Using Abel - Overview
When you're using Abel, you will find that the screen is broadly split into three, with a menu bar and a toolbar above the three panes. It looks something like this:
On the left of the window, you'll see a list of method names (unless a call change composition is selected); these are the methods used by the current composition. Above the list, you'll see a box labelled "Composition", with a down-arrow at the end. Click the arrow and you'll get a list of the compositions that are available. Click on the one called Plain Courses. The list of methods now shows all the methods currently available for ringing plain courses. Double click any of the methods in the list (the name will appear in the box just above the list). Now click on the big 'Start' button in the middle to get Abel to begin ringing rounds. The 'Start' button changes to say 'Go'. Click it, and Abel starts ringing the method. Or, if you selected a call change composition, Abel starts to call it: Abel can call bells up (2 to 3) or down (3 to 1), depending on how you set the Ringing Options.
Notice that there's a Peal Time box on the left: you can use the up/down arrows next to it to alter the speed of the ringing. The number of bells ringing is shown above the Peal Time. You can't change this whilst the bells are ringing, so stop the bells either by pressing Escape (the button at the top left hand side of the keyboard), or by clicking on the Stand button in the toolbar. It looks like this: . You'll find that you can increase the number of bells (adding tenors behind), but if you've got a method selected Abel will tell you if you try to reduce the number below the number you need for the current method.
In the middle of the screen are pictures of the bells as they ring. They may be arranged as a circle (for pictures of handbells, or small pictures of sallies and tail ends), or in a line (for long pictures of ropes). If you click on one of the bells in a circle, you'll find that the circle rotates so that bell is now at the bottom right. Of you click one of the bells in a line, you'll see that an underline mark moves to this bell. You can also make this happen without using the mouse, by typing Ctrl+B; a small dialog appears in which you can type the number of the bell you would have clicked. If you ring a bell yourself (in Abel terminology, a Manual bell), by pressing keys, the bell at the bottom right, or the one with the underline mark, is always the first manual bell, rung by the "j" key (unless you have changed the keyboard mappings).Abel provides a range of bell pictures: you can change to different ones via the Screen/Print Options. The pictures you see when you've just installed Abel flip between handstroke and backstroke positions exactly as Abel rings each bell; if you change to one of the "moving" sets of pictures provided, you will get smoothly moving pictures of ropes or handbells, with the bell sounding at an appropriate point in the movement. Note, however, that for tower bell practice using the keyboard it is much easier to ring with good rhythm if you do not use moving pictures!
If you have the Striking Display turned on, it appears at the bottom of this section of the screen: a line of dashes with bell numbers above them, which represent the striking visually. You can also review your striking after you have finished ringing: click the button.
On the right hand side of the screen is the Blue Line display. As Abel rings, the changes appear here with certain bells picked out in colour. You can choose which ones Abel highlights, and what colours it uses, from the Screen/Print Options. Initially the treble will be in red and the tenor in blue. If you ring a bell yourself, Abel traces that one instead of the tenor.
If you want to study the line of the current method or touch before ringing it, click the blue button and Abel will display all the rows. You can scroll through the rows using the scroll bar on the right of the window, or the keys for PgUp/PgDn or cursor up/down or Home/End. You can also print the rows in the blue line window.
Though you normally start ringing from rounds, you can also start ringing a method or composition from any backstroke row in the blue line display: just double click the row, then start the bells ringing. This can be useful if you go wrong in a method, and want to go back a few rows to try again - or if you want to practise something in the middle of a peal composition. You can also ring a method or composition starting from a row other than rounds. See Selecting a Start Row for more information.
At the bottom of the screen, Abel has a status bar, which you can turn on and off from the View menu. The status bar displays useful messages and the place notation for the current change, if you choose to turn this option on.
Click on one of the buttons below to find out more about how to use the Abel simulator: