GX:The Basics

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The Basics

The Whistle User Interface

Whistle WMS is designed to run on a variety of user interfaces. The most common user interfaces used are handheld bar code scanners and forklift mounted displays/scanners. There are only a few requirements that a user interface must meet. They are as follows:

  • An interface must be able to communicate with the Whistle application server (main whistle computer).
  • An interface must have an input device (Keyboard or keyboard/barcode gun)
  • An interface must have an output device (computer screen).


The first two interfaces that we'll talk about here, handheld barcode scanners and forklift mounted systems, are simply input/output devices and do not have actual Whistle software running on them. They must have a way to communicate with whatever type of computer system is running the actual application. These devices commonly communicate with the central system via radio transmitters that transmit data back and forth to the remote devices. Desktop computers, the third systems we mention, do not require Radio Transmitters because they can run the actual software on their own.


Bar code scanners are by far the most compact type of user interface. They have compact screens and small keyboards which make them a little harder to operate at first. These devices are also the most portable and therefore the most versatile. The second most frequently used user interface is a forklift mounted keyboard/monitor/barcode system. These systems are easier to use for several reasons: (1) They have a full sized keyboard that users may be more accustomed to using and (2) they have large screens that are easier to read and display greater amounts of data.


User interfaces may also take the form of full sized desktop computers. These machines obviously will have large monitors, full sized keyboards, and will probably have the actual program running on the machines themselves. If a desktop computer is not able to run the Whistle program on it’s own, then it will require a method to communicate with a central application server (i.e. a Telnet application). Output devices (displays) The user interface output device can be a screen of almost any size. Whistle output screens are clean and simple, attributes that make them suitable for display on just about any monitor. Whistle will display as much text as will efficiently fit on one screen. Large display devices such as full size computer monitors or forklift-mounted displays are able to display full text Whistle output. Smaller devices such as handheld scanners will display abbreviated text.

Whistle: Getting Around


Whistle employs a system of menus to give the user an easy way to navigate amongst it’s many features. Menu screens are simple. They contain the title of the screen and a numbered list of options from which the user can choose. The user has two ways to choose menu options:

  1. Highlight the appropriate option and press ‘Enter’ or
  2. Type in the number of the desired selection. Whistle will keep displaying a series of menus until you reach your desired function.

‘Esc’, ‘Clr’, and <Cancel>

There are two ways to exit a screen in Whistle: Press the ‘Esc’ or ‘Clr’ keys to return to a previous screen and/or menu or use the arrow or Tab key to highlight <Cancel> and press the “Enter” key

Text Field

There are several ways to enter information into Whistle. The first is in what we call a textfield, which looks something like this: Item # [ ] Text fields consist of a line description (Item# in this case) and a character field that is enclosed in brackets [ ]. Users may enter either text or numeric data, whichever is appropriate, into these text fields with a keyboard, barcode scanner, or other suitable input devices.

Display Field

Whistle contains other data fields that are very similar to Textfields, but differ in that they are for data output only. Users may not input any information into these fields. They are simply there to display data. These fields look something like this… Description < > Notice that the data field is enclosed with < > instead of [ ]. These brackets signify Display Only fields.

Scroll Fields

Another method of entering information into Whistle is through a Scroll Field. Unlike Text Fields, which allow the user to enter any type of information, Scroll Fields limit the user to entering one of several options. Scroll fields look very similar to Text fields, except that they have an arrow located at the end of the character field. These arrows signify that the only way users can enter information is by scrolling through a valid input list. Users may not type any of their own data. A Scroll Field will look something like this: Sort < Pull Date |> Press the ‘A’ and ‘Z’ keys to scroll through the input options available for the particular field.

‘Ctrl’ & A’ The list keys

Users will often have to enter information into Whistle regarding product #s, item #s, Bin #s, Lot #s, etc. Often the user will not know this information off-hand, but will be able to easily access it using the shortcut keys ‘Ctrl’ and ‘A’. Press ‘Ctrl’ and ‘A’ either together (fork and desktop method) or sequentially (handheld method) to have Whistle display a list of the desired information. For example, if you do not know the sales order # that you want to enter in Whistle, move your cursor to the Sales Order # field and press ‘Ctrl’ and ‘A’. Whistle will display a list of all sales orders that are relevant to the particular screen that you are using.

