Moe's Mushkode Manual - Finishing the mywho command.

MUSHCode for Moe's Mushkode Manual - Finishing the mywho command.

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| \/ |oe's | \/ |ushkode | \/ |anual


When last we met, we had extended our mywho command quite a ways,
so that it was now bordered with graphical headers, and displayed its
information in nicely-justified columns. We had a variety of information
being displayed, including name, fullname if set, and their gender(@sex).
We discussed how to put colour into our displays, and we separated our
code into commands and ufuns.
When we were done, we had code that looked a lot like:

&cmd_mywho obj=$mywho:@pemit
%#=u(cmdheader,mywho)[iter(lwho(),u(fn-sex,##),,%R)][u(cmdfooter)] &fn-sex

Look familiar? Make sense? Again, if it at least makes sense, we
can keep going, and learn some more stuff. If it doesn't make sense, go
back to Lesson 2, or even 1 if you need to. It's better that you take the
time to learn it. The MMM will still be here when you get back.


There will often be cases in mushcode where you are going to need
to reference a value many many times. It's quite possible that this value
is going to be produced by code you have written. And it's also possible
that it would be cumbersome to have to type all of that code over and over
again, each time you wanted that value. All a bunch of hypotheses, right?
Wrong. Let's show a practical example. Why don't we compute how
many players are connected, and display that value at the end of our
mywho. It really is simple, given the combination of the lwho() and the
words() functions.
Remember from your rules that in mushcode, everything is a list.
lwho(), as we know, returns a list of dbrefs of connected players. The
words() function tells us how many 'words' or elements, are in a list. So,
words(lwho()) would tell us the number of connected players.
And here, I'm going to start showing you how to accomodate for
most every case you're going to find as a mushcoder. Quite often, a player
will lose their connection, and wind up being on twice. We can account for
this, in our representation of how many players are online, through the
use of the setunion() function.


I'll take a minute here and talk about merging lists using the
setunion(), setdiff(), and setinter() functions. These are functions for
merging two lists that may or may not have items similar in each list.
There are two things to remember about using these list-merging functions.
One, they are all case-sensitive. A bummer, so if case is an issue
with your lists, make sure that you account for things like this when
merging them. setinter(dan bob al,Dan bob Billy) is only going to return
'bob', because 'dan' and 'Dan' don't match.
Two, the list that these functions returns will be sorted, in the
best manner the game knows how. Read help sort() for more information
about how the game's parser sorts things. Standard ways are
alphabetically(also called lexicographically), numerically, or by dbref.
The list that is returned will be sorted, so if the original order is an
issue, then it's likely you should choose another way to merge your lists.


Now, why did I go off on that tangent about merging lists? Here's
why: setunion(lwho(),lwho()) is going to return for us a sorted list of
dbrefs, with all duplicates removed. Yes, we are merging two lists, as it
is two instances of the lwho() list. The setunion() function returns all
members of both lists, with duplicates removed. This can also be
accomplished with setinter(), and it will produce the same results.
This is because setinter() returns the individual elements that
are present in both lists, with duplicates removed. The list will be
sorted, of course. The particular method you choose to use is up to you,
as they both produce identical output, in /this/ case. Obviously, their
behaviour is different when you have two lists that are not identical to
each other in every way, as our two lwho() lists are.
Now, to make this work for us, in a manner that tells us how many
players are connected, we should have the following code snippet, to count
the number of connected players:


For Wizards that are making their own @functions for their games,
I personally suggest this one just as a nice cosmetic global function,
named something like nwho(), as opposed to lwho(), or Penn's mwho(). The
'n' is for 'number', of course. Give yourself a cookie if you figured that
one out, too.
Now, where is this going to go? It could conceivably be anywhere
in the display, but logically, it should go at the end of our display,
just before the footer graphic.

&cmd_mywho obj=$mywho:@pemit
%R[words(setunion(lwho(),lwho()))] players connected.[u(cmdfooter)]

Now, if you go way back, you'll see that the title of this section
of the lesson is about setting values into memory. Here's where we will
give an example of that. You'll notice in the above code that we use
lwho() three times. Why shouldn't we just use it once, set it into memory,
and then be able to call that value into our code whenever we want, using
a simple %-substitution?


