back in the "Interpret format" window. Now you find that there are 42 paragraphs, with three in the style Heading level 1, one in the style Heading level 2, and 38 in the style Poetry. (There are fewer total paragraphs because blank paragraphs have been replaced by use of the "New stanza" style.) Now highlight the item "Total headings" and press F2 for the list of all four headings. The first one, with the text Al@, is probably some scanning garbage. The remaining three headings are the song titles. We want them all to have the style Heading level 1. But the last one has the style Heading level 2. Highlight the last one and press Alt-<Left Arrow>. The style immediately changes to Heading level 1. Press F10 to leave the list of headings. Now press Escape to return to the Editor.

Now go to Document Menu - Style sheet selection, to make sure that the style sheet is the one you want. If you're in North America, use the Literary style sheet, since we're not using inkprint page indicators.

Songs File Step 2: Making adjustments for the Spanish song

The second song, "De Colores" is in Spanish. We want this song to be brailled in grade one, using the appropriate symbols for accented characters. Since the original scanned file did not include the required accent marks, we will add some of them. We will also tell MegaDots to "protect" this song, preventing any braille page break in the middle of it, by starting at the top of a braille page if necessary.

First go to DOCUMENT - Translation setup by pressing F10 D T. Highlight "Braille standard" and press S for Spanish. If we wanted the entire document to use grade one braille, we would set that up in this form as well, under "Default translation method." But since much of the document is in English, we need to set up grade one translation for just part of the document, which we cannot do from the Document Menu. (Except for "Inkprint section layout" and "Braille section layout," everything in the Document menu establishes how to handle the document as a whole, not just part of the document.) Now press Control-F10 to submit the "Braille standard" change to MegaDots as you return to the Editor.

Now we'll tell MegaDots to use grade one translation for the song "De Colores." Press Control-J G to get to the Paragraphs list, and then press <space> (a toggle which switches between the list of all paragraphs and the list of Heading paragraphs. Highlight "DE COLORES" and press <Enter> to get to that spot in the text. Press Control-X to start marking a block. Then press Control-J G <space> to get back into the list of headings. Highlight "THIS WE KNOW" and press <Enter> to land on that heading in the text. Now press <Left Arrow> twice. The first <Left Arrow> brings you to an inkprint new page command, which comes from the original scanned file. The second <Left Arrow> takes you to the end of paragraph at the end of the "De Colores" song. Now the marked block contains the entire song. For practice, we will do two things with this block: marking it for grade one braille translation, and telling MegaDots to protect it from braille page breaks. To apply more than one command to a block, without having to re-establish the block, we can tell MegaDots to Hold the block. Turn on "Hold block" by pressing Shift-Control-X, getting the message "Hold block on." First set up grade one translation for the block by pressing Control-T O. Because we turned on "Hold block," the block is still marked, as shown by the highlighting on the display. [Blind users: Press Control-W, to get the message that block marking is on, and then Escape to return to the Editor.]

Now, to protect the song from braille page breaks, press Control-F M; the M stands for "Make protected." This makes sure that the entire song will be brailled on one page, by starting at the top of a braille page if necessary. The block marking is still on. To turn it off, press Control-X. In the Show markup display, you find <TO> and <\TO> markup commands indicating that braille translation will create grade one braille here, and <Em> and <\Em> markup commands, showing that the enclosed text is protected from braille page breaks.

As an exercise, also protect the third song, "This We Know," from braille page breaks.

Now we'll place accent marks on some characters that need them. In the word "quiri" we want the second i to have an acute accent mark. Press Control-Home to return to the beginning of the file. Then press F9 quiri <Enter>. This finds the first occurrence of "quiri" in the file. Move to the second letter i. To learn how to create accented letters in MegaDots, look up "accent acute" in the Reference Manual. This help tells you to press Alt-Slash followed by the appropriate letter. So press Control-E to return to the Editor and then Alt-Slash i. Now the text has an accented i, but we still need to delete the regular i. So press the Delete key.

Let's fix the other occurrences of "quiri" by using a "Global replace" command. Since you just searched for "quiri," press Control-G to globally replace all occurrences of those characters. MegaDots' "Simple replace" window appears, asking you to enter text. Press quir Alt-Slash i <Enter>. MegaDots gives the message "3 replacements" on the status line, because it has made three more changes of this kind. If the word "inquiries" were part of the text, it would have been changed as well. You could prevent this by using Control-Y instead of Control-G to have to confirm each replacement. (Chapter 12 describes using "Complex find and replace," which would allow you to search for "quiri" only when it is the entire word.)

Songs File Step 3: Using the MegaDots Spell Checker

To use the MegaDots Spell Checker, press F10 T R. MegaDots asks if this is optically scanned text. Press Y to say Yes. If you are not at the beginning of the document, MegaDots asks whether to start at the beginning. Press Y. Then MegaDots asks how to handle page breaks, since there are some forced inkprint page breaks in the file. Press D to delete them.

Then MegaDots begins looking for errors. The first one that it reports is "Misspelled Al@." MegaDots shows a list of choices for dealing with this error. To learn what any of these choices means, highlight that choice and press F1 for help; press Escape to return to the list of choices. Sighted users easily find the error in context below the list of choices. The "Visit text" choice, which puts you in the Editor at the start of the erroneous text, gives any user, blind or sighted, an easy way to examine the error in context and do the editing to correct it. For this error, an extra line of scanner garbage, "Visit text" is the best choice, since the "Delete word" choice would not delete the extra carriage return. You can press V to choose "Visit text." Then delete the Al@ and the carriage return that follows. Then press Escape to return to the Spell checker.

For the next error, MegaDots reports "Repeated word marching." Since "marching, marching" is part of the song, we want the "Accept current spelling" choice. Press <Enter> since that choice is already highlighted. For the next report, "Accent mark used instead of single quote," press <Enter> to select the first suggestion, changing the accent mark to a single quote. MegaDots then gives two more reports of "Repeated word marching." Press <Enter> to Accept current spelling for each of these reports. The next report is "Miscapitalized beginning of sentence our." MegaDots reports this as an error because the word "our" with a lowercase "o" occurs after a carriage return. Since the other song lines begin with a capital letter, choose the correction "Our" with a capital "O" by pressing <Enter>. The next report is "Misspelled COLORES." We want to stop the Spell checker here, since it does not know about Spanish. So press Escape to stop the Spell checker, and then Escape again to end the message giving its final report.

To start the Spell checker again for the third song, press Control-J G <space> to get to the list of headings, and then <Down Arrow> <Enter> to move to the beginning of the song. "This We Know." To start the Spell checker again, press F10 T R, and then Y to the optical scanner question and N to the question about starting at the beginning. The first error report is the word "whate'er." Press G A to accept it Globally. Pressing G first sets the "Global change" option to Yes. That means that your choice for this error report will be applied to all occurrences of the word "whate'er" in this Spell checker session, without further reporting. We could have pressed R A to Revise the dictionary to always accept the spelling "whate'er." But this is quite rare, except in poetry, and could conceivably be a scanning error in another context. The next error report is "Miscapitalized beginning of sentence we." Press <Enter> for the first correction "We." Then comes "Repeated word it." Here press V to Visit text, change "it it" to "in it" and press Escape to return to Spell checking. At the "Spell checking complete" message, press Escape to return to the Editor.

Songs File Step 4: Copying one song into a new file

Let's copy the song "Bread and Roses" into a file called B&R.MEG on a floppy disk to give to a friend. Press Control-Home to return to the beginning of the document. With your cursor on the "B" in "Bread," press Control-X to start block marking. Then press Control-J G <space> to bring up the list of headings and <Down Arrow> <Enter> to get to the "DE COLORES" heading. Then press Control-C to copy all of "Bread and Roses" into the clipboard. Now press F2 A:b&r.meg <Enter> to start the new file B&R.MEG on the A drive. Finally press Control-P to paste in the clipboard and F4 <Enter> to save the new file.

Songs File Step 5: Saving and embossing the songs file.

Now press F8 to move back to the file SONGS.MEG. Since we've finished making changes, press F4 <Enter> to save it. Press F5 F7 F10 to emboss a braille copy.

Since we are no longer working with the song files, press F6 to close SONGS.MEG and again to close A:B&R.MEG.

Working With RJ-CAKE.HTM

This file, containing a heart-healthy recipe for Raspberry Jam Cake, came from the Web page for Wisconsin Public Radio. Once again, press F3 F2 to open a file from the list in the megawork directory. Press R (or as many characters as you need to highlight RJ-CAKE.HTM) and then <Enter> to open the file. MegaDots reports that it's importing HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language); this is the "markup language" used for most material on the Internet's World Wide Web. We'll make a braille copy. If you're in North America, make sure that the style sheet is Literary in Document Menu - Style sheet selection.

Press Alt-I for the "Interpret format" screen to get a general idea of the format. However, when you've imported an HTML file, you cannot use this screen to make changes.

After examining the information, press Escape to return to the Editor.

Because we have brought Dr. Zorba Paster's heart-healthy recipes into MegaDots before, we have created a "MegaDots rules file" called ZORBA to fix a few systematic problems, especially in the "Nutritional Analysis" section. A rules file contains a list of changes to be made throughout a file, or in a block of text if one is marked. To use this rules file, press Alt-F9 zorba <Enter>. Since this rules file was created specifically for recipes from one Web page, you won't find it useful for other applications. But it will be useful for other recipes from the same web page.

Look up "rules file" in the Reference Manual. MegaDots supplies you with a number of useful rules files, listed in this Reference Manual entry. For example, the REVCAPS rules file, designed for fixing a block where you accidentally had the caps lock on, changes uppercase letters to lowercase and lowercase letters to uppercase.

The list of ingredients is done as a table, with three separate columns for a number, a unit of measure, and the name of the item. MegaDots always treats the top line of a table as column headers, which are formatted differently than the column entries. In this case, the top line does not contain column headers, and should be treated as column entries. So we'll use MegaDots' Alt-Shift-C command, which toggles a row of a table from column headers to column entries, or from entries back to headers. Get the cursor on the top line in the ingredients table, listing 1 cup white sugar, and press Alt-Shift-C. If you prefer not to format this as a table, just use the rules file NOTABS.

For more information on doing tables in braille, look up tables in the Reference Manual. The "tables" entry in the Reference Manual also refers you to Chapter 11 of the User Manual for additional information. If you want to bring Chapter 11 into the Editor to find some specific information, press F11 to bring up the list of chapters in the User Manual. To quickly highlight Chapter 11, press F9 11 <Enter>. Then press <Enter> to bring up the text in the Editor. Press F6 to close Chapter 11 when you've finished consulting it.

Since we didn't do any hand editing in this file, we don't need to save it as a MegaDots file. Just translate to braille and emboss it. Get your embosser ready, and press F5 F7 F10.

As Dr. Zorba Paster ends his broadcasts produced by Wisconsin Public Radio, "Stay Well!"

Chapter 7: File Import

What a Long Strange Trip it has Been

MegaDots was first sold in 1992. Over the years, the computer environment and the uses of the program have changed. Nowhere are these changes more apparent than with file import. At one point, WordStar and the WordPerfect were the primary mainstream products. MegaDots once used a licensed product for file import and export. For legal and contract reasons, we could not continue this relationship. MegaDots 2.5 now contains a modified copy of DBT within it, and uses the file importing muscle of DBT 11.1; thus MegaDots can read Word 2003, Word 2007, and Word 2010 files, and can read the formatting instructions of Susan Christensen's Word Templates. MegaDots 2.5 can use your installed copy of Microsoft Word to offer a number of file export choices as well.

While MegaDots 2.5 does not have any software licensed from another source, it does contain traces of its colorful past. The file import software is loaded with features that once made a lot of sense. This chapter will omit discussions of these old relics. if you are curious, please locate an older copy of MegaDots.

File Name Problems

MegaDots is an MS-DOS program. It prefers the 8 character file names with 3 character file extensions. MegaDots does not change how it imports a file based on the file extension or any part of a file name. You could rename a Word 2010 file maps.txt, and MegaDots will still import it. The only exception to this is that you can set up different File import preferences for different file extensions.

Please create a single directory at the root level of your computer for the sole purpose of submitting Word files to MegaDots. Copy your files into this "loading zone" directory. Change the name of your Word files so there are 8 or fewer characters in the file name. Use underbars rather than spaces in the file name. Limit the length of the file extension to 3 characters. Once you do this, you will find it much easier to import files into MegaDots.

Be aware that by changing the file extension, you have made it impossible for the file to be loaded back into Word. However, neither DBT nor MegaDots pays any attention to the extension to decide the file type.

Yes, we are aware that we could have given other advice. You can actually load the docx file directly into MegaDots (as long as you import something like TR*.D*), but the file name gets scrambled inside MegaDots. This is the basis of our recommendation to copy to a new directory and new name before importing into MegaDots.

File Types MegaDots Cannot Import

File Types MegaDots Can Import

The Main File Import Engine

The main file import engine in MegaDots is borrowed from Duxbury DBT. It can import Microsoft Word files (2003, 2007, 2010), Open Office files, WordPerfect files, and Duxbury DBT .dxp inkprint files (including Duxbury math files). In the list of file importers, it is listed as "DBT assisted import: Word, DBT, WP". The numeric code for this importer is 6300.

When you import these files with voice, you will hear "importing ASCII line file". This is normal, the last stage of these file imports uses an older import technique.

One difficulty is that this engine cannot read RTF files. Some OCR programs save their output as "Word" files, with the .doc file extension; but they really are RTF files. The only solution is to load these files into Word, and then re-save as true Word files.

Registry Issues

The DBT assisted importer uses information from the Registry to make the same decisions that DBT makes during file importation. MegaDots does not offer a user interface to change these settings: they are fixed from the installation program. If you do want to change them, use Regedit (with care, of course). Look at HKEY_CURRENT_USER, Software, Duxbury Systems Inc., Duxbury Import Engine 2.5.

MS Word/BANA Template

The Susan Christensen Word Template allows you to control braille format from a Word file. If you are interested in concentrating on using Word for braille formatting, then look up the MS Word/BANA Template in the Reference Manual. Since MegaDots can export to MS Word/BANA Template files, you can now create files for use in DBT. MegaDots can create these files from both inkprint and braille. Importing a MegaDots-created Word file containing braille into DBT requires DBT 11.1 SR3 or later.

Another way you can control format is to add MegaDots markup directly in a Microsoft Word file. For example, # ["Ei"]# means start italic markup, and # ["\Ei"]# means end italic markup (to do this for real, you need to eliminate the space between the pound sign and the open bracket). If you export a MegaDots file with markup, you can figure out how to encode anything you want in a Word file. If you want to, you can combine the Word Template commands with the direct MegaDots markup.

Files from OCR Systems

If your file comes from an OCR program, it may contain lots of plain vanilla formatting. When it comes into MegaDots, just about every paragraph will be marked as "Body text" by the MegaDots importer. If you are working on a novel, in which just about every paragraph is in fact "Body text", this is not a problem. But if you need a mixture of styles: lists, body text, headings, etc., you may want better results. If you import asking for the file type "DBT assisted import: OCR to Textfile", then MegaDots will probably do a better job of importing.

To recap: if you import without any specification, then it will import as "DBT assisted import: "DBT, Word, WP". This works, but the resulting file requires too much manual work to make useable. To reduce the work, add " -?" (space, hyphen, question) to the file name, and choose "DBT assisted import: OCR to Textfile" to get a file requiring less formatting work. The numeric code of this importer is 5000. It may be best to do a trial import into MegaDots using both "DBT assisted import" options and see which one works the best for you.

What Kind of File Did I Import into MegaDots?

What if you forget what kind of document was imported to create your MegaDots file? Once importation is over, press Alt-I. The file type of the original is listed at the top of the screen under "Source:". Press Escape to return to the Editor.

Fine-Tuning with the Interpret Format Screen

A major feature in MegaDots is the Interpret Format Screen. To use it, press Alt-I. This screen contains all the important information that the importer gathered about your document. The first section of the screen shows general information. The second section shows the heading levels used, and how many of each are in the document. The last section of the screen shows a list of the most common MegaDots styles, along with the number of times each occurs. The Alt-Up and Alt-Down arrow keys jump quickly between these major sections.

This screen is an excellent way to quickly check which styles MegaDots chose for your document. However, the real power of the Interpret Format Screen is that you can change the general options, disallow specific heading levels or styles, and re-import with those settings. You can even make style and/or hierarchy changes to specific paragraphs, or ask that all instances of one style be replaced with another.

Once you press F10, the document is re-imported and all of your requests are honored. At this point, you may accept the re-imported document, or continue fine-tuning it. What follows is a very general breakdown of this screen. For detailed information on each field, use the F1 Help key on that field within MegaDots.

Setting Importer Preferences

All importer preferences exist under Preferences - File import. From this screen it is possible to set options for general documents, or documents with specific file extensions (for example, all .TXT documents).

To set the default options, select "Default". You can also make new settings for a specific file type, such as WordPerfect documents. To do this, type <Insert>, followed by the file extension (such as .HTM or .DOC), followed by <Enter>. The import options screen is nearly identical to the Interpret Format screen. Styles, heading levels and import items can be Allowed or Disallowed. Source, Style selection and Optical scanner cleanup can be set.

There are two new options not in the Interpret Format screen: Auto style sheet and Auto report. Set "Auto style sheet? Yes" if you want MegaDots to decide what style sheet to use on a document by document basis. For North American users, this allows MegaDots to select Literary if there are no inkprint page indicators, and Textbk97 (or a later Textbk) if there are. Set "Auto style sheet? No" if you always want to use the style sheet listed under Preferences - New document - Style sheet. Note to British users: documents are usually in the BRITUP style sheet.

Make "Auto report? Yes" if you want the Interpret Format screen to automatically come up each time you import a document of this type. Even if you set this to "No", Alt-I will still bring up Interpret Format manually.

Issues for Importing Special Documents

File Formats Used in the Blindness and Transcriber Community

Braille Ready Files

Braille ready files (PokaDot and .BRF files) are files directly encoded for braille output. The idea is to just directly copy the file to an embosser to get braille output.

There are two ways of importing braille ready files into MegaDots: interpreted and non-interpreted. An interpreted file means that MegaDots attempts to build a natural MegaDots file, which can be back translated, edited, re-translated, and expressed in a variety of translation and format modes.

A non-interpreted file is one that rigidly contains the layout of the source file. There is no opportunity to make more than a microscopic change to these files. The idea is to import a file expressly to drive an embosser with these exact characters.

To import a braille ready file in interpreted mode, just import it.

To import a braille ready file in non-interpreted mode, at the Enter filename prompt, after the filename add space followed by -spa before pressing Enter (or import normally and then use Interpret format to change Style selection to S). Also set the style sheet to NONUMS, to suppress page numbering (since the page numbers are already of the text in the brf file). If you do this, the file can be brailled, but it cannot be edited without messing up the format. Any editing throws off all page numbers after that point.

Microbraille files need to be converted into standard braille ready files before they can be imported as "Spacing Same Braille". See microcon in the F12 Reference Manual for the details.

If MegaDots Cannot Recognize the Document Type

It is possible for the automatic document recognition system in MegaDots to not work properly. If MegaDots does not recognize the correct format or won't load a document it ought to, then you can manually set the type of file you are importing. Add space -? after the filename when importing. MegaDots will let you choose the file type from the list of available import file types (see the MegaDots Command Summary).

If you don't know the file type, or can't find it on the list, try picking Unknown File With Text. This is a general file type to use as a last chance. It works with a variety of file types, such as Pagemaker, some types of help screens, even computer program .EXE's. Basically, it strips out all of the garbage codes and keeps only the text. Its success may vary greatly from file to file, but it can be a useful last resort for getting the text out of a file.

Chapter 8: Simple Documents in Textbook Format

The purpose of this chapter is to describe how to use MegaDots to create basic braille formats. You may find it useful to read Supplement 2 if you need help learning about basic braille formats.

As you read the instructions below, be aware that steps 1 thorough 3 happen before you deal with importing or entering the text. It is usually a mistake to plunge into a brailling project without thinking through some of the details first.

Informal Braille vs. Formal Braille

Different people have different needs for producing braille. An example of informal braille is a memo in a business environment. An example of formal braille is an elementary textbook. Some of the steps described in this chapter are not necessary for informal braille. Other steps are absolutely required no matter what. It is our goal to make it easy for you to reach the quality of braille you desire.

Note: During the first few steps we will be using the Preferences - New document menu to adjust default format and translation settings for all documents. You must remember to save your preferences after making changes, so that your changes will still be there the next time you use MegaDots. Also note that all of the adjustments done in the Preferences - New Document menu can also be changed for just the current document in the Document menu.

Step 1: Choose a Style Sheet

Decide whether you are using Literary or Textbook braille format. Informal documents are done in literary format. See Supplement 2 for more details about this decision. Note to British users: all documents are usually in BRITISH style sheet.

To change the default style sheet selection pull down the Preferences Menu, and choose the New Document Screen. Select Style Sheet. Then choose either LITERARY or TEXTBK97. Do not forget to save your preferences when you are finished.

Step 2: Analyze the Use of Headings in your Document

Analyze your document. How many levels of headings are there? For example, in this MegaDots manual, the chapter headings are the level 1 headings. If you examine it closely, you will see that there are three different levels of headings.

Once you know how many levels of headings there are, you need to decide how these should be formatted in braille. If your document has three levels, you may decide to do level one and level two as major headings, and level three as a minor heading.

In the New Document Screen in the Preferences Menu, pick Headings. For each of the levels of heading in your text, specify the style Major Head or Minor Head. If you wish, you can specify other attributes of headings. For example, you could require that all the first level headings start on a fresh braille page, and that second level headings could be major heads with a skipped line before them.

Be aware that some of the options allowed for headings in MegaDots are not recommended or may violate the standard rules for braille transcribing (they are available because some users prefer these options). We recommend consulting with a certified transcriber as to how to set up your headings.

As you define the headings, also pay attention to how they look in inkprint. After all, part of the fun of MegaDots is that you get to do quality braille formatting while formatting for inkprint as well. You can specify how much spacing there is before and after the heading, the style, the emphasis, the typeface, and the relative point size. When you examine a document in inkprint, you want to be able to instantly recognize which level a heading is without having to read the style name from the status line.

An example of formatting the headings for inkprint follows: you can set the above inkprint heading prompt for heading level 1 to be 1P. This forces a new inkprint page for each instance of this heading. You can have the second level be in bold face, and the third level be without emphasis.

Once you've set up your headings in the Preferences Menu, don't forget to save your preferences.

One form of heading is called a paragraph heading by braille transcribers. This is a body text paragraph with the first sentence or phrase emphasized. Do not try to build in paragraph headings in the Headings Menu. MegaDots treats paragraph headings as emphasized text at the start of a paragraph, not as a heading.

Step 3: Analyze the Use of Emphasis in your Document

Now go to the Translation Setup Screen in the New Document Preferences Screen. Here you get to decide how different kinds of inkprint emphasis are done in braille. The choices are Italics, Boldface, Underscoring, Parenthesis, or Nothing. Your choices depend on the kind of document you have, who your intended audience is, and the rules for your braille transcription group (if any).

In general, you should try to show all forms of inkprint emphasis as braille italics. Look over your inkprint document to make sure that it is appropriate to show emphasis. Any form of emphasis that is only present in headings should be ignored. Use braille boldface if there is a second form of inkprint emphasis that you absolutely need to show as distinct from the first form of emphasis. For example, if the text asks the user "how many more words are there in italics than are underlined?", then it would be inappropriate to show everything in a single form of emphasis.

Physical underscoring is another form of emphasis shown by using the dropped c characters in a line placed underneath the braille text. Physical underscoring is usually reserved just for the lower school grade levels (school grades 1-3).

As always, when you use the Preferences Menu, don't forget to save your preferences for later.

Step 4: Import the File/Do Data Entry

Now it is finally time to import the file. Press F3 to import the file. Specify the file name and wait for MegaDots to import and open the file. See Chapter 7 for more information on importing files.

Alternatively, if you are doing your data entry from scratch in MegaDots, do it now.

Step 5: WYSIWYG vs. Show Markup

When you use MegaDots, you have to make the decision about which display mode you prefer: WYSIWYG vs. Show Markup. If your knowledge of formatting is limited, you may prefer to see the file in WYSIWYG, in order to get an accurate idea of the document formatting without being bogged down with format markup.

Once you get more familiar with MegaDots and its way of applying format, you may prefer the Show Markup display. As you start to apply more complex formats (multiple kinds of emphasis, transcriber's notes, inkprint page indicators, etc.) you may prefer to do all your work in Show Markup Mode.

Whichever mode you prefer to work in, you can press Alt-W to switch modes at any point. With this shortcut you can easily take advantage of both modes.

Step 6: Check the Styles and the Text

Once you have imported the file, move the cursor through the document. Keep track of the style name displayed on the bottom status line. If you see something amiss, correct it. Exactly what would constitute an error depends on your document. Basically, you want to make sure that body text, headings, and lists are applied correctly. For example, if the cursor falls on something that should be heading level 3 and isn't, type Alt-H 3 <Enter>.

If the source document is an ASCII text file, MegaDots might make an error deciding what is a new paragraph. This could result in material that should be separate paragraphs being jammed together into one MegaDots paragraph. Or a paragraph may be split into several MegaDots paragraphs. Move the cursor to the appropriate location and press Enter to split one paragraph, or Backspace to combine two paragraphs. Note that in Show Markup mode (Alt-W) paragraph breaks appear as less than or equal to signs.

Because of the complexity of file importation, and the nuances of context, it is impossible to say that MegaDots will always bring your text in correctly. For perfect braille you must proofread the text and format. Check the file to see that all the major segments of text are there. Make sure that the text is in the correct order. If the file is a scanned document, it may contain extra material (such as a copy of a running header or footer for each print page). You may have to insert or delete text to correct these sorts of errors.

Step 7: Insert a Running Head (if desired)

If you need a running head, move the cursor to the beginning of the main body of the document. If you are a transcriber, you know where the start of the main body pages are. If you are not a transcriber, a table of contents is usually the last part of the preliminary pages. The main body page start after the table of contents is finished.

Type the text you want for the running head as a separate paragraph. Mark it as a running head by typing Alt-R H <Enter>. If you are in WYSIWYG mode, the running head will appear at the top of each page. However you will not be able to move your cursor to the running head except in cursor go everywhere mode (Alt-E) or edit the running head text.

If you are in Show Markup mode, you will see the running head only at the position you placed it (which is usually at the beginning of the document). If you are in Show Markup mode, you can position the cursor on the running head and make changes.

Step 8: Put in Inkprint Page Indicators (if desired)

If you are using textbook format, you need to tell MegaDots where each page of the inkprint book starts. It is a good idea to be in Show Markup mode while putting in inkprint page indicators. Press Alt-W if necessary.

Position the cursor at a point equivalent to the top of the inkprint page. Usually, this means putting the cursor on top of the first character of the first word that shows up on the new page. If there is a running head, position the cursor at the start of the paragraph after the running head. Type Control-Enter. Give the page number from the inkprint book and press Enter. Continue this step for all the inkprint pages in your book.

Step 9: Preliminary Pages

Preliminary Pages are a complex subject. The reason they are complex is that the established formatting rules are quite complex. We have prepared two self documented files called PRELIM-N.MEG (for North American) and PRELIM-B.MEG (for British). These are in the MegaDots directory. They explain how to prepare preliminary pages. If you need preliminary pages, please see these documents.

To insert preliminary pages into your document, position the cursor at the beginning of the file and type Control-Insert B P, then select the appropriate type of preliminary page. If you select a title page, it is essential that you indicate that the next page is something other than the title page. MegaDots can only handle one braille page which is the title page.

Now position the cursor at the beginning of your main body pages (the end of the preliminary pages). Type Control-Insert B M to mark this as the beginning of the main body of text.

MegaDots can automatically create a table of contents for you. It is wise to save your document to disk before proceeding. Type F10 T C. Answer the prompts. Press F10 to start the generation of the table of contents.

Step 10: Translate and Output

To translate the document into braille, press F5. When you look at a braille file, it is best to be in WYSIWYG. Press Alt-W if necessary. To actually output the file into braille, press F7 from the Editor. To save your MegaDots file to disk, press F4. You don't want to lose all your hard work.

Chapter 9 Spell Checker

Introducing the MegaDots Spell Checker

The MegaDots Spell Checker is unique because it can handle conventional typos as well as the mangled text that comes out of optical scanners. It is highly efficient for both blind and for sighted users.

