HP OpenVMS Systems Documentation

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HP OpenVMS DCL Dictionary

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Associates an equivalence string and a set of attributes with a key on the terminal keyboard.


DEFINE/KEY key-name equivalence-string



Specifies the name of the key that you are defining. All definable keys on VT52 terminals are located on the numeric keypad. On VT100-series terminals, you can define the left and right arrow keys as well as all the keys on the numeric keypad. On terminals with LK201 keyboards, the following three types of keys can be defined:
  • Keys on the numeric keypad
  • Keys on the editing keypad (except the up and down arrow keys)
  • Keys on the function key row across the top of the keyboard (except keys F1 to F5)

The following table lists the key names in column one. The remaining three columns indicate the key designations on the keyboards of the three different types of terminals that allow key definitions.

Key Name LK201 VT100-Series VT52
PF1 PF1 PF1 [blue]
PF2 PF2 PF2 [red]
PF3 PF3 PF3 [gray]
PF4 PF4 PF4 - -
KP0, KP1, ..., KP9 0, 1, ..., 9 0, 1, ..., 9 0, 1, ..., 9
Period . . .
Comma , , n/a
Minus - - n/a
Left <- <- <-
Right -> -> ->
Find (E1) Find --- ---
Insert Here (E2) Insert Here --- ---
Remove (E3) Remove --- ---
Select (E4) Select --- ---
Prev Screen (E5) Prev Screen --- ---
Next Screen (E6) Next Screen --- ---
Help Help --- ---
Do Do --- ---
F6, F7, ..., F20 F6, F7, ..., F20 --- ---

Some definable keys are enabled for definition all the time. Others, including KP0 to KP9, Period, Comma, and Minus, must be enabled for definition purposes. You must enter either the SET TERMINAL/APPLICATION or the SET TERMINAL/NONUMERIC command before using these keys.

On LK201 keyboards, you cannot define the up and down arrow keys or function keys F1 to F5. The left and right arrow keys and the F6 to F14 keys are reserved for command line editing. You must enter the SET TERMINAL/NOLINE_EDITING command before defining these keys. You can also press Ctrl/V to enable keys F7 to F14. Note that Ctrl/V will not enable the F6 key.


Specifies the character string to be processed when you press the key. Enclose the string in quotation marks (" ") to preserve spaces and lowercase characters.


The DEFINE/KEY command enables you to assign definitions to the peripheral keys on certain terminals. The terminals include VT52s, the VT100 series, and terminals with LK201 keyboards.

To define keys on the numeric keypads of these terminals, you must first enter the SET TERMINAL/APPLICATION or SET TERMINAL/NONUMERIC command. When your terminal has this setting, the system interprets the keystrokes from keypad keys differently. For example, with SET TERMINAL/NONUMERIC in effect, pressing the 1 key on the keypad does not send the character "1" to the system.

The equivalence string definition can contain different types of information. Definitions often consist of DCL commands. For example, you can assign SHOW TIME to the zero key. When you press 0, the system displays the current date and time. Other definitions can consist of text strings to be appended to command lines. When you define a key to insert a text string, use the /NOTERMINATE qualifier so that you can continue typing more data after the string has been inserted.

In most instances you will want to use the echo feature. The default setting is /ECHO. With /ECHO set, the key definition is displayed on the screen each time you press the key.

You can use the /STATE qualifier to increase the number of key definitions available on your terminal. The same key can be assigned any number of definitions, as long as each definition is associated with a different state. State names can contain any alphanumeric characters, dollar signs, and underscores. Be sure to create a state name that is easy to remember and type and, if possible, one that might remind you of the types of definitions you created for that state. For example, you can create a state called SETSHOW. The key definitions for this state might all refer to various DCL SET and SHOW commands. If you are used to the EDT Editor, you might define a state as GOLD. Then, using the /IF_STATE qualifier, you can assign different definitions to keys used in combination with a key defined as GOLD.

The SET KEY command changes the keypad state. Use the SHOW KEY command to display key definitions and states.


/ECHO (default)


Displays the equivalence string on your screen after the key has been pressed. You cannot use the /NOECHO qualifier with the /NOTERMINATE qualifier.


/NOERASE (default)

Determines whether the current line is erased before the key translation is inserted.



Specifies a list of one or more states, one of which must be in effect for the key definition to work. The /NOIF_STATE qualifier has the same meaning as /IF_STATE=current_state. The state name is an alphanumeric string. States are established with the /SET_STATE qualifier or the SET KEY command. If you specify only one state name, you can omit the parentheses. By including several state names, you can define a key to have the same function in all the specified states.


/NOLOCK_STATE (default)

Specifies that the state set by the /SET_STATE qualifier remain in effect until explicitly changed. (By default, the /SET_STATE qualifier is in effect only for the next definable key you press or the next read-terminating character that you type.) This qualifier can be specified only with the /SET_STATE qualifier.

/LOG (default)


Displays a message indicating that the key definition has been successfully created.


/NOSET_STATE (default)

Causes the specified state-name to be set when the key is pressed. (By default, the current locked state is reset when the key is pressed.) If you have not included this qualifier with a key definition, you can use the SET KEY command to change the current state. The state name can be any alphanumeric string; specify the state as a character string enclosed in quotation marks.


/NOTERMINATE (default)

Specifies whether the current equivalence string is to be processed immediately when the key is pressed (equivalent to entering the string and pressing Return). By default, you can press other keys before the definition is processed. This allows you to create key definitions that insert text into command lines, after prompts, or into other text that you are entering.



%DCL-I-DEFKEY, DEFAULT key PF3 has been defined
$ [PF3]
  14-DEC-2001 14:43:59

In this example, the DEFINE/KEY command defines the PF3 key on the keypad to perform the SHOW TIME command. DEFAULT refers to the default state.


%DCL-I-DEFKEY, DEFAULT key PF1 has been defined
%DCL-I-DEFKEY, GOLD key PF1 has been defined
$ [PF1]
$ [PF1]

In this example, the first DEFINE/KEY command defines the PF1 key to be the string SHOW. The state is set to GOLD for the subsequent key. The /NOTERMINATE qualifier instructs the system not to process the string when the key is pressed. The second DEFINE/KEY command defines the use of the PF1 key when the keypad is in the GOLD state. When the keypad is in the GOLD state, pressing PF1 causes the current read to be terminated.

If you press the PF1 key twice, the system displays and processes the SHOW DEFAULT command.

The word DEFAULT in the second line of the example indicates that the PF1 key has been defined in the default state. Note the space before the word DEFAULT in the second DEFINE/KEY command. If the space is omitted, the system fails to recognize DEFAULT as the keyword for the SHOW command.


%DCL-I-SETKEY, keypad state has been set to ONE
%DCL-I-DEFKEY, ONE key PF1 has been defined
%DCL-I-DEFKEY, ONE key PF1 has been defined

This example shows two ways to define the PF1 key to be "ONE" for state ONE.

The second DEFINE/KEY command shows the preferred method for defining keys. This method eliminates the possibility of error by specifying the state in the same command as the key definition.

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