MuffinTerm Help • Interface Overview

MuffinTerm • Help • Interface Overview

Table of Contents

Overview of the interface

Although the functionality and features of MuffinTerm are largely the same across the supported platforms, there are some differences in places, especially to accommodate touch controls on iPads and iPhones. In the sections below, the differences are pointed out where needed.

Terminal and status line

The bulk of your time in MuffinTerm will be at the terminal. This is where you type input and see output from the BBS. To learn more about how to use the terminal itself, including changing (simulated) video modes, check its help page.

[MuffinTerm title screen]
The MuffinTerm title screen. At the bottom, you can see the status line.

In the screen shot here, you can see the main terminal area (shown in blue), and at the bottom of the screen, the status line. By default, the status line is visible. You can toggle its visibility via the ⌘/ keyboard shortcut; on macOS, you can also do this via the Console → Show (or Hide) status line menu command. You can also configure whether the status line should be shown or hidden automatically for a given BBS; see the dialing directory page for details.

Note that the status line shows slightly different content in 40-column modes, due to having only half the available screen width.

The status line has several segments that let you see various information at a glance:

Terminal mode — Indicates the current activity mode. Can be offline (“terminal” mode), connecting, online, uploading, or downloading. This segment does not appear in 40-column modes, due to limited space.

Ready/scrollback indicator — Indicates whether the terminal is active (“ready”), paused, or scrolling back into the off-screen history. When scrolling back into the history, it will show the line number currently being displayed.

Emulation mode — Indicates the terminal protocol in use. Can be ANSI (for ANSI/VT/ECMA–48-style emulation; this is the normal mode for most BBSes); PETSCII (used by C64 and related home computer BBSes); TTY (for basic teletype emulation, for some old or limited systems); or “raw mode” (used mostly for network debugging). See the terminal page for more details.

Local echo mode — Indicates the local echo behavior: Either automatic, always-on, or always-off. See the terminal page for more details.

Simulated modem speed — If the terminal is configured to slow down its output to simulate a modem connection, then this will show the speed that it’s set to; otherwise, it will show “MAX. BPS” (or “MAXBPS” in 40-column modes).

Logging status — Shows the current log file status. When a log is open, received text will be saved to a log file, so you can review it later. See the terminal page for details. This field is not shown in 40-column modes.

Online timer — When online, this field shows a timer counting the hours, minutes, and seconds since the start of the current connection.

Sticky Notes

[Example window showing sticky notes as they appear in the macOS version]
An example of sticky notes as they appear on macOS in windowed mode. The notes are “stuck” to the terminal window and move with it if you move the window. In full-screen mode or when running on iOS/iPadOS, the notes are placed near the edges of the screen.

Sticky notes are an on-screen equivalent of the real-world paper notes that have often ended up stuck to the sides of computer monitors throughout the years. Each BBS in MuffinTerm has its own sticky note that appears on the right-hand side of the window or screen if enabled. (This note won’t be shown if there isn’t a BBS selected/active.) There’s also a global note that’s shared among all BBSes; it appears on the left side of the screen and is always available.

You can put whatever text you like on a note (up to a reasonable size limit); just click or tap on a note and begin typing. In preferences, you can select whether notes should use a handwriting font or a monospaced font. You can also choose the color to use for the system note, and the default color to use for BBS-specific notes. From the dialing directory entry for a given BBS, you can select a note color specific to that BBS (or have it use the default color). The text of a BBS’s note can also be viewed and edited through the BBS’s dialing directory entry. (The global note can only be edited by typing directly into the note itself.)

On macOS, you can show or hide the sticky notes via the View → Show (or Hide) Sticky Notes menu command; or via the ⇧⌘N keyboard shortcut. The sticky notes will appear to be “stuck” to the edges of the terminal in windowed mode, and will be located near the edges of the screen when in full-screen mode.

On iOS/iPadOS, you can show or hide the sticky notes by tapping the “note” button in the bottom bar, or by swiping in or out on the right or left half of the screen. On iPhone, sticky notes are only available when the device is in portrait orientation, and only one note at a time will be shown onscreen; toggling the notes will switch between no notes, the global note, and the BBS-specific note. On iPad, sticky notes may be disabled when in split-screen mode if there is not enough screen space at the time.

Button bar (iOS/iPadOS only)

[Button bar on iPad. The upload and download buttons are disabled.]
The button bar as it appears on iPad. The upload and download buttons are disabled (greyed out) in this screen shot, and the “telephone” button for the dialing directory is in its offline state. (When online, the telephone button turns into a red “hang up” icon.)