‘Ctrl’ & ‘L’ Settings Keys

Whistle allows users to alter system level and screen level settings from within the program itself. This is done using the ‘Ctrl’ and ‘L’ keys. Certain settings can be accessed from just about anywhere within the program, while others can only be accessed from particular screens (screen level settings, for instance). Pressing ‘Ctrl’ and ‘L’ will bring up a menu from which you can choose settings options:

The “Languages...” and “Version” selections are always located on the menu. The “Windows Settings...” option, however, is only present when Ctrl-L is used on a screen that contains screen-level settings. The Languages option allows you run the Whistle interface using another language. The Window Settings option allows you to alter setting for the specific window you are working in. The Version option will simply display the version of Whistle that you are using.

‘Ctrl’ & T’ The Track key

Whistle allows some Tracking fields to be used as a launch point to some functional short-cuts. By pressing Ctrl-T, you may receive a drop down menu that will offer basic functions that can be used on an individual pallet.

‘Ctrl’ & O’ The list keys

Another of these specific functional short-cuts is the Ctrl-O feature. This option will allow the user to perform a “Move” function on the pallet in question.

‘Ctrl’ & S’ The Scale Window

Another of these specific functional short-cuts is the Ctrl-S feature. This option will allow the user to access the Scale Window from some of the Quantity fields. This window allows entry of weight information.

Whistle Terminology

Whistle users must be fluent in a unique set of warehouse terminology. What follows is an abbreviated set of the terms you need to know. See Appendix B Glossary of Terms for an extensive list of terms used in this manual.

Tracking #
A unique number assigned to a container as a means of tracking it’s history and details. A tracking number is to a container what a license plate is to your car.
A bin is an enclosure in which containers are stored. Several containers may be placed in a single bin, though storage access is limited by bin size and shape.
The Bin in which containers can be placed immediately after production. This Bin is usually of unlimited size.
Containers that are going to be shipped are placed in this Bin prior to loading them on a truck. This staging area is used as an intermediary location between standard warehouse Bins and shipping trucks.
The staging area where containers are placed prior to being used as ingredients in production.
A unique number assigned to a particular type of product. For example, all 2” widgets will share a common item #.
A set of characters (letters and/or numbers) assigned to a particular production run of an item. For example, all strawberry yogurt produced on May 5, 1999 on production line 2 will share the same Lot #.
Production Order
A production order is issued whenever an item needs to be produced. A production order number accompanies each production order as a means of tracking production orders.
Pack Order
Number assigned to the specific product packaging instructions that accompany all production orders. The Pack Order determines how an item is to be packaged.
Unit of Measure. This is used to specify in what units items are measured.
A specific unit of measure. A case refers to a standard box of items.
These terms refer to the layout of cases within a container. Often cases of items are stacked in a cube-like fashion in a container. Layers refers to the number of full layers of boxes in a container. Boxes refers to the number of boxes in the topmost incomplete layer of the container. The following diagram shows a container comprised of 2 layers and 4 boxes. Whistle will automatically calculate the number of boxes (36).
A particular type of container. Pallets are flat and square and are usually made out of wood. Cases of items are stacked on top of pallets. Pallets are easily moved with forklifts.
Cycle Count
A means of keeping track of inventory by consistently counting different subsets of the entire inventory. Cycle Counts are performed by Inventory Control Personnel as a way of maintaining an accurate inventory count.
Warehouses are often divided into a grid of zones. These zones are used by Warehouse Management Systems as a means of determining the most efficient way to store and retrieve items.
Pull Date
The date by which exhaustible/perishable items must be removed from storage.
Quality refers to the ‘Hold’ status of a container. Containers that are ‘On Hold’ cannot be moved or altered in any way shape or form.
Bill of Lading
This document, which accompanies all shipping orders, lists the items contained within an order and the terms of shipment. Also known as a ‘BOL’ and a ‘Waybill’.