Mysticetus Command Line Switches

Today rather than talk about more new features (and there are some), I wanted to talk about Mysticetus Command Line options (aka “switches”). This is a little nerdy – dive in if you want to geek out some and/or learn some computer history. Further on in this post I describe each Mysticetus command line switch in detail.


What is a Command Line?

A little computer history (aka “what the heck is a ‘command line’?). If you already know what a command line is and just want to see which ones Mysticetus supports, skip this section and scroll towards the bottom. Otherwise, step into the way back machine….

Back in the old(er) days, PC screens – and other systems too, of course…but we’re talking PCs now – only displayed a set of characters. The computer would prompt you for input and you would tell it what to do by typing in a “Command Line” and (generally) pressing the Enter (or Return) key.

Newer operating systems built Graphical User Interfaces to use instead of these Command Line interfaces (because clicking a mouse and using touch gestures is generally easier to learn and remember for non-nerds), but these Command Line systems are still present, if somewhat hidden. You can go find the Windows command line system by opening the Cmd.Exe app. In Windows 8, go to the tiles, type “cmd.exe” and press Enter (there are command line systems on your Mac too, with similar commands available).

The phrase “C:windowssystem32>” is the prompt. It is telling you where you are and asking for a command. From here you can do one of two things: enter a command or run a program. In this case, we’ll tell the command processor we want to Change Directory (cd) to where the Mysticetus app lives:

Windows apps end with “.exe”. So to run Mysticetus we can simply enter Mysticetus.exe and Press Enter


And Mysticetus launches

But wait. There’s more.

Most apps support some set of “Command Line Options”. These are typically appended to the end of the app’s name. For example, if you start Mysticetus with a slash followed by a question mark /?

Mysticetus will display information about all the possible command line options

Aha. Here’s where things get powerful. You can configure, and in some cases override configuration, in Mysticetus by passing a set of command line options to the program when it starts.

But…do I have to do that silly Command Line thing to get at these? Nope. In Windows, there are shortcuts. They are icons on your screen that (usually) have a little arrow near them. You can create them by right clicking on your desktop and choosing New -> Shortcut:

This pops up a window that asks you for a (tada!) Command Line to run when you click that shortcut. In our case, we’re going to enter the following, exactly (don’t forget the quotes…if you have spaces in a command line you need to enclose it in quotes):

“C:Program Files (x86)MysticetusMysticetus.exe” /advanced /nosplash

Then tell Windows what you want this shortcut named.

And now you have your new shortcut that invokes the /nosplash and /advanced command line options when you run Mysticetus.

How do you change the command line in the shortcut? Right click on the shortcut and choose Properties.

Change the command line to include whatever options you want (see the next section for details on all the switches).

Mysticetus Command Line Options

/? or -?

Pops up a simple usage box to help you remember the available switches.


Launches Mysticetus without displaying the splash screen while starting:


As soon as you load any file, Mysticetus normally goes and looks at every instrument attached to the computer and determines if it is a GPS (or AIS or Theodolite) device. This switch instructs Mysticetus to not do that. This is an important option because some theodolites (looking at you, Nokkia!) freak out and die (need restarting) if you ask them if they are a GPS. This switch tells Mysticetus it shouldn’t ask attached devices what they are. If you use this switch, you probably also want to use the /ports option to tell Mysticetus exactly where the GPS actually is.


This switch is used to tell Mysticetus which ports are attached to which devices. Normally you don’t need to do this – Mysticetus will figure it out by asking each device what it is and GPS’s tend to handle this with aplomb. Certain theodolites, however, get all insulted when Mysticetus asks, and they subsequently shutdown. Note that the /ports switch should be used in conjunction with the /nogps switch. Here is an example of the use of this switch:
In this case, we’ve told Mysticetus there are three devices attached to the PC:
  1. An AIS receiver on COM2 running at 2400 baud
  2. A theodolite on COM5 running at 1200 baud
  3. A GPS on COM6 running at 4800 baud
Again, this switch is generally important to use only if you are connecting certain types of theodolites that…frankly…are broken (cough cough…Nokkia). Most of the time you can plug in any old GPS’s and AIS receivers and Theodolites and Mysticetus will find them automatically.


This switch (along with the /forms, /env and /stationid switches) is designed so you can create a single template file that contains all the entry sheets, vessels, land stations, aircraft and networking ids for a complex multi-station observation system. For example, if you had two vessels (V1 and V2), you might create vehicle objects for both of them in your Mysticetus template. By telling Mysticetus
you are saying that this system is running on board V1 and all GPS tracking (and all sightings) should be related to vessel V1 (as opposed to V2).


The forms switch (along with /veh, /env and /stationid) allow you to embed forms for a multi-vehicle setup…but only display certain forms. For example, if you have a vessel (V1) and an aircraft (A1), you might create two forms named “A1 – Sightings” and “V1 – Sightingss”. Passing, for example,
in the Mysticetus command line instructs Mysticetus to only load the aerial forms (i.e. forms that start with A1. You can use a comma to separate multiple forms to load, for example
    /forms:A1*,”Common Form”
which will load forms that start with A1 as well as the form named, “Common Form” (which would, in theory, be the form common to all vehicles/stations).


This switch tells Mysticetus with form is the effort form for this vehicle or station. This tells Mysticetus which sheet to look for data for things such as the calculation of effort reports and coloring of tracklines (based on effort state, sea state, etc.). For example:
    /env:”My Effort Sheet”


When using Mysticetus networking – which keeps multiple stations in sync over an internet connection so everyone can see everyone else’s position and sightings on the map in real-time – this switch tells Mysticetus what the Id for this station should be. Typically this would be something like “Vessel 1” or “Theo Station 17”. For example:
    /stationid:”Theo Station 17″


Displays the Advanced menu under the Data menu. Be careful – using this menu makes it easy to shoot yourself in the foot, lose data, etc. This menu also contains parts of the system that are not well documented or are super complex (such as the seismic control center, which helps me estimate things like ensonified regions and harassment takes for permit writing and related tasks, all via complex geo-polygon interactions, shapefile importing and so on…). You probably shouldn’t go in here unless you talk to me first about what you really want to do.

[File Name]

If you include a command line switch that does not start with a forward slash, Mysticetus will attempt to load that file at startup. For example
    “C:usersMysticetusDocumentsMy Survey Template.Mysticetus”
Well, fall has fallen here in the Pacific Northwest. It went from highs of 85F to 55F in a day and the leaves are rapidly changing. I hope everyone’s autumn is starting as nicely (if chilly).


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