The Spell Checker is part of your copy of MegaDots. You do not need to install a separate "Spell Checker" disk.

Conventional Typos and Optical Scanner "Scannos"

The MegaDots Spell Checker has a dual personality: it can behave like a conventional spell checker or it can reconstruct words mangled by optical scanners. An example of a conventional typo is writing sucess instead of success. An example of a "scanno" is the sequence fi-ol7i instead of the word from.

The MegaDots Spell Checker would suggest that I'ght'n-2 (note to braille reader: the hyphen stands for an underbar character) should be the word lighting. How does it work? The spell checker has a dictionary of over 90,000 words. When the MegaDots Spell Checker finds a word it cannot recognize, then it looks at a separate list of about 200 ways characters are misread by optical scanners. For example, an "r" can be misread as "i-." The program uses that list to try out many possible combinations of characters. In some cases, the software may test close to a thousand different combinations. Each of these combinations is tested to see if it is a legal word in the dictionary. The program uses a variety of techniques to try to ensure that the first suggestion that the program presents is, in fact, the correct word. The important thing to remember is that even though all this work is going on in the background, you only have to press Enter to accept the demangled word. You can clean up your files in record time.

MegaDots also examines the pattern of punctuation usage in each paragraph. If it finds unmatched punctuation, then it is more likely to view the punctuation as potentially misread letters. For example, if it finds (lose with no matching close parenthesis for the open parenthesis, then the program will suggest close as the correct word. But if there is a matching pair of parentheses, the program keeps the word lose. This increases the chances of making correct guesses.

Blind and Sighted Friendly Interfaces

We have been very sensitive to the issue of making a spell checker which works well with voice or braille output. A spell checker usually combines a sample of the text with one word highlighted and some complex screens for choosing spellings. These complex screens make spell checkers frustrating to use with speech output.

The MegaDots Spell Checker has different screen layouts for blind and sighted users. Blind users will find that the line containing the typo is always on screen line 22. Each alternative word is pronounced and then spelled out by the voice synthesizer. To reduce screen clutter, each screen line only offers one choice. The Visit Mode (see below) is especially useful for a blind user. It lets one explore the complete context of a typo.

Visit Mode

But there is more! The MegaDots Spell Checker also has a powerful Visit Mode to aid in correcting the text. In most spell checkers, you are very limited in the ways you can make changes in the text while you are spell checking. You are also very limited in being able to locate the error. With MegaDots, you press "V" and you are dropped into the full MegaDots Editor. You can delete, add, type and run global replace. There are some limitations: you cannot translate, or use any feature of the top menu bar in this mode. To resume spell checking from Visit Mode, just press Escape or F10. Visit Mode is addictive: once you use it, you will find it difficult to use any other spell checker!

Using the Spell Checker

To use the spell checker from the editor, type F10 T R. This selects Run Spell Checker from the Tools Menu. You are asked if the file came from an optical scanner. If you answer yes, then the spell checker will take into account the typical errors that optical scanners make. To understand how the spell checker works, make frequent use of the F1 help screens.

If the file was scanned and it contains forced page breaks, it is a safe assumption that the forced page breaks represent the start of new inkprint pages. MegaDots asks what to do with these forced page break commands. You have a choice of keeping the forced new page commands, deleting them or substituting inkprint page indicators. If you want inkprint page indicators, you are asked to specify the starting inkprint page number. In one stroke the entire file can be marked with inkprint page indicators for textbook format.

When the spell checker locates a word it cannot recognize, it highlights the word and displays a menu. The title line of the menu is the word Misspelled followed by the word in question. It presents a list of possible choices. Here is the list of choices:

Blind User Interface

In the blind user interface, you are first told the misspelled word, and then the first suggested replacement. The program reads the title line of the menu followed by the first choice. To look at all the spell check options, press the up or down arrow keys. To find out the context for the misspelled word, press V for visit mode. In visit mode you can read the word, sentence, or paragraph containing the misspelled word. To leave visit mode (and go back to the spell checker menu) press escape.

Questions About the Spell Checker

How do I spell check a braille file?

To spell check a braille document, translate into braille (F5), then press F10 T R.

How do I leave the spell checker?

As from anywhere in MegaDots, press escape to stop the spell checker.

How do I revise the dictionary? The R command does not work!

To revise the dictionary, you need to press the letter R followed by the letter A (for Revise Accept). If you just press R, you do not revise the dictionary. We did this to reduce the chances that the dictionary would be revised by mistake.

Sometimes when I revise the dictionary, I am asked if I want to add it in lower case. What does this mean?

Answering yes to this prompt puts both the upper and lower case versions of your word into the dictionary. For example, if a word is a proper name, you would only want the word in upper case, so you should answer no. If the word is not a proper name and might appear in lower case, then answer yes.

What does Abnormal Paragraph Break Mean?

An abnormal paragraph break is a spot where it appears that a new paragraph was started in the middle of a text paragraph. MegaDots thinks there is an abnormal paragraph break if the previous paragraph does not end with a period, question mark or exclamation point, and the next paragraph starts with a lower case letter. When you optically scan text, the optical scanning software guesses where paragraphs should start. When you import a file such as Microsoft Word or ASCII Line, the file and not MegaDots determines where paragraphs should start.

To change the carriage return to a space, press Enter to select the first alternative (which is to replace the return with a space). To leave the return as it is, press A for Accept.

What is Abnormal Punctuation? I get a prompt about Abnormal Punctuation, but I cannot see any mistake.

There are many things which MegaDots thinks of as abnormal punctuation. It could be an open parenthesis without a closing parenthesis, or an open quote without a close quote. Sometimes an abnormal paragraph break (see above) separates open from closing punctuation. In this case, the solution is to replace the extra return with a space. Just press A to accept the abnormal punctuation, and then take out the extra return when you're asked to deal with the Abnormal Paragraph Break. Or you could go into Visit Mode and directly change the return to a space.

What is is a repeated word?

MegaDots notices when a word is repeated in the text. To leave the text alone, press A. To delete the extra word, press D.

How can I get the MegaDots Spell Checker to accept a word throughout my document?

When you press A for accept, it only accepts that one use of the word. Press G followed by A (for Global Accept) to accept a word throughout your document.

How do I spell check just a section of text?

The MegaDots Spell Checker can be used on just a portion of text. Mark a block before starting the spell checker. The spell checker will restrict itself to the highlighted block.

I just put dozens of words into my MegaDots dictionary. How can I copy my revised dictionary to another computer? How can I edit this file?

The revised dictionary is in an ASCII textfile called LEX.AUX stored in the MegaDots directory. You can copy this file to a floppy disk and copy it onto another computer. You can edit the file as well. It is an ASCII file with one carriage return after each entry.

Is there any way to speed up the task of cleaning up optically scanned files?

The Find and Replace function of MegaDots can speed up your work. For example, you can change all carriage returns followed by lower case letters into spaces in one stroke (press Control-F9 for complex replace; use {Eg}s for the find string, and " " for the replacement string). If you see a pattern in your document that you can exploit, make use of find and replace. If you have many documents to fix, consider setting up a rules file to contain all the changes you need to do. See Chapter 12, Find and Replace, for more detailed information on complex replace and rules files.

Obtaining Text From Your Optical Scanner

When you create a file from your optical scanning system, you usually have a choice of file formats. We recommend avoiding WordPerfect files from the OsCaR system (OsCaR puts in far too many font changes and character type changes to be meaningful). Instead use "ASCII no CR" (this is what MegaDots calls ASCII Line). We recommend asking for WordPerfect files from Open Book or Kurzweil. We do not have good information about Recognita. You will have to experiment to find the file format that gives you the best format and character information for that system.

If you are unsure of the file extension or the name of the directory used by your optical scanning software to export files, please contact your optical scanning vendor. Or you can do an experiment. In your scanning program, create a test file called SCANTEST. Now search your hard drive for a file called SCANTEST. Let's say the file SCANTEST.DOC was located in the directory called export. You can launch MegaDots with the command mega c:\export\scantes.doc <Enter>. Usually the file extension is TXT for ASCII textfiles, and DOC for WordPerfect files.

All the major optical scanning vendors are in the process of modifying their software to run the various braille translators from their menu systems. Avoid using these schemes. At present, no optical scanning vendor has shown an interest in launching the full MegaDots Editor from their systems. Without the full MegaDots Editor, you cannot run the MegaDots Spell Checker.

What we recommend is that you save your optically scanned document as ASCII text or WordPerfect, then exit your scanning software and launch MegaDots from the MSDOS prompt or from a MegaDots icon in Windows. Import the newly created file into MegaDots. Then, from the MegaDots Editor, run the MegaDots Spell Checker.

For more information about scanned document cleanup, please see Chapter 7, File Import and Export. The file importer has automatic scanner cleanup available, which is done before you even begin to work on your document in MegaDots.

Using the MegaDots Spell Checker

Recently, I took a 6 page article from a magazine and turned it into braille. Here are the steps I took. I scanned the article using my copy of Open Book Unbound. After each page was scanned and converted, I pressed the Escape key followed by the keypad Ins key (the Scan key) to scan the next page. When the scanning was finished, I used the Library Export command to convert the file into a WordPerfect file in the export directory.

Then I quit Open Book and launched MegaDots. I typed mega \export\complay.doc <enter> to import the article. From the MegaDots Editor I typed F10 T R to run the MegaDots Spell Checker. I was asked Is this text coming from an optical scanner? I pressed Y for yes. Then I was asked, What do you want to do with the forced page breaks? I chose inkprint page indicators and gave the starting inkprint page number.

I did my fix-ups in several passes. In the first pass, I did not look at the inkprint copy at all. I just looked at the screen and the suggestions from the spell checker. If there was something I was not sure about, I just accepted it (pressed A), so I could deal with it later.

Then I did a second pass with the inkprint in front of me. The magazine title was in such large print that it was not scanned. I typed it in manually. On every print page there was a quote from the main body text which was out of context. I deleted these. There was extra text from headers and footers. I deleted these.

I mainly concentrated on the start of paragraphs. A few paragraphs were broken up or combined. I fixed them by deleting or inserting carriage returns. I used the Alt-down arrow key to take me to the top of the next paragraph. I made sure that the top of each paragraph matched up with the paragraphs in the inkprint.

The trickiest problem concerned a side bar. The article had a three column format. One page had a half page sidebar that was in a four column format. Needless to say, Open Book Unbound did not properly arrange the seven columns on the page. So I moved the sidebar to the end of the article. I needed to do some careful clipboarding to collect the sidebar away from the rest of the article.

My final pass through the article was with the inkprint in front of me. I used the spell checker and fixed the spelling errors which I passed over before. I made sure that names were spelled right. I was finished.

Chapter 10: Printing


See Chapter 5 for information about configuring your inkprint printer or your embosser. This chapter tells you about how to make use of your already configured inkprint or braille device to get the best use of it.

If you are new to MegaDots 2.5, remember that there are new mechanisms that make it much easier to work with Windows devices. This includes printers and embossers set up as network or USB devices. The two mechanisms are utility programs called Embossit 3.0 and MegaPrn. You can use these as stand-alone programs, or you can have MegaDots use them for printing. Please see Chapter 5 to make sure you have your devices best configured to work with MegaDots 2.5.


Setting up your Embosser with MegaDots

See Chapter 5 (Your Preferences), under the section labelled Braille Devices, for detailed information on setting up an embosser with MegaDots.

Printing to your Embosser

Now that you have an embosser setup in your preferences you are ready to print to your embosser. To do so, translate your document into braille, and either press F7 or select Print from the File menu. You will be presented with the Braille a Document window. The Braille Output Device field will show the default embosser for the current document. You may change this to any other embosser by pressing F2 on this field. The Inkprint Braille Devices are also selectable from this list. This feature is detailed later in this section.

The other fields in the Braille a Document window allow you to make last minute changes to how your document will be printed. You can use the F1 key on a particular field to find out what that feature does. Finally, when everything is set to your liking, to begin printing your document, press F10.

If you are having difficulty embossing, see Chapter 21 (Troubleshooting) or the Interface Guide.

Making a Braille Banner page

Braille banner pages are useful for situations where sighted persons need to quickly identify different brailling jobs. If you set the DOS environment variable MEGABANNER equal to your name (e.g. type SET MEGABANNER=Charlie Brown <Enter> at the DOS command line) MegaDots will generate a readable banner page for the braille-impaired at the start of each braille printout. It shows your name, the file name, the date, and the time of printout. For sites sharing an embosser, such as in a network environment, it is a good idea for each user to set this variable in their AUTOEXEC.BAT file.

Interpoint Braille

When you tell MegaDots to braille to an interpoint (double-sided) embosser, it becomes aware of the difference between odd and even pages (right and left hand pages.) MegaDots reformats the document accordingly. For example, at the end of the preliminary pages, the format automatically moves to the top of the next odd page to start the main body pages. At the end of your document, the format automatically moves to the top of the next double-sided sheet.

MegaDots has special formatting options designed specifically for interpoint embossing. One option is the Suppress even page numbers option which is located in the Braille Document Setup screen under the Document menu and under the Preferences - New Document menu. Another option is the Right hand new page command, which is located in the Braille Page menu accessed through the Control-Insert pop-up menu. This option forces embossing to resume at the top of the next right hand page. Finally, in the list of Running text styles, Header odd/even and Footer odd/even place the running header or running footer on only one side of the page.

The special interpoint-based options just listed translate to equivalent single-sided options when MegaDots prints to a single-side embosser. Specifically, the Suppress even page numbers option has no effect. The Right hand new page command simply moves to the top of the next page (like the Force fresh command). Similarly, the Header odd/even and Footer odd/even styles place the running header or running footer on all pages.

If you are making a generic document to share with other MegaDots users using different embossers, it is safe and advisable to use the above interpoint-specific options. For example, wherever you think that printing should move to a new right hand page in interpoint, use the Right hand new page command instead of the Force fresh command. The interpoint-specific behavior occurs only when someone prints to an interpoint embosser. Following this rule, you will have better control over your braille, regardless of the output device used.

Creating Braille-ready Files

Occasionally you may need to prepare a braille file for printing without MegaDots. You may be planning to print it from another computer where you don't have MegaDots installed. Or you may be sending it to someone else who does not use MegaDots. The best way to do this is to print to a file instead of an embosser. This produces what is called a braille-ready file. We encourage MegaDots users to use the .brf file extension for these files, as this is the prevalent naming convention.

A braille-ready file contains exactly the characters that are sent to an embosser to braille the document in question. To create a braille-ready file from MegaDots, you follow the steps for brailling a document on your embosser, except that you tell MegaDots to print to a file instead of a device. If you specify a particular embosser, then the braille-ready file may contain specific commands for that brailler. In general, we recommend that when you are creating a braille-ready file, you specify a MegaDots embosser of "Generic embosser," or "Generic interpoint" (use the interpoint choice to make use of interpoint-specific features, such as starting major sections on righthand pages). However, if you are creating a braille-ready file specifically for one embosser, perhaps making use of its graphics commands, then you should specify that embosser in the process of creating the file.

In following the steps that you normally take to braille a document, get to the Braille a Document screen. For the Embosser: select Generic embosser or Generic interpoint, as mentioned above (or a particular embosser if that is really what you need). Now move to the Name of port/file field and enter the pathname for the file to which you wish to "print." There is also a shortcut for the filename step which you may find useful. Instead of typing in a file name, type a drive letter followed by colon (e.g. a: or c:). Then MegaDots automatically creates a file with the same name as your document, but with the file extension of .brf. If you use A: for the drive specification, MegaDots creates this file on the disk in the A drive; if you use C:, MegaDots creates the file in your current directory on the C drive. Once you have entered a filename or used the drive letter shortcut, press F10 to create the braille-ready file. If you use the A: shortcut, your file is on a floppy disk which you can bring to a different computer for embossing.

If you use braille-ready files frequently, you may wish to set up some preferences specifically designed for creating them. In particular, under Braille devices, you can set up both Generic embosser and Generic interpoint, specifying the Connection port as A: or C:. To add an embosser setup under Preferences - Braille devices, press the Insert key to bring up the list of available embossers. when you create a new embosser setup, you are asked whether or not to make it the default embosser. You can also change which embosser is your default under Preferences - New document - Braille document - Embosser. Whenever you make changes in your preferences, remember that pressing F10 by itself does not save your changes for future MegaDots sessions. To save your changes, go to the Preferences menu, and use the Save preferences option. This prompts you for a filename and shows the name of the currently loaded preferences file. You can press Enter to accept that filename and overwrite the existing preferences. Or you may prefer to specify a different .env filename. For example, you might create a preferences file called brf.env that you use when you are creating braille-ready files.

Once you have created a braille-ready file, you can use it in various ways. You can attach it to an e-mail message to share it with someone else. You or someone else can emboss it using either the Embossit program or the MegaPrn program, both of which are installed on your system as part of MegaDots. You or someone else can also open it in another braille production program, such as the Duxbury Braille Translator.

Inkprint Braille Devices

There are a set of special braille output devices which begin with the word Inkprint, which are not braille devices at all. These devices are used for printing a document in the inkprint braille printing modes on your inkprint printer. See the section on braille printing modes under the Printing on Ink Printers section below.

Printing on Ink Printers

Setting up your Printer with MegaDots

See Chapter 5 (Your Preferences), under the section labelled Inkprint Devices, for detailed information on setting up a printer with MegaDots.

Printing to your Ink Printer

Now that you have an inkprint printer setup in your preferences you are now ready to print a document. To do so, translate your document into inkprint, and either press F7 or select Print from the File menu. You will be presented with the Print a Document window. The Printing Device field will show the default printer for the current document. You may change this to any other printer that has been set up in your Inkprint printers list.

The other fields in the Print a Document window allow you to make last minute changes to how your document will be printed. You can use the F1 key on a particular field to find out what that feature does. Finally, when everything is set to your liking, to begin printing your document, press F10.

Typefaces and Fonts Sizes

The typefaces that are available for you to use in your document depend on your current inkprint printer. Every printer has at least one built-in font. Some printers have several built-in fonts to choose from. Several modern printers support scalable fonts, which can be set to whatever point size desired. At the current time, MegaDots does not support Windows or Macintosh Truetype fonts, so you are limited to the fonts supported by your printer.

You may change the default typeface and font size for your document from within either the Preferences - New Document - Inkprint Document Setup or the Document - Inkprint Document Setup screens. Each typeface has a different appearance. Normal typefaces can be categorized as Serif, which have extra pen strokes to more easily distinguish letters, and San Serif, which are more plain. Some typefaces are made up of symbols (Symbol, Dingbat, Wingdings) and are not appropriate for text. Other typefaces resemble scripted handwriting and are not appropriate for standard documents (Chauncery). We recommended the following Serif typefaces: Book Antiqua, Bookman, Calisto, Footlight, Garamond, Goudy, Modern, Perpetua, Times, Times Roman, Roman. Some recommended Sans Serif typefaces include: Arial, Franklin.

If you are not sure of what typeface to choose, select one of the typefaces from the recommended list above. We especially recommend Serif typefaces, as they are easier to read. However, Sans Serif typefaces have fewer details and may be easier for some readers. If you don't see any typefaces from the lists above, you can test the available typefaces in order to find the typeface that's right for you. As a last resort, choose nothing, and MegaDots will use the default printer font. However, you will probably be limited to 10 or 12 point point size.

If you will be making large print, or any size of print outside of the range of 10 to 12 points, make sure that the typeface you choose has the desired point sizes available. We recommend choosing a typeface with many sizes available. If a typeface says "(scalable)" next to its name, you are free to choose any point size up to 63 points. Otherwise, check the available point sizes by pressing F2 on the "Starting point size" prompt. If you choose a type size not available for the current typeface, MegaDots will choose the closest typeface that supports this size.

A point is a standard printing industry unit measured as 72 points to an inch. Normal sized print is usually about 10 to 12 points. This size gives you about 6 lines per inch. Print that is 9 points or less is considered small print. Large print is usually 14 to 24 points. Some readers need type larger than 24 point.

To get the size you ask for (even if it is not offered as a choice), MegaDots may do some substitution of typefaces. MegaDots will choose the closest typeface (in appearance) that will print at the desired point size, if any is available. If the current inkprint printer doesn't support any typefaces at the selected point size, MegaDots will use a built-in scalable graphics font to generate the size you want. If MegaDots must use this built-in graphics font, you will notice that printing is quite slow, and may not look as good as comparable printer fonts.

Some fonts may require some extra tweaking to make them look good on your printer. Print out a sample page of text. Then go to the Preferences - New document - Inkprint document setup screen. If the letters appear to be squeezed together too much on each line, then you should increase the Extra space between characters setting. If the lines appear to be squeezed too close together on the page, then you should increase the Extra space between lines setting. Values are measured in points. Usually it's best to add 1 or 2 points to these fields at a time, then print out another test page, repeating this process until you are happy with how the text looks on the page. Remember to save your preferences when you are finished making changes.

Large Print Page Indicators

Large print page indicators are analogous to braille print page indicators. They provide an easily seen mark for distinguishing where the original text page breaks were. You may insert inkprint page break indicators in your document by moving your cursor to the exact spot that the page breaks in the original text occur, and pressing Ctrl-Enter. You will be prompted for the inkprint page number, then special markup will be inserted into your document. To activate the printing of large print page indicators, go to the Inkprint Document Setup. Answer "Yes" in the Page indicators for large print field.

Inkprint Braille Printing Modes

Besides normal inkprint text printing, there are several inkprint printing modes which allow you to produce graphical or textual views of the translated braille document on your inkprint printer.

To print using these modes, you must first make sure that the correct inkprint printer is setup in the current document settings. Then translate your document into braille. Press F7 to braille your document. In the Braille output device field, press F2 and select your desired inkprint braille print mode (described below) from the braille devices list. Check the other fields in the Braille a document screen, such as those for page range and the Name of port/file field. When you are ready press F10 to print.

Network Printing

You don't need any special tricks for printing to a network embossers. You just need to set up your MegaDots inkprint device with a connection port of MPRN (for printing through the MegaPrn program). See Chapter 5 for details on setting this up. In the Print a document window, when you press F10 to go ahead with the printing, MegaPrn presents a dialog box from which you select the appropriate Windows printing device. This can be a printer set up with any kind of connection--network, USB, parallel, or serial.

Chapter 11: Tables and Columned Material

This chapter describes how to make braille tables in MegaDots. If you have been using an older version of MegaDots, read this to understand the new improved table formatter that handles the latest table rules.

As long as the correct format is used, MegaDots will make most tables a simple function. MegaDots will automatically do such things as insert separation lines, and take care of repeated table headers and footer if those elements are used (and you don't have to figure out where the table will divide to apply them). Guide dots are automatically used if the required amount of space is left after the entry and MegaDots will maintain the two cell "gutter" between columns (unless the table is too wide and it is only numbers).

If a table cannot fit on a whole braille page, several things happen. First, MegaDots ensures that column headings and at least two rows (or three rows if there are no column headings) fit on the first page. Second, MegaDots will calculate spacing for columns on each page independently from every other page.

We recommend that you create a table in Show Markup mode, because you will see the Tab marks, and each row of the table will be on one line, making proofreading much easier. If table entries have runovers, most table editing must be done in show markup. However, using Shift-Alt C to toggle the separation line, changing hierarchy levels, or changing table styles can all be done while in WYSIWYG.

It usually is not necessary to force a new braille page when dealing with tables. It is generally better to wait until you see how your file translates and then insert a page break using Control-Insert B F if necessary.

The basic format of this documentation will follow the order of Rule 8 in "Braille Formats". Code references are indicated in brackets.

These formats work when each row has the same number of columns (and tabs). When this is not true, then the file can become unstable and crash. TABLE-X.MDR is a rules file used to locate places in a table where this is not true. If you have a file containing tables which is unstable, keep the file in inkprint, and in show markup. Run this rules file. Search for a double tilde (~~). Fix the problems, save your work. Then try again to translate into braille.

Elements of a Table

BANA Sanctioned Styles Alt-T

All tables are created the same way in MegaDots. It's the choice of style that determines how it will be ultimately formatted. Remember that all table entries are separated with Tab and each line (row) of the table ends with a carriage return.

Table styles can be applied before or after the data entry, and can be changed easily. Once your table paragraphs are marked with styles, you do not need to block the entire table to change from one table style to another. Just use the Alt-T command anywhere within that table to change the style of every row of the table.

Boxing lines [Formats, 8: 3]

Boxing lines are only used if they appear in print, however, they are not necessary if the table fills the entire print page.

Blank Lines Within a Table [Formats, 8: 3c]

There are two different ways to create blank lines with tables and the distinction is important for purposes of formatting.

Table Headers [Formats, 8: 4a]

Table headings are repeated on any additional braille pages that are used for the table. The (cont.) header is not preceded or followed by a blank line and MegaDots will take care of this for you. The only thing you need to do is define the Table header.

Simply type the table heading a second time (abbreviate if necessary) and press Alt-R T. The placement of the Table header is very important. If the table heading is before a boxing line, make sure to place the Table header AFTER the boxing line. When a table is preceded by any Alt-N style, or a transcriber's note, place the Table header BEFORE the note(s). When there is body text between the table heading and the table itself, place the Table header BEFORE the Body text. When the table heading immediately precedes the table, place the Table header BETWEEN the table heading and the table.

MegaDots will turn off the Table header when it encounters: an End box line (if there is a Begin box line); after any Alt-N styles (footnotes which may appear at the end of the table); or when a table style is no longer being used. If for some reason MegaDots does not turn off the header, do it manually by creating a blank Table header at the end of the table.

You cannot have a Table header and a Table footer in the same table.

Table Footers [Formats, 8: 4b]

A Table Footer is used for sequentially numbered tables. Simply type the table heading a second time (abbreviate if necessary) and press Alt-R End. This will place the title/number on line 25 of the first page and any additional pages. The placement of the Table footer is very important. If the table heading is before a boxing line, make sure to place the Table footer AFTER the boxing line. When a table is preceded by any Alt-N style, or a transcriber's note, place the Table footer BEFORE the notes. When there is body text between the table heading and the table itself, place the Table footer BEFORE the Body text. When the table heading immediately precedes the table, place the Table footer BETWEEN the table heading and the table.

MegaDots will turn off the Table footer when it encounters: an End box line (if there is a Begin box line); after any Alt-N styles (footnotes which may appear at the end of the table); or when a table style is no longer being used. If for some reason MegaDots does not turn off the footer, do it manually by creating a blank Table footer at the end of the table.

When text resumes, MegaDots will force a new braille page, as no text (other than notes) should come between the end of the table and the Table footer.

You cannot have a Table header and a Table footer in the same table.

Table Columns and Column Headings [Formats, 8:6]

MegaDots will automatically create the correct spacing between columns as long as Tab is used between the entries. If there is any runover in the column headings, MegaDots will make sure they all end on the same line, in addition to being left justified. Also, if there are any column entry runovers, MegaDots will handle this appropriately as long as the correct table style has been chosen. That is, Basic table column entries will start on the line the row heading ends. In Related cols, the column entries all start on the same line. Row and column runovers will automatically be indented two cells.

You may wish to control where table items divide if they are too long to fit on one line. Use Control-R T to require a break (place immediately after a word and before a space). Suppress a break by using Control-S T immediately after a word. MegaDots does not always pay attention to the Require table item break, but it will pay attention to the Suppress table item break. It may be more effective to suppress every space other than where you want it to break.

Separation Lines [Formats, 8: 6e]

A separation line separates column headings from the rest of the table, and is used whether or not one appears in print. This is a horizontal line of a single dot 5 followed by dots 25 the width of the column.

MegaDots assumes the top line of a table consists of column headings, and inserts the separation line after this line. To toggle this line from column headings to a table line (remove the separation line), press Shift-Alt-C while you are on the line before the separation line.

Table Column Headings Followed by Subcolumn Headings [Formats, 8: 6h]

MegaDots refers to these as "parent" and "child" headings. The parent is left-justified over the child headings. It is necessary to use a Combination tab so MegaDots knows that this is the situation. Immediately after the parent heading, use one Control-Tab for each additional column under the parent. For example, a heading with three subheadings would be entered as: Parent heading Control-Tab, Control-Tab, Enter. On the next line, Tab between the subheadings. MegaDots will place the appropriate separation lines under each of these parent and child headings.

