DMDX Help.


How to use DMDX

    If you aren't using the Auto mode shortcut and you installed DMDX you will have to use TimeDX version 5 to establish operating parameters and store them in the registry.  Otherwise DMDX can be run immediately.   If you didn't install DMDX and are running DMDX.EXE from some directory other than a Program Files one it will also assume auto mode is active to facilitate running DMDX from memory sticks and so forth where creating shortcuts can be a bit entertaining.  This is what it's main screen looks like under Windows 10 circa 2019:



    When DMDX is first run it now pings our server (psy1.psych.arizona.edu) looking for the current version number of DMDX and if the copy you are running is not the most recent version it displays the text message you can see in the list box advertising that a new version of DMDX is available (here of course the version number is earlier than our version as I'm capturing images of the latest development version prior to releasing it).  If you need to update the latest installer is at http://www.u.arizona.edu/~jforster/dmdx/DMDX.ZIP or alternatively at http://psy1.psych.arizona.edu/~jforster/dmdx/DMDX.ZIP
Or as suggested you can use Help / About and it'll pop up the same message with suggestions to click on the Upgrade button which will make Windows download the psy1 copy of the installer and you can exit DMDX and install the new version.

    As of version 5.3.1.0 of DMDX there's a new Introduction button on the right that will run an item file that's baked into the DMDX executable that introduces people to the basic capabilities of DMDX and will then go on to cover most of the tools to do almost any of the other things anyone might like to do -- including running some of DMDX's test modes allowing someone to rapidly check whether that machine will be any good for running DMDX without needing additional item files.  Just click the button and it will run.  The text of the introduction is now available here if you to want to examine some section of it in more detail or if you wish to copy and paste any of it's examples into an item file.

    DMDX's primary dialog presents you with the name of the item file to be run and a browse button to change it.  As of version 6.2.0.0 those item file names can contain any characters (prior to that options were much more limited) and if you select an item file with extended characters in it's name or with them in the path to that item file DMDX will prompt you to turn the Unicode option on if it's not already on as DMDX's displays and data files will use UTF-8 that allows encoding all characters and not just some of them.  Usually an item file, it's resources (graphics and sound files) and the data files generated are all found in one directory -- although relative paths (so images\imagename.bmp for example) for resources are in fact usable again, they were broken for a decade or so and have since been fixed in 6.2.0.0.

    It also has Diagnostic check box that enables the standard DMastr debug mode where each item is displayed and the item number is then recorded for a response time instead of actually gathering a response from the subject.  By default no branches are taken when the Diagnostic button is checked unless the Diagnostic Branching check box is set.  This is because when branching was first implemented it was for repeating sections of items till some criteria was met by the subject (ie branches were based on the RT) and in diagnostic mode like as not the item file would continue looping forever as the RTs were static (being based on the item number).  Nowadays it's used (by me anyway) as a control structure where branches are made based on the contents of counters or macros and diagnostic mode has no use unless those branches are taken.

    The Subject ID field is an optional subject ID, if DTP data files are being used then the first character of this is included in the binary data file, if AZK or ZIL files are used then the whole string is included in the output file.  The subject ID is also available in item files with macro S.

    The Ignore unknown RTF check box is to override error messages resulting from unusual file formats, see Item Files.

    The Unicode check box turns on the Unicode code path.  While DMDX itself is a wide character Unicode aware application these days it used not to be and in the past it just shredded all Unicode references in item files and you'd get mojibake if your item relied on Unicode.  In order to get it to pay attention to the Unicode in your item file this check box has to be checked -- if you're unsure of whether your item file contains Unicode references the Syntax check (below) will tell you.  Beyond enabling the use of Unicode and extended characters in an item file's textual display and in filenames for graphics, audio, and video resources as well as quoted input devices and button names the Unicode option also changes how items in the diagnostics are displayed.  Without the Unicode option active unless a safe mode is in use RTF control words are stripped from the the frames in an item before it's printed to the diagnostics and the main run dialog list box when the item is executed (unless it's got a skip display CR indicator in which case it's not displayed at all), however prior to version 6.1.2.13 when the Unicode option was active RTF control words were left in along with the wide character mark up \'00 sequences necessary to pass Unicode characters to Windows functions making the diagnostics a bit of a challenge to parse.  Now DMDX can actually display UTF-8 characters in the diagnostics so it parses items to produce something quite close to the human readable form of the original item, the difference being that long items can have ellipses (...) at the end of them when the item is too large for the diagnostic display and the ellipsis indicates that not all characters were displayed.  These features also apply to item files with code page extended characters in them (like those found in Asian fonts) so even if you don't need the Unicode path turned on to display your items correctly turning it on beautifies DMDX's diagnostic and error displays making them much more readable.

    When you're ready to have DMDX execute the selected item file click the Run button, press ESC when the item file is finished to save the data (pressing ESC before the run is done will prompt you to abort the job and no data will be saved, if you accidentally abort a job it's data will be in job1.zil). To exit DMDX click Exit, to use another dialog just select it from the menu (the current DMDX and TimeDX dialogs don't need to be exited manually).

    To perform a syntax check (analogous to ICHECK) click the Syntax Check button (the screenshot below is a syntax check). The syntax check will not display items as they are processed, nor will it perform any branching -- it will parse the entire file and check for the existence and integrity of any bitmaps or wave files (including cues or cursor names) that are used, it even checks that the destinations of branches exist.  Note that the syntax check performs a number of additional checks that can produce errors that are not performed during a run of an item file so it's entirely possible to have an item file that fails a syntax check that nonetheless produces data when run.  This is by design as when I introduce checks to catch legacy dubious behavior I can't break item files that people may be using.




    The Copy button under the diagnostics window will copy the contents of the diagnostics to the clipboard, or at least the last 8000 or so lines of it should it be longer.  As of version 6.1.2.15 if the above mentioned Unicode option is active the clipboard will contain Unicode characters so if your file has them in it they will be preserved.  In addition the first character in the file should be ॐ, the Unicode Omkara (U+950), so if your text editor needs help figuring out what to do with the character encoding that should help it figure things out (the diagnostics.txt file will begin with normal ANSI characters so a particularly old or clueless text editor might not do so well reading the text file but may be able to handle pasting stuff in from the clipboard).

    To access the VOX dialog to set the threshold for the DigitalVOX device use File / "Test Vox".  To get back to this Run dialog use File / Run Item File.

    Note that the dialog can appear narrower if your monitor is not wide enough and as of version 6.1.9.0 it can be wider if your monitor allows it.




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