The New Kermit 95 Dialer

Most recent update: Tue Jun 25 10:35:38 2002

A brief overview of the changes in Kermit 95's graphical Dialer for Kermit 95 1.1.21. The form and mechanics of adding and editing Dialer connections have changed; this page explains the changes.


  Summary of Changes
  The SSH Settings Page
  The FTP Settings Page
  The GUI Settings Page


The Kermit 95 Dialer offers a graphical user interface for defining and managing connections. It is a separate program from Kermit 95 itself. When you launch a connection from the Dialer, it creates a script (plain-text command file) for Kermit 95, and starts Kermit 95 with instructions to execute the script. The script contains commands that correspond to each of your selections on each of the pages of the notebook for the connection you are launching.

When Kermit 95 was first written in 1995, our aim was to make it portable to different operating systems, primarily Microsoft Windows and IBM OS/2. This was relatively easy in Kermit 95 itself (K95.EXE), because we have decades of experience in writing portable text-mode software. But the Dialer is a GUI program, and GUI programs are not portable across operating systems. In those days, however, when portability was still a widely held value, companies made GUI development tools that could generate the same GUI program for different operating systems. One such tool was Zinc, which we chose for the Dialer, allowing us to create a single Dialer for Windows and OS/2, and opening the possibility for someday porting it to Macintosh, X, and other graphical environments, as well as semi-graphical environments such as curses and SMS.

But after OS/2 disappeared from the landscape and Macintosh receded into its niche, portable GUI builders became less important and Zinc disappeared from the scene.

Meanwhile, the Windows underpinnings of the Dialer's Connection Notebook model have run out of steam, at least in Windows 9x, which provides only 64K for all Graphical Display Interface (GDI) resources shared by all the applications loaded at any one time. The Dialer in K95 1.1.20 required 23K. This amount is simply not available on most Windows 9x systems with a typical mix of applications running, let alone the increased amount required by K95 1.1.21's new features. Thus the Dialer had to be reorganized before the new SSH and GUI settings pages could be added.

Summary of Changes

The new Dialer no longer has connection notebooks or Add, Edit, Clone, or Remove buttons on the Toolbar. The underlying structure is still the same -- each connection has all the properties formerly listed in the notebook. But now each notebook page is a separate dialog (a notebook containing many dialogs requires many times more GUI resources than a single dialog), and there is a new Connections item on the main menu bar.

The Connections menu contains four items: Add, Edit, Clone, and Remove, which were formerly Toolbar buttons, of which the first three behave somewhat differently from before:

The "Add..." Selection
This creates a new entry, as always, but in a slightly different way. Instead of seeing the entire settings notebood for the entry, which allows you to move freely back and forth among pages by clicking their tabs, you get the relevant settings pages in sequence, in the forward direction only (no going back). On each page you can click:

Save the current page, proceed to the next. Once you save the first page, the entry is created.

Cancels the current page and quits the Add session. If you use the Cancel button on the first ("general") page, no new entry is created. If you use it on subsequent pages, the entry has already been created.

Displays help text for the current page, as always.

The "Edit..." Selection
Since we don't have settings notebooks any more, this brings up a menu instead of a notebook. Click on the settings category you wish to edit: Terminal, File Transfer, etc. To edit multiple settings pages, you have to use the Edit menu to access each page -- either through the Connections menu, or by right-clicking on the entry in the main Dialer panel.

The "Clone..." Selection
This creates a new entry based on the highlighted (existing) entry. Unlike Add, Clone does not cycle through the settings pages; it simply uses the ones from the entry on which the new entry is based. If you wish to make changes to the settings pages, you can always come back and Edit the new entry.

To offset the inconvenience of the new regime, the Dialer now offers a handy Action menu that appears when you right-click an entry in the main panel. The selections include Add, Clone, Connect (i.e. launch a connection), Edit, Generate Script file, Remove, and (make a) Shortcut.

Finally, the Quick dialog has been modified to allow the new connection types: SSH and FTP. However, this dialog now requires that you specify an existing entry of the same type upon which to base the connection. Thus Quick is now just like Clone, except it does not put a new entry into the database.

Everything else works as before, but new pages have been added as described in the following sections.

The SSH Settings Page

The SSH Settings Page is used to configure or customize Secure Shell (SSH) connections, a new feature of Kermit 2.00. This page contains selections corresponding to the SSH configuration commands explained HERE. If you wish, you can leave this page completely unchanged and still make encrypted SSH connections in which you supply the host password locally and have K95 send it over the encrypted connection.

The FTP Settings Page

As of K95 1.1.21, you can specify FTP connections in the Dialer. The Connection -> Add page has a Connection Type list box that includes File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Service. When you create an entry of this connection type, you can make or change FTP-related settings on the Connection -> Edit -> FTP Settings page. The parameters are explained in the FTP client documentation.

The GUI Settings Page

This is documented in the K95 2.0 manual as well as HERE.

The New K95 Dialer / The Kermit Project / Columbia University / / 25 June 2002