Table Row Headings [Formats, 8: 7]

If a table has row headings, use the Basic table style, Alt-T B. This is a necessary distinction, for all runovers to be handled appropriately.

Row Headings with Subheadings [Formats, 8: 7b]

Table rows can have a hierarchy. Use Alt-Right arrow and Alt-Left arrow to change the hierarchy level of a table item. If the table has hierarchy, the lines are 1-5, 3-5.

Alignment of Items [Formats, 8: 8]

Table entries are generally left aligned in their columns. To achieve this in MegaDots use Tab between each table entry. When numbers are justified by the decimal point in print, use Shift-Tab which is the Decimal tab in MegaDots. At this time, MegaDots cannot align numbers using a comma. To manually align the commas, use the appropriate number of Control-B (blank character or "sticky space") before the number.

Dittos [Formats, 8: 8d]

Use the quotation mark, " for a ditto mark in a table.

Blanks or Omissions [Formats, 8: 8e]

Blank entries are created by using an additional Tab. MegaDots will fill the width of the column with dot 5s, or three dot 5s in a Stairstep table.

Use a dash (two hyphens) or an ellipsis if they appear in the print table.

Guide Dots in Tables [Formats, 8: 8g]

As long as the correct style is chosen (Unrelated columns do not use guide dots) and either Tab or Shift-Tab is used between entries, MegaDots will place three or more guide dots as required.

Column Totals [Formats, 8: 8h]

To create the separation line between a column of numbers and a total, use Control-Insert L M (Mid table line). If the line starts under the second column in print, place a Tab before the Mid table line. Make sure this line is styled the same as the table.

Formats for Wide Tables [Formats, 8: 9]

Although not automatic, it is fairly easy to interchange columns and rows [Formats, 8: 9a] in a wide table. This is accomplished by:

Vertical division [Formats, 8: 9b] is also a matter of using the column blocking feature. The instructions below assume the first column needs to be copied (as in a Basic table). If the table is Related cols then it is not necessary to copy the first column.

Linear (Paragraph) table format, added in the BANA 2007 Codes Update [Formats, 8: 9f], is another option. Producing this format is a simple matter of pressing Alt-T P. The table is created the same way as other tables. Where it finds a Tab character in the data entry, MegaDots automatically places a punctuation mark followed by a space. It uses a colon after the first entry and a semicolon after the mid-row entries. It inserts a period at the end of each table row. To override the punctuation that MegaDots inserts, insert your own punctuation before the Tab or Enter.

Producing a table in Stairstep format [Formats, 8: 9e] is a simple matter of pressing Alt-T S. The table is created the same way as other tables. Table headers are not used in a stairstep format. This style uses an indented format for each entry of a table. The first column is blocked in cell 1, the second is blocked in cell 3, the third is blocked in cell 5, etc. MegaDots will protect each row of the table so it is not split between braille pages (unless it is longer than a braille page). Use a Tab to indicate a blank space in a stairstep table, and MegaDots will insert three dot 5s.

It is necessary to place a Transcriber's note before a stairstep table. Write a paragraph similar to the following: "Print column form changed as follows: Tab Column 1 heading Tab Column 2 heading Tab Column 3 heading", etc. Mark this paragraph as a Stairstep, Alt-T S and also as a transcriber's note (block the entire paragraph and press Control-F T).

The listed table format was added in the BANA 2007 Codes Update [Formats, 8: 9g]. We have not created a specific table style for the listed table format. You can enter each entry as a separate paragraph, using the Directions style for each row header and the Exercise style for other column entries. In each entry, start with the column header followed by a colon and a space. If a column entry has hierarchy, then use the appropriate hierarchy level for the Exercise style. The examples subfolder in your MegaDots program folder contains an example of a listed table taken from the BANA 2007 Codes Update, as described in the file called comments.meg in that folder.

Two page tables Alt-T T are also available in MegaDots, though they are not sanctioned by BANA. This formats the table to fit on two pages side by side. In braille WYSIWYG, it appears as a very wide table with a line down the middle to show you where the two pages separate. If brailled on an interpoint embosser, MegaDots will make sure to start the table on an even page, so it is brailled across facing pages. For single sided embossers, it is up to the user to bind the first page of the table flipped over.

Notes in Tables [Formats, 8: 10]

As a general rule, notes are placed at the end of the table. The most efficient method is to place the indicator at the correct reference point within the table. On the next line after the table is completed, use Alt-N M to create a Manual note style. Start the paragraph with the same reference indicator used in the table.

If the note is necessary to the understanding of the table, place it before the table. This should be preceded by a Transcriber's Note explaining that the note appears in the table.

Unsanctioned Styles

For individuals who need the flexibility to do other table formats, there are some additional table styles available.

The two page table style also provides a wide table format currently unsanctioned by BANA. See the discussion above under the heading "Formats for Wide Tables."

Make Clipboard Columns

MegaDots can automatically create and format columns from a list of items. First highlight the items with Control-X. Then F10 T M to use the Make clipboard columns feature.

MegaDots will ask you whether you want the columns arranged Row by Row or Column by Column. Select Row by row if you want the items to be read horizontally. Select Column by column if you want the items to be read vertically.

After you select this option, MegaDots will calculate the maximum number of columns that will fit across the braille page. MegaDots will present this as a menu of choices. Select the desired number of columns and MegaDots will place your data in columns for you. Press Control-E to return to the editor.

Columned Material [Formats, 7]

When the Unrelated cols style (Alt-T U) is used, MegaDots assumes the top line does not contain column headings. When column headings are used in print, place the cursor on this line and press Shift-Alt-C to toggle a line from being a regular line (no separation line) to column headings.

You can automatically create Unrelated columns by typing the text as one long list (i.e., Enter at the end of each item). Block the list, and then use F10 T M to use the Make clipboard column option from the Tools menu. Choose whether the items should be arranged in columns or rows. MegaDots will figure out how many columns will fit on the page and give you the choice of how many should be used. Press Control-E to return to the editor.

Stem-and-Leaf Plots

In a document under the Nemeth style sheet, use the Related columns table style for creating a stem-and-leaf plot. On the top row of the table, start the first item with two Suppress number sign markers. That signals MegaDots that this is really a stem-and-leaf plot.

As usual in tabular material, use the Tab key to separate columns. However, include a separate table column for the vertical line of dots 456. To enter that on the inkprint side, use the Math items list to enter the Tally mark in that column on each row.

A stem-and-leaf plot may or may not have column headers. MegaDots assumes that the top line does contain column headers, and inserts the separation line after this line. It properly uses the dots 456 at the proper place in the separation line. To toggle the top line from column headings to a table line (remove the separation line), press Shift-Alt-C while you are on the line above the separation line.

The desired format for the lefthand column in a stem-and-leaf plot (the stem) is to be right justified, terminating with one space before the vertical line of dots 456. MegaDots does not do the right justification automatically. You need to use Control-B characters at the start of the entry to push it sufficiently to the right. Also, do not use the braille numeric indicator for numbers in the plot. Use the Suppress number sign where necessary.

The examples subfolder in your MegaDots program folder contains three examples of stem-and-leaf plots taken from the BANA 2007 Codes Update, as described in the file called comments.meg in that folder.


Colored emphasis will not appear in braille if the table is complex, meaning it has runovers in the table. You will notice however that all necessary indicators (such as italics) are there. The color does appear in Show markup (Alt-W).

Using a Running Head seems to provide more stability for some tables.

For some reason, using Control-Pg Down in braille will skip some pages with a table on it. Page Down will usually show the braille page. If you notice that a page still skips, use Down arrow or Up arrow to view your page.

It is best to use Tab between column headings.

Chapter 12: Find and Replace

When you are working in a word processor, you often need to find a particular place in your document. MegaDots' Simple find command finds whatever text you ask for. This easy-to-use command is just the beginning of the flexibility and power offered by the find and replace features. You can find and replace something as simple as a specific word or something as complex as the first semicolon in each paragraph of a list. You can save one or more find and replace instructions in a rules file to automatically fine tune your documents. Empowered by these multi-purpose tools for processing text, some MegaDots users have turned into find and replace junkies.

In this chapter we introduce the different ways to find text and substitute replacement text. Since these features give you so many choices, we provide a variety of examples. The examples show how to use find and replace effectively, and you may find some which are very useful in your everyday work. We also list the easy-to-use rules files supplied with the MegaDots program and describe the important tasks they perform.

The Find and Replace Menu

From the MegaDots editor, go to the Tools Menu by pressing F10 T. Press F to select the Find and Replace Menu. In this menu there are seven options along with corresponding shortcut command keys. These are the commands described in this chapter.

Simple Find

With Simple find you can search either forwards or backwards for specific text. To begin a search, press F9 to search forwards, or press Shift-F9 to search backwards. At any point, you can continue your most recent search by pressing Control-N for the Next occurrence or Control-L for the Last occurrence. If your search doesn't find a match, you can search in the other direction with Control-L or Control-N.

There are two different ways of searching for specific text. You may be concerned with matching the letter case exactly in your search. This kind of search is called case sensitive because it pays attention to, or is sensitive to, letter case. Or you may wish to ignore letter case in your search. This kind of search is called case insensitive because it is not sensitive to letter case. When the text you enter in Simple find has at least one uppercase letter, MegaDots assumes that letter case is significant and does a case sensitive search. When you enter text with only lowercase letters, MegaDots assumes that letter case is not important and does a case insensitive search. When you really do need a case sensitive search on search text that contains all lowercase letters, it is easy to do with Complex find, as described later.

Now we'll go through some examples of using the Simple find commands. From the Editor press F3 and open the file C:\Mega24\chicken.meg.

To find the word "chicken" with any letter case, press F9. MegaDots shows you a window (a quick form) called Simple find, with the prompt Enter text:. Type chicken with all lowercase letters as your find string, and press <Enter>. Your cursor will move forward from its current position to the first occurrence of text that matches the find string. It should fall on the first letter of "Chicken" in the title. Because you typed in all lowercase letters, MegaDots did a case insensitive search and matched the letters, whether lowercase or uppercase.

MegaDots has several ways of letting you know what happened in a search. If you have set Audio cues to Messages in the Editor Preferences, then "Found" or "No more matches" will appear on the status line. If you have set Audio cues to Sounds, you hear a pleasant tone or an unpleasant tone.

Now return to the beginning of the file with Control-Home. Press F9 again. Since MegaDots always gives you the option of using your last find string, "CHICKEN" appears again. You can begin typing new text, or edit the text that is there. Press Delete to delete the lowercase c and type in an uppercase C. When you press <Enter> to accept Chicken, the cursor will move past "CHICKEN" in the title to the paragraph starting, "Here's Huck Finn ....". Because you used an uppercase letter in your find string, MegaDots did a case sensitive search.

Now press Control-N. Your cursor will move to the next occurrence of "Chicken." If you keep pressing Control-N, your cursor keeps moving to the next occurrence of "chicken." Then press Control-End to move to the end of the document and then Control-L for the Last occurrence. The cursor moves backwards to the last occurrence of "chicken." If you keep pressing Control-L, the cursor keeps moving backwards to the last occurrence of "chicken." After doing this several times, keep pressing Control-N to move forward again. When your cursor is at the final occurrence of "chicken," the message is "No more matchs." This means that the word "chicken" does not occur after your current location.

Now let's do a backward search. Move to the end of the file with Control-End, and press Shift-F9. This time type "it was" <Enter> in lowercase letters. Your cursor will move to "It was" at the beginning of a sentence. You will soon learn how to search for "it was" with all lowercase letters using Complex find.

If you need to repeat a search that you've previously done, you can use MegaDots' search history shortcut. After pressing F9 or Shift-F9, press F2 at the Enter text: prompt. You will get a list of the last 10 search text strings you have used in MegaDots, with the most recent one at the top. You can move around this list as in any other MegaDots list, either with the cursor keys or with incremental search. When you find the search string that you want, press <Enter> to do that search.

Let's try out the search history list. From the Editor, press Control-Home to return to the top of the current document, then press F9 to do a Simple find. You will see "it was" at the Enter text: prompt, from the last search. Now press F2 to see the search history list, and select "chicken" from the list. Press <Enter> to do the search. Your cursor should fall on the first letter of "Chicken" in the title.

Simple Replace

The MegaDots replace feature lets you change the text that you've found into a replacement string. The Control-G Global replace command does this replacement throughout all or part of your document: from the match found last to the end of the document, or to the block anchor if block marking or hold block marking is on. The Control-Y "Yes, replace this one" command replaces the text you just found and moves the cursor to the next match of the find string.

Let's pretend to be an over anxious editor who does not want any sentence to begin with the word "Because." Press Control-Home to move to the beginning of the document. Now, to find the word "Because" with capital B, press F9, type Because <Enter>. Your cursor will land on the first sentence beginning with "Because." Now press Control-G for Global replace. The Simple replace quick form will prompt Enter text:. Type It's because <Enter>. MegaDots will put the message "5 replacements" on the status line. "Because" with capital B occurred five times in this document, and both occurrences have been changed to "It's because."

Now return to the beginning of the file with Control-Home. We want to change some occurrences of "chicken" into "fine chicken." Press F9 again, and type chicken <Enter>. To move forward several occurrences, press Control-N several times. When you come to an occurrence you want to change, press Control-Y. The Simple replace quick form prompts Enter text:. When you type fine chicken <Enter>, MegaDots makes the change and moves the cursor to the next "chicken." Press Control-N to move to the next "chicken" without any changes. Keep pressing Control-Y and Control-N as much as you like in order to get used to using Simple replace.

Now, press Control-End to move to the end of the document and then press Control-Y. Since you are at the end of the document, you might expect MegaDots to say "no more matches." Instead it changes the last "warn't" found and moves to the next one. Similarly, press Control-End and Control-G. MegaDots moves the cursor to the last "chicken" found and changes "chicken" from there to the end of the file.

Since Control-Y and Control-G use the location of the last match rather than the current cursor position, you can move around freely as you edit, without losing your place for making replacements. If you have moved to another part of the document and want to make a replacement after the cursor position, just press Control-N first to move to the next match after the cursor, and then press Control-Y or Control-G to replace.

Sometimes when you use Control-G or Control-Y MegaDots won't be sure if you want to continue with the previous replacement. If so MegaDots will present the Simple find quick form first and then the Simple replace quick form.

As a shortcut, you can specify a global replacement string along with the find string. To do this, use a double backslash (\\) to separate the find string from the replace string. For example, you can type F9 hello\\goodbye <Enter> to immediately change every occurrence of hello with goodbye.

Find and Replace with a Marked Block

When you have a block marked, the find and replace commands behave differently. When you begin marking a block with Control-X and issue a find command, the cursor will move to the next occurrence of your search string, and the block will follow. However, when you begin holding a block with Shift-Control-X and issue a find command, MegaDots will search only the text inside the block. When you use global replace with block marking or holding on, MegaDots does the replacements between the block anchor and the last item found.

Using MegaDots Rules Files

A MegaDots rules file is a special MegaDots file which automatically instructs MegaDots to perform a set of find and replace operations specified in the file. Using rules files can greatly automate many text processing operations. When you invoke a rules file, it acts on your entire document, or on your marked block if there is one.

Rules files always have the file extension .MDR. To invoke a Rules File, press Alt-F9 and type the name of the file without the .MDR extension. MegaDots looks for the rules file in your MegaDots program directory or your current directory.

We have supplied a number of very useful rules files in your MegaDots program directory. They include:

There may also be some others. Check for files with the .MDR extension in your MegaDots program directory.

As an example, suppose you accidentally had the caps lock on. To change uppercase letters to lowercase in the affected text, mark the text as a block, press Alt-F9, and answer the Enter name: prompt with LOWER. That's all there is to it. If you'd like to create your own rules file, first read the next section on complex find and replace, then open a new MegaDots file, and enter your complex find/replace strings, one per line. Then save your rules file with a .MDR extension. Now press Alt-F9, and enter the name of your rules file. Voila! Feel free to look at any of the included rules files with the MegaDots editor. This can help you to learn how to write your own rules files.

Using Complex Find and Replace

Complex find and replace is a very powerful tool for processing text. The Complex find and replace commands let you accomplish some tasks which you cannot do as efficiently or at all with the Simple commands. We use the word "complex" because these commands can accomplish complex tasks, not because they are hard to use.

Here are some important uses of Complex find and replace:

Using Complex find and replace is very similar to using simple find and replace. To begin a Complex find, you press Control-F9 to search forward or Control-Shift-F9 to search backward. Control-N, Control-L, Control-G, and Control-Y work as in Simple find and replace.

The only difference is in how you specify the text to find and the replacement text. In complex find and replace, you use a number of special characters to write expressions which can be as complex as small computer programs.

When you press Control-F9 or Control-Shift-F9, the Complex find quick form prompts you for a find string. For the find string in Simple find, you just type the characters you want to find. In Complex find, however, many letters and symbols stand for special things. So, to search for specific text exactly in Complex find, you must enclose the text between quotation marks. If you leave out a closing quotation mark at the end of your find string, MegaDots assumes it for you. If you enclose text between single quote marks instead of quotation marks, MegaDots will do a case insensitive search on the text. As with quotation marks, you can leave out a closing single quote mark at the end of your find string and MegaDots will assume it for you.

As described above, using the Simple find command with all the letters lowercase gives a case insensitive search, ignoring letter case. To find the text with only lowercase letters, use Complex find. At the Enter text: prompt in the Complex find quick form, type a quotation mark followed by the exact text. If the text includes a quotation mark, use two quotation marks in its place. If you use Complex replace, fill in the Complex replace quick form with a quotation mark followed by the replacement text. Again, if a quotation mark is part of the replacement text, use two quotation marks in its place.

Here is an example of replacing "he says" with "he said" in huck.meg. Press Control-Home and Control-F9. Enter the text "he says, including the opening quotation mark. Then press Control-G. Enter the text "he said, including the opening quotation mark. MegaDots reports 4 replacements. If you had done this global replace with Simple find and replace, MegaDots would have done 7 replacements, with three of them putting lowercase h at the beginning of a sentence.

This example is not terribly exciting. The power of Complex find and replace lies in many other uses.

Complex Find

You can build many factors, simple building blocks, into a Complex find string. Then MegaDots searches for text matching the first factor followed by text matching the second factor and so on. Before giving the list of all the different kinds of factors, here are a few examples.

If you do Simple find for the letters "he" in huck.meg, you find them embedded in many other words. To find just the word "he," press Control-F9. Give the find string k'he'k. If you keep pressing Control-N, you find only "he" as a word, with uppercase or lowercase h. In this find string, k stands for any white space or literary punctuation character, and enclosing he in single quotes does a case insensitive search on he.

Now let's move on to a more sophisticated example. Copy the file intguide.meg (the MegaDots Interface Guide) from the MegaDots directory into your working directory, and load it into MegaDots. Suppose that you wish to find phone numbers in the file. Press Control-F9 to begin a complex find. Enter the find string ~(d/3~)bd/3~-d/4q, then press enter. This takes you to the phone number for Enabling Technology under Bookmaker. Pressing Control-N takes you to the phone number for Blazie Engineering under Braille Blazer. If you keep pressing Control-N or Control-L, you will find various phone numbers. Please don't send us the phone bill. In this find string, the ~( stands for an open parenthesis, the d/3 stands for 3 digits, the ~) stands for a close parenthesis, b stands for a space, d/3 stands for 3 digits again, ~- stands for a hyphen, d/4 stands for 4 digits, and q stands for a blank or punctuation. Then return to the beginning of the file and do complex find for wd/3~-d/3~-d/4q. This time you find phone numbers, with the area code written differently. Finally, you can search for both forms of phone number together with the find string O~(d/3(~)b|~-)d/3~-d/4q. Pressing Control-N repeatedly shows that we weren't very consistent.

Now it's time to learn what these enticing codes mean and how to use them. Here is the list of the different kinds of factors that you can build into a Complex find string. In this list, we use C1 and C2 to stand for any character; N1, and N2 to stand for any number; F1 and F2 to stand for any factors; and S1 and S2 to stand for any complex find strings.

Specific Characters

Special Characters

Classes of Letters and Digits

Classes of Blank and Punctuation Characters


Factors Using Modifiers

When a complex find operation does find a string in your text, it puts your cursor at the beginning of the string, unless you used braces in the find string. If you used braces, it puts your cursor at the beginning of the string in your text which matches the part of the find string after the left brace.

Some Sample Find Strings

Testing Variables

You can also test variables in a find string. There are five built-in variables you can test: style, group (the style group), level (the level in a hierarchical style), trans (the type of translation), and emph (the kind of emphasis). When you test a variable, enclose the name inside of brackets. The bracketed name is followed by a comparison operator followed by either a factor or a number value.

The comparison operators are:

Here are some examples of using variables:

Complex Replace

As with Simple find, after doing a complex find you can press Control-Y for one replacement or Control-G for doing a replacement globally throughout all or part of the document. MegaDots prompts you for the complex replace string. To exactly specify characters in the replace string, enclose them in double quotes. As in the complex find string, there are also some special codes for use in the replace string which are not enclosed in quotes:

Specific Characters

To set variables, use the variable name inside of brackets followed by a colon, and then specify the value. The value you specify may be a string inside of double quotes or a number. For example, the replace string [style]:"Body text" sets the style to Body text. The replace string [level]:2 sets the hierarchy level to 2.

When you are performing either simple find (F9) or complex find (Control-F9), you can specify a replace string right there for global replace. To do this, use a double backslash (\\) to separate the find string from the replace string. For example, you can type Control-F9 'david'\\"David" to immediately perform this global replace.

Some Examples of Complex Replace

1. Suppose you have optically scanned a glossary, and you want to use the italicized entries as guide text (guide words on the bottom line). Press F2 and create a sample document called complex.meg. Type a few paragraphs containing a word, phrase, or name in italics followed by its definition. If your display is WYSIWYG, press Alt-W to switch to Format markup. Here is how to change the italics markup to guide text markup. Press Control-F9 and give the find string #["Ei"]#. The #[ is for arrow beginning a markup command. The O~\ is for an optional backslash. The "Ei" is for uppercase E, lowercase i. The ]# is for the arrow ending a markup command. Finally, the braces mean that only the letters E, i will be deleted. When you press <Enter>, your cursor moves to the start italics markup. When you press Control-N, it moves to the end italics markup. Press Control-L to return to the first occurrence, and press Control-G. For the replace string, enter "Eg". If you have typed three paragraphs, you get the message 6 replacements. You see that the Ei start italics markup has changed to the Eg start guide text markup and the \Ei end italics markup has changed to the \Eg end guide text markup.

2. Sometimes documents brought into MegaDots from optical scanning systems have extra paragraph breaks. (Note: If you really have this problem with a file imported as ASCII Document, first try importing it again as ASCII Quick.) Usually a paragraph break followed by a lowercase letter should really be a space. Type some more text which is broken up by unwanted paragraph breaks. Move to the beginning of this text. Press Control-F9 and enter the find string {Eg}s. The Eg stands for end of paragraph, the braces around it mean that only the end of paragraph will be deleted, and the s stands for any lowercase letter. Your cursor lands on the first end of paragraph followed by a lowercase letter. Now press Control-G. For the replace string enter " ". Any end of paragraph followed by a lowercase letter changes to a space. The braces prevent the lowercase letter from being deleted in this replacement.

3. You have an imported document with several different levels of headings. You want the first heading marked as Heading level 1 and the others marked as Heading level 2. The find string is Eg{}[style].='hea'. The replace string is [style]:"Heading level 2".

4. To change all uppercase letters to lowercase, the find string is u and the replace string is s. See the section below about the rules files LOWER.MDR and UPPER.MDR.

5. Now suppose you have an address list, where each paragraph contains all the items for one person, with semicolons between the items. You want to change the first semicolon in each paragraph to a colon. The find string is Eg*{~;}, and the replace string is ~:. If there is no end of paragraph before the first paragraph, you need to change the first one by hand.

Writing MegaDots Rules Files

We have supplied several rules files as part of the MegaDots package. But you can write your own rules files to automate your own common text processing tasks.

A rules file contains a list of instructions, or rules, each specifying a find and replace operation. When you invoke the rules file with Alt-F9, MegaDots performs all of these find and replace operations on your entire document, or on the marked block if there is one. Even if a rules file contains only one rule, saving it in a file means you don't have to come up with the find and replace strings each time you need them.

You already know almost everything you need to write a rules file. You can create a rules file in whatever file format you want, but we recommend writing them as MegaDots files. Put any rules file in your MegaDots program directory or in the current directory when you use it. Put each replacement rule in a new paragraph. Each rule, written as a Complex replace operation, contains the Complex find string, then two backslashes, and then the Complex replace string. In particular, to exactly specify the characters to find or to insert, you must enclose them between quotation marks. You can also include comment paragraphs in a rules file. Just begin a paragraph with two percent signs to make it a comment paragraph. The rules files that come with MegaDots have comment lines explaining how to use them.

The one remaining kind of paragraph in a rules file contains just two backslashes. It changes the way that MegaDots works through your document as it makes the specified changes. Ordinarily, MegaDots "stays on" the first character of your document and applies all the rules listed, then moves to the second character of the document and applies all the rules, and so on until it gets to the last character in the document. But sometimes we want MegaDots to apply one group of rules on the whole document and then go back to the beginning of the document to apply the next group of rules. A paragraph with just two backslashes ends one group of rules and starts the next group.

Examining the rules files supplied with MegaDots is a good way to learn how to write your own rules files. First let's examine the rules file CHARS.MDR. It counts the characters in your document but does not make any changes. The only rule is ?{}\\ with nothing after the two backslashes. ? stands for any character. The empty braces say to insert the replacement text after the character without deleting anything. Since the replacement text is nothing at all, no change is made. Since this happens for every character in your file, the reported number of replacements is the number of characters in your file. Use this rules file with WYSIWYG on, so that it does not count the characters in "section info" paragraphs, like those forcing a new page.

The rules file WORDS.MDR counts the words in your document in a similar way.

The rules file LOWER.MDR changes all uppercase letters to lowercase, including accented letters. This is especially useful if you had the caps lock on unintentionally. Mark the affected text as a block, press Alt-F9, and specify the rules file lower. Let's examine this file. The first rule u\\s changes unaccented uppercase letters to lowercase. u finds any unaccented uppercase letter. When a replacement is made, the uppercase letter is deleted. But the s in the replace string puts in a lowercase copy of the deleted text, in this case the lowercase letter.

The second rule is X(#128-#206u)\\s. The first rule does not find accented letters, represented internally as a special character followed by the underlying letter. You can see the internal representation by switching Markup view to All markup (press Control-Z M A). The letter in this representation is "invisible," so that you do not find an accented e when you are looking for a regular e. The X in the second rule tells MegaDots to look at all the text, no matter what. The X applies to everything inside the parentheses, because the parentheses make that a factor. The #128-#206 covers all the possible special characters used to introduce accented letters. The find string finds one of these special characters followed by a letter. When this is found, it is deleted. But the replacement string s inserts a lowercase copy of the deleted text.

The rules file UPPER.MDR is similar, changing all lowercase letters to uppercase.

OUTLINE.MDR works on an outline where everything is marked as hierarchy level 1. It changes the levels, based on the nature of the label for that entry.

MENU.MDR works on scanned menus. It does some cleanup, inserts guide dots before prices, and assigns styles appropriate in a menu.

If you want clarification on these rules files or any others supplied with MegaDots, read the comment lines, which start with two percent signs.

Chapter 13: Access Technology

Blind and visually impaired persons can't access information on a computer directly from the computer screen. Instead they use Access Technology. This includes speech, large print, and braille technology.

MegaDots is designed to work well with access technology, so that anyone can use MegaDots with ease. If you use access technology, you must tell MegaDots what you are using. The access technologies used most commonly with MegaDots are JAWS and Window-Eyes.


The MegaDots 2.5 installer copies the JAWS script files for MegaDots into the shared settings for any version of JAWS on your system. If you are using JAWS 5 or below, you need to compile the script files for MegaDots after installing MegaDots. To do that, launch MegaDots, press Insert+F2 S <Enter> and then Control+S. If you are using JAWS 6 or higher, that step is not necessary.

Periodically, MegaDots creates a batchfile jaws.bat in your MegaDots directory which compiles the modern JAWS script files. Each time you launch MegaDots with speech, this batch file is run. If you choose to update your JAWS script file for MegaDots, you need to keep it up to date in your MegaDots program directory, or else MegaDots will over write your changes.


