Microsoft KB Archive/45909

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Knowledge Base

Example of How to Use 1- and 2-Byte Return Codes from INKEY$

Article ID: 45909

Article Last Modified on 11/21/2006


  • Microsoft QuickBasic 4.0
  • Microsoft QuickBASIC 4.0b
  • Microsoft QuickBasic 4.5 for MS-DOS
  • Microsoft BASIC Compiler 6.0
  • Microsoft BASIC Compiler 6.0b
  • Microsoft BASIC Professional Development System 7.0

This article was previously published under Q45909


The following information applies to QuickBasic Versions 3.00, 4.00, 4.00b, and 4.50, to Microsoft Basic Compiler Versions 6.00 and 6.00b, and to Microsoft PDS Version 7.00. The Version 4.50 QuickBasic Advisor and the Basic PDS 7.00 Microsoft Advisor on-line Help system state the following:

The INKEY$ function returns a 1- or 2-byte string containing a character read from the standard input device. A null string is returned if no character is waiting there. A 1-character string contains the actual character read from the keyboard, while a 2-character string indicates an extended code, the first character of which is hexadecimal 00.

When two bytes are received from an extended key, the second character of the string is the scan code associated with the extended key. The chart in the Version 4.50 QuickBasic Advisor and Microsoft Advisor on-line Help system for Basic PDS 7.00 contains the scan code listing. The extended keys include the function keys, arrow keys, HOME, PGUP, END, PGDN, and SHIFT+TAB keys.


The following program example demonstrates how to use the INKEY$ function to return either a 1-byte character or 2-byte extended code. The length, ASCII representation, and the numeric representation for each key that is pressed are displayed. In addition, the arrow keys and the SHIFT+TAB key combination are trapped for 2-byte returns, and the ESC, TAB, and SPACEBAR are trapped for 1-byte returns.

Code Example

'SCAN CODES to be used with a 2-byte return code from INKEY$
CONST left = &H4B
CONST right = &H4D
CONST up = &H48
CONST down = &H50
CONST tabscan = 15

'ASCII CODES  to be used with a 1-byte return from INKEY$
CONST escape = 27
CONST tabchar = 9
CONST space = 32

 LOCATE 23, 35
 PRINT "Q to quit"
 t$ = INKEY$
 IF t$<>"" THEN
  LOCATE 10, 1
  length% = LEN(t$)
  PRINT "length "; length%
  PRINT "ASCII representation "; t$
  PRINT "numeric representation ";
  SELECT CASE length%
         CASE 2
           FOR i = 1 TO 2
             PRINT ASC(MID$(t$, i, 1)); " ";
           NEXT i
                 SELECT CASE ASC(RIGHT$(t$, 1))
                         CASE up
                          PRINT "up           "
                         CASE down
                          PRINT "down         "
                         CASE left
                          PRINT "left         "
                         CASE right
                          PRINT "right        "
                         CASE tabscan
                          PRINT "Shift tab"
                 END SELECT
         CASE 1
           PRINT ASC(t$);
           SELECT CASE ASC(LEFT$(t$, 1))
                 CASE escape
                   PRINT "escape       "
                 CASE tabchar
                   PRINT "tab character"
                 CASE space
                   PRINT "space        "
           END SELECT
         CASE ELSE
           PRINT "                    "

Additional query words: QuickBas BasicCom

Keywords: KB45909