Chapter 8
Specifying Parameter Values

 8.1 Introduction
 8.2 Command line specification
  8.2.1 Keyword method
  8.2.2 Position method
  8.2.3 ICL variables and functions
 8.3 Prompts and suggested values
  8.3.1 Prompts without a suggested value
  8.3.2 Prompts with a suggested value
  8.3.3 Global parameters
  8.3.4 Missing prompts
  8.3.5 Keywords — RESET, PROMPT, ACCEPT
 8.4 Value formats
  8.4.1 ICL command parameters
  8.4.2 ADAM program parameters
 8.5 Comparison of ICL and ADAM parameters

8.1 Introduction

ADAM programs are controlled by specifying parameter values. You can specify them in two ways:

On a command line

In this case, the value will be processed by a command language interpreter (DCL, ICL, or SMS) before being passed to the parameter system. So, for example, if you were talking to ICL you could include ICL functions in your values.

In response to a prompt

In this case you are talking directly to the program through the ADAM parameter system, and you could not use ICL functions.

The thing to remember is that when you respond to prompts you are talking directly to the ADAM parameter system, whereas when you specify values on the command line, they will be processed by the language interpreter and then passed to the parameter system.

Usually, it is not necessary to specify parameters on the command line — you can just respond to prompts. However, there are three reasons why you may wish to do so:

8.2 Command line specification

This section refers to ICL commands. However, you can run ADAM programs by using DCL commands. These suffer from the following restrictions compared to ICL:

There are two ways in which you can specify parameter values in an ICL command:

The first way is the most usual and will now be considered further.

You will remember that a program’s parameters may be assigned values on the command line:

    ICL> command   p1   p2   ...

where command is a commmand that has been defined to run the program. This method is particularly useful for running programs in VMS batch mode, and for specifying values for parameters that would otherwise be defaulted. Normally, command-line specification will prevent prompting for a parameter’s value unless there is an error in the given value, say giving a character string for a parameter of type _REAL.

There are two ways in which parameter values may be specified on the command line:

The two forms may not be mixed.

The keyword method is usually preferable because the position method has these disadvantages:

8.2.1 Keyword method

In the keyword method, a parameter is identified by a keyword (specified in the program’s interface file) and a value is assigned to it using the syntax:


The keyword is the name by which the parameter is known to the user. This is usually, but not necessarily, the same as the parameter name.

In some cases (such as when setting a switch) the keyword itself is all that needs to be specified: Here is an example:


The keyword and data type corresponding to a particular parameter is specified in the program’s interface file:

    interface DEFPIC  
      parameter FRACTION  
        keyword ’FRACTION’  
        type _REAL  
      parameter CURPIC  
        keyword ’CURPIC’  
        type _LOGICAL  

Here, the keyword CURPIC is associated with a logical type parameter — just specifying its name sets its value to ‘TRUE’, specifying ‘NOCURPIC’ sets its value to ‘FALSE’. The keyword FRACTION is associated with a real type parameter which is given the value 0.4. Keyword forms may appear in any order on the command line, and are ignored when calculating the ‘position’ of other parameters.

8.2.2 Position method

In the position method, the position of a value on the command line identifies the parameter which is being given that value. Here is an example:


The parameter corresponding to a particular position is specified in the program’s interface file:

    interface ADD  
      parameter IN1  
        position 1  
      parameter IN2  
        position 2  
      parameter OUT  
        position 3  
      parameter TITLE  
        position 4  

Here, the first parameter IN1 is given the value HISIMAGE, the second parameter IN2 is given the value HERIMAGE, and the third parameter OUT is given the value THEIRIMAGE. The fourth parameter TITLE is not given a value.

8.2.3 ICL variables and functions

Command-line specification can be used to put the values of ICL variables and functions into programs. A common situation where this is useful is when processing a sequence of files in the same way. For example, consider this ICL procedure:

      LOOP FOR I=1 TO 10  
        FILE = ’@’ & SNAME(’REDX’,I,2)  
      END LOOP  

This obtains the statistics of ten images named REDX01, REDX02, …, REDX10. The parameter with keyword INPIC is assigned the value of the ICL variable FILE. Variable FILE is in parentheses because syntactically it is an ICL expression. The ICL function SNAME is used to construct the appropriate file name, which must be preceded by an ‘@’.

