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Author Topic: Revisiting (XfilesDialog, File-Ex, Direct Folders)  (Read 18547 times)
superboyac
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« on: March 13, 2008, 11:37:40 AM »

I have been using these programs for two years now since reading the big review here when I first joined DC.  After the review, I decided that XFilesDialog suited me the best of the "Best in Class" choices.  After a couple of years, I wanted to change because of a couple of annoying things about the program.  Stuff like the annual subscription process when there are barely any updates.  The program doesn't work with all programs, such as AutoCAD.  It has an annoying splash screen that can't be disabled without a hacked workaround I got from here. 
So, I decided to try out File-Ex.  I thought this would be the ONE because it has a trainable wizard where if certain dialogs and programs don't work, they can be trained to work.  WHile it's a fantastic idea, it doesn't work well at all.  At least not for AutoCAD.
THen, I tried Direct FOlders (which I know there are a lot of complaints of here).  I like the interface of Direct Folders out of all three. If they all worked as described, I would choose Direct Folders.  But Direct Folders still doesn't work with AutoCAD.  And Direct Folders seems to crash a lot.

So, what's the point here?  In my opinion, none of these programs are best in class.  They're all pretty good, but have some pretty major flaws.  And it's not just because it doesn't work with AutoCAD.  I bet the same is true for other programs that use a slightly modified version of the regular open/save dialogs.

Here's my summary:
XfilesDialog is good for it's stability and tweakability.
Direct FOlders has a great interface with the floating bar and genius double-click on an open space feature.
File-Ex had a great idea in the training wizard for unsupported apps (if it worked).
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CWuestefeld
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« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2008, 02:11:16 PM »

I've gone through a couple of these utilities, and finally landed on FlashFolder (http://www.zett42.de/flashfolder/). It's freeware (I believe open source). Here's the cited feature list:
Quote
FlashFolder enhances the file dialogs by providing the following functionality:

    * menu of recently used folders
    * editable menu of favorite folders
    * enlarges the common file dialogs to a configurable size (even non-resizable file dialogs of many programs)
    * automatically positions the dialogs at the center of the main program window or at the center of the screen
    * enlarges the directory- and file type drop-down fields so less scrolling is needed for them
    * persistent view mode for open/save dialog - e. g. if you select details view, it will be activated again the next time you open an open/save dialog
    * show the full path of the folder who’s content is currently displayed
    * quickly view “all files” (set *.* filter)
    * Total Commander® directory menu can be displayed instead of FlashFolders own favorites
    * editable Hotkeys for FlashFolder’s main functions

The following dialogs are currently supported (tested by myself or reported as working):

    * common open/save dialog (Windows 2000 / XP)
    * MS Office 2002/2003/2008 open/save dialog (Windows XP only)
    * Visual Studio 2003/2005 open/save dialog (Windows XP only)
    * common “browse for folder” dialog (Windows 2000 / XP)
    * “Open With” dialog (Windows 2000)
One thing it doesn't mention is the "folders of currently open files" feature, which is quite convenient and unique in my experience. Also, FlashFolder is very stable.

Edited: I should also warn you that Vista isn't yet supported.
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superboyac
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« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2008, 03:20:18 PM »

I will check it out right now, thanks!!
I am currently using FileBox Extender (free!) for the first time.  It's pretty good.  I don't like the interface as much as the other ones I've tried, but it works better than them.  Even Autocad works, no problem.  So, FlashFOlder is next!
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superboyac
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2008, 03:51:57 PM »

Well, FLashFolder is great, I love the interface.  It doesn't work with AutoCAD (only filebox extender does right now), but its interface is better.  I hate when this happens.  DOn't you hate it when one program is better than another in 90% of the criteria, except that little 10% that another program does better is very critical to you.  Ugh!
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Darwin
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2008, 04:08:00 PM »

If you're interested in spending $40, you could try Stardock's Enhanced File Dialog... of course you need to buy a one year subscription to Object Desktop to get it, but it's an impressive application. I got rid of it while troubleshooting a problem I was having with a 16bit program and have never bothered reinstalling it, but I do miss it occasionally... I'm using File-Ex at the moment and am reasonably happy. Have used (and have licences for) both the other apps you mention. Left XFilesDialog for the same reasons you list.

I'm going to take a look at FlashFolder now...

FWIW Enhanced File Dialog is ONLY available as part of Object Desktop. It is rarely updated so if it works, consider the first years's subscription price the cost of the application (assuming it works with AutoCad? I've no idea and suspect that you won't be able to test it before paying for it, though I *believe* they have a 30 day refund policy).
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Perry Mowbray
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2008, 08:41:15 PM »

Have you tried CFDButton (which was a GOE 2007 entry)?