Window-Eyes offers support for MS-DOS programs like MegaDots only when operating on an XP, 2000, Vista, or Windows 7 system.

The MegaDots installer places Window-Eyes 7.5 set files for MegaDots in the MegaDots 2.5 program folder. and in the appropriate Windows-Eyes folder. Periodically, MegaDots copies the Window-Eyes setfiles into the appropriate Window-Eyes folder. If you choose to update your Window-Eyes set files for MegaDots, you need to keep it up to date in your MegaDots program directory, or else MegaDots will over write your changes.

It's also important to set the Windows font size in MegaDots to 8x12. Do that from MegaDots by pressing Alt+Spacebar and then selecting Properties. It's in the Font tab. That's probably the default font size anyway.

Shortcuts for MegaDots

The MegaDots installer creates two different desktop shortcuts for launching MegaDots, one called "MegaDots 2.5 without speech" and another called "MegaDots 2.5 with speech". As you can undoubtedly guess, if you are using JAWS or Window-Eyes, use the shortcut called "MegaDots 2.5 with speech".

We know that the JAWS script files included with MegaDots work with JAWS up through version 13.0. If you get a message from JAWS that the script file is incompatible, simply press Insert-F2 S Enter to launch the JAWS Script manager followed by Control-S Alt-F4 to save and exit.

Avoiding speech problems

This paragraph describes avoiding the problem of really sluggish speech in MegaDots. At this writing, we have just learned that setting your computer's BIOS to have hyper threading turned on may eliminate the need for the system setting that we describe here. If you are using MegaDots with JAWS speech through Eloquence under Windows XP, 2000, or Vista; or Window-Eyes with a software synthesizer, it is crucial to eliminate a potential problem of unbearably sluggish speech in MegaDots. To access this setting, go to the Control Panel/System/Advanced tab and press the Performance button. The name of the setting may vary in different versions of Windows. In Windows XP Home it is called Processor scheduling. There are two choices, Programs and Background services. The default setting is Programs. Change this setting to Background services. Press OK for the Performance options and then for the System settings.

Another setting that can cause unbearably sluggish speech in MegaDots through JAWS with Eloquence or Window-Eyes is the property setting in the Miscellaneous tab called Idle sensitivity. In the desktop shortcut called "MegaDots 2.5 with speech," this is automatically set to the appropriate value of 100%.

JAWS and Window-Eyes do not provide any speech for a full screen DOS application. If you accidentally attempt to use MegaDots in full screen with JAWS or Window-Eyes, you end up getting no speech or refreshable braille output at all. That can happen if you accidentally use the "MegaDots without speech" shortcut instead of "MegaDots with speech." It can also happen if you accidentally have the Braille view mode set for Big dots and switch into a braille document.

We recommend eliminating the possibility of attempting to use MegaDots in full screen with your screen reader by telling the MegaDots installer that you cannot use MegaDots with full screen on your system. See Chapter 2 for the details.

When the MegaDots Insert setting is set to off, JAWS doesn't track the cursor properly. Pressing the Insert key toggles the Insert setting on or off. If you accidentally press the Insert key and toggle it off, your JAWS access to MegaDots seems very messed up. If you suddenly encounter JAWS access problems in MegaDots, try pressing the Insert key. If JAWS then announces, "Insert on," then that was the problem, and you've just fixed it. On the other hand, if JAWS announces, "Insert off," then that wasn't the problem; press the Insert key again to turn Insert back on again.

When you use MegaDots 2.5 with speech, make sure that the MegaDots preference item Big cursor is set to No. The use of "big cursor" makes JAWS so sluggish that it is unusable. Big cursor (in Preferences/Editor) is used by some sighted people on laptops to make the tiny cursor more visible. If you share a laptop with a sighted person and you both use MegaDots, watch out for this one.

In JAWS versions 6 and above, the end of paragraph indicator in MegaDots (Ansi 243) is announced as o acute. There is an entry in the JAWS dictionary manager file mega.jdf to speak this character instead as "end of para." This works fine when there is punctuation or a space before the symbol. But JAWS 6 or above doesn't use this dictionary entry if there is no punctuation or space before the symbol, as it thinks that o acute is part of the last word of the paragraph, as in headings and title pages. In these cases, JAWS 6 or above pronounces the last word as if it has an o at the end. For example, you might hear "Welcome to MegaDots" as "Welcome to MegaDotso." This is fine if you want JAWS to sing a children's song for you, but not if you are using MegaDots with JAWS as a tool.

We have also noticed two other characters that have similar problems in JAWS 6 and above. One character is the forced end of line character, gotten by pressing Alt-Enter or Control-Insert L F. If this comes immediately after a word, without a intermediate punctuation or space, JAWS says "registered" instead of "end of line." The other character is the broken bar character which appears on each line of the paragraphs list (Control-J G), separating the beginning text from the style name. If the broken bar symbol comes immediately after a word, without any intervening punctuation or space, JAWS says "superscript 3" instead of "bar."

You can modify the JAWS settings file ELOQ.SBL, adding entries for these characters to make JAWS handle them better in more situations. If you have not modified this file before, begin by copying the file from your JAWS shared settings into your JAWS individual settings. To do that, go to the Windows Start menu - Programs- JAWS (appropriate version) - Explore JAWS - Explore shared settings; that takes you into the JAWS settings folder for all users on this computer. Select the file eloq.sbl and press Control-C to Copy it into the Windows clipboard. Then go to Start menu - Programs - JAWS (appropriate version) - Explore JAWS - Explore my settings; press Control-V to paste in the Windows clipboard. If you are asked about overwriting, answer No as that would wipe out previous changes.

To make changes in eloq.sbl, go to Start menu - Programs - JAWS (appropriate version) - Explore JAWS - Explore my settings; that takes you into the JAWS settings folder that is specific for the current user, presumably yourself. When a JAWS settings file exists in both places, the one in My settings takes precedence over the one in Shared settings.

Once you are in the settings folder, select eloq.sbl and press Enter. That opens the file in Notepad. For American English, add material just before the line [British English]. Add the new lines:

U+0AE=end of line
U+0F3=end of para

JAWS and Window-Eyes hot keys for MegaDots

In both JAWS and Window-Eyes, there are several special keys set up for reading information from the status line. These are:

If you are using JAWS with refreshable braille access, you can press Control-Alt-8 to toggle a setting that determines whether messages like "Editor" and "Translating to braille ..." appear on the braille display as well as being spoken. These messages include style announcement when you move to a paragraph with a different style under "WYSIWYG off" display.

Note that ordinarily the JAWS classic laptop keyboard layout uses Alt-8 and Alt-9 as mouse buttons; those keystrokes do not work as mouse clicks in MegaDots in the classic laptop layout.

When you press the Delete key or the Backspace key, MegaDots says the character which is being deleted.

The Window-Eyes pass through command is Insert-B.

In JAWS the pass-through key is Insert-F3. We have also added an additional keystroke in MegaDots for the JAWS pass-through command. It is Control-3 (the three on the top number row). We added this keystroke because it is more convenient.

We reduced the number of keys for which you need to use the JAWS pass-through key. Now you don't need to use the JAWS pass-through key for pressing Control-Insert or Insert by itself in MegaDots. Be aware that if you press the Insert key accidentally in MegaDots, you switch to overstrike editing. When this happens, the cursor changes and JAWS has a harder time tracking the cursor.

You may still need to use the JAWS pass-through key for certain MegaDots commands, especially under the JAWS classic laptop keyboard layout. For example, in the classic laptop keyboard layout, you need to use the JAWS pass-through command for the MegaDots commands Alt-A, Alt-H, and Alt-I in the classic laptop layout, to issue the command Alt-A for the list of all styles, simply press Insert-3 (or Control-3) before pressing Alt-A.

Something Other Than JAWS and Window-Eyes

You can learn about specific access products in the Interface Guide. Press F10 H I, select the product name from the list, and then press Enter. The access products are near the end of the list.

Keyboard Conflicts

Some voice or braille access programs may have keyboard commands that conflict with MegaDots commands. For example, in the JAWS classic laptop layout, the Alt-H keystroke for reading the current sentence (or current line in older JAWS versions) conflicts with the MegaDots command to bring up the list of Heading styles. When using the JAWS classic laptop keyboard layout, to use the MegaDots Alt-H command for a Heading style, you need to press the JAWS pass-through keystroke first. As another example, if you are using Window-Eyes, the supplied keystroke for reading user window 1 is Alt-1. This conflicts with the MegaDots Alt-1 keystroke for setting the style level to 1. To use this MegaDots keyboard command, you could use the Window-Eyes bypass command first by pressing Insert-B.

Telling MegaDots You Are Using Voice Access

If you are using MegaDots through access other than JAWS or Window-Eyes, the first time you start up MegaDots, type control-Z A V (the "V" is for Voice). This changes the User Interface in MegaDots. To save this setting, type F10 P S <Enter>. From now on, each time you use MegaDots, it will be set up for access with voice output.

Once you have set up MegaDots for voice, you can further refine the user interface by changing the Editor Preferences. To get to the Editor Preferences, press F10 P E from the MegaDots Editor. Examine the editor options available. Use the F1 help key to understand what each option does. When you are finished, press F10, and then press S <Enter> to save your preferences.

Telling MegaDots You Are Using Refreshable Braille Access

If you are using MegaDots through access other than JAWS or Window-Eyes, the first time you start up MegaDots, type control-Z A R (the "R" is for Refreshable Braille). This changes the User Interface in MegaDots. To save this setting, type F10 P S <Enter>. From now on, each time you use MegaDots, it will be set up for access with Refreshable Braille output.

Once you have set up MegaDots for refreshable braille, you can further refine the user interface by changing the Editor Preferences. To get to the Editor Preferences, Press F10 P E from the MegaDots Editor. Examine the editor options available. Use the F1 help key to understand what each option does. One important refreshable braille issue is the display size. The initial setting uses a display size of 40 on your braille device. If your braille display size is different, then you need to change the "Limit Screen Columns" field accordingly. When you are finished, press F10, and then Press S <Enter> to save your preferences.

Still More Voice Features

MegaDots Sounds

The following list describes the different sounds MegaDots makes to inform the user of current activities:

Using the MegaDots Editor

As you use the MegaDots Editor, you may find it convenient to move by paragraph. Alt-Up Arrow and Alt-Down Arrow move up or down by paragraph. The command Control-J G (jump to paragraph) gives a vertical list where each line shows the beginning of the paragraph with the style name following it. When you find the paragraph you want to jump to, press <Enter>.

MegaDots has some exciting features that facilitate editing braille with voice access. Set the Braille view mode to Expanded (Control-Z D E) to work more efficiently in braille with voice access. This lets you read a braille file with each line back translated. You are able to view the braille format, since each line has the contents of one braille line. Moving up or down reads inkprint (but tracking reads the braille words). Moving left or right switches to ASCII braille. The effect is really nice: you get to view the layout of braille quickly and easily, yet are able to change any braille characters in your document.

When you are in the Editor and your document is in braille, the right side of the status line (columns 66 through 80) names the current braille character. If your voice configuration reads this area when you move left or right by character in a braille file, the voice program speaks the name of the braille character, for example "th sign" or "dropped c" instead of the ASCII equivalent, "question mark" or "three." Your voice configuration can look for uppercase B at the left of the status line to know when you are editing braille. When all of these features work together, you will be amazed by how easy it is to edit braille with voice. Some of the voice configurations we supply take care of speaking the braille character name when you are editing braille.

One command in MegaDots that is very useful to blind users is the Control-V voice command. You can voice the current word, line, sentence, paragraph or page (to voice a page, type Control-V P; to voice a paragraph, type Control-V G; to voice a sentence, type Control-V S). If you ask to Voice Document, MegaDots reads from the cursor position. Voice Character reads the current word one character at a time. When the document is in braille, a Control-V command reads the back translation, except when voicing a character. When you voice a character in a braille document, you hear the braille cells for the word voiced (for example, dropped b, er sign, dots 5-6). In conjunction with many combinations of speech synthesizer and screen access software, pressing a key during Control-V speech leaves you with the cursor on the current word (the last word you heard). This works well if your speech system uses "indexing." The flip side of this helpful "speech tracking" feature is that the speech is somewhat jerky. If the Control-V speech sounds jerky on your system, then the cursor will be where you want it when you stop the speech with a key press.

Pressing Control-V when you are highlighting with Control-X reads the highlighted area. This is useful if you lose track of what you have highlighted so far, or if you just want a certain portion of a document read to you. In addition, interrupting the speech with a keystroke truncates the highlighted area to the current position, provided your system has the speech tracking/jerky speech feature. Pressing Control-V immediately after a Control-X reads out text from the current position to the end of the document. If you press a key to stop speech, you create a highlighted area from the starting to the ending position.

There is also a Control-W command for "Where am I?" When you press Control-W, MegaDots announces which part of MegaDots you are in. If you are in the editor, it presents you with a menu of character, word, line, etc. Pressing Control-W D tells you what document you are editing and the associated printer (if currently inkprint) or the associated brailler (if currently braille). Pressing Control-W P tells you what page of the document you are on. Pressing Control-W L tells you what line of the document you are on. Pressing Control-W G tells you the style of the current paragraph.

Printing Large Print

See the section "Typefaces and Font Sizes" in Chapter 10.

Large Print Access

There are two ways of accessing MegaDots with large print. You can use the built-in large print screen in MegaDots or use an external large print program such as ZoomText or LP-DOS.

The first time you start up MegaDots, type control-Z A L (the "L" is for Large Print) for MegaDots internal Large Print. Or type control-Z A 2 (the "2" is for double sized) for an external Large Print program. This changes the User Interface in MegaDots. So save this setting, type F10 P S <Enter>. From now on, each time you use MegaDots, it will be set up for access with voice output.

The "2" is for magnification to twice the size. You can use any digit from 2 through 5. Use a number for the most common magnification that you use with your screen enlargement program. From now on, each time you launch MegaDots, it will work with your screen enlargement program.

To work with large print and voice access together, you need to change the Editor Preferences directly.

Chapter 14: NIMAS Files and Nimpro


What Are NIMAS Files?

NIMAS files are electronic files for K-12 textbooks. NIMAS is a technical standard used by publishers to produce source files (in XML) that may be used to develop multiple specialized formats (such as Braille or audio books) for students with print disabilities.

Since a NIMAS file contains component files, it is often called a NIMAS fileset. The source files are prepared using Extensible Markup Language (XML) to mark up the structure of the original content and provide a means for presenting the content in a variety of ways and styles. For example, once a NIMAS fileset has been produced for printed materials, the XML and image source files may be used to create Braille, large print, web (html) versions, DAISY talking books using human voice or text-to-speech, audio files derived from text-to-speech transformations, and more.

While NIMAS files can be used to produce braille, it is important to realize that braille production is not the sole reason for the generation of NIMAS files. A braille transcriber will quickly notice that a fair amount of manual work is needed to produce quality braille.

The various specialized formats created from NIMAS filesets may then be used to support a very diverse group of learners who qualify as students with print disabilities. It is important to note that most elementary and secondary educational publishers do not own all of the electronic rights to their textbooks and related core print materials and a copyright exemption allows them to deliver the electronic content of a textbook and the related core print materials to the NIMAC, a national repository which began operations on 12/3/06, as long as the publishers possess the print rights. NIMAS applies to instructional materials published on or after 7/19/06

A vast amount of information about creating NIMAS files is available at aem.cast.org.

Legal Background

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004 requires states to address the critical difficulty in obtaining accessible textbooks for students with disabilities by adopting a new file format, the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS). This same legislation offers a means to assist states in this responsibility by establishing a national repository to collect and store these files and make them available to states. This repository is the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC), and it is being established at the American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. (APH) with support from the U.S. Department of Education. The legislation directs the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education to establish to center at APH.

What is the NIMAC?

The NIMAC is a central repository that contains NIMAS files. It has an automated system for allowing publishers to deposit NIMAS files within the repository. The staff at the NIMAC uses a system to check to confirm that they are valid NIMAS, and then the files are cataloged into a web-based database. Those who have been authorized for access have user identifications and passwords. These authorized users are able to search the NIMAC database and to download the file(s) they need to convert to accessible instructional materials for those students who are in elementary and secondary schools and have qualifying disabilities.

What does the NIMAC do?

The NIMAC receives and catalogs publishers' electronic files of print instructional materials in the NIMAS format. The NIMAC serves as a national repository for NIMAS files and as a conduit through which the files are made available to authorized users to convert the files into fully accessible textbooks for students.

How do files get into the NIMAC?

Files do not come automatically to the NIMAC. The legislation does not seem to require that publishers send NIMAS files directly to the NIMAC. Publishers must provide the files to the NIMAC if required to do so by educational agencies. The key here is that the way files will get into the NIMAC is primarily through having educational agencies write contracts that direct the publishers to send NIMAS files to the NIMAC. In cases where an educational agency has produced its own NIMAS files, those educational agencies may contribute files to the NIMAC.

How Do I obtain Files from the NIMAC

NIMAS Files are available through your state's Authorized User(s). Go to http://www.nimac.us

Anyone can search for content by title, publisher, or ISBN. Authorized Users (AUs) can obtain content as required under contract with the publisher. Alternate Media Producers (AMPs) including braille transcribers can obtain content assigned by an AU. You may or may not use the NIMAC directly.


What is NimPro?

NimPro is a stand-alone software application produced by Duxbury Systems that acts as a bridge between NIMAS files and the braille translation software products MegaDots and Duxbury DBT. NimPro imports NIMAS files and then exports files for use with MegaDots or Duxbury DBT. A copy of NimPro is available at http://www.duxburysystems.com/nimpro.asp

Using NimPro

The instructions for Using NimPro are installed with NimPro. NimPro will continue to develop in new ways to serve those who produce braille. At the time of this writing, the features and possibilities of NimPro are still being defined. But the following aspects should be kept in mind:

Saving MegaDots files from NimPro

NimPro offers three different MegaDots file formats: Native MegaDots file, MegaDots-Markup Textfile, and a MegaDots-Ready Files. Of these, the preferred file is the Native MegaDots file.

There was concern that Nimpro produced .meg files might be confused with MegaDots produced .meg files. So when NimPro produces MegaDots files, the default is to produce read-only files with the special file extension of .nmg (nmg is short for "native mega"). You can change the defaults in NimPro to change the file extension, and you can also make the created files write-able. No matter what they are named, the content of the file remains the same. For example, if you save an nmg file from NimPro, and then change the defaults, and save as an meg file, you get the exact same file. If you choose to save using the .nmg file extension, it is hard to avoid calling them "nutmeg" files.

To produce a Native MegaDots file, NimPro needs to locate a fully-functioning copy of MegaDots on the computer. If that is not possible, NimPro gives you an error message.

If you do not have a copy of MegaDots on the computer with NimPro, you can choose two other file types for saving files for use with MegaDots. You can save files in those formats and copy them to another computer for use with MegaDots.

Which is better? That depends. They are quite similar. The MegaDots-Markup Textfile probably works better with earlier versions of MegaDots. The MegaDots-Ready Files is easier to read and understand.

MegaDots files created from NimPro may contain brailler graphics. Embossing brailler graphics can raise special issues about page size, character spacing, and other issues. See Chapter 16 for the details about brailler graphics. If you are doing a big project using brailler graphics, run some small tests first, so that you do not hit any technical glitches close to your production deadline.

A Word About Math Files

Math files coming from NIMAS can be frustrating. Standards for encoding math files have been slow in coming. Sometimes math segments are encoded graphically, which means they need to be retyped in MegaDots. Sometimes unique approaches are done on a book by book basis.

Sometimes advanced math symbols will be encoded in Unicode. For example, an integral sign would appear as ~[222B] (the Unicode for an integral sign is "222B"). Use the supplied rules file fixmath.mdr to fix all of these symbols in one operation. Using this rules file saves you a lot of manual work.

This rules file cannot fix fractions, square roots, or exponents, since we have no idea how the file creator may have encoded these. So even with a rules file, there is still a lot of manual work to make a braille math book from a NIMAS file.

Chapter 15: Beginner Braille

Welcome to Beginner Braille, the feature which enhances your MegaDots program so that you can customize its braille translation for your students on an individual basis. Beginner Braille gives you a simple method for selecting which contractions to allow. You can tailor a braille version of any text for an individual student, allowing only the contractions that he or she has learned so far.

When you specify a list of allowable contractions, you save it in a beginner braille rules file which you can use again to create additional material allowing the same contractions. When the student learns more contractions, you simply add them to the list and save it in a new beginner braille rules file. Keeping different rules files for different students makes it easy to tailor reading material for each one. To keep track of a particular student's progress, you can archive the rules files that you used for that student at different times.

Note that the use of Beginner Braille for translation into British braille presents additional challenges. For instructions on how to proceed with that, see Chapter 17 (specifically the Troubleshooting section at the end of Chapter 17).

We wish to thank Eleanor Pester and her associates at the American Printing House for the Blind for giving us a sample sequence for teaching braille contractions, based on the series Patterns: The Primary Braille Reading Program. This series is the most popular series for teaching braille to young students. Using this sequence of contractions, we created twelve different beginner braille rules files that correspond to twelve different points of progress in the Patterns program.

We also wish to thank Nancy Lake Hepker and Sharon Cross-Coquillette of the Grant Wood Education Agency in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for sharing with us the sequence used for teaching contractions in their Braille Too instructional program. This instructional program is designed for teaching braille as an additional communication tool to secondary students. Using Braille Too, we created 10 different beginner braille rules files corresponding to its ten units, and additional rules files for intermediate points of progress within the units.

Beginner Braille makes use of the following files in your MegaDots directory:

Background Information

There are several different approaches for teaching braille. One approach is to carefully select text which avoids contractions that have not been taught yet. In this approach, you never show a word improperly contracted. A second approach is to braille ordinary text normally and teach all the contractions as they come up.

A third approach is to braille ordinary text, using only the contractions already taught. In this third approach, words do not always use all the contractions that they would have in proper grade 2 braille. The MegaDots Beginner Braille module is based on this third approach. We developed the Beginner Braille module because people began asking for a tool to facilitate this teaching method. Be aware that some people in the blindness field may take exception to this method of teaching braille.

We leave it to the teacher and to specialists to decide whether to use tailored text or grade one or partially contracted real text. Remember, Duxbury Systems is a software development company, not a group of educational specialists. We have come across an interesting book One is Fun by the late Marjorie Troughton. She presents evidence that Grade One or partially contracted braille is much easier to learn, especially for those with learning disabilities. You can find this book on the web at http://snow.utoronto.ca/best/special/OneIsFun/table_of_contents.htm.

A recent article on teaching braille to adults (P.E. Ponchilla and P.A. Durant, Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, Sep-Oct 1995) points out: "The braille teaching method used with adult learners is described in few publications other than braille instructional textbooks. The sequence through which an adventitiously blind individual is taught braille is usually dictated by the instructional text that is used, and there is little uniformity among the texts in the sequence in which elements are presented ...."

The Patterns series is written for a child who is learning braille as their first reading and writing tool. The Braille Too instructional program is designed for secondary students who are learning braille as an additional reading and writing tool. There are several other books designed for teaching braille to older students who may have already learned to read print. Here are some of the books we know about:

There is an additional list of braille teaching books in the file BRL-LST.MEG. This list comes from Marjorie Troughton's book One is Fun and contains useful descriptions.

In some circumstances, you may not have the luxury of debating the best teaching methods. If you have a high school student who needs to read his textbook using the contractions he has learned so far, Beginner Braille makes that possible.

How Beginner Braille Works

The Beginner Braille system gives you a simple menu for creating a file that tells MegaDots which contractions are allowed and which are not. This creates a rules file which automatically customizes the braille translation to use only the contractions you have chosen. When you translate your document into braille, the MegaDots find and replace system uses the rules file to examine the document first. It finds all the letter combinations in your text that are not to be contracted and marks them with a suppress contraction mark, a special indicator that tells the braille translator not to use a contraction there. After the rules file has finished inserting the suppress contraction marks, the translation into braille proceeds. (When you translate into braille, MegaDots indicates that your document has changed because of the insertion of the suppress contraction marks.)

In this system, the suppression of specific contractions does not disturb the accuracy with which the remaining contractions are used. For example, whether or not you allow the "dis" contraction, the braille translation of "distance" does not use the st sign.

We made a design decision, based on feedback from initial users, that a contraction which would not appear in proper grade 2 braille is not allowed in Beginner Braille. For example, if the (mother) contraction is not yet being used, Beginner Braille does not use the (th), (the), or (er) contraction in the word "mother," even if they are allowed elsewhere.

Users should know that translating with Beginner Braille takes longer than MegaDots' usual lightning-fast translation because of the extra work required to examine and mark the entire document.

To use Beginner Braille on a document, you must give the grade 2 braille translator a chance to work on it; and the Beginner Braille rules file prevents the use of contractions not yet allowed. In particular, in the Document menu under Translation set-up, the Default translation method must be set at T for grade Two.

The Beginner Braille menu

Launch MegaDots and open a document for experimenting with Beginner Braille. Type F10 T B to open the Beginner Braille menu. There are ten options in the Beginner Braille menu:

In this menu the first 6 choices are for choosing different contractions. The next choice resets the menu for suppressing all contractions. The last 3 choices manipulate the Beginner Braille rules files (the files that list which contractions you are allowing).

The first six menu options list all of the possible contractions. In each of the six groups, you can mark the entire group or any individual contraction to be Suppressed or Used.

There are several contractions which deserve special mention. They fall into two groups. The first group contains five contractions: (and), (for), (of), (the), (with). The second group contains two contractions: (in) and (be). Each of these contractions is listed in two groups.

The five contractions in the first group are listed in the Whole-word one-cell contractions, and also in the Part-word one-cell contractions. Why are they listed twice? Because you may want to use them as whole-word contractions before you introduce them as part-word contractions. Take "and" as an example. If you Use it in the Whole-word list but Suppress it in the Part-word list, it is used only as a whole word. If you Use it in the Part Word list, it is used in all situations, such as in the word "hand." If you Suppress "and" in both lists, then the contraction is never used.

In the Whole-word one-cell list you can also specify whether you want the words "and," "for," "of," "the," "with," and "a" to be jammed together (by setting the "jamming" entry in this list to either Suppress or Use).

The two contractions in the second group are also listed twice, once in the Whole-word one-cell contractions, and again in the Lower-sign contractions. This gives a teacher the flexibility to introduce these contractions first as whole words, if desired. Take the (be) contraction as an example. If you Use it in the whole-word list but Suppress it in the Lower-sign list, it is used only as a whole word. If you Use it in the Lower-sign list, it is used in all situations.

We made use of this potentially confusing double listing because we are aware that teachers sometimes introduce these contractions first as whole words. Please make a note of this double listing.

Supplied Beginner Braille Rules Files for the Patterns Series

Beginner Braille uses 12 different Beginner Braille rules files that are based on the series Patterns: The Primary Braille Reading Program. This is the most popular book series devoted to teaching braille to young students. We have named the 12 different Beginner Braille rules files PATLEV1 through PATLEV12. These cryptic names refer to "Patterns Level" 1 through 12. The filenames have the extension .MDR, but you don't include that when typing the name of a rules file inside of MegaDots. Here is a guide to how our levels match with the Patterns series:

Supplied Beginner Braille Rules Files for Braille Too

Beginner Braille uses 27 different Beginner Braille rules files that are based on the Braille Too instructional program. Ten of the rules files correspond to the ten Units in the Braille Too materials; the remaining 17 correspond to intermediate points of progress within the Units. We have named the 10 different Beginner Braille rules files BTUN1 through BTUN10. The letters BTUN stand for Braille Too Unit, and the number refers to the number of the Unit in Braille Too. The DOS filenames have the extension .MDR, but you don't include that when typing the name of a rules file inside of MegaDots.

Linking Your Document to an Existing Rules File

To use Beginner Braille, you can create a new list of allowable contractions, or you can use one that already exists (a rules file supplied in the Beginner Braille package or one that you created previously). Linking a MegaDots document with an existing Beginner Braille rules file is easy. Just open your document in MegaDots, press F10 T B to get to the Beginner Braille menu, and press U (for Use Beginner rules file); give the name of the rules file (just the first part of the filename, with no file extension). If you are not sure of the name, press F2 to get the list of existing rules file, and pick the one that you want. After entering the name, press Control-E to return to your document. To translate the file, press F5; to emboss it press F7, F10. Your document should be brailled using the precise list of contractions specified. If the document seems to be in grade one braille, check the Default translation method under Translation set-up in the Document menu's Translation set-up window; make sure that it is set to T for grade Two.

For detailed information about the PATLEV or BT series of rules files, see the section "Supplied Rules Files for the Patterns Series" or "Supplied Rules Files for Braille Too."

Printing the List of Contractions Allowed in an Existing Rules File

To print out a readable list of which contractions are allowed and which are suppressed by an existing rules file, go into the Beginner Braille menu and select the Open/modify option with the name of the desired rules file (or the Use option if you want to Use that rules file). Press Shift-F10 to run a named macro, type the macro name BB-LIST, and press <Enter>. When this macro has finished running, you are left inside a MegaDots file listing all the contractions (in the same groups found in the Beginner Braille menu); Use or Suppress appears next to each one. If the rules file you selected happens to be Jodi, then the list is put in a MegaDots document called JODI.LST. Print out this file as you would any MegaDots file.

Modifying an Existing Rules File to Use Different Contractions

To modify an existing rules file, go to the Beginner Braille menu, and press O for Open/modify. Specify the name of the existing Beginner Braille rules file to be modified. Now use the first six menu options to change the list of allowable contractions. Within any category, you can move the cursor onto a particular contraction by using the Up or Down arrow keys, or by using incremental search. With incremental search, as you type characters, the cursor moves to the first entry beginning with what you have typed so far; if there is no such entry, MegaDots sounds a beep and does not move the cursor. Press <Enter> to toggle the current item between Use and Suppress. Or you can press <Enter> with your cursor on Use all or Suppress all to Use or Suppress all the contractions in that category. When you are finished with a category, press F10 to preserve that list. Once you have the list of contractions specified, use the Create/save Beginner rules file option to save your new list to a file. Avoid giving the name of an existing rules file unless you really want to change that file. In particular, do not use a name starting with PATLEV or BT. If you do so, the documentation about what is in each supplied rules file will no longer be accurate.

Creating a Fresh Beginner Braille Rules File

To create a new Beginner Braille rules file, not based on an existing rules file, just begin with one of the first six menu options. If you have used another Beginner Braille rules file since entering MegaDots, you can choose the option R - Restart with everything suppressed; then all contractions start out set as Suppress. In each group make the changes you want (as described in the paragraph above about modifying a rules file), and press F10 to preserve the list. Then select Create/save Beginner rules file to save your list.

A Brief Tutorial

We will start by using the PATLEV1 rules file and then we will add the "ed" and "ow" contractions in a new rules file called BECKY. First, in the MegaDots Editor type the sentence: "I would like to know why the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog and why the cow jumped over the moon." Save this short document as FOX.MEG. Then, to get into the Beginner Braille menu, press F10 T B. To use PATLEV1, select Use Beginner rules file (or just press U) and type PATLEV1 <Enter>. Now press Control-E to return to the Editor. If you have previously translated this document into grade one braille, then get into the Document menu's Translation set-up window and set Default translation method to T for grade Two, and go back to the document with Control-F10.

Press F5 to translate into braille. Only the contractions for "like," "and," and "not" are used.

Now return to the Beginner Braille menu by pressing F10 T B. Select Open/modify Beginner rules file (or just press O). For the name, type PATLEV1 <Enter>. Then select Part-word one-cell contractions (or just press P). To get to the "ed" contraction, use the down arrow key or just type "ed," and then press <Enter> to change from Suppress to Use. Or, if you are using a mouse, just click on "ed" to change between Suppress and Use. Do the same for "ow." Then press F10 to preserve the list. Select Create/save Beginner rules file and give the name BECKY. Answer Y for the question about all open documents. Now press Control-E to return to the Editor and press F5 to translate back into inkprint. Press F5 to translate into braille again. This time the two additional contractions are used.

To print out a list of the contractions which are Used or Suppressed in the BECKY rules file, press F10 T B to get back into the Beginner Braille menu. Then press U, type the name BECKY, and press <Enter>. Then press Shift-F10, type BB-LIST, and press <Enter>. Now press F7 F10 to print the list.

Returning a Document Back to Standard Grade Two

After you have produced a document with Beginner Braille, there is no problem brailling it later in standard grade two. If the file is in braille, press F5 to translate into inkprint. Press Control-home to get to the top of the document, and type Alt-F9 NORMAL <Enter> to strip away all the suppress contraction marks hiding in the file.

Now type F10 D T Right-arrow space Control-F10. That sequence unlinks the Beginner Braille rules file from your MegaDots document. Don't forget to press F4 to save the document to make the change permanent. Now, when you press F5, you get the ultra-fast standard grade two braille translation that you had before you used Beginner Braille.

Making Beginner Braille the Default for All New Documents

If you want, you can set up MegaDots so that each new document you start is automatically linked to a particular Beginner Braille rules file. This is handy if you always use Beginner Braille and you use it with only one rules file. From the MegaDots Editor, type F10 P N T Right-arrow (rules file name) F10 Y F10 S <Enter> Control-F10. This changes your New Document Preferences to always use that Beginner Braille rules file.

Variations to Beginner Braille

Two early users of Beginner Braille requested the ability to allow initial-letter contractions like (day) and (ever) as whole words first. Because this variation makes the process slower, we did not build it into Beginner Braille as delivered. To use this variation, enter MegaDots and use the macro BEGIN-S (S for Special) by typing Shift-F10 BEGIN-S <Enter>. This macro modifies the file BEGIN.NEW, which is the basis for building new Beginner Braille rules files. Use this macro before creating your Beginner Braille rules files. Also note that this macro does not change the supplied rules files for the Patterns and Braille Too series. To return the BEGIN.NEW file back to its original form, use the macro BEGIN-R (R for Regular) by typing Shift-F10 BEGIN-R <Enter>.

Using the Rules Files Supplied for the Patterns Series

The lists of contractions below represent the order in which contractions are introduced in Patterns. For example, in First Reader, Volume 1, the first contraction taught is "very," the second contraction taught is "to," etc.

Grade 1 braille

Follow the instructions for grade 1 braille in the MegaDots manual. To avoid introducing extra symbols, do not use capitalization or any punctuation.

Level 1

This is the file PATLEV1. To avoid introducing extra symbols, do not use capitalization or any punctuation. Avoid the letter sign. Level 1 includes the following contractions:

Level 2

This is the file PATLEV2. You can use single capitalization. To avoid introducing extra symbols, do not use any punctuation except period and question mark. Avoid the letter sign. Level 2 adds the following contractions:

Level 3

This is the file PATLEV3. You can use single capitalization. To avoid introducing extra symbols, do not use any punctuation except period, exclamation mark and question mark. Avoid the letter sign. Level 3 adds the following contractions:

Level 4

This is the file PATLEV4. You can use single capitalization. To avoid introducing extra symbols, do not use any punctuation except period, exclamation mark, comma and question mark. Avoid the letter sign. Level 4 adds the following contractions:

Level 5

This is the file PATLEV5. You can use single capitalization. To avoid introducing extra symbols, do not use any punctuation except period, exclamation mark, comma, apostrophe and question mark. Avoid the letter sign. Level 5 adds the following contractions:

Level 6

This is the file PATLEV6. You can use single capitalization. To avoid introducing extra symbols, do not use any punctuation except period, exclamation mark, comma, apostrophe and question mark. Avoid the letter sign. Level 6 adds the following contractions:

Level 7

This is the file PATLEV7. You can use single capitalization. To avoid introducing extra symbols, do not use any punctuation except period, exclamation mark, comma, apostrophe, quotation marks and question mark. Avoid the letter sign. Level 7 adds the following contractions:

Level 8

This is the file PATLEV8. You can use single capitalization. To avoid introducing extra symbols, do not use any punctuation except period, exclamation mark, comma, apostrophe, quotation marks and question mark. Avoid the letter sign. Level 8 adds the following contractions:

Level 9

This is the file PATLEV9. You can use single capitalization. To avoid introducing extra symbols, do not use any punctuation except period, exclamation mark, comma, apostrophe, quotation marks and question mark. Avoid the letter sign. Level 9 adds the following contractions:

Level 10

This is the file PATLEV10. You can use single capitalization. To avoid introducing extra symbols, do not use any punctuation except period, exclamation mark, comma, apostrophe, quotation marks and question mark. Level 10 adds the following contractions:

Level 11

This is the file PATLEV11. You can use single capitalization. To avoid introducing extra symbols, do not use any punctuation except period, exclamation mark, comma, apostrophe, quotation marks and question mark. Level 11 adds the following contractions:

Level 12

This is the file PATLEV12. You can use single capitalization. To avoid introducing extra symbols, do not use any punctuation except period, exclamation mark, comma, apostrophe, quotation marks and question mark. Level 12 adds the following contractions:

Grade 2 braille

The next step after the Third Reader in the Patterns series is regular grade two braille. This section lists the order for teaching the remaining contractions. You can create your own steps for teaching braille midway through the Third Reader. Or you can remove the machinery of Beginner Braille and produce standard grade two braille.

Contractions taught in the Third Reader:

Using the Rules Files Supplied for the Braille Too Series

The lists of contractions below represent the order in which contractions are introduced in Braille Too. Although punctuation and composition signs are taught at different points in the Braille Too materials, the supplied rules files do not attempt to suppress their use.

Unit 1

The rules file BTUN1 allows all the contractions taught in Unit 1.

Unit 1, Part 1 reviews the alphabet.

Unit 1, Part 2 introduces punctuation/composition signs: capital sign, period.

Unit 1, Part 3 introduces the following whole-word single-letter contractions (rules file BT1A stops at this intermediate point):

Unit 1, Part 4 introduces the following short-form Words (rules file BTUN1 adds these contractions):

Unit 2

The rules file BTUN2 adds all the contractions taught in Unit 2.

Unit 2, Part 1 introduces the following contractions, first as whole-word, then as part-word (rules file BT2A adds these contractions as whole words only, and BT2B adds these contractions as both whole and part words):

Unit 2, Part 2 introduces the following short-form words (rules file BTUN2 adds these contractions):

Unit 2, Part 3 introduces the punctuation: question mark, comma.

Unit 3

The rules file BTUN3 adds all the contractions taught in Unit 3.

Unit 3, Part 1 introduces the following whole-word contractions (rules file BT3A adds these contractions):

and the corresponding part-word contractions (rules file BT3B adds these contractions):

Unit 3, Part 2 introduces the following short-form words (rules file BTUN3 adds these contractions):

Unit 3, Part 3 introduces the punctuation: exclamation point, hyphen.

Volume II

Unit 4

The rules file BTUN4 adds all the contractions taught in Unit 4.

Unit 4, Part 1 introduces the following dot 5, initial-letter contractions (rules file BTUN4 adds these contractions):

Unit 4, Part 2 adds the punctuation: quotation marks, apostrophe.

Unit 5

The rules file BTUN5 adds all the contractions taught in Unit 5.

Unit 5, Part 1 introduces the following part-word contractions (rules file BT5A adds these contractions):

Unit 5, Part 2 adds the following short-form words (rules file BT5B adds these contractions):

Unit 5, Part 3 introduces the punctuation: parentheses, colon.

Unit 6

Unit 6, Part 1 introduces the folowing dot 4-5, initial-letter contractions (rules file BT6A adds these contractions):

Unit 6, Part 2 introduces the following lower-sign, whole-word contractions (rules file BT6B adds just these whole-word contractions):

and the following lower-sign part-word contractions (rules file BT6C adds these contractions):

Unit 6, Part 3 adds the following short-form words (rules file BTUN6 adds these contractions):

Unit 6, Part 4 introduces the composition signs: italics (single and double), letter sign.

Unit 7

Use rules file BTUN7 to add all the contractions taught in Unit 7:

Unit 7, Part 1 introduces the following dot 4-5-6, initial-letter contractions (rules file BT7A adds these contractions):

Unit 7, Part 2 adds the following lower-sign whole-word contractions (rules file BT7B adds these contractions):

Unit 7, Part 3 adds the following short-form words (rules file BTUN7 adds these contractions):

Unit 7, Part 4 introduces the punctuation: semi-colon, dash, ellipsis.


Unit 8

Use rules file BTUN8 to add all the contractions taught in Unit 8.

Unit 8, Part 1 introduces the following dot 6 final-letter contractions (rules file BT8A adds these contractions):

Unit 8, Part 2 adds the following lower-sign contractions for prepositions (rules file BT8B adds these):

Unit 8, Part 3 introduces the following short-form words (rules file BTUN8 adds these contractions):

Unit 8, Part 4 introduces the puntuation: cent sign, dollar sign, inches sign, percent sign.

Unit 9

Unit 9, Part 1 introduces the following dot 5-6, final-letter Contractions (rules file BT9A adds these contractions):

Unit 9, Part 2 introduces the following lower-sign contractions used at the beginning of a word (rules file BT9B adds these contractions):

Unit 9, Part 3 introduces the following short-form words (rules file BTUN9 adds these contractions):

Unit 9, Part 4 introduces the puntuation/composition signs: double capital, slash/fraction line, decimal point.

Unit 10

Unit 10, Part 1 introduces the following tot 4-6, final-letter Contractions (rules file BT10A adds these contractions):

Unit 10, Part 2 introduces the following lower-sign, mid-word contractions (rules file BT10B adds these contractions):

Unit 10, Part 3 introduces the following short-form words (rules file BTUN10 adds these contractions):

Unit 10, Part 4 introduces the punctuation: inner quotation marks, accent, brackets.

Chapter 16: MegaDots for Teachers and Transcribers

This chapter focuses on the common-sense ways that teachers can use MegaDots to be more effective in the classroom. It recommends how to set the MegaDots preferences to work efficiently as a sighted braille transcriber. It points out the significant MegaDots features designed for braille transcribing. It also discusses incorporating brailler graphics in a MegaDots document.

Basic MegaDots

Here is a checklist of useful skills:

MegaDots and Opening Files

There are a variety of methods for opoening files in MegaDots. See Chapter 3. Remember that when you use MegaDots' Open/import command, you can specify a particular drive by starting with a drive letter followed by colon. For example, if a thumb drive is the E drive on your system, you can open (or save) a file on that drive by starting with e:.

If a file has a file type supported by the MegaDots importer, you can also tell Windows to have MegaDots open it when you are pointing to it in a Windows folder (as when you are using the My computer option). Right click on the file and choose the "Open with" option. If mega is in the list of choices that appears, choose that. Otherwise use the "Choose program" option. Then choose mega from the resulting list if it's there. Otherwise use the Browse option and specify c:\mega25\megan.pif for "MegaDots without speech," or c:\mega25\mega.pif for "MegaDots with speech."

MegaDots and Optical Character Recognition

An Optical Character Recognition system is the hardware and software that scans printed pages, interprets them as inkprint text, and saves it in a word processing file. While no OCR system is perfect, you can save enormous amounts of time that would otherwise be spent keyboarding in text to be made into braille.

Many users are confused about how to integrate their OCR systems with MegaDots. Remember that OCR systems create files containing the words found on your inkprint pages being scanned. These files are in a format that is defined within the OCR system.

MegaDots is designed to import or read a variety of files containing text. Often the sticking point is just knowing in which directory the OCR system is saving the material. For example, in the Freedom Scientific Open book system, files are stored in the \EXPORT directory.

Modern OCR systems tend to create Word files. We are aware that some OCR software titles create RTF files and call them Word files, sometimes even using the .doc file extension. You need to load and save these files using a copy of Word, and being very careful about the file type as you do a "Save As" from Microsoft Word.

If your Microsoft Word file comes from an OCR program, it may contain lots of plain vanilla formatting. When it comes into MegaDots, just about every paragraph will be marked as "Body text" by the MegaDots importer. If you are working on a novel, in which just about every paragraph is in fact "Body text", this is not a problem. But if you need a mixture of styles: lists, body text, headings, etc., you may want better results. If you import asking for the file type "DBT assisted import: OCR to Textfile", then MegaDots will probably do a better job of importing.

To recap: if you import without any specification, then it will import as "DBT assisted import: "DBT, Word, WP". This works, but the resulting file requires too much manual work to make useable. To reduce the work, add " -?" (space, hypen, question) to the file name, and choose "DBT assisted import: OCR to Textfile" to get a file requiring less formatting work. The numeric code of this importer is 5000. It may be best to do a trial import into MegaDots using both "DBT assisted import" options and see which one works the best for you.

Ways MegaDots can be used with Blind Students

Editor Preferences for Transcribers

From the Editor, Type F10 P E to get into the Editor Preferences. To learn more about the editor options, press F1 for help. To list the available choices for a particular option, press F2. Here are the most important options for transcribers in this form.

Press F10 to leave this form. Now press A to select Advanced features. Of the choices on this form, set Transcriber View to "yes". Transcriber View shows braille-like format in terms of indent, runover, and skipped lines when you look at inkprint. It also switches automatically to show braille files with WYSIWYG and to show inkprint files with show markup.

You may also want to use the Auto Save feature to protect your work. In addition, Auto Backup always keeps the last version of your file, in case you accidentally save unwanted data over useful data. Press F10 to save these choices. Now press S <Enter> to save your preferences. Press Control-E to get back into the Editor.

BANA 2010 Word Template

BANA Braille 2010 is a Word Template created by Susan Christensen. The intention is to offer Duxbury DBT users some of the organized structure found in MegaDots. MegaDots 2.5 can read Word files created with this Template. MegaDots 2.5 can export to MS Word/BANA Template files using this Template. Documentation is provided in the file bana_template.htm.

If you look at this file, the chart at the end of the web page shows how the different styles in the Word Template are handled in DBT and in MegaDots.

The MS Word/BANA Template is not meant to be the primary way of getting text into MegaDots. Experienced MegaDots uses will notice that much of the data entry into the Template involves offering information that MegaDots does not need to know (since MegaDots is so aware of the braille rules). But this does offer the braille transcriber one more choice about how to do things.

Of greater interest is that well formatted MegaDots files can be exported into MS Word/BANA Template, and these files can be imported into DBT will all of the braille formatting information intact. You can do this with both print files and braille files. Be aware that importing braille files from MegaDots into DBT requires a very recent edition of DBT (DBT 11.1 SR3 or later).

Assisting the Braille Translator

No computer translator is perfect. In certain situations, you will need to specify whether or not MegaDots should use a letter sign, a dot-6 capitalization sign, a contraction, or a special symbol. Use Control-R (require) when you want to force the use of one of these items. Use Control-S (suppress) when you want to avoid using one of these items.

An Alternative to Six Key Perkins Entry

Six key braillists may want to use the translator for a small portion of text within a braille document. While editing a document, press Control-F5, enter the inkprint text, and press return. If you are currently in braille, MegaDots turns the text into braille before inserting it. The inserted text is "still warm" -- it is highlighted in your document which allows you to easily proofread it as well as delete it, copy it into the clipboard or anything else. If you choose to keep the inserted braille, just press Control-X to turn blocking off. This is a fine way of inserting braille without having to subject your document to a round trip of translation. After you press Control-F5 you can use F2 to pull up a list of past insertions. Properly used, this feature offers a dozen tiny clipboards.

Direct Control of Translation and Format

MegaDots can be frustrating to a transcriber, since so much happens automatically. If you are faced with an unusual situation in which none of the translation modes or the formatting options apply, fear not. MegaDots has some fine loopholes to help you through these situations.

One of the most useful features is the Translate exact style. The Translate exact style allows you to put some braille directly in the text without concern about how it is changed by the braille translator, using any indent and runover that is needed. Type Alt-U T <Enter> to set a paragraph to Translate exact.

It is easy to control the indent, runover, and the use of blank lines. Put the cursor on the first character of the paragraph. Press space to increase the indent by one or Backspace to decrease the indent by one. Press Alt-Right or Alt-Left arrow to increase or decrease the runover by one. Press Alt-<Enter> to put a blank line before the paragraph. To delete these blank lines, press Alt-E for Cursor Go Everywhere mode, put your cursor on the blank line and press the Delete key. You can create any combination of indent, runover and blank lines you want. MegaDots shows the exact way the braille is formatted even when in print. Also, because it uses exact translation, the braille keyboard mode is automatically turned on if Perkins entry is set to B - Braille in the Editor preferences.

The Spacing Same style is similar to Translate Exact. You can control indent, runover, and blank lines. However, material in the Spacing same style uses the translator. Type Alt-U S <Enter> to set a paragraph to the Spacing same style.

The best way to learn about these two styles is to use them. See how you can control the format. See what happens when you translate these paragraphs.

There is another way to create your own format. Sometimes you have a format that you use over and over again. You may want to create your own style, or change an existing one. Read Supplement 4 to learn about using the Style Sheet Editor.

Proofreading Features

To scan a document to see if the styles are applied correctly, type Control-J G. This shows the beginning of each paragraph with the style name. Move your cursor up or down in the list. You can set the style or hierarchy for each paragraph while in the list. As a shortcut, press Tab to assign the style from the previous paragraph. The style is set, and the cursor moves to the next paragraph in the list. This can really speed up the time it takes to apply styles to an imported document.

The command Control-F7 produces an inkprint display of your document called marked print. It shows the MegaDots formatting commands. You can use this to compare the formatting with your inkprint original.

To quickly proofread the braille format, press Control-Z D D to go into Small Dots. This allows you to proofread an entire page of braille at a time. Press Control-PageDown each time you want to proofread another page.

To proofread the actual braille dots, use Big Dots with the Proofreading line on. Press Control-Z P to toggle on the Proofreading line. A green highlight bar makes the current line of braille stand out from the others.

Security Features

Sometimes transcribers are nervous about the MegaDots braille translator. They are concerned that despite our claims, their text could be damaged by a round trip translation from inkprint into braille and back to inkprint again. If you type Alt-F5 from the MegaDots Editor, the cursor moves to any location where there may be a problem with the MegaDots translator (i.e. any place where a round trip translation would not reconstruct the file).

Please avail yourself of the useful security features found in the Advanced Features of the Preferences Menu. If you set Auto save to 10 minutes, then MegaDots creates a save file for you every 10 minutes. These files have a file extension of .SAV. This way you lose at most ten minutes work in the event of a system failure. The Auto backup protects you in case you save unwanted data on top of useful data. These files have a file extension of .BAK.

FIXIT Rules File

Over the last few years, there have been a number of stubborn bugs in MegaDots that we have not been able to eliminate. However, making certain changes to the MegaDots file avoids these pitfalls. We have supplied a rules file fixit.mdr which deals with many of these issues. Go to the top of your file in inkprint, with the "show markup" display. Type Alt-F9, and then FIXIT <Enter>. To find out what FIXIT does, you can load the file into MegaDots to read the internal documentation.

Training Mode

MegaDots has a training mode to teach transcribers about braille. In training mode, you are limited to Big dots screen mode and braille keyboard. You are not allowed to translate your text (although you are allowed to translate a totally empty file). The idea behind training mode is that some groups want a transcriber to prove that they know how to produce braille manually before they are allowed to use a translator. To switch on training mode, add the environment variable SCREENPRO to your system. This might be done by adding the line SET SCREENPRO=1 to a launching batch file.

File Formats

Importing Braille Ready Files

Braille ready files are another special case. These include files from PokaDot, Microbraille, and similar applications. A braille ready file is already formatted for one particular carriage width and form length. In contrast, a MegaDots file can be expressed in a wide variety of carriage widths and form lengths.

If you want to import a braille ready file with exactly the same format as the original file, use the options -? -spa at the command line. For file format, choose "Retain blank lines". Then set the style sheet to NONUMS to suppress page numbering. If you do this, the file can be brailled, but it cannot be edited without messing up the format. Any editing throws off all page numbers after that point. MicroBraille files need to be converted into standard braille ready files before they can be imported as "Retain blank lines". See microcon in the F12 Reference Manual. If you do not use this procedure in importing a braille ready file, MegaDots tries to interpret the braille format as it imports the file. It tries to decide where the paragraph breaks are, and what style to make each paragraph. It is almost inevitable that there will be some errors in importing braille ready files in that way. Check these files carefully.

Producing braille ready files

A braille ready file contains the exact characters, line for line, which need to be sent to your embosser to make hardcopy braille. When you send a braille ready file to your embosser with the DOS copy command or the megaprn program, you get well-formatted braille. In Duxbury, this is a .BRF file.

To generate a braille ready file from MegaDots, switch to braille with F5, if necessary. Now press F7 to Emboss a document, followed by PageDown to move to the last field, Name of port/file. Just type in a drive letter followed by a colon. Now press F10 to initiate the creation of the file. This creates a file of the current name, with a file extension of .BRF.

To examine braille ready files, use the VIEW program included with MegaDots. To use this program, type VIEW [filename] <Enter> from the DOS command line. See Chapter 19 for more information.

To emboss a braille ready file, use Embossit 3.0, which is included with MegaDots 2.5. This is available from the Duxbury Program group from the Start Menu.

MegaDots and Brailler Graphics

Many braille embossers can produce Brailler graphics by eliminating the extra space between braille cells. Several programs, such as QuickTac and TGD Pro from Duxbury Systems are designed for preparing brailler graphics. MegaDots has some tools to help you with using a brailler graphics file as part of a MegaDots document.

When you are bringing a file from QuickTac or TGD Pro into MegaDots, use the .sig file format in that program. In QuickTac, you can specify that a .sig file be set up for medium resolution or high resolution graphics. For use with MegaDots, it is okay to use the high resolution setting if you are using an Enabling Technologies embosser that is capable of producing high resolution graphics. Otherwise choose the medium resolution setting. When embossing from MegaDots, to emboss with high resolution graphics on an Enabling Technologies embosser, choose a brailler name like Juliet interpoint +H, which ends with +H.

There are some embossers that MegaDots supports only by way of the Embossit program. Since the Embossit program does not support the inclusion of brailler graphics, MegaDots cannot handle graphics for those embossers.

The default preferences in MegaDots tell MegaDots to import a .sig file with Style selection set to Spacing same. That prevents crashes when you open a file. Note that if you are using a MegaDots preferences file that you created in an earlier version of MegaDots, that particular preference setting is not set up.

To check your preferences setting for importing .sig files, go to Preferences; File import. That shows your user list of file extensions. If .sig is not in the list, press the Insert key followed by sig <Enter>. Set Style selection to Spacing same. Then press F10 twice and use the Save preferences command.

Once you have opened a .sig file, use one of the macros fix-gr or fix-gr-p. The macro fix-gr eliminates multiple blank lines above and below the graphic, to help with placing it on a page that has additional text. The fix-gr-p macro does not do that removal of multiple blank lines above and below the graphic. Use the fix-gr-p macro if you want to keep the graphic on a page by itself. Both of these macros place the resulting graphic in the MegaDots clipboard for you to paste into a different MegaDots document. However, if you find that you need to make some changes in this graphic document after using the macro, remember to recopy it into the MegaDots clipboard after making those changes.

After you have used the fix-gr macro ON A GRAPHIC, you notice some MegaDots markup designed to help it print correctly. Before the graphic material you find the letters grc (for graphic coming) in hidden text markup. This signals Enabling Technologies embossers set for interpoint to switch to single-sided printing, to avoid losing text above the graphic. This does no harm on other embossers.

Note: If you place this graphic in a document to be embossed in interpoint on an Enabling embosser, then you may need to manually add the letters grc in hidden markup to the start of an earlier paragraph. This "signal" needs to be placed either at the top of the braille page containing the graphic, or somewhere on the preceding braille page. To enter this manually, position the cursor at the start of a paragraph, press Control-X, type the letters g r c, press Control-F followed by h, and then press space.

There is also a header consisting of a hard space character at the top and an empty header at the bottom to cancel it. The hard space header prevents the page number at the top of the page from being embossed with graphic spacing. If your document already has a running head, delete these header commands around the graphic from your document. The graphic also has similar footer paragraphs at the top and bottom.

You find a Protected zone: yes command at the top and a Protected zone: no command at the bottom. These tell MegaDots to keep the enclosed material, the content of the graphic, on one braille page.