The mush allows you to set ten(on Penn, thirty-six) temporary
values into memory. These only last as long as it takes to run your single
piece of code, and then are dropped into the abyss. They are numbered 0-9,
and are set through the use of the setr() and setq() functions. Both of
these functions operate on the same set of memory, but their behaviour is
different. For those of you who thrive on mnemonic learning, the 'r' in
setr() can stand for 'reveal', and the 'q' in setq() can stand for
These words are chosen based on how the two functions act when you
use them. The setr() function sets a value into memory, and allows it to
be viewed at the same time, including it in the output. The setq()
function sets the value into memory and obscures it from view, or quells
it from the output.
Here's an example. To the mush, the sentence 'This is a
[setr(0,good)] test.' would look like:
This is a good test. However, the sentence 'This is a
[setq(0,good)] test.' would look like:
This is a test.

The setq() function removes the value it is setting from the
output, while setr() both sets it and includes it into the output. As you
can tell from the examples, you specify the number of the memory register
into which you wish to place the value. In this example, we used 0.
Now, whether you have set the value using setr() or setq(), it can
only be referenced by the substitutions %q0-%q9. In the example above, %q0
would be 'good'. If you want to test this, run the following code:

think This is a [setr(0,good)] test. %q0

You'll get 'This is a good test. good'. If you don't, you did
something wrong, I guarantee it. Many people ask why setr() doesn't have
%r0-%r9. Remember that %r is the substitution for a carriage return. And
since both setr() and setq() are setting values into memory, why not just
have one substitution by which to reference them?


What we want to be able to do is take our first instance of lwho()
and set it into memory, thereby calling it by %q0 later in the code. Doing
so will wind up in something that looks a lot like this:

&cmd_mywho obj=$mywho:@pemit
%R[words(setunion(%q0,%q0))] players connected.[u(cmdfooter)]

Not overly dramatic? Let's make a more practical example.
Grammatically, it's more correct to say 'There is 1 player connected.',
rather than having 'There are 1 players connected.' being the message in
the case where only one person is on the game. Let's use switch(),
words(), setr(), and two new functions to us, gt() and ifelse(), to make
our code use better grammar.


If you have a situation where you are going to be testing a
boolean(1 or 0, true or false), it is syntactically better to use the
ifelse() function, which says if <test case> is true, do <this>, else(if
it's not true) do <this>. It looks like: ifelse(<testcase>,<actions if
true>,<actions if false>). You can use switch(), but if all you are
testing for is 1 or 0, it's best to use ifelse().
Why am I talking about this? Because our case is that we need to
test and see if the number of people connected is greater than 1. This is
a simple binary question, as it either is greater than 1, or it is not
greater than 1. We can test this using the gt() function, which yes, does
stand for 'greater than'. And we already have code in place to find how
many people are connected. So, now we should put it all together.

ifelse(gt(words(setunion(%q0,%q0)),1),There are
[words(setunion(%q0,%q0))] players connected.,There is 1 player

Interesting, and as you can see, a touch unwieldy. We re-use the
words 'There' and 'connected.', and re-use the code
[words(setunion(%q0,%q0))] as well. Let's look at another implementation
of setr() to help us trim this down a bit, as well as rearranging things
just a tad to make it smoother.

There [ifelse(gt(setr(1,words(setunion(%q0,%q0))),1),are %q1
players,is %q1 player)] connected.

As you can see, it's much more streamlined, easy to read, easy to
maintain, and logical in its function. So, if we fit this into our code,
it now looks like:

&cmd_mywho obj=$mywho:@pemit
%#=u(cmdheader,mywho)[iter(setr(0,lwho()),u(fn-sex,##),,%R)] %RThere
[ifelse(gt(setr(1,words(setunion(%q0,%q0))),1),are %q1 players,is %q1
player)] connected.[u(cmdfooter)]


Okay, we're going to put one last flourishing touch on our mywho
command, by including a third column which will display the idle time for
each of the connected players. We are going to do this the hard way, using
a fair number of the math functions. PennMUSH has the timestring()
function, which does the formatting we're about to do, for you.
TinyMUSH2.2 and 3.0 do not, nor does MUX, so we shall have to do it for
ourselves. It's a good exercise, and teaches us about mushcode's math
To start with, we're going to tidy things up a bit, and add some
column headers to our code. Since our ufun is going to be doing all of our
display now, doing both fullname, gender, /and/ idle time, we should
probably change its name to fn-display, rather than fn-sex. Use your
particularl codebase's flavour of @mvattr to change fn-sex to fn-display.
And we're going to retype our cmd_mywho in a minute, so we'll do that
edition there.
What we want to do is put headers on each of our three columns:
Name, Gender, and Idle. This is a relatively simple process, and involves
us left-justifying the first two, and leaving the third to sit by itself.
We already have the measurement of 25 spaces for the first column,
leftover from our fn-sex(now fn-display, remember?), so now we just need
to make a measurement for our middle column. We know that of our two
primary choices, Male and Female, that Female is six letters long. And we
also know that unless kept in the strictest of circumstances, some yokel
is going to put something other than just Male or Female, so we'll give
them ten spaces to play with. Also remember that we do have it constructed
to display 'Not set.' which is 8 characters, so ten is a really safe bet
for us. Now, our mywho will look something like this:

