Frank's Addressbook Proogram
ab is a cute little addressbook program written in perl. It
keeps track of names, addresses (both postal and electronic mail),
phone numbers and birthdays. You can also use it to remind you of
upcoming birthdays. It uses termcap capabilities and works on any
vt100-ish type display.
Command line options
ab [-f addressfile] [-bc]
-f allows you to specify a different file to be used as the addressbook.
By default it is ~/.addresses.
-b makes it run in batch-mode in which it does not prompt you to save
changes to the file until you exit. Useful for when you are first entering
addresses into it (and don't want to have to save every damn time). By
default it will prompt you to save changes right after you make them.
-c tells it to check for birthdays. It figures out what day
it currently is and then does a pattern match for anything that matches
today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Since it is a pattern match
it tends to pick up things like "April 30" when it's looking for "April 3."
I don't consider it too annoying (lets me know what's going on for the month
at the beginning as a side effect. Useful to put the line "ab -c" in your
ab has 7 different types of data fields it stores: Name, Primary Number,
Secondary Number, Address, Birthday, Email, and Comments.
The first is the Name . This is displayed in both the detailed
and summary listing. This field is checked by the search command.
The second is the Primary Number . This is displayed in both
the detailed and summary listing. It is the user's choice whether this
should be home or business, day or evening, etc. Because it shows up in
the summary listing, it should contain the number that will be more often
The third is the Secondary Number . This is displayed in
the detailed listing. It is the user's choice whether this
should be home or business, day or evening, etc. Because it only shows up in
the detailed listing, it should contain the number that is not as often used.
The fourth is the Address . This is displayed in
the detailed listing. It can contain up to three lines of text, free format.
The fifth is the Birthday. This is displayed in
the detailed listing. It should contain the birthday, in whatever format
is appropriate. It is checked by the search command, so the dates should
correspond to the system date (i.e., Unix uses 3 letter months, so at least
that should be used. Since regular expressions are used, the month name
can be longer than format used by the system date). This would be
legal (if there were two people in an entry: Sept. 24th, Oct. 24th).
The sixth is the Birthday. This is displayed in
the detailed listing. It is free format.
The seventh is the Comment. This is displayed in
the detailed listing. It holds 3 lines of free format comments.
Useful if you need to remind yourself exactly who the person is.
Commands For Running ab
When you start the screen is divided into two halves. The top part
is the detailed listing of the current entry, while the bottom part
is the summary of the near entries. Note that the addressbook does
not enforce alphabetical order. I decided I wanted to put
long-distance and local separate, and keep certain people next to
each other even if it violates alphabetic order (e.g., married couple
where each has a different last name).
ab supports a combination of emacs and vi style motion.
Note that these functions only affect the summary
listing, not the detailed listing. Refer to the
next section on how to update the detailed listing.
At this time there is no way to go to the bottom or
top of the buffer.
- j,^N, down arrow
- scroll down one line
- k, ^P, up arrow
- scroll up one line
- scroll down one page
- scroll up one page
Updating the Display
- <ENTER> or <RETURN> key
- Pressing this key causes the detailed listing
to be updated. Since the detailed listing does not
get updated during single line scrolling, this is
the easiest way to update it.
- Pressing control-L redraws the entire screen,
updating the display if necessary. Useful if there's
line noise or similar.
Adding an Entry
- Displays a blank entry in the detailed listing and allows
the user to enter all of the fields. Hitting a <Return>
leaves that field blank. After all the fields are entered, ab
prompts the user to indicate if the entry should be added before
or after the current entry, or if the user wants to quit
adding an entry and discard the attempt. If not in batchmode ,
ab prompts the user to save.
Deleting an Entry
- deletes the current entry (where the cursor is
in the summary list). Prompts to confirm deleting this entry.
Editing an Entry
- Allows the user to change the fields for an entry. Simply
hit <return> until the proper line is highlighted. The entire field
must be entered (line editing of a field is not supported). After
all the fields have been retyped or skipped, ab prompts the user
to confirm the changes and then to save them (if not in batchmode ).
Moving an Entry
ab does not allow entries to be moved around
in the file. This is the one function it could
- / [searchterm]
- The / command searches the Name and
Birthday fields for the specied search term.
If the searchterm is ommitted, then the searchterm from
the last search command is used. The search starts from
the current line to the end of the file, and then wraps
fromt he top of the file to the current line. Regular
expressions are legal.
Saving the Data
There is no command to explicitly save the data. This
is done immediately after an entry is added or
edited (unless ab is running in batchmode )
and when the quit command is selected.
- quits the program. Prompts to save data file if modified.
Where To Get ab
Just follow this link to get it.
You may have to change to first line to point to where ever
you have Perl installed.
If you like it, hate it, things it's useful, stupid or cool, feel free
to drop me a note and let me know. As I'm frantically working on my
dissertation at the moment, I don't think I'll be doing any work on it
for a while, but at some point I might. Last minor update was to support
the Term::Cap library instead of the old termcap.pl module. Current
http://frank.notfrank.com/Programs/ab.html. And I did finish my
dissertation (back in '95).
Created 4/2/95 by FNA
Modified 4/5/96 by FNA
Modified 4/29/02 by FNA
Last Modified 5/25/11 by FNA