Portal:AOL-Files/Articles/Introduction to RAINMAN

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The Remote Automated Information Manager, or "RAINMAN", is a set of tools and processes that allow information providers to create, modify and remove information stored on America Online. RAINMAN has the distinction of being fairly easy to use.

You create a script, or a text file of instructions, on your local computer system. Once you create the script, you send it to RAINMAN, which reads the script and performs the commands as instructed. The following is a brief introduction to RAINMAN. For more detailed information, consult Bringing Information Online Using RAINMAN.

Concepts and Terms


A group is an area where RAINMAN stores the information that you send. There may be only one information provider per group, but there may be more than one group per information provider. Who can use RAINMAN and whether objects are date/time/ID stamped are configured in the group. Groups are set up and maintained by the ARCHelp staff. The content of the group, however, is controlled by the information provider.


An object is any item that you can include in a RAINMAN group. Each object must be given an external ID, a three to eight character designation which must be unique within the group. This ID may contain letters, numbers, dollar signs ($), and underscores (_). The types of objects are:

Pages. A RAINMAN object that can contain text and/or graphics and/or a list box.

Tokens and Arguments. A command that makes RAINMAN Plus perform an action.

Conference Rooms. Areas where members can conduct real-time conversations.

Auditoriums. An area where up to 500 members can come to hear a speaker.

Message Boards. An area where members write notes that other members can read and answer.

Software Libraries. Areas where members can upload and download files.

Search Databases. UNIX-based online searchable databases.

Form. A form in American Online's retriever database.

Old Form. An America Online library record.

Old Search Database. Stratus-based online search database.

Links and Positioning

A link establishes a connection between an object and an existing page. You may either define an ID for a link (a number from 1 to 256) or RAINMAN will automatically assign one for you. You may also specify the time at which to insert or remove the link. An object may have more than one link. However, there should be at least one link.

In addition to establishing a link to a page, you may also define the position of that object within the collection. This position can be either absolute, defining the object's exact location within the list box, or it can be relative to another object within the list box.


A typical RAINMAN command looks like this: \CREATE. The backslash (\) is a delimiter that tells RAINMAN that the next word is a command. You may change the delimiter if the use of a backslash conflicts with the nature of the information you are uploading. You can change the delimiter to any combination of up to three characters. The change of your delimiter will be in effect for that script only.

Writing a Script

The following are sample scripts which demonstrate basic processes that can be performed with RAINMAN. Items contained within angle brackets <> indicate information that you need to provide.

Creating a Page

\FORM <#>


This script creates a page, assigns it a headline and text, and places it within an existing page. The ID in the first command must be unique within the group. The text in the \HEADLINE command will appear in the title bar of the article's window. The number <#> in the \FIELD command indicates to which field the following text is displayed. TEXT is a parameter of the \FIELD command. Also, remember to hit the return key after the TEXT parameter and before the text. The collection in which you place this collection must already exist.

Creating a Page with Graphics

\FORM 113




This script goes a step further than the previous one. We defined which form we wanted to use with the \FORM command. You can find the form definitions in the "Forms Catalog." The various \FIELD # TEXT commands specify which text goes to which field.

The \BINARY command is actually a flag for the RAINMAN Grinder tool which will need to be run on this script. See RAINMAN Grinder for more information. Scripts for graphic articles will need to be submitted via e-mail. Graphics may also be processed with the Visual RAINMAN tool. See the Visual RAINMAN information page.

Submitting a Script

Interactive RAINMAN

In order to use Interactive RAINMAN, you must first sign on to America Online. Go to keyword INTERACT and type or paste your script into the RAINMAN Command Interface field and then click execute. Once RAINMAN has processed your script you will receive feedback that details what was created and any errors or warnings that were generated.


You submit scripts via e-mail. In order to do this, compose a new mail message and address it to RAINMANSys. You may either type the script in the body or attach a file containing the script to the message. Send the message. RAINMAN processes the script upon receipt and replies in a mail message that details what was created and any errors or warnings that were generated.

For further information and/or training in the use of RAINMAN Plus, please contact your producer or review the information available at keyword: ARC under "ARC Training."