You also find a Bottom margin: 33 command near the top of the graphic and a Bottom margin: 0 command at the bottom. The Bottom margin: 33 command tells MegaDots that it can fit 33 lines on the page instead of the regular form length (usually 25). The embosser can fit more graphic lines on a page because the lines are closer together. However, the value 33 is only an initial approximation based on medium resolution graphic spacing. The actual number of lines that you can fit on the page depends on the embosser, on whether you are using high resolution graphic spacing (supported by MegaDots only on Enabling embossers) or medium resolution graphic spacing, and on how much of the page is occupied by the graphic and how much by text. If the graphic contains just a few lines, to be placed on a page with mostly text, you need to reduce the bottom margin from 33 to something closer to your usual form length. If the graphic has enough lines to occupy most or all of the braille page, you need to increase the bottom margin. The Bottom margin: 0 command at the bottom of the graphic returns the bottom margin to the usual form length. That takes effect on the following braille page.

To replace the Bottom margin: 33 command with something more specific, position the cursor on this command and press Control-Z B. Enter the desired number and press F10.

If your text document uses a running head, then delete the Header paragraphs at the top and bottom of the graphic.

If the graphic has more than 40 characters per line, you find a Right margin command at the beginning of the graphic based on the file content. That will allow MegaDots to print more characters per line than the carriage width value for the assigned embosser. The macros also insert a Right margin: 0 command at the end of the graphic, to set the value back to the usual setting. Do not remove those commands, as they prevent unwanted line breaks in the data.

Like the fix-gr macro, the fix-gr-p macro also inserts header and footer commands. If your text document already has a running head, then delete the header paragraphs at the top and bottom of this graphic document. The macro inserts a bottom margin command with a value of 41 as an initial approximation. For example, if you are using high resolution graphics, then you need to increase the bottom margin value.

Chapter 17: British Braille


The MegaDots program is capable of producing braille to British as well as to North American standards. MegaDots was updated to follow the 2004 British Braille rule changes.

At present the bulk of the MegaDots documentation is biased towards the North American user. The purpose of this chapter is to assist the British user in making the best use of their MegaDots software.

When you install MegaDots 2.5 specifying localization for the United Kingdom, MegaDots sets your translation preferences for U.K. use. It sets the default style sheet to BRITUP, and it sets the MegaDots rules file called UKTRANS to be run automatically by default as the first step of translation into braille. when a file is translated into braille. Some users may be annoyed by the time MegaDots takes to run this rules file during translation into braille, but the extra time is part of the translation process. While the use of UKTRANS could be stopped by changing the New Document, Translation Preferences, we urge users not to do this. In many circumstances this will mess up your file. As an example, UKTRANS is needed for getting the new British end emphasis indicators.

The Simple Switch

MegaDots uses the style sheet to select between British and North American braille. Select from the BRITUP, BRITISH, and AUSSIE style sheets in the Style Sheet Selection Screen in the Document Menu. This changes the translation and format to British standards. At least two menus in MegaDots are different if the BRITUP or BRITISH style sheet is selected. Changing the style sheet also changes the vocabulary list in the spell checker. For example, "colour" is an accepted spelling only when you have selected BRITUP or BRITISH as the style sheet.

Where you see the phrase "these differences are handled automatically", it is assumed that you have selected from the BRITUP, BRITISH, and AUSSIE style sheets if British braille is desired. While the BRITISH style sheet suppresses capitalization, the BRITUP and AUSSIE style sheets do not. Usually the BRITUP style sheet is used in Britain and South Africa. The AUSSIE style sheet is a legacy style sheet for the pre-UEBC Australian braille rules.

The MegaDots installer asks a question about localization. The default style sheet for North America is LITERARY, the default style sheet for the United Kingdom is BRITUP, and the default style sheet for Australia is AUSSIE.

Use of Capitalization

Before 1999, braille produced in the U.K. followed rules for uncapitalized braille. Following the 2004 British Braille rules, a document can be produced using either capitalized braille or uncapitalized braille. In MegaDots, use the BRITUP style sheet to produce braille following the 2004 rules for capitalized British braille or the BRITISH style sheet to produce braille following the 2004 rules for uncapitalized British braille. However, when using the BRITISH style sheet, you can require a capitalization indicator by using the require dot 6 Control-R D command.

When you translate into braille with the BRITISH style sheet, MegaDots still remembers where the capitalization is and preserves it when you translate back to inkprint. When your document is already in braille and you switch the style sheet between BRITISH and BRITUP (or a North American style sheet), the capitalization indicators appear or disappear. However, if you do data entry directly in braille without capitalization indicators, back translating to inkprint gives all lower case.

MegaDots 2.5 supports capitalized passages. There are things you can do to control capitalized passages. If you want to terminate a capitalized passage, insert a Require table item break (pressing Control-R T) before a space. If you want a capitalized passage in headings to span across a carriage return, place a space before the carriage return, without a preceding table item break.


MegaDots handles virtually all Roman numerals, abbreviations and acronyms without any user intervention. If an acronym appears in capitalized letters in print, with the British style sheet, MegaDots uses the letter sign instead of capitalization indicators, to follow rules for uncapitalized British braille. On the other hand, with the BRITUP style sheet MegaDots uses two capitalization indicators and no letter sign, or a letter sign if the acronym appears within a capitalized passage.


North American braille uses the dots 4-6 for a decimal point, and the dropped a for the comma separating groups of digits. British braille uses dot 2 for the decimal point and the dot 3 for the comma separating groups of digits. MegaDots handles these differences automatically.

In many situations, the British use the number sign for punctuation between digits (the colon separating hours and minutes, the hyphens inside of telephone numbers, etc.). For example 8:30 a.m. is done as #h#cj a4m4 in Britain. This is supported as best we can. MegaDots uses the context to decide when to substitute the number sign for the existing punctuation separating groups of digits.

In certain circumstances, a space between digits in British braille becomes a number sign. Again, MegaDots uses a variety of schemes to do this correctly. If you want to force a space between digits, type 2 spaces in the original inkprint. For example, type 12 <space> <space> 14 instead of a single space.


British braille often inserts additional punctuation (comma, semicolon, colon, or a period) to make the braille easier to read. In North America, braille follows the print copy. MegaDots does not automatically insert punctuation into braille. This needs to be done manually.

In British braille, the double quote is used for outer quotes, and the single quote for inner quotes. This means that in some documents, it is necessary to reverse the quotations. To accomplish this, there is a rules file called REVQUOTES.MDR. To invoke this rules file, press Alt-F9 REVQUOTES <Enter>.

Translation Differences

In North America, subtle syllable differences suppress the use of contractions. For example the word "edition" does not use the ed contraction. In Britain, there is a greater emphasis on saving space, so the ed sign is used in the word edition. We have identified a significant number of words which are contracted differently in British braille. The translator has been modified to handle these words appropriately.

British Preliminary Pages with prelim-b.meg

Load MegaDots with the supplied file prelim-b.meg. Page through this file. The main body pages are commentary on creating preliminary pages with MegaDots. Print out this file, or make a braille copy.

With the print out in hand, examine the file in detail. Page through it in WYSIWYG mode and in show markup mode. Now create your own preliminary pages. See how they work in inkprint and in braille. prelim-b.meg is a road map to creating British preliminary pages.

British Page Layout

In Britain, the braille page number is an Arabic number without a prefix, starting with title page, in the upper right hand corner. The page number is not restarted at the beginning of main body pages (as is the case in North America).

In Britain, the print page indicator is in the upper left hand corner. Do not use a letter prefix as is used in North America.

Print page transitions are shown by centered dot 5, dropped c, page number, as in "3#aij for the start of print page 190. The indicators for the print page transition can be on the very top or very bottom of a braille page.

Page Information Lines (PIL)

MegaDots Automates the Page Information Line

The top line in British Braille is called the "page information line". It shows the chapter title as a running head along with the print page number and the braille page number. The page information line shows the status of the very bottom of a page. If there are multiple chapter transitions in one braille page, the page information line shows the last one.

A rich system for making good page information lines is now in place. There are several ways MegaDots automates page information lines. MegaDots uses the same system for specifying the start of a print page that is used for North American Textbook format. Type Control-Enter to mark the start of a new inkprint page.

In a glossary or other place where guide words are used, MegaDots just uses the Heading level 1 plus the first 3 uncontracted letters of each guide word separated by a hyphen. If the first three letters are the same, MegaDots automatically uses more letters until there is a difference. See "Guide Words" in the MegaDots Reference Manual (F12).

In ordinary text, MegaDots uses Heading levels 1 and 2, and the title of a book, if necessary, to make the PIL. The title of a book is the first heading or centered text in the book.

Each PIL must have a text item. The PIL also contains all available sequential numbers from any numbered subdivisions for Heading level 1 and/or Heading level 2. The text and numbers always go in the order they occur in the text. Also, if two numbers are next to each other, the second number sign comes right after the previous number's last digit.

MegaDots knows a book is divided into parts or units when Heading level 1's always break a page. If this happens, MegaDots grabs the part/unit number from the Heading level 1's and the chapter number from the Heading level 2's. It also needs some sort of text for the info line. For example, in "Chapter XIV: The Pecans were Rotten" the text is everything after the colon. MegaDots's preference is to get the text from the previous Heading level 2 but if that heading is something like "Chapter 3" there is no text, so it will go to the previous Heading level 1 for the text. If that heading doesn't have text either, MegaDots uses the title of the book.

Otherwise, the book is not divided into parts or units. In this case, MegaDots will not make use of Heading level 2. Otherwise, everything is similar to the previous scenario.

Sometimes a Page Information Line cannot fit. MegaDots shorts the text part of it one word at a time until both it and the numbers can fit. If MegaDots does this, it adds braille ellipses to the end of the text part of the page info line.

Manual Control of the Page Information Line

You can have full manual control of the page information lines in any document. To do this, use the Header style and put in exactly the text you want in between the page numbers. To turn off manual control at a specific point in your document and have MegaDots automate the page information lines from that point on, put a blank Header there. To actually create a blank page information line, make a Header paragraph with the Control-B blank character in it. To have the PIL set for the first line, make sure the PIL text is the first line of the text, using the Header style.

However, it is a lot of work to manually set the PIL each time the Part, Unit, Chapter or Section number changes. MegaDots offers a second form of manual control which makes use of its automated capabilities.

There are two styles in the Alt-R Running group for British: Short heading 1 and Short heading 2. MegaDots interprets paragraphs with these styles as a Heading level 1 or Heading level 2, without them showing up in the actual body of the document. They only affect the Page Information Line. For example, if there is a problem with a certain Heading level 2 being too long for the PIL, and you don't like the way MegaDots abbreviates it, make a paragraph right before the Heading level 2 with your version of that heading. Use the style Short heading 2, and be sure to include any chapter or section number that was in the original heading. Essentially, this allows you to rewrite your headings for use in the PIL.

To make a shorter or different title than what shows up in the title page or top of the document, use Short heading 1 as the first paragraph. Thus, the title "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" could remain, but the info line could reflect "The Adventures of H. Finn".

Usually MegaDots picks out numbers even if they are Roman numerals or are spelled out. In some situations, MegaDots may not pick up chapter or section numbers (for example, they could be written in French). You can use the Short heading 1 and Short heading 2 system to rewrite the headings with a more computer-digestible enumeration scheme.

Title Page

In North America, the title page is "stretched" so that line 1 and the last line have text. It does not have a page number in literary format.

In Britain, the title page has a page number. The text starts in line 3, and no effort is made to fill the entire page. To create a British title page, start by issuing the Title page command Control-Ins B P T. End each line with a carriage return. To create a blank line, press another carriage return. To create a line of 12 colons, type Control-Ins L G. At the end of the title page, use the Control-Ins B P command to start another kind of preliminary page. Notice that MegaDots also supports the Title Extension page. Do not press additional carriage returns. MegaDots automatically places the Title Extension at the bottom of the page.

The best way to understand how to produce a British document in MegaDots is through example. Look at the file prelim-b.meg to examine the preliminary pages.

Table of Contents

In North America, a volume of braille has a single table of contents. This shows braille page numbers in Literary format or print page numbers in textbook format. Dot 5 is used for guide dots.

In Britain, in a multi-volume book, volume one has two tables of contents: a General contents which shows the inkprint table of contents with inkprint page numbers, and a Volume contents which covers the material in the current volume (perhaps at a greater depth than is shown in the inkprint) with braille page numbers. The General contents uses dot 3 for the guide dots; the Volume contents uses the hyphen as the guide dots. In a single-volume book, there is a single combined table of contents which shows both print page numbers and braille page numbers.

At present, the automatic table of contents generator can produce either the Volume contents or the Combined contents. You need to produce the General contents yourself. Since the General contents is similar to the inkprint table of contents, this is not difficult.

To start off a General contents, use Control-Ins B P G <Enter>. MegaDots then fills in some standard boilerplate text to make it easier to create your table of contents. In fact, you can also create the other types of contents manually, as long as you select "Volume contents" or "Combo contents" after pressing Control-Ins B P.

For items in the table of contents that are before or after the Main Body of text, such as the dedication or index, use the style Prefatory item. Apply the usual hierarchy commands if there are multiple levels.

Use the MegaDots style "Contents" for most of the table of contents entries. Use the MegaDots hierarchy commands to set the appropriate hierarchy level. The runover level is automatically 2 cells beyond the deepest indent. In a multi-volume book, the runovers in the volume contents reflect the deepest indent in the entire book. MegaDots creates an inkprint-only "runover control" paragraph so you can artificially set the deepest indent, thus controlling the runover (if necessary).


British braille uses several kinds of separating lines not used in North America. The following lines are available:

MegaDots is programmed to allow the General Line or the Minor line to be automatically placed before any heading level. See the discussion of Headings below.

To insert a special line manually at any point, type Control-Ins L. You are faced with the following menu choices:


We need to acknowledge some language differences. What the North Americans call "Minor Headings" the British call "Side Headings".

According to the RNIB Braillists' Manual (section 12), the following types of headings are available:

The UKTRANS rules file treats a paragraph in the style Heading level 5 as an italicized side heading of type (e) above. If you are producing a document where you are using Heading level 5 for a different kind of heading, then we recommend that you use your own modified copy of UKTRANS with a different name, such as MYUK. The special transformation rules for handling italicized side headings are found in sections 1a and 2b of the file UKTRANS.MDR. If you are using a heading level other than 5 for italicized side headings, then change "level 5" in these two sections of UKTRANS.MDR to the appropriate "level #" for your use in these sections of MYUK.MDR. If you are not using italicized headings at all, then you can place %% (two percent signs) at the start of each paragraph in these sections to disable them.

To simplify headings in British braille, MegaDots has a feature called "Auto Heading Setup". Choose this feature from the Heading Setup screen of the Document Menu. Just answer 3 simple questions about your document and MegaDots will choose the most appropriate headings (as devised by RNIB).

If you want to, you can format all your headings manually in the Heading Setup screens. You need to specify the style and the variations (if any) for each level of heading. Of course, you have to decide which kind of heading in which order to use in your document.

Special note: Sometimes in British braille you want the print page indicator to stay on the same braille page as the heading. This occurs when a type of heading generally starts a new inkprint page, but not necessarily a new braille page. For this type of heading, in the Heading setup settings, put a W in the Above Braille Heading setting for that level of heading. The W stands for "With ppi".


Extracts are what North Americans call Quotations. If the extract is just ordinary text paragraphs, you can use the Quotation style. British braille format allows for more complex extracts. For example, a larger extract may contain headings or poetry. For these complex extracts, enter them using the appropriate styles (Body text, headings, poetry, etc.). When the whole extract is in MegaDots, mark it as a block. Type Control-Z B and then select a left margin of 4.

There is another way to show an extract in British braille. Use a blank line at the beginning (just press <Enter> twice instead of once), and insert a Minor Line at the end. To insert a Minor Line, type Control-Insert L M.

Interpoint Pages

In North America, blank pages are used to make sure that tables of contents, main body pages, and other major divisions start on odd numbered pages (i.e. on front sheets, not on backs). This distinction is not made in British braille. MegaDots does not skip interpoint pages in British braille.

Style Differences

There are many styles in MegaDots which format differently between British and North American modes. This is part of the beauty of MegaDots: a substantial portion of the formatting differences between North American and British braille is accomplished by the style sheet structure of MegaDots. To get more information about these differences, see Supplement 6, or press F1 when selecting styles from one of the selection lists.


There are subtle differences in the handling of tables. Read Chapter 11: Tables and Columned Material in MegaDots, to learn about entering tables. One difference is the handling of column headings. In British and Australian tables, use Control-Ins L G after column headings if you want them underlined with dot 2-5's.

Computer Braille Code

Computer Braille Code is the way of representing computer program dialog or computer programs in braille. There is a North American Computer Braille Code and a British Computer Braille Code. Ordinarily, MegaDots uses the North American Computer Braille Code for all style sheets except for BRITISH. BRITISH and BRITUP (designed for the U.K.) uses the British Computer Braille Code. AUSSIE (designed for Australia and South Africa) uses the American Computer Braille Code.

If you want to change systems, use the CBC translation alternative option in the Translation Setup Screen in the Document Menu. Press F2 for a list of choices.

Braille Import Issues

When a British braille ready file is imported into MegaDots, a fair amount of work is required to clean it up. First correct the paragraph breaks. Scan through the MegaDots file and repair any errors in laying out the paragraphs. MegaDots looks for British print page indicators to decide if a braille file is a British file. If you are importing a file without print page indicators, the you will find massive problems with carriage return placement. If you anticipate importing files like this, contact MegaDots technical support so we can work out a solution before you do any unnecessary work.

There is no capitalization when you back translate. You can use the supplied rules file CAPFIX to correct most capitalization. Type Alt-F9 CAPFIX.MDR <Enter> to run this rules file on your inkprint file which is in all lower case. Then you can use the spell checker to help put more capital letters back where they belong.

MegaDots cannot read British numbers correctly from braille entered directly. You will need to fix the comma separating groups of digits and the decimal point in a back translated file.

If you consistently run into problems back translating British braille, please bring these to our attention. We want MegaDots to be an efficient tool.

Keyboard Differences

For the most part, MegaDots does a fine job of working with a U.K. keyboard. One known difference is that you must type Alt-Grave (to the left of the '1') instead of Alt-Backslash to get an accented grave letter. Also, use Alt-Colon for umlaut (diaeresis) letters instead of Alt-Quote.

Switching Modes

Changing a British Document into a North American Document

Translate the document into inkprint. Never convert a braille document. From the Document Menu, select the LITERARY or TEXTBK97 style sheet.

Next use the Auto Heading Setup to redo the headings.

Fix up the title page and table of contents for North American usage.

Run the document through the spell checker. This will help to eliminate British spelling.

Go through your document in WYSIWYG. Look for unusual lines in the file.

Changing a North American Document into a British Document

Translate the document into inkprint. Never convert a braille document. From the Document Menu, select from the BRITISH, AUSSIE or BRITUP style sheets.

Next use the Auto Heading Setup to redo the headings.

Fix up the title page and table of contents for British usage.

Format Control of End Notes Pages

MegaDots has a feature called the Whole Paragraph Note (WPN). A WPN is an entire paragraph of any style you wish marked as a footnote. This entire paragraph then joins the End Notes pages. You can add headings, running heads, anything you want to the End Notes Pages.

There is a big catch. You need to be very precise in your cursor movements, or the WPN will not "take" or work. An extra space or misplaced cursor will cause MegaDots to not recognize the paragraph as a WPN.

You need to be in show markup to create a WPN. Use Alt-up or down arrow to get to the precise start of a paragraph, then Control-X to mark a block, Alt-down, then left arrow, then Control-F N. Notice that the cursor should be exactly on a carriage return when you give the Control-F N command.

If for some reason your paragraph does not "take" as a WPN, go back to show markup, remove the note markup, and repeat the process to create the WPN.

Controlling the Opening Heading of a Notes Page

The default heading for the End Notes page is "Notes". You can change this if you wish. Before the first note in the text, create a WPN in the style Heading Level 1. The text of that heading will become the heading of the Notes page. In British braille, this opening heading will be the Page Information Line for the rest of the End Notes pages, subject to the rules for the manipulation of Page Information Lines in MegaDots.

Inserting a Print Page Indicator in a Notes Page

If you want a PPI in the footnote, you can put it in at the appropriate position. If you want to start off with a PPI, put it before the reference indicator.

Putting in an End of Volume Indicator

When you have an End Notes page at the end of a volume, you need an end of volume indicator or end of whole book indicator to go to the very end. Go into show markup. Press Control-End to go to the end of the document. Then use the appropriate command. Use Control-INS L V for end of volume or Control-INS L W for end of whole book.

Controlling the opening PPI of a Notes Page

If you create a WPN of Heading level 1 and put a PPI at the beginning of it, in British, then there will not be a dot 5 dropped c print page indicator on the Notes Page. It is part of the Page Information Line, but not part of the text.

If you do want it in the text, put the PPI at the beginning of the first note that it is before instead of the "Notes" heading. If you have an additional WPN heading after the "Notes" heading, such as "Chapter 1", put the PPI at the beginning of that. Either way, this will put the PPI on line 4 after the line 3 "Notes" heading.

What to Do If you have Several References to the Same Footnote Number

If you have several references to the same note, do the first one normally with an explicit number; later reference just with the number.

Lets say your document has several references to footnote 5. For the first reference, use an explicit number. In this example, use 5 as the reference indicator (rather than #, which in MegaDots means automatically go to the next number). For later references just place the number in note markup. Do not enclose any other text besides the numeric reference indicator.

Troubleshooting Tips Specifically for British Users

In MegaDots version 2.3 we introduced the automatic use of the UKTRANS rules file whenever you translate into braille. That extra process can cause some extra opportunities for difficulties to arise. Here are some tips for avoiding these difficulties.

If possible, avoid translating your document back and forth repeatedly between print and braille. When you have done some editing in print and want to see how your document looks in braille, save your document in print before translating to braille. If you want to edit the document in print again, reopen the document from the saved copy, rather than translating from braille back to print. Using the macro called TRANS automates that process.

Using the Create contents command performs a translation of your document internally, which includes using the UKTRANS rules file. That can create instability and cause MegaDots to crash. To avoid that, we recommend that before using Create contents, you remove the UKTRANS setting for Finetune rules file in Document menu - Translation setup, and instead use the UKTRANS rules file manually. Don't save the file after using Create contents. Instead, copy the table of contents into the MegaDots clipboard and reopen the previously saved file. Paste in the table of contents and resave the file.

The UKTRANS rules file makes the necessary adjustment for the new end italic indicator in a heading set for italics only if the heading is set in the Heading level 5 style. If you have set a different level of heading for the italic setting, use a modified version of UKTRANS where all the references to "Heading level 5" have been changed to the appropriate substitute.

Beginner Braille and translation into British braille both use the mechanism of a Finetune rules file. Since you can specify only one Finetune rules file for a document, you can't create a British Beginner Braille rules file automatically. However, here's what we recommend. Use the Beginner Braille menu to create a rules file. After that, open that Beginner Braille rules file in the MegaDots editor. Then paste the contents of the UKTRANS rules file at the beginning of your Beginner Braille rules file and save it under a modified name. To do that, you can use the Insert document (Control-F3) command with the file uktrans.mdr.

Chapter 18: Tips, Shortcuts and Techniques

Once you get going in MegaDots, there are certain features that can save you a lot of time. Some are little things, others are whole features devoted to making certain tasks easier. We'll start with the most basic features first.

Opening Files in MegaDots

MegaDots has six different shortcuts for loading files:

Opening Files in MegaDots from Windows Explorer

Many users find it more natural to open a file by clicking on it from Windows Explorer. You can open a .meg file in MegaDots by left clicking on it.

You can also open other kinds of files in MegaDots in a similar way. Right click on the file and select the "Open with" option. Leave the "Always use this program" checkbox unchecked. If MegaDots is not on the list, select "Choose program." Press the Browse button, and enter the filename c:\mega25\megan.pif for the sighted-friendly MegaDots interface, or c:\mega25\mega.pif for the blind-friendly MegaDots interface. Then press the Open button.

Zipping Around the Editor Quickly

MegaDots has several built-in shortcuts designed to make your work very fast and efficient. For moving around your document quickly, press Control-J G. This is a list of each paragraph in the current document, showing the beginning of each paragraph. Press Enter on a line to move to the beginning of that paragraph. Press Space to toggle headings only view. This lets you focus on the skeleton of the document. Press Enter on the heading you want to move to or Escape to stay where you were.

To cut, copy or delete text, most people highlight the text first. However, if you wish to work with an entire sentence, line or paragraph, it is usually easier to press Control-C, Control-D or Control-K first, and then select the object type you wish to affect with a single keystroke from the list of choices given, such as G for paragraph.

Another useful tidbit is to press Alt-V at the end of a paragraph when you wish the next new paragraph to revert to the second to last style you used. This document, for example, uses Heading level 2 and Body text. If you were to press Alt-V at the end of this paragraph, a new Heading level 2 paragraph would be started. Pressing Alt-V is like pressing Enter, except it also changes style.

Another way to jump where you want quickly is to use Bookmarks. You can set Bookmarks all over your document, and give them descriptive names. Press Alt-J to bring up the current list of bookmarks. If this is not a new document, there will already be one bookmark, called Last save. Pressing Enter on this brings you to the point where you left off when last working on the document. To create a new bookmark, press Insert while in this list. MegaDots asks you for the name of the bookmark, and sets it to where your cursor was when you pressed Alt-J.

The named bookmarks are great for putting notes in files to another user. For example, a proofreader can use bookmarks as editing notes. The person who checks things later can just press Alt-J to look for comments, pressing Enter on each one to go to the part of the document associated with that comment. As in any MegaDots list, to move to a bookmark quickly while in a large list of bookmarks, simply type the first few letters of that bookmark.

Speedy Manipulation of Inkprint Page Indicators

If you are doing textbook format braille, you need to put in inkprint page indicators. You can insert these quickly in one operation by pressing Alt-Z. This single screen lets you renumber, insert, delete, edit, or search by inkprint page indicators. In one quick operation, you can look for any missing inkprint page indicators.

If you optically scan your files, with one scanning operation per inkprint page (i.e. you are not scanning 2 pages at a time), you can insert all the inkprint page indicators in one operation. Just save your scanned document into a word processor format that retains page formats (such as WordPerfect). Next import the scanned file into MegaDots. Before anything else, press Alt-Z and insert inkprint page indicators at the start of each forced new page.

Macros Repeat Routine Tasks

There are several features in MegaDots that allow you to repeat routine tasks. A very simple way of repeating routine tasks is to use MegaDots macros. A macro is simply a set of recorded keystrokes that you can playback by pressing one key. For example, you can have a macro that types in your name and address and another one that puts the Sincerely at the end of a letter. A transcriber might use a macro to mark the current paragraph as a heading, press Enter and begin Body text.

Creating a macro is quite easy. You can begin recording from anywhere within MegaDots by pressing Alt-M. MegaDots then asks you to name the macro. This helps later on when you want to remember what it does, so give it a good name. Immediately after you name the macro and press Enter, MegaDots will begin recording every key that you press, so begin doing whatever it is that you want to record. Finally, press Alt-M again, and MegaDots will ask you to assign the macro to a keystroke (Shift F1-Shift F8). Whenever you press that key, MegaDots will repeat what you have just done, keystroke for keystroke.

If you want to call a macro by name, press Shift-F10 and press F2 for a list of available macros, or just type in the name. To save time, you can type just a letter or two of the name, if there is only one macro name that starts that way. For example, if there is only one macro the starts with the letter q, just type Shift-F10 q <Enter> to call it.

Whenever you want to see what keystrokes you have assigned macros to, go to the Preferences menu and choose Macros. There you can reassign the keystrokes and even incorporate new macros that someone has shared with you. To see what macros are available, press F2 while in this screen.

If you want to share a macro with someone, you can copy it onto a floppy disk and then into their MegaDots directory. All macros have the extension .mac. You can even view and edit these files inside of MegaDots. One use of this is to correct any mistakes you may have made while recording the macro. You may create a macro and then later decide to change it. To do this, load the .mac file into MegaDots. Special keystrokes are listed in angle brackets, such as <F10>, <Enter> or <Control-F10>. Text is put inside quotes. A macro to load this chapter into the Editor would look like <F3> "chap18.meg" <Enter>.

Use Rules Files

Another great way of speeding up MegaDots tasks is to use global replace rules files. These are key to unlocking huge potential in MegaDots. Once set up, they can perform important transformations on text effortlessly. Read Chapter 12 and load some of the various .mdr rules files that come with MegaDots. Each of them have comments that explain what they do. For example, you can block an area of text, press Alt-F9 and type LOWER to make that block of text lower case. This is simply calling the rule file lower.mdr.