Here is another example of the use of ICL variables in commands which uses KAPPA to ‘flat field’ a series of CCD frames:

      INPUT Which flat field frame?: (FF)  
      FF = ’@’ & (FF)  
      INPUTI Number of frames:  (NUM)  
        INPUT Enter frame to flat field: (IMAGE)  
        TITLE = ’Flat field of ’ & (IMAGE)  
        IMAGE = ’@’ & (IMAGE)  
        IMAGEOUT = (IMAGE) & ’F’  
        PRINT Writing to (IMAGEOUT)  
      END LOOP  

Here, the parameters of the DIV program are given values stored in ICL string variables.

8.3 Prompts and suggested values

If program parameters are not given values on the command line, values will be prompted for (unless this is suppressed). If the value supplied is not acceptable, the prompt will be repeated. If no acceptable value is supplied after five prompts, a ‘Null value’ is given to the program.

The general form of a prompt is:

    <keyword> - <prompt> /<suggestion>/ >

However, the /<suggestion>/ may not appear.

8.3.1 Prompts without a suggested value

The simplest type of prompt is one where the suggested value is omitted, for example:

    LOW - Lower limit for data >

In this case, if you just press ‘carriage return’, the prompt will be repeated up to five times, and then a null value will be given to the program:

    LOW - Lower limit for data >  
    LOW - Lower limit for data >  
    LOW - Lower limit for data >  

You should specify the value you want, for example:

    LOW - Lower limit for data > 1

This value will be accepted, and then the next prompt will be displayed.

8.3.2 Prompts with a suggested value

When a prompt includes a suggested value, you can override it by entering a value of your own. However, when this prompt appears again during a subsequent use of the program, the suggested value may or may not be the same as the value you last entered. Sometimes the current (last) value of the parameter is used, sometimes a fixed default value is used, and sometimes a dynamic default value is calculated by the program from the values of other parameters. It all depends on the characteristics of the program and its interface file. Parameter XDIM of program CREFRAME is an example of a parameter that uses the current value:

    XDIM - x dimension of output array /64/ > 109  
    XDIM - x dimension of output array /109/ > 45  
    XDIM - x dimension of output array /45/ > 16  

Current values of parameters are stored in a file in ADAM_USER, so they persist between ADAM sessions. The file should not be deleted unless the old values are not required.

Parameter TYPED of program CREFRAME is an example of a parameter that always offers the same suggested value, no matter what the current value is:

    TYPED - Type of data to be generated /’GS’/ > RA  
    TYPED - Type of data to be generated /’GS’/ > BL  
    TYPED - Type of data to be generated /’GS’/ > GN  

8.3.3 Global parameters

Normally, a program’s parameter values are only accessible by that program. However, global parameters can be shared by many programs. The use of global parameters as suggested values can reduce the need for typing responses to prompts. For example, in this case:

    ICL> creframe  
    OUTPIC - Image for output data > ramp4  
    ICL> look  
    INPIC - Image to be inspected/@ramp4/ >  

the frame created by CREFRAME can be displayed by LOOK without having to retype its name. This is because parameter OUTPIC of program CREFRAME and parameter INPIC of program LOOK are both associated (in their interface files) with the global parameter GLOBAL.DATA_ARRAY. Thus, parameter INPIC offers as a suggested value the object name which was input as a value for the OUTPIC parameter of a different program.

In ICL you can create a global parameter using the CREATGLOBAL command, set its value using the SETGLOBAL command, and get its value using the GETGLOBAL command.

8.3.4 Missing prompts

Sometimes a prompt for a parameter value will not appear, even if you haven’t specified a value on the command line. This is because the parameter system looks for a value for a parameter in a number of places, as specified in a ‘search path’ in the program’s interface file. This feature is described in Chapter 14. A prompt will only appear if it cannot find a value in the search path, or if the search path specifically asks the parameter system to generate a prompt. This ability to supply values automatically enables programs with many options to avoid burdening the user unnecessarily with large numbers of prompts. If you want to supply your own value in these cases, you must specify a value on the command line, or demand to be prompted (see below).

When prompts don’t appear, the program documentation may tell you what the unprompted parameters are, what options are available, and what the suggested values are. Another way is to look at the online help on a program’s parameters; for example:

     ICL> kaphelp creframe param *

gives details of all the parameters of the KAPPA program CREFRAME.

8.3.5 Keywords — RESET, PROMPT, ACCEPT

Another way in which prompts and suggested values can be controlled is by use of the keywords RESET, PROMPT, and ACCEPT in ICL commands. RESET:  The RESET keyword causes the suggested value of all parameters (apart from those already specified before it on the command line) to be set to the original values specified by the program and interface file. For example, consider the prompt for the value of the XDIM parameter in the following successive executions of the CREFRAME program:

    ICL> creframe  
    XDIM - x dimension of output array /64/ > 10  
    ICL> creframe  
    XDIM - x dimension of output array /10/ > 25  
    ICL> creframe reset  
    XDIM - x dimension of output array /64/ >  

When the CREFRAME program is executed for the first time, the suggested value of the XDIM parameter is ‘64’. In the first prompt above, the value of XDIM is set to ‘10’. When CREFRAME is executed for the second time, the suggested value of XDIM has changed to ‘10’, i.e. it takes its ‘current value’ which was set during the previous execution of CREFRAME. In the third execution of CREFRAME we have included the keyword RESET in the command line. The effect is that when the value of parameter XDIM is prompted for, the suggested value has reverted to ‘64’.

RESET may be combined with the keywords PROMPT and ACCEPT described below. PROMPT:  The PROMPT keyword forces a prompt to appear for every program parameter not specified on the command line. For example, program CREFRAME has a parameter called TITLE which normally takes the value ‘KAPPA – Creframe’ without prompting. However, if you use the keyword PROMPT in the command line, a prompt for TITLE will be made:

    ICL> creframe prompt  
    TITLE - Title for output array /’KAPPA - Creframe’/ > ‘My title’  
ACCEPT:  The ACCEPT keyword forces the parameter system to accept the suggested value for every program parameter. This must be used with care because some parameters may not have suggested values and need a value to be specified in order to work properly. For example, CREFRAME must have a value specified for parameter OUTPIC, the name of the output data object. If you ran the program like this:
    ICL> creframe accept

the program would fail because it does not know where to write the output data. However, if you ran the program like this:

    ICL> creframe outpic=ramp accept

The program would generate an output image using suggested values for all the parameters except OUTPIC, and write the output to file RAMP.SDF.

Sometimes the keyword ACCEPT can be used alone. For example, you could follow the above command by the command:

    ICL> look accept

and the central 7x7 array of the image created by CREFRAME would be displayed on your terminal without any parameter values being prompted for.

The symbol ‘\’ has the same effect as ACCEPT, thus:

    ICL> look \

would have the same effect as the previous example — and is much quicker to type.

8.4 Value formats

When specifying parameter values it is important to remember whether you are talking to the ICL command interpreter or to the ADAM parameter system. The differences are highlighted in Section 8.5

8.4.1 ICL command parameters

Parameter value specifications in an ICL command can take three forms:

The first form is used to pass the value of an ICL expression to a command, or to give a command a variable in which to return a value. The other two forms both pass a string.

We can illustrate the three forms by using the PRINT command which prints its parameter values on the terminal:

    ICL> X=1.234  
    ICL> PRINT (X)  

In many cases you do not need to use the quoted form of a string because the simpler form will work. You need the quoted form for those cases in which you need to delimit a single string containing a left parenthesis or spaces. Consider the following example which contains a PRINT command which has several parameters:

    ICL> X=2  
    ICL> PRINT The Square Root of (X) is (SQRT(X))  
    The Square Root of          2 is 1.414214

Since spaces are parameter separators, ‘The’, ‘Square’, ‘Root’, and ‘of’ are all received by PRINT as separate parameters. However, PRINT simply concatenates all its parameters with a space between each pair. Thus, the output written by PRINT is the string, just as you typed it. Many other ICL commands which accept strings work in this way. This means that strings with single spaces may not need quotes when used as command parameters. However, in general this is not true of commands which run ADAM programs when strings are specified on the command line (see below).

The rules for specifying ICL command parameters can be summarized as follows:

8.4.2 ADAM program parameters

Values can be specified for ADAM program parameters in an ICL command line and in response to prompts. However, some values are only acceptable when given in response to prompts; they are meaningless to ICL. Values acceptable in commands, and in response to prompts: 

— These can be Integer, Real, or Double Precision, and are entered in the usual Fortran format. If necessary, the parameter system will perform the appropriate type conversion and truncation required to store the value in the form specified by the programmer.
— These can be represented by the words TRUE, FALSE, YES, NO, T, F, Y, N; regardless of case. ICL logical expressions can also be used, but only in commands.
— These are strings of characters similar to the Fortran CHARACTER*n type. Strings can be enclosed in single (’) or double (”) quotes. Quotes may be omitted where there is no ambiguity (see below). A special case of a String is an object or logical Name. These need careful treatment and are discussed below.
— Arrays of any of the above types may be represented by a list of values enclosed in square brackets, e.g. [1, 2, 3]. Two dimensional arrays may be represented as [[1, 2], [3, 4]] etc.
Values acceptable only in response to prompts: 
<CR >
— Accept the suggested value.
<TAB >
— The suggested value is put in the input buffer. You can then edit it using the normal keyboard editing facilities before entering the value in the normal way.
— Return a STATUS value indicating ‘Null Parameter Value’. This will often cause a program to abort, but it can force a suitable default value to be used when this is the most sensible action.
— Abort the program, by convention.
— The parameter system will display the text specified in the ‘help’ field of the parameter specification in the program’s interface file. If this field is missing, a blank line will be output. You will be reprompted for the parameter, for example:

    MODE - Method for selecting contour heights /’FR’/ > ?  
      Options are: FR = explicit list; AU = automatic selection;  
      AR = equal-area; LI = linear; MA = magnitude  
    MODE - Method for selecting contour heights /’FR’/ >

— This puts you into an interactive Help session, providing access to information about more than just the parameter being prompted for. It is used like the ordinary VMS Help facility. When you exit (by pressing <CR > in response to a Topic? prompt) you will be returned to the original parameter prompt.
Strings:  You must be careful when specifying string values. A string which contains a space or comma, or which begins with a left parenthesis, should be enclosed in single or double quotes. For instance, if you specify the string ‘Sum of 2 images’ in an ICL command, you could type:
    ICL> TESTC ‘Sum of 2 images’

in which case the parameter system would be handed the string ‘Sum of 2 images’ as the value of the first parameter of TESTC. However, if you type:

    ICL> TESTC Sum of 2 images

the parameter system will think there are four parameters ‘Sum’, ‘of’, ‘2’, and ‘images’.

Quotes are not needed when a string is input in response to a prompt. For example:

    ICL> TESTC  
    X - x value/’Default’/ > Sum of 2 images

will successfully give parameter X the value ‘Sum of 2 images’ (provided X is of type _CHAR or LITERAL).

