Plain Text Gateway
As the dial up part of the system is separate from the main BBS I'm going to look into creating a plain text (ASCII) gateway that removes the ViewData codes and provides a generic interface for standard machines to connect to.
ViewData connects at 1200/75, the system needs to be able to take other speeds including modern modems.
Most of the ViewData characters are compatible with ASCII although there are other mapping that will need to be done to correct certain characters.
There are a whole set of graphics characters that are used to create ViewData graphics, these are basically just standard characters that have been escaped.
ViewData uses escape codes to change colour, change to graphics mode and various other effects such as flashing text. This will need to be removed from the ASCII stream.
Unlike most ASCII BBSs the ViewData screen is a set size and doesn't scroll. Therefore any page will need to ensure that the ASCII screen is cleared before sending any page to the client.
Keyboard entry on the incoming system needs to be mapped to the correct character. Also there are several shortcut keys on most ViewData terminals, these provide navigation such as # *0# etc
The client will need to enter the keyboard commands in full or map a function key to send the correct string to the server.
Basic functionality should work as most pages use the numeric keys and the hash (pound in the US) to move to the next screen.
Once the basic functions are there I may look into getting more feature rich terminals working including maybe getting coloured ASCII working.
New BBS Features
Added some new features to my ViewData BBS...
Created a new menu from which to select the new options that I've added to the system.
I've added some static TeleText pages that are stored as files on the server.
They are loaded in a carousel and displayed in sequence.
I can also use this for displaying saved ViewData pages or my own pages for viewing.
External ViewData BBS Access
I wanted to be able to access other ViewData BBSs from the dial up terminal. As most of the surviving ones are only available by Telnet I decided that I would create a gateway from within my BBS.
When you select the option the system creates a telnet session out to the other BBS and passes data through to your terminal.
Once you have finished on the external system and the Telnet connection is terminated the user is returned back to my menu.
Connecting to CCL4 through my BBS...
What's new? Not a lot since 1996 :)
And logging off...