After you press Alt-F9, you can also press F2 to get a list of rules files available. Or, as is the case with macros, you can type the first letter or two of a rules file name to call it. If lower.mdr is the only rules file beginning with the letter l, just press Alt-F9 l <Enter> to use it.

Chapter 19: MegaDots from the Command Line

Before we explain what you can do from the command line, we need to explain what the command line is. The command line is the same thing as the MS-DOS prompt, which is a text prompt that sits and waits for you to type in a command that it will recognize.

Do not use MegaDots from a full MS-DOS full screen, using the command line, if you have installed MegaDots answering "no" to the question about using MegaDots from the full DOS screen. If you are in this situation, only cannot have it both ways.

You can get into the command line by clicking on the Comamnd Line for MegaDots item in the Programs, Duxbury Group. If you do this, you will notice that the DOS window is full sized. This is appropriate for sighted persons. Blind persons using a speech program such as JAWS or Window-Eyes need to use the "window" sized screen. If the smaller screen is needed, right click on the icon, select properties, screen, and then click on the Window button (instead of full size).

To make good use of the command line, you need to add the MegaDots directory name to your path. There are various reasons why this was not done by the installation process.

If you have Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows 98 this is best done in the Control Panel, System, Advanced Settings, Environment Variables. Edit the Path to add your MegaDots directory name.

If You have Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows ME, this is best done with a batch file.

To get into MegaDots from the command line, you just type mega <Enter>. This chapter explains what you can do besides just typing mega <Enter>, in order to capture the power of MegaDots from the command line.

Here are some of the things you can do at the command line:

If you know how to write batch files, you can add even more combinations and possibilities.

Information Displays

Use these options to get more information about how to use MegaDots at the command line. These do not actually load or execute the MegaDots program.

Type mega /? <Enter> to get a summary list of command line options. This displays information on the screen and then leaves you back at the command line.

Type mega /w <Enter> to list all the Word Processing code numbers (see below). This displays information on the screen and then leaves you back at the command line.

Plain Vanilla MegaDots

Type mega <Enter> to get into MegaDots without referencing any files. Use this if you do not want to open or import any files.

Loading MegaDots and One or More Files

Type mega [file name] <Enter> to open or import a particular file when you run MegaDots. MegaDots automatically recognizes dozens of word processor file formats and then does the appropriate file conversions to open the file in MegaDots. More than one file name is allowed, and the wildcards * and ? are allowed. Wildcards are symbols which stand for other characters. Asterisk stands for a variable number of characters (zero or more), and question mark stands for a single character. Typing mega dogs*.meg <Enter> opens all the MegaDots files starting with the letters DOGS.

You could type mega newsltr.meg jokes.txt <Enter> to load both of these files into MegaDots. Notice that there is just a space between the file names. Once you are in MegaDots, use F8 to switch between the two documents.

Type mega x*.meg <Enter> to load all the files starting with X and using the MEG file extension in the current directory. Be careful about using wildcards--it is very easy to specify more files than MegaDots can load into memory at one time.

Changing the Access with /a

MegaDots can be customized to work with a large number of different access devices by just entering mega from the DOS command line with some slash codes. Notice there is a space before each forward slash. Here are some choices:

Saving Preferences as Default with /f

Once you use these slash codes, the /f causes MegaDots to remember these settings in your preferences. From now on, you can just type mega <Enter> to launch MegaDots and it will be customized with the settings you saved. Once you get comfortable with MegaDots, you can further refine the user interface to meet your needs. See Chapter 5 and chapter 13 for the details.

Choosing Another Preferences File with /e

Type /e[preferences file] to run MegaDots with a specific preferences file. (The e stands for environment.) If your system has multiple users with different needs, you can save the different preferences files under their initials. For example, you could store sighted preferences in dh.env and blind preferences in cn.env. To run MegaDots with the sighted preferences, just add /edh to the command line. Notice that there is no space after the slash e, and that you do not include the .env filename extension.

Influencing the File Importation

When you import a file, MegaDots usually does the right thing. It automatically recognizes the format and builds an appropriate MegaDots file. However, MegaDots is not omnipotent, and sometimes it needs further human guidance about the format and function of a file.

If you have a file that is a list (perhaps a mailing list), MegaDots usually mangles the format. Type -list after the file name when you import the file (make sure there is a space before the hyphen). All your blank lines will be preserved, and MegaDots will mark each paragraph as List style.

If you have a file that is a listing of a computer program, you need to tell MegaDots to use the CBC (Computer Braille Code) translator for the entire document. Type -cbc after the file name when you import the file. All your blank lines are still there, and MegaDots marks each paragraph as Computer style.

If your file contains a lot of tabs, it may import poorly. The importer thinks that lines containing multiple tabs are part of a table. This can be a major problem. Type -notabs after the file name in the command line to suppress this interpretation of tabs.

Type mega [file name] -? at the command line to run MegaDots and import the specified file using a specific file conversion. MegaDots presents a list of file formats from which you select the one you want. Use this option only if you are not satisfied with the file conversion that MegaDots chooses automatically.

Combining Files with /c

What if you wanted to combine all the files of the MegaDots Manual into one big file? Just type: mega chap*.meg /c <Enter> (the slash c means combine all the files). The new file has the file name of the first file.

Saving or Exporting with /s

You can save files as MegaDots files or as word processor files from the DOS command line. Just type: mega article.txt /snewsltr.meg <Enter> to save as a MegaDots file. Type: mega article.txt /snewsltr.htm#9906 <Enter> to save as a web (html) file. In this last example, the number sign is followed by a four digit code for HTML (the complete list is in the MegaDots Command Summary).

Influencing Braille Translation with /t

When you import a file, MegaDots uses the translation parameters you have specified in your preferences. Sometimes, you may want to change these for one document. Let's say you want to translate a file into grade one braille. You can enter mega [file name] /to in the command line. The slash t means you are changing the Default Translation Method. Check out this option in the Translation Screen of the New Document Preferences. If there is a second letter after the t, it is for the Braille standard. If you want a Spanish document translated into grade one braille, enter /tos in the command line (s for Spanish).

Run a Macro with /k

You can also run a macro from the DOS command line using the /k (forward slash k). If you want to exit the Editor with your macro, you need to manually add Alt-X <Enter> to the end of the macro file.

MegaDots Quick Mode with /q

Most braille translation programs work directly from the command line. You tell your braille translator to translate a file and then produce it in braille. While MegaDots does have an editing environment, it also lets you produce inkprint or braille completely from the command line. This lets you make your own batch files to take a file and produce braille in one easy step. (A batch file is a file containing commands you can give at the command line to further automate the work you do.)

Type mega [file name] /b /q to open or import the file in MegaDots, convert to braille, and then output directly to your default brailling device. After brailling is over, you are returned to the DOS command line. The slash b means translate this into braille, and the slash q means and directly output to the default braille device.

You can use all the other options described in this chapter. You can reference multiple files, combine files, specify an environment file, or modify the file importation or translation. You can also specify a range of pages, for example if you want to resume where embossing left off in the middle of a document.

Specify a Port or File Name with Quick Mode

The slash q has a series of modifiers so that you can further manipulate the output. You can add a port or file name directly after the slash q (i.e., no space after the q). For example, mega article.txt /b /qarticle.brf creates a braille ready file from the article.txt file. Or to send the braille to a device attached to the second serial port you could type mega article.txt /b /qcom2.

You can run several files in a row through MegaDots in Quick Mode. For example, you could type mega apple.doc ibm.doc amiga.doc /b /q <Enter> to import, translate and output three different files. In this example, the page numbering would start over with each new file. If needed, a plus sign right after the Q makes page numbering continue from one file to the next.

Specify the Carriage Width with Quick Mode

What if you want to define the carriage width? You can do that from the command line as well. Add a number sign followed by the carriage width you want after the port or device name. For example, type as follows: mega pre.meg chap1.meg chap2.meg chap3.meg /b /q+com1#32 <Enter>. This takes several files, translates them, and outputs through com1 with a carriage width of 32. Of course you do not have to combine the use of the plus sign and the number sign.

Specify a Range of Pages with /r

When you print from the command line in Quick Mode, you can specify a range of pages. This is useful if you need to resume printing in the middle of a document.

To start printing on page [start#] and terminate on page [end#], add /r[start#]~[end#]. If you want printing to continue to the end of the document, use a very high number for [endble], such as 9999. If your document uses the Textbk Style Sheet with inkprint page indicators, use braille page numbers to specify the range of pages, and not inkprint page indicators.

If brailling of the file web.doc stopped on page 73, you could continue with mega web.doc /b /q /r73~9999.

Quick Mode for Inkprint

What about inkprint? You can output inkprint the same way. Just substitute slash i (for inkprint) instead of the slash b (for braille) to generate inkprint output. For example, type mega article.doc /i /q <Enter> to open or import the file in MegaDots, then convert to inkprint, and then output directly to your inkprint device.

Other Command Line Programs that Come with MegaDots

In your MegaDots directory, there are several useful programs that you can run from the DOS command line. These are listed here in alphabetic order.


In order to use the MegaDots braille keyboard driver, you must run bkeysDRV. Usually this is set up automatically by the MegaDots Install program.

bkeys is a program that switches six key keyboard entry on or off manually from the command line. It is useful if you wish to use six key entry in DOS or in software other than MegaDots.

Type bkeys /o <Enter> to turn six key entry on. Type bkeys /x <Enter> to turn six key entry off. If an incompatibility arises with software after you have turned bkeys on, simply type bkeys <Enter> at the DOS prompt. This deactivates it, which is different than just turning it off.


This global replace program is used by MegaDots for importing and exporting special file formats. But feel free to use it for other applications. Unlike the global replace built into the MegaDots Editor, global works on ASCII textfiles. global is a useful general purpose utility for changing textfiles based on a specific list of replacements. You may find global useful to remove or alter things in an ASCII textfile which would confuse MegaDots.

For example, you can replace all occurrences of Pepsi with Coke, or all occurrences of the form feed character with nothing at all. To use global, just type global [input file] [output file] <Enter>. You are prompted for whether you have a rules file stored on disk. Answer No. Now you are prompted for find and replace strings. List the changes you want to make. When you are done just press Enter at the from prompt, and global will execute the changes.

It is very common to want to change the pattern of control characters in a file. There are two ways to specify control characters. Press Control-V (V for verbatim) followed by the control character you want to specify. Or you can press a tilde (~) followed by the specification in hexadecimal. For example, form feed is ~0C, carriage return is ~0D, and line feed is ~0A.

You can save a collection of changes in a rules file. In a rules file, there is a line for each replacement. The from string is separated from the to string by a vertical bar. To see what a rules file looks like, examine the file html.rul that comes with MegaDots. This is a rules file which translates MegaDots format commands into HTML format commands.

You can also run global at the command line referencing an existing rules file. For example, you could type: global map.txt guide.txt route.rul <Enter>. This would make a new file, guide.txt based on map.txt and the list of rules in route.rul. In this example, the rules file route.rul must be in the current directory.

global makes a clicking noise for each replacement it makes, and announces the total number of replacements when it is finished. If you would like to suppress these, add a space slash S (S for silent) to the end of the command string.


LOOKSS gives you a data dump of MegaDots formatting. LOOKSS "decodes" the style sheet, to let you find out the information stored within it. To use LOOKSS, first change your current directory to the MegaDots directory (this is usually C:\mega25).

The command LOOKSS LITERARY will do a screen dump of all the styles in your literary style sheet. Displaying this much information without pauses is too difficult to read (unless you have been taking a speed reading course and can read 5000 words a minute).

To read one screenful at a time, type: LOOKSS LITERARY |MORE <Enter>. To direct the output to a file instead, type LOOKSS LITERARY >LITERARY.txt <Enter>. To use a parallel printer, type LOOKSS LITERARY >LPT1 <Enter>. To use a serial printer, type LOOKSS LITERARY >com1 <Enter>.


MAGNIFY enlarges the letters on the screen. To minimize scrolling problems, it puts 80 characters across, and 12 characters high. This is the same as the Tall screen mode in MegaDots. You may find it useful to do some of your DOS operations with MAGNIFY.


MegaDots contains a program called TINYTEST to test output to an embosser. To use it, type TINYTEST LPT1 <Enter> at the command line. The parameter is the port name (substitute com1 or com2 as appropriate). This produces a framed braille pattern on the embosser and displays the dot pattern on the screen. If you are getting the same dot pattern on the screen as is on the embosser, then your embosser is able to print small files correctly.


View displays a braille ready file on the screen to make it easier to read. If MegaDots creates a braille ready file, and you want to check it out, use view to verify the layout of your output file.

To use view with the file article.brf, type in the following: view article.brf <Enter>. You get a display on the screen that shows the first page of braille on the left side of the screen. The right side of the screen gives a cheat sheet to help you recognize the grade two contractions. Pressing Up Arrow or Page Up takes you back a page, pressing Escape exits the program, and any other key advances one page.


Where locates files on your hard drive. For example, typing where resume.txt <Enter>, would initiate a search across all directories and subdirectories and report each and every occurrence of that filename. You can also do more general searches by using the wildcards ? and *. Typing where resume.* <Enter> might find files called resume.txt, resume.meg or resume.old.

Chapter 20: File Export

What is File Export?

File export is just the opposite of File Import. File Export means taking a MegaDots document and storing its contents in a form that other software can read.

Exporting Files

You can export files from MegaDots to other systems very easily. Just press Control-F4 to export a file. First MegaDots wants to know the name of the file you are creating, and then MegaDots needs to know what kind of file you want. You are presented with a list of file types.

MegaDots offers as the default the file type that was used to create the MegaDots document. In other words, if you imported a web (html) file, then when you export, MegaDots remembers that and offers web (html) as the default. Of course, you can select any file type you want.

Exporting to "Your Copy of Microsoft Word"

MegaDots uses Word automation to export a MegaDots file into Microsoft Word. First MegaDots exports to HTML, then turns the HTML file over to your copy of Word to save in the appropriate format. In order for these exports to work, you need to have the appropriate Microsoft Word software installed on your computer:

Specialized Braille Formats

MegaDots can also create braille formats for other programs. To export a braille document for another program, have the document in braille in MegaDots.

Duxbury DBT can also make use of Braille ready files. If you use this choice for DBT, you need to tell DBT in its Global menu to Import formatted braille without interpretation. The resulting document is formatted exactly like the braille output from MegaDots, with all the spacing and pagination forced. On the other hand, if you use the choice of MS Word/BANA template for Duxbury DBT, you get a file where it's easier to do further editing or make use of different braille rules. If you want a different kind of braille translation, then export on the print side to MS Word/BANA template.

For creating a Braille ready file, using the Printing option from the braille side gives you more control than using the Export option, as you can choose carriage width, form length, and interpoint vs. single sided.

Chapter 21: Troubleshooting

This chapter is a guide for troubleshooting MegaDots problems. It can be used by experienced MegaDots users troubleshooting for themselves, or helping other MegaDots users with their problems. Be aware that Duxbury staffs a technical support line for MegaDots. However, a MegaDots user facing technical problems can use this chapter to see how different problems are addressed, and what resources are available for assistance.

A major priority of each version of MegaDots is to eliminate issues that have caused customer support problems. If you are assisting someone else, the best solution may be an update to version 2.5.

Don't Even Try on a 64-bit Windows System

MegaDots does not run on 64-bit Windows Systems. Please see Chapter 2 for the alternatives. There are three different products that can install a virtual Windows XP machine on a 64-bit Windows 7 computer.

Serial Number, Version Number, and Software Date.

When you call or e-mail for MegaDots technical support, it is important to give the version number and date of your MegaDots software and your MegaDots serial number (which we have sometimes called the user ID). You can find your MegaDots serial number by launching MegaDots and pressing Alt-Shift-R (to bring up the MegaDots release information). If MegaDots has already been released, a message with the serial number appears on the status line at the bottom of the screen. Pressing Shift-F10 ID <enter> gives the same result as pressing Alt-Shift-R. If Alt-Shift-R is intercepted by another program, then use the Shift-F10 command instead.

To get the date and version number of the MegaDots software, launch MegaDots and press F10 H A (to bring up the About MegaDots window). The version number and date are at the beginning of the text.

Other Resources for Technical Support

There are additional resources for technical support in the MegaDots 2.5 Documentation. In particular, the MegaDots Interface Guide (and the Embossit help file) give information on using MegaDots with embossers, printers, access technology, and scanning systems. The Interface Guide is available from the menu of MegaDots 2.5 Documentation (Start Menu, Duxbury, MegaDots 2.5 Documentation).

Whenever you need to learn how to do something in MegaDots, please consult the MegaDots Reference Manual. To consult it, press F12 from within MegaDots, and select the desired topic.

Recovering from a Frozen MegaDots

When MegaDots has frozen, you'll probably lose what you were working on, if you don't have a saved copy. But you can close it without having to shut down your system. You can press Control-Alt-Delete and then Alt-T to get to the Windows Task manager. There, in the Applications tab, you can click on the End task button next to mega.

Alternatively, you can press Alt-Spacebar to bring up a control menu, and then C for Close. If Windows asks for confirmation, answer yes.

Launching MegaDots from the DOS Prompt

Launching MegaDots from the DOS prompt can be a useful tool for troubleshooting. Sometimes that enables you to see an error message that would otherwise flash quickly out of view.

To open a DOS window, go to Start menu and select Run. On a Windows 95 or 98 system, type COMMAND and push OK. On a Windows XP, 2000, NT, Vista, or Windows 7 system, type CMD to the Run prompt and click OK.

Once you have opened a DOS window, it is best to switch to the MegaDots program directory for launching MegaDots. If you are launching MegaDots 2.5, the program directory is probably c:\mega25. So type:

cd \mega25 <Enter>
mega <Enter>

MegaDots Crashes Immediately

If MegaDots 2.5 without speech crashes, but MegaDots 2.5 with Speech does not, see the section about the NVIDIA video card (see below).

If MegaDots was working fine on your system, and then had a crash and now does not work after restarting your computer, we recommend deleting a file called restore.inf in the MegaDots program folder. One way to do this it to run a batch file called megajump, to give MegaDots a "jump start." At the MS-DOS prompt, as described in the section above, type megajump <Enter>. This renames the file called RESTORE.INF so that the next launch of MegaDots does not bring back the problem that made it crash before.

If the thing you were doing when MegaDots crashed was printing to an inkprint printer, and now you can't get into MegaDots any more, then we recommend running the newprint batch file. At the MS-DOS prompt or the Start Menu's Run dialog, type newprint <Enter>. This deletes the files SLATE.PDB and FONTSTR.INF to clear out your inkprint printer information (to be remade next time you launch MegaDots).

Sometimes users find that MegaDots was running fine on their system but at a later time it no longer runs, without warning. This is different from the restore.inf problem, where the problem started with a crash during a MegaDots session. This kind of problem probably comes from other changes on the system, changes in Windows or other software installed on the system. You can look for clues about this problem in the Windows journal. You can also try resetting Windows to a restore point when MegaDots was working.

If MegaDots crashes immediately when launched from Windows, it is often difficult to read any error message that might be supplied. To find out what error message you might be missing, go to the DOS prompt and run MegaDots by typing mega <Enter>. You may get an error message that was not displayed when you clicked on the MegaDots icon.

The message intrinsic MegaDots error means that you license number got lost somehow. Re-install MegaDots to correct this problem.

MegaDots also crashes immediately if a very long path is set on your system. If this is the problem, you get a message about a DOS4G error. To troubleshoot for this problem, at the MS-DOS prompt, type path <Enter>. If the path that appears is longer than 255 characters, then this is the problem. If so, the solution is to set a shorter path in the process of launching MegaDots. The MegaDots technical support team can help you with this.

If you go to the DOS prompt and type SET DEBUGINIT=1 <Enter> and then launch MegaDots by typing mega <Enter>, MegaDots creates a file called TRACE in the MegaDots directory from which the MegaDots programming staff can figure out at what stage the crash occurred.

It is also possible for a problem in your MegaDots preference settings to cause MegaDots to crash immediately, especially if you just installed a major update and have an older preferences file. To check for this kind of a problem, rename the preferences file from ENVIRON.ENV to OLD.ENV; then MegaDots does not use these preferences when you launch it again. If this fixes the problem, then you can rebuild your preferences from scratch. If the problem persists, then you can rename the preferences file back to ENVIRON.ENV and try another strategy.

Sometimes a video card, or the driver for a video card, may cause MegaDots or another DOS application to crash immediately when you launch it as a full screen application. If you can run MegaDots as a window application (changing this under Properties- Screen) but not as a full screen application, then this is probably the issue. As a first step, you can try updating the driver for your video card.

In MegaDots versions prior to 2.3, a missing autoexec.nt file in the system32 subfolder of your computer's systemroot folder (usually c:\windows\system32 or c:\winnt\system32) prevents MegaDots from launching. However, there is usually a backup copy of this file in the repair subfolder of the systemroot folder. So copy autoexec.nt from the repair subfolder into the system32 subfolder. Again, this is not an issue in MegaDots 2.3 through 2.5.

MegaDots Freezes Immediately

On some machines, launching MegaDots brings up a normal-looking MegaDots screen, but it is frozen. This happens on machines which have the IntelliKeys, IntelliTools, or IntelliTalk software installed. To test for this, open an MS-DOS window, use the cd command to get to the Megadots program folder and type: SET NOBKEYS=1 <Enter> mega <Enter>. If this fixes the problem, you can make This setting more permanent in Control panel - System - Advanced - Environment variables. Add a user variable called nobkeys with a value of 1. This solution has the drawback of not allowing use of six keys as a braillewriter keyboard. If the problem comes from having a product like the IntelliTools software on your system, and you don't run it often, an alternative solution is to make a change in the system.ini file, disabling IntelliTools but allowing the use of MegaDots with 6-key braille entry. In the [386ENH] section of system.ini, place a semicolon at the start of the line
Best solution: get a new computer (not always possible).

Frequent crashes

A source of frequent crashes may be virus protection software, or other software running in the background. All virus software makers want you to run your virus protection software all the time. Sometimes these programs foul up MegaDots. Turn your virus software off (briefly) to see if the MegaDots crashing issues go away.

Some reports have come in saying that the MegaDots autosave feature causes MegaDots to crash. If you are having frequent crashes, please turn off autosave.

Problems with Specific Files

Sometimes MegaDots has problems with specific files. If the problem involves importing a file from another file format, then see the section below.

If MegaDots crashes, freezes, or makes mistakes while you are editing, translating, viewing the WYSIWYG screen, or printing, we recommend that you determine if the problem is due to something in the file that you are working on, or something more general. So bring in a chapter of the MegaDots User Manual--press F11 and select a chapter from the list. [If you make changes in the User Manual chapter, be careful not to save it with the same filename.] If you have similar problems in the User Manual chapter, then the difficulty does not have to do with your particular file, and we need to look elsewhere. But if you do not have similar problems, then we need to examine your particular file.

If your problem is specific to a particular file, we recommend that you e-mail it to the MegaDots tech support team at megadots@duxsys.com. If you want to tell us where in the file the problem occurs, the very best way to do that is to create a MegaDots bookmark at that place in the file. With your cursor at the place in question, press Alt-J to bring up the bookmarks user list. Then press the Insert key to add a new one, type a name for it, and press <Enter>. Then save the file.

When MegaDots crashes, it tries to save the files that were open at the time. If it was successful, the next time you launch MegaDots, you are given an opportunity to bring up the documents that were open. We recommend that you answer Yes, press Alt-J to bring up the user list of bookmarks, and select Exit position. This shows you where MegaDots was processing material when the error occurred.

Tabular Material and Boxing Lines

A number of file-specific problems come from tables (columnar material). MegaDots assumes that every line of a table has the same number of columns (and the same number of tabs). If it does not, then braille formatting goes haywire. The best thing to do is keep the file in inkprint and show markup, find the bad spots, fix them, and only then translate into braille. MegaDots comes with a rules file called TABLE-X which locates table rows which have an incorrect number of columns. Open the file and then press Alt-F9 table-x <Enter>. Look for ~~ in a table. This shows that the number of columns in this row is different that the number of columns in the next row.

Sometimes, especially with material that was scanned, tabular formatting was not appropriate in the first place. On the other hand, if you really do need to show tabular material, then you should report the problem to the MegaDots tech support team. You may be able to get better results in the short run by changing the table style.

Tabular material and boxes sometimes make it hard for MegaDots to move by page in the braille WYSIWYG screen. Often you can eliminate that kind of problem by enclosing the table or box with MegaDots Protected zone markers. Place a Protected zone: yes marker at the beginning of the material and a Protected zone: no marker at the end of it. Those markers tell MegaDots to keep that material together on one braille page if at all possible, and that can simplify MegaDots' page division logic for a table or boxed material.

Line Numbered Material

With line numbered material that includes footnotes, you may experience freezing when you switch to the braille WYSIWYG screen or when you attempt to emboss. In that case, close MegaDots and launch it again. After you open your document again, use the supplied rules file called notefix (by pressing Alt-F9 and typing notefix <Enter>). If the status line shows more than 0 replacements, then using this rules file has probably fixed the problem. In that case, save the document.

Importing Microsoft Word Documents

MegaDots now uses the machinery of DBT to import Word files. This means that you might see DBT error messages when you import a file. We have found that these error messages (though confusing since they say DBT instead of MegaDots) are in fact helpful. MegaDots cannot import math files directly because of a licensing issue. Import math files into DBT, and save the files as dxp Duxbury files. MegaDots can read math dxp files.

Since DBT cannot import RTF files, MegaDots cannot import RTF files. If you can, you can install MegaDots 2.4 or earlier, and then install MegaDots 2.5 in the same directory. Hint: both MegaDots 2.4w and MegaDots 2.5 do not have the files you need to run the file conversions that used to run with MegaDots.

File Importing Problems in General

Sometimes MegaDots crashes while importing a file. While we know that this is regrettable, we can recommend various procedures that enable you to import most of these stubborn files successfully.

Use the Open/import command, and type the filename followed by <space> -spa <Enter> (for spacing same). If MegaDots opens the file, then press Alt-I to bring up the Interpret format screen and change the Style selection field from Spacing same to Normal. To do that arrow to Style selection, press F2 N <Enter>. Then press F10 to reimport the file and Escape to return to the Editor.

If this does not work, check to see if MegaDots correctly recognizes the file type. Try to open the file again, but this time type the filename, then space followed by -? before pressing Enter. Then choose the appropriate file type from the list.

One last resort is to choose the file type Unknown file with text by pressing UNK <Enter> in the list. If MegaDots opens the file, then press Alt-I to bring up the Interpret format screen and change the Source field from Unknown file with text to Automatic or the actual file type. Sometimes that works even when the original file import failed.

If you want to change some aspects of how MegaDots imported a file, then before making any changes in the Editor, press Alt-I to bring up the Interpret Format window, and change the settings related to the issue. If you want to make some of these changes permanent, make those under Preferences - File import - Default. When you have finished making changes, press F10 twice and then S <Enter> to save your preferences.

Embossing Problems

The MegaDots Interface Guide and the Embossit help file give information on using MegaDots with embossers, printers, access technology, and scanning systems. The Interface Guide is available from the menu of MegaDots 2.5 Documentation.

The Embossit help file has a very good troubleshooting guide that should fix just about every embosser problem.

It does not address MegaDots-specific problems. Do not try to output directly to a serial port on a Windows XP, Windows 2000, NT, Vista, or Windows 7 systems. Instead use MegaPrn or Embossit to output to the serial port.

Embossing problem: many characters are missing or no output. The issue is probably that the computer's parallel port is set for ECP or some other bidirectional setting. Quite a few braille embossers skip a lot of characters when the parallel port is set for bidirectional communication. Set the computer's parallel port for SPP (standard parallel port). You can do this in the CMOS settings (holding down F1 or another key as specified by your vendor as you start your computer).

Embossing problem: no output. Here are some things to try in this situation:

Embossing problem: garbled output. If you are using a serial connection, go to the Windows Control Panel - System- Devices, to check the settings on the computer's serial port. In particular, check the baud rate, data bits, and parity, and make sure that they match the settings on your embosser.

Embossing problem: output stops before it is finished or is missing occasional characters. This may be a handshaking problem.

Inkprint Printing Problems

If inkprint printing (including simulated braille) stops prematurely after one page, then exit MegaDots and type NEWPRINT <Enter>. This eliminates old printer information, which is replaced the next time you enter MegaDots.

If there are problems with regular inkprint printing, try changing the starting type family.

