Last update 11-Oct-2003

MBSE BBS Menu System

Menus sections: Global menus  File areas  Message areas  User settings  Onliners  BBS lists  ASCII/ANSI Screen Control Codes


One of the most powerful features of the BBS is its menu system. You have complete control over each individual menu item which can be restricted according to criteria such as security levels.

ASCII Screens

ASCII, or plain text screens, can be created using the editor of your choice. These screens contain no color codes and can be viewed via raw telnet or SSH. You can use screen control codes in these screens. Save these ASCII screens with the extension of .ASC. MBSE defaults to showing these screens if there is not an ANSI (.ANS) file provided.

ANSI Screens

For the menus to work properly you can draw ANSI screens, this is what the users will see. For GNU/Linux there is "Duh DRAW" written by Ben Fowler, see /pub/Lunux/docs. If you can't find it or have no internet access, you can also use THEDRAW. This utility can be found on many BBS'es around the world. Unfortunatly it is a DOS program so you will need dosemu on your GNU/Linux box or a seperate DOS computer. You can define main screens and include screens for each menu, the include screen may for example show the keys that you have available in every menu. See the list of control codes.

Display lines

It is also possible to display menu lines with the buildin display option. The used colors are selectable, a normal color and a bright color. The normal color is the default, you can toggle bright on and of using the ^ in the display line. If you end a menu display line with a ; then no newline is send after that line. If you want to output teh ^ or ; characters you need to escape them with a backslash like this: \; or \^. The order of menu entries is important.

AutoExec commands

A menu function is usually executed when a user presses the hot-key assigned to that particular menu item. But menu functions can also be executed automatically. Each menu item contains an AutoExec field. By default this field is set to No, but by toggling it to Yes, the menu item can be made to execute when it is played back (displayed) by the BBS.

As you read through the menu function types outlined in this chapter, you may come to realize that this is a very powerfull feature. For example, when used with the menu function that displays a text file, you can design very elaborate, graphical text file menus that you wouldn't normally be able to display in a line-by-line menu.

Automatic menu execution can be used in many other instances as well. Just to give you some ideas, it might be used to display a text file to users who have a security level equal to or greater than a certain level. Yet another use is to execute multiple function menus which are used to execute several functions when a single command is entered.

Multiple languages

For each language you can define a set of menus. Only for the default language all menus must exist. It makes sense to make the filenames of your menus for each language the same and not to translate them. If a menu is missing for a non default language, the menu from the default language path is used instead.

Editing a menu

The order of the menu lines in the setup is not important except for the autoexec menus, they must be placed in the right order from start, ie. begin with the menu specific screen display, then the global include display and finally show the prompt.

Menu editer

  1. Selection key. This is the key a user must press to activate this menu. This field is ignored when AutoExec is set to Yes.
  2. Type nr. this is the menu type to execute. For a description of all available types see the links at the top of this page.
  3. Optional data. Some menus need optional data, for example the function goto another menu needs the name of that menu file here.
  4. Display. What is to be displayed to the user. You can use this instead of ANSI screens.
  5. Security. This is the minimum security level to execute this selection. The security is a level number combined with 32 bitmapped flags. NOTE: level 0 and no flags means everyone can select this menu. Good for logout options and all other options everyone must be able to execute.
  6. Min. age. The minumum age the user must be to execute this selection. You may want to restrict access to certain areas to users older than 18 years. If you leave this to 0, every one can execute this menu.
  7. Lo-colors. The normal display color for the display line.
  8. Hi-colors. The bright display color for the display line.
  9. AutoExec. If this is an automatic executed selection.
  10. Door Name The name of the door that will be displayed to other users. This name is also used to count the same doors running if the door only allows a single user. It is important that you use the same name in every language menu file for the same door. This item is only visible with menu type 7.
  11. Y2K style Writes the dates in the door.sys file in the new style, with 4 digit year numbers, else the old 2 digit style is used. This item is only visible with menu type 7.
  12. No door.sys Suppress writing of a door.sys file in the users home directory. This item is only visible with menu type 7.
  13. Use Comport Writes COM1: with 19200 as baudrate to the door.sys file, this is for dosemu with the vmodem patch. This item is only visible with menu type 7.
  14. Run nosuid If set to Yes the door will run in non-suid mode. Most doors need this. This item is only visible with menu type 7.
  15. No Prompt If set to Yes then when the door is finished there will be no prompt to press Enter, instead the bbs menu will show up immediatly. This item is only visible with menu type 7.
  16. Single User Set to yes of the door only allows one user at the same time. Make sure you have set a unique name that must be the same for the door in every language file so that the bbs is able to count the instances of the door running. This item is only visible with menu type 7.
  17. Hidden door Set to yes to hide the door from being visible for other users. If someone is using that door the whoson list displays "External Door" instead of the door name. This may be good to hide some special sysop only doors. This item is only visible with menu type 7.


Final warning.

If a submenu is missing, the BBS falls back to the main menu. This menu must be called "main" (or else set another name in the global setup) or your BBS won't start and complain. Submenus may be nested 50 levels deep.