&cmd_mywho obj=$mywho:@pemit
%RThere [ifelse(gt(setr(1,words(setunion(%q0,%q0))),1),are %q1 players,is
%q1 player)] connected.[u(cmdfooter)]

Yes, I put a little line under our headers, just to separate them
from the following text. And now we need to add the functionality of
computing the idle time to our fn-display. This is our old fn-sex,
remember? Let's remember what it looks like again:


All familiar, sensible, understandable code, yes? Alright, the
first thing we need to do is left-justify our gender display. Now it


And at long last, let's dive into the math business. When I say
computing idle time, I mean I want to be able to display this time in
days, hours, minutes, and seconds. The mush provides us with a nice
hardcoded function with which to fetch the number of seconds someone has
been idle. Conveniently, and not surprisingly, it's called idle(). Go
figure, eh? Doing idle(dbref) or idle(*name) will return the number of
seconds a character has been idle, meaning they haven't entered any
We know from gradeschool that there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60
minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day. We know that if you multiply 60 x
60, you get 3600. If you wanted to find that out with mushcode, you could
use the mul() function. It multiplies two numbers together. mul(60,60)
returns 3600. Now, we want our display to handle days too, so it would
help if we knew how many seconds there were in a day. After all, we're
getting our initial data(the idle() return) in seconds. If you do:

think mul(3600,24)

Which is the number of seconds in an hour, multiplied by the
number of hours in a day, you learn that there are 86,400 seconds in an
hour. Nifty, no? Well, kind of, at least. When planning mathematical
computations such as this, we need to consider how our display should
look. If the person hasn't been idle more than a day, we don't need to
display a measurement of days. Similarly, if they haven't been idle more
than an hour, there is no need to display an hour measurement.
So, what we can figure on doing two primary math functions. We
need to be able to find out how many equal divisions we have, and then
compute the remaineder. There are two easy functions that mush gives us to
use. They are div() and mod(). They are both divisory functions, but they
behave quite differently.
The div() function tells you how many integer divisions you have.
For example, div(6,3) is 2, since 3 x 2 = 6. div(7,3) is also 2, because 7
divided by 3 is 2, with a 1 remainder. (You do remember this from 3rd
grade, yes?). The mod() function, on the other hand, gives us the
remainder. mod(6,3) is 0. 3 divides into 6 evenly. mod(7,3) is 1, because
that is the remainder of the basic division. These two functions are going
to be invaluable to us in our computation of h/m/s notation for the idle
times of our connected players. SWITCH(), ON STEROIDS

I'm going to combine a great deal of information together here,
since they are all generally one step towards the writing of our idle
computation function. And we'd better just plan on putting this into a
ufun, as it's going to be kind of big, anyway. As I said above, we don't
need to compute days of idle time if the player hasn't been idle more than
a day, nor hours if they haven't been idle over an hour. Nor even minutes
if they haven't been idle for over a minute.
There are two ways to accomplish this series of tests. The first
is to nest a number of switches together, a la:

time>,switch(gte(idle(dbref),60),1,<compute time>,idle(dbref))))

Quite obviously, this is balky, a parenthetic nightmare, and a
perfect case for using a setr() to store the idle() value. The gte()
function I used above is a variation on the gt() function we have used
already. gte() just stands for greater-than-or-equal-to. I used this
because if their idle() is at /least/ equal to 1 day, 1 hour, or 1 minute,
we need to report using that format. Below, I offer you a substitute
method for doing what we did above, using one switch() in place of three.
I will also reference the player as %0, since we know we're going to have
this in a ufun, and would pass the value.