If you are not getting any inkprint output, or it stops after a few lines, you may need to change your MegaDots preference setting for the default inkprint printer. Go to Preferences - Inkprint devices, and press Insert and then F2 to add a new printer set-up.

If you are having trouble with inkprint printing when telling MegaDots to print to a parallel port, try telling MegaDots to print to mprn. Then, when you press F10 to print, MegaDots sends you to a dialog box in which you select the appropriate Windows printer.

Translation Problems

If translating a file from print to braille makes MegaDots freeze or crash, it is best to send the file to the MegaDots tech support team. You can e-mail it to megadots@duxsys.com. If the MegaDots Editor preferences are set for WYSIWYG display, or if the Advanced preferences have Transcriber view set to Yes, the problem may actually arise when MegaDots tries to display the braille in WYSIWYG format. You can check for this by pressing Alt-W (to get the message WYSIWYG off) and setting Preferences - Advanced - Transcriber view to No before translating to braille. If that works okay, then MegaDots probably freezes or crashes when you press Alt-W again to turn on WYSIWYG display. If this is the case, then the problem is with formatting. If there is any tabular material in the document, that may be the cause of the problem. If there is not supposed to be any tabular material in the document, then press Alt-F9 notabs <Enter> (to remove tabular material) before translating to braille.

Another kind of translation problem is a round trip error, where translating from print to braille and then back to print again makes some changes in the text. This is most common in documents using the Nemeth style sheet. If you are using the Nemeth style sheet, we recommend that you use the macro called Trans to view the material in braille in a separate file, still leaving your print intact in the original file. In addition, if you are using the Nemeth style sheet, we recommend that you make a practice of saving the print file before translating to braille. Then you'll be able to reopen the saved print file in case the file translated back into print is corrupted. We also recommend checking for this kind of problem before you translate to braille: In the Editor press Alt-F5 to check for round trip errors. Each time you press Alt-F5, MegaDots does not actually make any changes, but it shows you where the next round trip error would be in the document or says no more differences.

Braille Keyboard Problems

Problems launching the braille keyboard driver

The braille keyboard (or Perkins keyboard) uses the keys SDF--JKL as keys on a braillewriter keyboard. For example, pressing down F and J simultaneously and then letting go enters the character for dots 1-4, which is the letter ‘c'. If you have a top menu bar, you will notice a <6> in the upper right corner when Perkins keyboard mode is on.

In versions of MegaDots prior to 2.3, users often found that the braille keyboard driver was not installed, if they strayed from our installation instructions. The MegaDots 2.3 and beyond installation software takes care of this, so we do not expect this to be an issue anymore.

Missing dots in 6-key entry

In order for the braille keyboard to work properly, without missing dots, your PC keyboard needs a feature called n-key rollover. If your keyboard does not have n-key rollover, then braille keyboard entry works for cells with one or two dots, but misses dots on other cells. If you cannot get the Perkins mode to work properly, try this simple test. Without loading the braille keyboard software (at the DOS prompt or in Word, press the keys SDFJKL all at once. Do you see these six letters (in a random order)? If not, you need a new keyboard.

With new keyboards, problems caused by lack of n-key rollover have become more common. For information on which keyboards have n-key rollover, you can consult the web site http://www.braille-pokadot.com/indexkey.html.

Screen Display Problems

Shrunken MegaDots Screen

On some laptop computers the screen for MegaDots is shrunken, with a large border (usually black) around it. To remedy this problem, you need to use your computer's BIOS settings menu to enable a feature called video expansion.

To enter the BIOS settings menu (sometimes also called the CMOS settings menu), you need to hold down a certain key when you start or restart your computer. This key varies from one computer to another. When you restart your computer, information about how to enter the BIOS settings menu flashes by quickly. If you can't read this quickly disappearing message, then look up BIOS settings menu (or CMOS settings menu) in the manual for your computer. Follow the instructions at the bottom of the menu for moving around the menu and making and saving changes, as the mouse is not functional within the BIOS menu.

On one sample computer with this problem, the setting that needed changing was called Video expansion. By default Video expansion was set as Disabled, and the user needed to change it to Enabled. The documentation for the computer stated: "Video Expansion--When enabled, expands video image to cover entire LCD at lower resolutions. To expand everything, first decrease screen control size in Control Panel - Display - Settings, before expanding video. The computer user in this case did not end up keeping this change in Control panel - Display - Settings, because of the way that it affected everything else. After the change in the BIOS settings, the large black border that had surrounded the MegaDots screen was much smaller, and the MegaDots screen, while still not the full screen, was much larger.

Missing the left edge of the MegaDots screen when viewing Big dots

Usually when this problem has occurred (particularly on Dell computers), it has been fixed by adjusting a knob located on the monitor.

Using Dots instead of Big dots shows foreign letters

Using a MegaDots Braille view mode of Dots (not Big dots) does not work if you use MegaDots as a window application. See Chapter 2 for instructions on running MegaDots as a window application.

Vista and NVIDIA Video Card Issues

MegaDots works well with 32-bit Windows. On many modern systems, including 32-bit Windows Vista or Windows 7 systems, an MS-DOS full screen is not readily available. If you experience this on your system, you have several different choices for how you run MegaDots.

If your system has an NVIDIA GeForce 6150 video card, then you cannot run MegaDots in a full screen, even if you are not running Windows Vista. Some other NVIDIA video cards, in addition to the GeForce 6150, also have a problem with running MegaDots in full screen. In addition, if you are running Remote Desktop, or are emulating Windows on another platform, you also cannot use the MS-DOS full screen.

If you cannot run MegaDots in full screen, consider the approach of using an alternative video driver. If that approach is not available in your situation (such as running MegaDots through virtual PC on a 64-bit Windows system), or if this approach has not worked for you, then answer no to the installation question about running MegaDots in a full screen. Then launch the MegaDots 2.5 without Speech icon.

If you are using Windows XP, change the font name and size on the print side. To do that, launch MegaDots and press Alt-spacebar. Then press P and select the font tab. Choose MegaDots cleaner braille as your font. To enlarge the font, see the description that follows the next paragraph.

If you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7, change the font size from the braille side. Press F5 so that there is a B in the beginning of the status line. Press Alt-spacebar, then P, and select the font tab.

The idea in enlarging the font is to make the window as big as possible. Be aware that the window can never take up the whole screen. We recommend 24 point for a sighted user, 20 point for a user of JAWS or Window-Eyes. If you are asked, save these parameters for future use of this program.

Be aware that the MegaDots cleaner braille font is designed to work with screen font smoothing turned on. If the font appears to have box-like braille dots without any shadow dots, you have screen font smoothing turned off. On your desktop, right click, choose, Properties, Appearance, click on Effects and make sure the screen font smoothing choice is checked.

Answering no to the installation question about using the full screen restricts the range of screen modes that are available in MegaDots. For displaying braille, your choices are dots, ASCII, and Expanded.

Forcing Full Screen Mode in 32-bit Vista

On some systems, you can run MegaDots in full screen by downloading and installing a Windows XP driver for your machine's video card. Alternatively, you could use the instructions below to install the Standard VGA video driver. Our own experience has shown that undoing and re-doing these changes is difficult or impossible. By all means, place system restore points if you take this approach.

To take this approach, answer yes to the MegaDots installation question about running MegaDots in a full screen. Click on MegaDots 2.5 without Speech icon. If you get the full screen and can get Big Dots, then stop here. You are done.

If you get an error message saying "This system does not support full screen mode", then we need to proceed with giving an attitude adjustment to Vista. Note: any changes are made at the user's risk.

Step 1: Disable Vista's User Access Control

You need to disable Vista's User Access Control (UAC) security feature until you have completed making the changes. Actually, this step may not be necessary. If you cannot do step 1, then give step 2 a try anyway.

You need to download and run a program called TweakUAC. To learn about this program, go to the website http://www.tweak-uac.com/what-is-tweek-uac. To actually run the program, go to the link http://www.tweak-uac.com/TweakUAC.exe. Once you run TweakUAC, turn off UAC or switch it to quiet mode.

Step 2: The Standard VGA Graphics Adapter

In order to get a full screen in DOS, you must use Vista's Standard VGA Graphics Adapter video driver (as described in the next paragraph) instead of whatever driver you or Windows installed for use with your video hardware. (Alternatively, if your hardware makes this possible you may want to install the Windows XP driver for your video hardware as described below).

If your monitor goes blank, wait five minutes, then power down your computer and restart it normally.

If your monitor does not go blank, wait while the driver is installed; click Close; then continue to press Close or OK or otherwise close dialog boxes until you are back to the desktop. If you are prompted to restart your computer, do so. You probably should do so anyway.

Now, it is very important that you set a Restore point on your computer. If you don't, then switching back to the default driver for your video card for better graphics might make it difficult to get back to the MegaDots-friendly display.

If you want to reverse this procedure, follow the same instructions, but let Windows automatically install the appropriate software for your system instead of browsing your computer for driver software.

Step 3: Enable Vista's User Access Control

Review Step 1, only reverse the setting changes you made.

Problems with Voice Access through JAWS

If you have been using MegaDots with JAWS and JAWS suddenly "loses focus," you may have accidentally switched the data entry mode from Insert to Overwrite by pressing the Insert key. To check for this, press the Insert key. If JAWS says, "Insert on," then that was the problem and you have just fixed it. If JAWS says, "Insert off," then that wasn't the problem; press the Insert key again to turn it back on.

If JAWS has very sluggish speech with Eloquence in MegaDots on a Windows XP, 2000, NT, Vista, or Windows 7 system, the problem is likely to come from the system setting for allocating system resources to background services or application responses. To fix this problem, set this to Background services. For the details on making this change, see Chapter 13.

Chapter 22: MegaMath Translator

Welcome to the Math Translator for MegaDots. It allows you to easily produce mathematical material in braille.

Verifying That The Software is Properly Installed

Get into MegaDots. Press F10 D S F2 N <Enter> Control-F10 to use the NEMETH style sheet. In the Editor, type [x//y] (this is open square bracket, x, slash, slash, y, close square bracket). When you press the final close bracket, the screen should shift to show a fraction (x over y). This change should be virtually instantaneous, once you press the final bracket. This is an example of a data entry shortcut.

Press F5 and you should get the Nemeth braille for the fraction x over y. In braille this looks like ?x/y# (in braille it is the th sign, x, st sign, y, and ble sign). Congratulations, the software is properly installed.

File Import

You can transfer math files from Duxbury DBT to MegaDots. MegaDots can read DBT files containing math. Since Duxbury DBT can import Latex files and other types of math files from sources such as Scientific Notebook, MathType, and InftyReader, this gives a good route to obtain this mathematical material into MegaDots.

One issue for concern with file import is the handling of emphasis: bold and italics. Often many words are marked as emphasis. The MegaDots math translator prefers each character to be marked with emphasis. Use the supplied rules file fixmath.mdr to change multi-character emphasis to emphasis on a character-by-character basis. Using this rules file saves you a lot of manual work.

What Do I Need to Know to Use the Math Translator?

This is a mathematics braille translator. It takes text and mathematical notation and turns it into braille. That can be very intimidating.

We expect you to know the basic vocabulary of mathematics. You need to be able to look at the different symbols and know their names. As a good rule of thumb, if you do not think you can read aloud the math notation, then you cannot use this software to turn it into braille. While this documentation explains some mathematical notation, do not rely on it to be your only source of knowledge about mathematical notation.

Besides knowing math notation, sometimes you need to know the particular terminology of Nemeth Code. The best example is the term hypercomplex fraction. In Nemeth Code, a fraction that contains a fraction that contains a fraction is called a hypercomplex fraction.

The one thing everyone needs to learn is how to type in math expressions. The last time I looked, no keys on my computer keyboard had Greek letters or infinity on them. The codes and techniques for typing math notation into MegaDots are peculiar to MegaDots. No other technical word processor uses this system. A large portion of this documentation is devoted to teaching how to enter math notation in MegaDots.

The final issue is "Do I need to learn Nemeth Code?" That is a very tough question. The whole point of this software is to use a translator that eliminates the need to deal with Nemeth Code. Yet, the more Nemeth Code you learn, the more you are able to work with this software, to fix your own mistakes, identify bugs, and make sure you are generating quality material.

The bottom line is that if you do not know Nemeth Code, it is recommended that you have material checked by a certified Nemeth proofreader, either all the material or representative samples. This will ensure that your data entry is correct, that the translator is working, and that the format is correct.

Learning More about Nemeth Code

There are two forms of on-line help about Nemeth Code that are available from within this translation product. Press F10 H N to learn more about topics in Nemeth Code. For example, if you want to know about "fractions", "repeated decimal digits", "square roots" or "spatial format", use this on-line help. This resource explains the topic and how to do the data entry. Why not stop and use this on-line help right now to be sure you know how to use it.

The other form of help is accessed when you are using the Control-I list. (Note: you must be using the Nemeth Stylesheet to bring u the Control-I list). From the list press F1 for help on any specific symbol. For some symbols, there is a description of what the symbol looks like so you can be sure you are picking the right symbol.

There is a file in the MegaDots directory called fnemread.meg which is designed to explain Nemeth Code braille to a blind reader. You can load this file and braille it out for others.

Gaylen Kapperman of Research and Development, Inc. has finished a three year project to produce The Computerized Nemeth Code Tutor. This is a software product (for the Windows platform) geared to teaching a sighted person Nemeth Code. It comes with a thick inkprint book Strategies for the Development of Mathematics Skills in Students Who Read Braille. Mr. Kapperman has secured funding for about 1000 sets of this valuable resource. These are available free of charge as long as the supply lasts. Be aware that the software does not support DOS or Macintosh, and is not appropriate for a blind person wishing to learn Nemeth Code. To contact Gaylen Kapperman, Please use the following address: Gaylen Kapperman, Faculty of Special Education, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115. Or call 815-753-8453 (voice), 815-753-9250 (fax), or gkapper@niu.edu (e-mail)

The Hadley School for the Blind in Winnetka, Illinois (800-323-4238) offers a correspondence course in Nemeth Code which covers basic arithmetic, some algebra, and some geometry.

To find information (and some .brf files) on Nemeth Code reference books and books for learning Nemeth Code, go to www.brailleauthority.org and use the links Publications, and then Math and science braille.

There are three books from the American Printing House for the Blind, 1839 Frankfort Avenue, Louisville KY 40206 (502-895-2405 or 800-223-1839). These are:

There are three web pages of interest:

Things Not Found in This Product

If you need to braille these items, you may need to use direct braille entry to get the correct translation or format.

Data Entry

There are several overlapping ways to do math data entry in the Math package for MegaDots. Please remember that some symbols can be entered using several different systems.

Control-I List of Symbols

Virtually every symbol listed in the Nemeth Code Book is available from a long list when you press Control-I. To examine this list, make sure that you are using the Nemeth Stylesheet then press Control-I from inside the MegaDots Editor. Press Page-down as many times as you want. It takes pressing the Page-down key 50 times to get to the end. Press Escape when you have seen enough.

Some items have been renamed to make them easier to locate in this list. Do not go by the exact name in the Nemeth Code book. For example, a double integral is listed here as "integral, double".

You can use the search function. To find all the uses of the word "square", type Control-I F9 square <Enter>. Press Control-N to go to the next item.

If you want, you can press F1 for help when the highlight is on any entry. When you want to select an entry, just press <Enter>.

Data Entry Shortcuts with Brackets

There are numerous data entry shortcuts. We have already seen how a simple fraction can be entered with [...//...]. The data entry shortcuts snap into the special mathematical markup.

There are six kinds of data entry shortcuts that make use of the square brackets. These are [...//...] for fractions, v[...] for radicals (square roots), x^[...] for a superscript, x_[...] for a subscript, [...]^^[...] for above, and [...]__[...] for below.

Experiment with these. If the superscript or subscript is just one character, you can drop the brackets. The sum of x squared plus y squared can be entered as x^2+y^2. The value of x raised to the z+1 power is entered x^[z+1].

FASTMATH Data Entry Shortcuts

One of the files in your MegaDots directory is called fastmath.meg. Since it is a MegaDots file, you can load it and examine it in MegaDots. It lists many automated shortcuts. For example, when you type a plus followed by a minus, it is automatically switched to the "plus or minus" symbol. Typing a tilde followed by an uppercase S is automatically replaced by the integral sign.

You can add your own shortcuts to the working shortcuts in this file. Your shortcut must consist of a tilde and exactly one more character (letter, number or punctuation), or a combination of two punctuation characters. To link math text to the shortcut, use the equal sign and immediately follow that with the text or special symbols. For any changes to take effect, save the modified copy of fastmath.meg.

Be aware that if you make additions to fastmath.meg, you need to also save those changes to another file. That way, when you get an update of MegaDots, you can restore your improvements.

No Shortcuts, Please

So what do you do if you want to type a bracket, tilde, or other character that is part of a shortcut system, but you do not want any shortcut? No problem. Typing a backslash before any character means "just that plain character". So a plain bracket can be entered with \[. Alternatively, you can press Alt-Q to toggle off the use of quick math data entry shortcuts, and then press Alt-Q again to toggle the use of these shortcuts back on.

Greek Letters

Greek letters are entered by Alt-G followed by the appropriate letter. This letter can be lower case or uppercase.

Some Things to Watch For

In your data entry, make sure there is at least one space after each function name and before the parameter at the same level. Enter "sin x" not "sinx". But you can enter sin^2 x (the exponent can be placed right after the function name, but notice there is still a space before the parameter).

The translator cannot handle European style digit groupings and decimal points. For example, 123,456.35 might be written as 123.456,35 in Europe. To produce proper Nemeth Code, you need to change the data entry back to 123,456.35.

Be careful with square brackets. Since these are used in many data entry shortcuts, you may have to precede them with a backslash to mean a real bracket.


The Nemeth Code Book has a long section explaining how to pack several arithmetic problems side-by-side to save paper. This practice is not supported by this software. Feel free to produce problems this way with direct braille entry or with your Perkins. Perhaps at a later time, Duxbury Systems will improve the formatter to handle side-by-side arithmetic problems. We apologize if this causes difficulties for the user.

Use the Arithmetic style by typing Alt-T A. This style suppresses the use of the number sign before a number. Use many hyphens for the "total line" (usually represented by a single horizontal line in inkprint).

Only use the Arithmetic style for Arithmetic spatial problems. This style suppresses the use of the number sign. You do not want this to happen in other places. So switch to a different style (Body text or Spatial math) for material which is not Arithmetic any more.

Correct Nemeth Code calls for lining up the columns. Use spaces to make sure that the plus or minus sign stands out to the left. The "total line" should stick out one cell to the left of the plus or minus sign, and one cell to the right of the column of numbers. Feel free to display the math in braille and add or subtract spaces (or add or subtract from the "total line") until the layout is correct.


Inkprint: Fractions appear in print as two elements separated vertically with a horizontal line between them.

Nemeth Code: A simple fraction starts with ? (th sign); the fraction bar is / (st sign); and the end fraction is # (ble or number sign). The use of contractions is restricted inside of fractions to avoid ambiguity. In Nemeth Code, a fraction of a fraction is a complex fraction, with the outer fraction elements marked with a dot 6. A fraction of a fraction of a fraction is called a hypercomplex fraction, with the outer fraction elements marked with a double dot 6.

Data Entry: Fractions have a simple data entry system. Type [2//3] for a simple fraction. This will instantly change into <start frac>2<over>3<end frac>. In fact, if this quick change does not occur, that is a sign that you do not have the Nemeth style sheet loaded or have the Megamath translator loaded.

You can easily enter simple fractions, complex fractions, or hypercomplex fractions using this notation. The simple fraction of two thirds all divided by four is entered as [[2//3]//4]. This is turned into <start com frac><start frac>2<over>3<end frac><com frac line>4<end com frac>.

Here is a more complicated example: the fraction x+y over 7 end fraction plus the fraction half divided by x.

This is entered as [x+y//7]+[[1//2]//x].

Overbar or Underbar

To give something an overbar, enter as: [whatever]^^~_ (In the MegaDots entry system, double caret is above, and ~_ is a shortcut for "horizontal bar"). For example, To write "x overbar", type: x^^~_ and to write xy overbar, type: [xy]^^~_ (you can drop the brackets if they just enclose one character).

Often a repeated set of digits is shown with an overbar over the repeating elements. For example, 4/7 is written as: .571428 with an overbar over all the digits. Enter as: .[571428]^~_.

To write something with an underbar, enter as: [whatever]__~_. This may be hard to read in inkprint. It is [whatever] followed by two underbars (which means beneath) then tilde underbar (which means horizontal bar). For example, "g underbar" is written as g__~_ and "12 underbar" is written as [12]__~_.


There are numerous symbols used in Geometry found in the Control-I list.

For example, to use the symbol for "right angle", just press control-I ri <Enter>. You only need to type "ri" since "right angle" is the only entry the first entry that starts with "ri".

It may be difficult to locate the symbol you desire from the huge control-I list. You can press F9 once you type Control-I to search for a word. Once you find a symbol that you want to use many times, you can add it to the fastmath.meg file in your MegaDots directory to make your own shortcuts.

Algebra: Exponents

Inkprint: The inkprint of x squared is written with the 2 elevated and to the right of the x. Usually the 2 is written in a smaller font than the x.

Nemeth Code: The sign for superscript is ^. The sign for go back to baseline is ". If there is a space, then the space stands for the back to baseline. Catch: the space between a function name and an argument does not take you back to the baseline. So that y raised to the sin x power is written y^sin x.

Data Entry: To enter a one character exponent, Just use the caret (shift 6). For example, x squared plus y squared is x^2+y^2. To enter an exponent that is more than one character, use square brackets.

For example: x squared plus y sqared plus e raised to the x+1 power plus e raised to the x squared power is entered as x^2+y^2+e^[x+1]+e^[x^2].

Algebra: Subscripts

Inkprint: The inkprint of x sub 3 is written with the 3 lowered and to the right of the x. Usually the 3 is written in a smaller font than the x.

Nemeth Code: The sign for subscript is ;. The sign for go back to baseline is ". If there is a space, then the space stands for the back to baseline. Catches: for a single letter with a numeric subscript, you leave out the subscript sign. If you really have a letter followed by a number at the baseline level, then use a dot 5 to show that the number is not a default numeric subscript. Also the space between a function name and an argument does not take you back to the baseline. So that y subscript sin x power is written y;sin x.

Data Entry: To enter a one character subscript, Just use the underbar (shift hyphen). If the subscript is longer than one character, enclose in square brackets. For example: x sub 1 minus x sub 2 plus f sub i,j is entered as x_1-x_2+f_[i,j].


Inkprint: a square root symbol looks like a small v attached to an overbar. A cube root puts an elevated 3 in front of this symbol.

Nemeth Code: The indicator for start square root is the ar sign, the termination sign is the er sign. To show a cube root, start off with the gh sign.

Data Entry: use a lower case v in front of square brackets. To show a cube root, enclose the 3 in square brackets before the v. For example: the square root of 7 plus the cube root of x plus the square root of the quantity x squared of 3 end quantity minus the square root of the square root of 2 is entered as: v[7]+[3]v[x]+v[x^2+3]+v[v[2]].

Greek Letters

Inkprint: Greek letters look like strange letter shapes. If you deal with math notation that includes Greek letters, you need to learn the names of the Greek letters.

Nemeth Code: the indicator for Greek letters is dots 4-6. To show an upper case Greek letter, use dots 4-6, dot 6.

Data Entry: The data entry is the same for Greek letters in regular MegaDots. Type Alt-G to get a menu of Greek letters.


Inkprint: looks like an eight on its side.

Nemeth Code: it is dots 6, full cell ,=

Data Entry: enter a tilde i (~i)

Calculus: Integrals

Inkprint: The integral sign looks like a very tall, stretched upper-case S. It often has both a subscript and a superscript.

Nemeth Code: The Nemeth for an integral sign is ! (the sign).

Data Entry: Type ~S to form an integral sign. To write: the integral from 0 to infinity of e raised to the x squared power dx is entered as: ~S_0^~~e^[x^2] dx (while this may look difficult, remember that as you do data entry, MegaDots substitutes descriptive markup for the data entry shortcuts).

Calculus: Summation Sign

Inkprint: The summation sign is an oversized uppercase Greek S that usually has math notation below and above it.

Nemeth Code: The Nemeth for the summation sign is .,s to mark modified text, start with a dot 5, to show below, use the sh sign, to show above, use the gh sign, to show the termination of above and below, use the er sign.

Data Entry: To enter: the sum from i=1 to 5 of the quantity x squared is entered as: Alt-G S__[i=1]^^5x^2 (in this example, the length of the "above" is only 1 character, so the next keystroke after the 5 is back on the baseline). If you needed to write from i=1 to 15, you would instead write: Alt-G S__[i=1]^^[15]x^2 (you only need to enclose things in brackets if they are longer than one character).

Making Precise Braille

If you are a certified Nemeth transcriber, you may want very precise control over the braille translation. In other words, you do not tolerate errors. There are some ways to improve the translation that you should know about.

How to Tell Literary from Mathematics Context

If you turn on show markup (press Alt-W so you see the "less than or greater than" MegaDots end of paragraph marks), you should see that all math sequences in your file show up as light blue letters on a dark blue background.

It does not matter if you are viewing an inkprint file or a braille file. At all times, MegaDots tries to figure out what is math and what is literary. In many ways, this is the most crucial part of the software.

If MegaDots makes an error, that error will affect the braille output. If you feel that MegaDots is making a consistent error, please contact Duxbury Systems to report the problem. Please describe in words how you perceive the problem (example: "a literary comma was used after an ellipsis in math context"). Provide one or two examples. If you send a fax, underline the portion that shows up in blue (MegaDots thinks is a math context).

We need to draw a distinction between situations where we can teach a computer program the difference between math and literary context, and situations where that is not possible. We cannot get the computer to be as smart as people are. We are willing to use lots of software tricks to teach the software what is a hyphenated word, and what is a subtraction problem using letters as symbols. In this situation, we use the power of the MegaDots spell checker to help figure this out.

Some issues are bugs, and we will improve the software. Some issues are so ambiguous, we depend on smart human users to assist in the translation process.

Changing Math to Literary Context

One example used in the Nemeth Code book is M-ary (upper case M, hyphen, ary). MegaDots looks at the hyphen, decides that it is not a hyphenated word, and declares this to be math context. Thus in braille it does not use the letter sign, and does not contract the "ar". If you mark it as a block in inkprint and then apply control-T T (force grade Two or literary translation), then you get the proper braille: use the letter sign on the M, and contract the "ar".

Changing Literary to Math Context

In a math context, you do not use the double capital sign. For example, if a book has "angle ABC" (using the word angle instead of the symbol for angle), then MegaDots will miss the math context and assume that ABC is in literary context and end up using the double cap sign. To force literary context, put ABC in a block and type control-T M. The result is cap A cap B cap C.

Control of the Number Sign

Numbers are handled properly in the Nemeth translation. In Nemeth code, some numbers get the numeric indicator (dots 3-4-5-6), and some do not. The basic rule is that the numeric indicator is dropped when there is no chance for confusion with punctuation. There is nothing you need to do in this area. The numeric indicator is used appropriately. If not, it is a bug and should be reported to Duxbury Systems.

The rules for enclosed lists are handled properly by the translator. No special data entry need be used for enclosed lists (enclosed lists are things like ordered pairs; the number sign is not used if a construct follows the definition of an enclosed list).

In arithmetic problems, you do not use the number sign in braille. Make sure that you use the Arithmetic style for arithmetic problems, as this is the mechanism by which the translator realizes that something is an arithmetic problem.

If you feel that you need to suppress the number sign, press control-S N to place the special mark that suppresses the number sign. Please bring this to the attention of Duxbury Systems so that we can fix the problem.

Control of the Punctuation Indicator

There is a well known ambiguity in Nemeth code between numbers and punctuation. The translator puts in the punctuation indicator where it is appropriate. If not, it is a bug and should be reported to Duxbury Systems.

In addition, some items of punctuation are different in a literary and a math context. For example, comma has three forms: literary context, math context, and math context at a superscript or subscript level. The period is done differently if it is a decimal point.

In some situations, such as writing H. G. Wells, MegaDots uses the letter sign and the punctuation indicator. Place the cursor before the periods and type control-S P to suppress the punctuation indicator. This also takes care of the letter sign. Note that if the space was dropped before the "G" in H.G. Wells, the translator would need no intervention.