When you need help with your Liberty BASIC programming, the first place to go is the Liberty BASIC helpfile. The helpfile actually consists of two files - Liberty3.hlp and Liberty3.cnt. The main file is Liberty3.hlp. The Liberty3.cnt file is a listing of the contents in the helpfile. It enables the "contents" feature of the helpfile to be used. See CONTENTS below for more on this feature. If you lose the Liberty3.cnt file, the helpfile will still be accessible, but it won't be as easy to navigate. If you corrupt the Liberty3.cnt file, it may be difficult to use the helpfile, so do not attempt to edit this file!
Choosing the "contents" tab in the helpfile pops up a small window with a listing of topics in the helpfile. These are arranged in categories. Each category is marked by the purple book icon. Click on a category to expand the listing. Under each category, there is a list of topics. Each topic is marked with a question mark icon. Clicking on a topic name will cause the large help window to display that topic.
If you click on the "index" tab, the small window will pop up with the index feature displayed. In the top textbox, type the word you hope to find. If it is a topic or keyword in the helpfile, it will appear highlighted in the list below the textbox. Hit ENTER or click the "display" button to cause that topic to display in the help windows. If the word you have typed doesn't exist as a keyword, then you will get an error message. If this happens, choose the "find" tab.
The first time you choose to "find" a word in the helpfile, you will get a dialog to build the word list for the "find" feature. Once the list is built, the helpfile can find all topics that display a word, even if it is not a designated keyword. You will be asked if you want to minimize database size, maximize search capabilities, or customize search capabilities. Choose the option you prefer. You can choose to rebuild the word list at any time by clicking on the "rebuild" button.
After you have built the word list, you may type a word into the textbox of the "find" dialog. The second box will give you a list of possible matching words to help you narrow your search. Click on one of these, and a list of topics is displayed in the third box. Click on one to choose it and hit ENTER, or click the "display" button to view the topic in the large help window.
If you want to customize the way you search, click the "options" button in the "find" dialog. You will be presented with a group of options. Choose the ones that meet your needs and close the options dialog.
The large help window has buttons at the top to help you navigate. You can scroll through topics by clicking the forward and backward arrow buttons. You can also view the last topic you displayed by clicking the "back" button.
You can choose the font size for text display if you'd like - small, medium, or large. You can also choose to keep the helpfile on top so that you can read it while working in the Liberty BASIC editor. You may choose to print a topic. You may also copy a topic to the clipboard so that you can paste it into a texteditor, or into the Liberty BASIC editor. If no text is highlighted when "copy" is chosen from the "edit" menu, then the entire topic will be copied to the clipboard. If there is highlighted text, then only that text will be copied to the clipboard.
If you find that you return to a topic many times, you might want to bookmark it so that it is easy to find in the future. Choose the "bookmark" menu, then "define", and the current topic will be added to the list of bookmarks. The list of bookmarked topics appears under the "bookmark" menu. Click on a topic from the list to display it.
You can add your own text to the helpfile! This is useful when you want to add your own helpful hints or code samples. It is also useful if you find an error in the helpfile. If a topic has been annotated, there will be a paper clip icon at the top of the topic text. Click on this to see or edit your annotation.
Even if you already know a lot about Liberty BASIC programming, you might want to work though the tutorial section of the helpfile - or at least scan it! There are a lot of goodies in the tutorials that will make your programming easier and more fun.
Most of us can't remember the exact syntax for ALL of the commands. "Hmm, does this require a comma or a semi-colon? Does that need an exclamation point in front? And what is that command for listboxes... does it end in a quesion mark?" Find answers quickly in the alphabetical command reference. When something doesn't seem to be working, look it up! If you've given that textbox a "!cls" command and it doesn't clear, check the helpfile. The textbox has a very limited set of commands, and it is common for LB programmers to forget and try to send texteditor commands such as "!cls" to a textbox. The alphabetical command reference gives you quick access to the entire Liberty BASIC command set.
In addition to the helpfile, Liberty BASIC ships with many small, sample programs. Some of these contain helpful routines that showcase some of the features of Liberty BASIC or offer programming shortcuts. Take some time to load, run and study them!