d/h/m/s format>,*:1:*,<compute h/m/s/ format>,*:*:1,<compute m/s

Yes, this is a switch() with multiple cases. Since switch() will
stop on the first match it makes, we can use the wildcards to represent
the cases we aren't currently testing for. We set our cases up in the
order in which we want to test them, and we leave the %q0 as a default,
since we know that if it isn't a value larger than 86400, 3600, or 60,
then it just needs to be reported as seconds.
Now, we can work on filling in the computation. Like I said
before, we're going to rely on the div() and mod() functions to accomplish
our math work. Let's look at our day computation. We first need to divide
our idle() value by 86400, to determine how many days the character has
been idle. Since we have set our idle() return in %q0 in the test data for
our switch(), this is as simple as: div(%q0,86400).
Next, we need to find out how many hours outside of those days,
the character has been idle. In order to get the remainder after our first
div(), we'll use mod(). And divide that by 3600. div(mod(%q0,86400),3600)
will give us our hours. Now, the next division down is the minutes. We
will do another div(mod()) pair, though you will realize that you can get
into more parenthetic nightmares. Here are two ways to do the next step,
bad and good, in that order:

div(mod(%q0,86400),3600)h [div(mod(mod(%q0,86400),3600),60)]m
div(setr(0,mod(%q0,86400)),3600)h [div(mod(%q0,3600),60)]m

Yes, I reset %q0. After our initial division of days, the total
idle time isn't necessary. What we need to do is just retain one value
through step of our computation. We can just keep it in one q-register,
and be fine. Less %q's to keep track of. We will do this one final step,
to find out our seconds, and since this is a fair chunk of code, we can
further put this into a ufun, so that now our code is going to look like:

&fn-dayfmt obj=[div(%0,86400)]d [div(setr(0,mod(%0,86400)),3600)]h
[div(setr(0,mod(%q0,3600)),60)]m [mod(%q0,60)]s

Whoa?! Where'd that %0 come from? As a rule, I don't like to trust
%q0's to be read between ufunctions. Some people disagree with me, and
point to x, y, and z piece of hardcode, or a, b, and c system that is
tried and true and does it. Great, bully for them. I do it my way, because
I know that it has always worked for me. We will pass the %q0 from our
fn-idle(we'll call it that since it is computing the idle time), with the
syntax: u(fn-dayfmt,%q0).


Let's flesh out our fn-idle, really quick, since we will have
fn-dayfmt, and fn-hrfmt. Minute/seconds are easily computed, so don't have
to have their own ufun, and the seconds are the default. fn-idle now looks


And we need to be able to call fn-idle from our fn-display(the old
fn-sex, remember?), so we need to change fn-display to look like:


Yeah, it really is that simple. Okay, we've got our fn-idle, and
our fn-dayfmt. Let's look at the fn-hrfmt, which is going to be an awful
lot like our fn-dayfmt, just shorter. Our top level of computation is the
hour, followed by minute and second, respectively. So:

&fn-hrfmt obj=[div(%0,3600)]h [div(setr(0,mod(%0,3600)),60)]m

Not too painful? Didn't think so. Now that we have that one in,
and our minutes and seconds are already being calcualted in
fn-idle...whoa..we're done! Yep, the mywho command is done, a whole thing.
It has a number of features that make it a very useful command, and if put
on an object in the master room of a mush could even be used as a global
command, like a +who. Try it out, now that we've got it all typed in. Make
sure you changed all references to fn-sex to fn-display. Give it a reading
over, making sure that you've matched up all your brackets and
If you're interested in higher level math functions(or lower level
ones like add() and sub()), then go to your mush flavour of choice, and
type: help math functions. You'll get a whole list of what is available,
including, but not limited to, logical functions like and(), or(), and
not(), as well as spunkier math like log(), sqrt() and fdiv().


That's it for Lesson 3. Congratulate yourself if you've gotten
this far. You've learned a lot(I hope), and you've studied the basics of
making a mush command, modifying your output, and keeping your code
logical, sound, and maintainable.
The latter is perhaps one of the most important things. By
compartmentalizing some of the more complex functions, you've made it
possible to isolate where things are breaking, more easily. By keeping a
consistent naming scheme for your attributes, you've made it easy for both
yourself and coders that come after you to fix or modify your code. By not
using excessive brackets and curly braces, you've made your code a lot
easier to read. And believe me, anything that helps make mushcode easy to
read is worth putting the effort into doing.
Lesson 4 is going to go a different direction, as we're going to
explore how to accept user input in our $commands, and we're going to
apply that knowledge(as well as everything we have learned here), into the
making of the infamous mush Vendor. I'm going to discuss what is loosely
referred to as a 'coding system', meaning a number of commands that all
act on the same set of data. Some of the things we'll go into in Lesson 4
can be brought back and applied to your mywho, but as a command, it is