On iPad and iPhone, tapping the screen will show or hide a translucent bar across the top of the terminal window containing various command buttons:

Dialing directory (telephone icon) — Tapping this opens the dialing directory, where you can add, remove, or edit BBS records, and select one to call. When connected to a BBS, this button changes to show a red “hang up” telephone button instead, and tapping it will end the current call.

Video mode & effects (computer screen icon) — Tapping this reveals a row showing the available video modes, with the currently active video mode highlighted. The list also includes options for toggling CRT effects (screen curvature and scan lines). If the row of video modes doesn’t fit on the screen (such as on an iPhone, or on an iPad in vertical orientation or split-screen mode), then you can touch and drag left or right to scroll the list to view the rest of the options.

Modem speed (turtle icon) — Tapping this reveals a row listing the possible modem speeds, with the current speed highlighted. As with the CRT options, you can swipe left or right to scroll the list if needed.

Sticky notes (note pad icon) — Tap this to show or hide the sticky notes.

Reset terminal (exclamation point in circle arrow) — This will clear the screen and reset the terminal to its default state. This can be useful if a BBS has set weird colors or has otherwise sent data that you want to clear out. On small-screen devices, this button will not appear in the button bar due to limited screen space; but you can still reset the terminal by shaking the device (if that option is enabled in preferences). You can also reset the terminal via the ⌘R keyboard shortcut (requires external keyboard on iOS).

Upload and download files (arrow pointing up or down out of a square) — While connected to a BBS, you can tap one of these to begin a file transfer. On small-screen devices, these buttons are combined into one button; pressing it will prompt you to select Upload or Download, after which you can select the protocol to use. You can also start a file transfer through keyboard shortcuts or via ZMODEM auto-start. (See the file transfer page for more details.)

Preferences (gear icon) — Tap this to open the user preferences interface.

Application menu (macOS only)

On macOS, you will see the typical menu bar at the top of the screen. In addition to the standard Apple system menu, there are the following top-level menu options:

MuffinTerm (application menu) — This is where you can open the About window and the Preferences (Settings) window. It also has the usual application commands such as Show, Hide, etc.

Console — This is where you can configure various terminal properties, such as video mode, emulation, modem speed, etc. This is also where you can open the dialing directory, open a “quick connect” window to directly specify a server address, redial your most recently called BBS, upload or download files (when online), open new terminal windows, or close existing windows.

Edit — This has the usual edit commands, such as copy and paste. It also has a special command, “Generate Password,” that you can select when typing into a Sticky Note (or into the notes field in a dialing directory entry). This command will generate a random 16-character alphanumeric string, such as might be used for a password when creating a new account on a BBS. There are also PETSCII and ATASCII “Special Key” submenus providing an easy way to send various control characters when using the corresponding terminal emulation mode.

View — This is where you can choose to enter or exit full-screen mode, show or hide the sticky notes, or open the Logs file in the Finder.

Window — This holds the usual window-related commands, and has a list where you can select from among any of the currently open terminal windows.

Help — This is where you can open the help documentation (which you’re reading now). There’s also a search field where you can start typing a command’s name and the system will highlight the command in its submenu, if you aren’t sure where a particular command is located.

Modem lights (macOS only)

[Example of modem lights. The CD, OH, and TR lights are lit; the RD and SD lights are off]
Modem lights as they appear in the title bar of a Terminal window. In this example, the CD, OH, and TR lights are lit, while the RD and SD lights are off.

On macOS, you can optionally enable a set of “modem lights” that will be shown in the title bar of a terminal window. These virtual LEDs show aspects of the terminal’s state, similarly to the hardware lights on real modems in the past. When visible, five lights are shown:

CD — Carrier Detect. Shows whether the terminal is actively connected to a BBS at the moment. On a real modem, this would indicate whether a carrier signal was detected on the line.

OH — Off Hook. Shows whether the terminal is either online or attempting to connect to a system. On a real modem, this would indicate that the telephone line was in use (i.e., the telephone receiver or its electrical equivalent was “off the hook”).

RD — Receive Data. Lights up whenever data is being received from the remote end.

SD — Send Data. Lights up whenever data is being sent from the local system.

TR — Terminal Ready. This will be lit whenever the terminal is ready for input (which in MuffinTerm’s case is any time after the title screen has been dismissed). On a real modem, this would indicate that the DTR (Data Terminal Ready) line was being asserted by the system, telling the modem that the computer that it’s connected to is present and active.

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