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In PARSEC VMS classes, we also say that “Error messages are your friends.” But sometimes just the error message text itself doesn't tell you quite enough to fix a command problem.

A little known and infrequently used variant of the HELP command allows you to review help-text specifically for the current or last-occurring DCL error message displayed on your screen – see in particular:


Best shown by example:

$ cp login.txt foo.txt
%DCL-W-IVVERB, unrecognized command verb - check validity and spelling
$ copy login.txt foo.txt
%COPY-E-OPENIN, error opening DSA2:[LRICKER]login.txt; as input
-RMS-E-FNF, file not found
$ help /message

 OPENIN,  error opening 'input-file-spec' as input

  Facility:     Shared by several facilities

  Explanation:  The specified input file cannot be opened.

  User Action:  Make sure the file exists and is accessible, or take action
                based on an accompanying message.

By default (without a command parameter), HELP /MESSAGE shows the error-message help for the last/latest/current command. If you want to see help-text for a previous error, be sure to note the error-message “abbreviation string”, whatever follows the -W-, -E- or -F- part of the error message, and use that as the parameter for HELP /MESSAGE:

$ help /message ivverb

 IVVERB,  unrecognized command verb - check validity and spelling

  Facility:     CLI, Command Language Interpreter (DCL)

  Explanation:  The first word in the command is not a valid DCL command or
                a symbol name equated with a command. The rejected portion of
                the command is displayed between backslashes.

  User Action:  Check the spelling of the command name or symbol name, then
                reenter the command.

The User Action and Explanation texts are usually sufficient to figure out what's wrong with the command and how to fix it.

dcl_error_messages.txt · Last modified: 2018/10/23 19:39 by lricker

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