Flmsg as a Stand-Alone Forms Application

shansen@...
 

Question: Are other NBEMS users using flmsg with applications other than fldigi?


Flmsg's flexibility is noted at the start of the Help file, I'm curious about how others are using flmsg in addition to its use within NBEMS.


Earlier this week on another emcomm oriented reflector there was a discussion about sending forms. This, for the most part, included talk of sending scanned ICS paper forms as attachments or using an embedded forms feature in the communications program. The former requires the sending of an approx 20 kB image file for each page and would require ARQ or flamp and a fast mode. The argument for this was that transcription errors could be avoided by sending an image of the original form. As examples of the latter, the Outpost packet client has the ability to send radiogram and ICS-213 forms with a built in tool. Also, the latest versions of RMS Express can now handle html forms using its own utility. There's a nascent forms library but, as of now, there are no forms. Some test forms have been circulated.


With Outpost and RMS Express, the form has to be created on the program in question and there is little (or no) ability to be able to move a form from one application to any other. At last not easily as far as I can tell. That aside, the new RMSE utility is much like flmsg in its general approach.


In the discussion, a few folks - myself included - noted that flmsg can be made to work with just about anything. First off, there was a lot of confusion as to what flmsg is. Getting beyond that, a few examples were cited.


In Maine ARES/RACES, our primary digital tools include NBEMS and to a lesser extent RMS Express. RMSE is used mostly as a BPQ BBS client but can also be used with the Winlink system. RMS Express has the ability to carry attachments. John Wiseman G8BPQ made a number of enhancements to BPQ in 2014 which permitted the use of RMS Express (with attachments) as a BBQ client.


As a result, we are using flmsg as our “standard” radio forms program, regardless of what we use it with. It can also be installed on the computer of team member who is not serving as an operator and who may not even be a ham. This takes the load off of the person who is sitting at the radio. They just have to load the message from a thumb drive.


As an example, an operator can send a flmsg 213 from a field location to the county EOC using VHF NBEMS. If the message has to go further, the flmsg file can be attached to RMS Express and sent on via the BPQ BBS using packet or out of the region with Winlink.


While not the most desirable, if the ultimate recipient doesn't have a clue what flmsg is, the text output of flmsg can be cut and pasted into the RMS Express message screen. Using Notepad++ the text looks like:


ICS 213 GENERAL MESSAGE


INC: Test of Formats

TO: Ray Sisk

POSITION: Knox EMA

FROM: Steve Hansen KB1TCE

POSITION: Owls Head

SUBJ: Test of Formats

DATE: 2015-05-07

TIME: 0802L

MESSAGE:

Ray,

(text snipped)


SIGNATURE: Steve KB1TCE

POSITION: Owls Head, ME

REPLY:


DATE:

TIME:

SIGNATURE:

POSITION:


(The only thing missing is a way to get the text back into flmsg.)


The other option is to use flmsg's html output and then send the html file. The file is larger than with the other methods but is not overly large (say 1k for a flmsg file, 3k for the html). Certainly far better than sending a scanned document.


Bottom line, a lot of versatility.


So – are others using flmsg with more than NBEMS? If so, how and what might be some current limitations or opportunities for enhancement?


Thanks and 73,

Steve KB1TCE

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