The use of single quotes (’) is dangerous when used from DCL as DCL will interpret them as indicating symbol substitution. Thus, when your input will be processed by the DCL command interpreter, double quotes (") should be used. Object names:  Strings are used to specify the names of files, data objects, and devices (graphics devices, tape drives etc.). Components of data objects are specified by a dot notation, e.g. RAMP1.TITLE refers to the TITLE component of the image RAMP1. Normally, a name can be typed without quotes. However, ambiguities can occur: a file name such as [ABC.DEF]FILE begins with a ‘[’ character and may be confused with an array specification. Such ambiguities can be resolved by prefixing the name with an ‘@’ character, e.g. @[ABC.DEF]FILE means the file of this name. As another example, in the prompt line:

    PLTITL - Plot title /’ ’/ > @ADAM_USER:GALAXY.MYTITLE

the parameter PLTITL is given the value of the string contained in the object MYTITLE in GALAXY.SDF. If the ‘@’ were omitted, the string ‘ADAM_USER:GALAXY.MYTITLE’ would be used as the value of PLTITL. Note that the file extension (.SDF) should not be included when giving the name of a data file, otherwise the data system will look for the component SDF within the object GALAXY.MYTITLE. Logical names:  Logical names must be defined with the /JOB qualifier. Thus, if your IMAGE data files are stored in IMAGEDIR alias DISK$USER1:[XYZ.IRCAM.IMAGES]:


will enable you to respond to a prompt thus:

    INPIC - Input image /@ramp4/ > imagedir:ngc1365

8.5 Comparison of ICL and ADAM parameters

Some values which are acceptable when specified as a parameter value in an ICL command are not acceptable when used in response to prompts from the ADAM parameter system. These unacceptable values are ICL functions. Thus, suppose program TESTR has been written to read a real number and print it out. We could do the following:

    ICL> TESTR (TAND(60))  
    ICL> TESTR prints 1.732051  

However, an attempt to use the ICL function TAND in a response to a prompt would be rejected:

    ICL> TESTR  
    X - x value/1.732051/ > (TAND(60))  
    %RMS-F-SYN, file specification syntax error  
    X - x value/1.732051/ >

You will have to specify a value which is acceptable to the ADAM parameter system.

Chapter 11 shows some example ADAM programs which read a parameter value and display it on the user’s terminal. These can be used to examine how ICL and the ADAM parameter system process input values. Program TESTI reads a parameter value of type ‘_INTEGER’. Here is how this program responds to various inputs specified first on the command line and then in response to a prompt:


Command line Prompt

5 5 5
5.6 6 6
-1234 -1234 -1234
tand(60) File not found File not found
(tand(60)) 2 file specification syntax error
(%B100110) 38 file specification syntax error

In this table the first column shows the input value, the second shows the value output by the program when the input value is given on the command line, and the third shows the value output when the input is given in response to a prompt. Thus, the second and third columns show the parameter value presented to the program, or the error status if no legal value could be obtained.

Notice that:

The next table shows the response of program TESTR which reads the value of a parameter of type ‘_REAL’ from the environment and displays this value on the terminal:


Command line Prompt

5 5 5
5.6 5.6 5.6
1.23D12 1.23E12 1.23E12
(tand(60)) 1.732051 file specification syntax error
true File not found File not found
’true’ Conversion error Conversion error

Notice that in this case the input values 5.6 and (tand(60)) are not rounded to integers as the program is expecting real numbers.

The next table shows the behaviour of program TESTL which is like the previous programs but whose parameter is of type ‘_LOGICAL’:


Command line Prompt

5 Conversion error Conversion error
(lge(a,b)) TRUE File not found

Acceptable inputs for logical values are:

    TRUE  true   YES  yes    T    t    Y    y  
    FALSE false  NO   no     F    f    N    n

Notice that the ICL function ‘lge’ is acceptable when specified on the command line, but not in response to a prompt.

The final table shows the input to and output from program TESTC, which is the same as the previous programs but has a parameter value of type ‘_CHAR’:


Command line Prompt

5.6 5.6 5.6
tand(60) tand(60) tand(60)
(tand(60)) 1.73205080 (tand(60))
yogi bear yogi yogi bear
’yogi bear’ yogi bear yogi bear
"yogi bear" yogi bear yogi bear
(yogi bear) Right parenthesis expected (yogi bear

Notice that:

If you read Chapter 11 you will be able to create your own versions of the TESTx programs and try out various inputs on the system yourself.