It's what I'm using at the moment: simple and great. Doesn't do Office, so I'm wondering if it'll have issues with AutoCAD as well??
« Last Edit: March 13, 2008, 08:43:18 PM by Perry Mowbray » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2008, 10:26:14 PM »

Thanks for the props Perry...  cheesy

I looked at adding office support to CFDButton, because the Visual Studio team implemented it's file dialogs with the same code as the office team used and I wanted VS2005 support, because that is where I spent most of my time, and I found it nearly impossible to implement.. I'd love to peek under the hood of FlashFolder and see how they manage it.
It seems like a pretty nice solution. I really like the location bar, that is a very useful thing to have. I don't like how you can't add more wildcard filters and it seems a bit too integrated for my taste. I work mostly off a portable drive and this is a bit to tightly tied to the OS..
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Perry Mowbray
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« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2008, 10:32:15 PM »

Thanks for the props Perry...  cheesy

 Wink Couldn't help it: I love it!!  Thmbsup

I work mostly off a portable drive

Which is why I use CFDButton (otherwise I'd never have it at work  mad)
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superboyac
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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2008, 04:13:10 PM »

I will check it out right now, thanks!!
I am currently using FileBox Extender (free!) for the first time.  It's pretty good.  I don't like the interface as much as the other ones I've tried, but it works better than them.  Even Autocad works, no problem.  So, FlashFOlder is next!
Check that, Autocad DOES NOT work with FileBox Extender.  I though it did because its icons appear on the dialogs, but functionally, it doesn't work.

I guess none of these programs work with non-standard dialogs, except for Office because it's such a common suite and the software is specially programmed for that.  But for other programs like Autocad that use their own special dialogs, it's not going to work.

That being said, then which is the best?  Of the freeware, I like FlashFolders the best.  CFDButton is nice, but it's lacking several features.  For the paid ones, I think Direct Folders is the best (actually, it has a similar interface to FLashFolders).
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tomos
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« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2008, 04:30:28 PM »

If you're interested in spending $40, you could try Stardock's Enhanced File Dialog.

I'd love something like that - but would pay maybe $20 only ( tongue )
- quoting you from another thread -

Ummm..., er...., ah... Enhanced File Dialog "Enhance(s) your common file dialogs with additional features
...
What I like best about it is that it resizes my dialogs and makes the places bar much more useful - something that none of the other dialog extenders that I have tried do. It gives you the same flexibility that the Office 2003 (and XP?) places bar provides and enables it in all dialog boxes
...
Here's a screenshot of my Notepad "save as" dialog:

there's something about having the list on the left in view there, I'd definitely pay $20 - $40 is too much still ...


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Tom
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« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2008, 05:16:10 PM »

Thanks for that trip down memory lane, Tom! You've made me miss it all over again  Sad What's missing from the other solutions that I've tried is the customization of the places bar... and the buy-in price is $49.95 (I already owned WindowBlinds so got a discount)! Maybe we should launch a major offensive and start an e-mail campaign to pressure Stardock to release this as a standalone application. I object to paying so much for it and being forced to use Stardock Central to download it... However, I've already corresponded with them and gotten the bum's rush!
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tomos
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« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2008, 05:30:26 PM »

Maybe we should launch a major offensive and start an e-mail campaign to pressure Stardock to release this as a standalone application.
-
or inspire someone (here?) to programme something (even) better ?
It's just one click less the most of the others BUT I WANT it Kiss
but now @ $49.95 ? - indecent cheesy
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Tom
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« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2008, 08:25:43 PM »

CFDButton is nice, but it's lacking several features.

ChalkTrauma did say that he'd be willing to add suggestions, maybe you should enumerate them?

Maybe it might even fill this gap:
or inspire someone (here?) to programme something (even) better ?

 undecided
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tomos
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« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2008, 05:12:22 PM »

CFDButton is nice, but it's lacking several features.

ChalkTrauma did say that he'd be willing to add suggestions, maybe you should enumerate them?

Maybe it might even fill this gap:
or inspire someone (here?) to programme something (even) better ?

CWuestefeld's post inspired me to try FlashFolder
Been using FileboxExtender for a long time and not unhappy with it either
but
will try CDFButton next smiley
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Tom
superboyac
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« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2008, 02:12:21 AM »

ChalkTrauma did say that he'd be willing to add suggestions, maybe you should enumerate them?
Unless ChalkTrauma is willing to implement a lot of suggestions, then I'm afraid his program has sort of a long way to go.  If it was just a little feature or two, I'm all for it.  But I can't in good conscience ask him to add a list of 10-20 features that might involve quite a bit of programming.  That's up to him.

Since the compatibility range of these programs are mostly the same (standard open/save/browse + Office dialogs), then I probably will go back to Direct Folders, because I like their interface the best.  That double-click on blank space to open the folders is brilliant. 

Stardock is ok, but Direct Folders can do that at half the price, and it can do more.  Besides, I don't want to install a suite for one little application.
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Darwin
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« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2008, 07:42:09 AM »

Stardock is ok, but Direct Folders can do that at half the price, and it can do more.  Besides, I don't want to install a suite for one little application.

 Grin Completely agree about the disinterest in installing a suite for one little app... Although you dont' have to - you install Stardock Central (which is a download and installation manager) and select the components of Object Desktop to install from within it. Problem? You have to update and uninstall applications from within it as well.

Not sure I agree about Direct Folders doing more, though. I have a license so maybe I should revisit it... Note as well that I received notification of a new Vista compatible beta for XFilesDialog this morning as well. Not sure what functionality/compatabilities, if any, beyond that that has been added, though.
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superboyac
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« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2008, 03:55:06 PM »

Not sure I agree about Direct Folders doing more, though.
Honestly, Direct Folders is better than XFilesDialog.  I'm a little sour about his upgrade policy.  During the time when I was registered, he only had two extremely minor updates.  And the supposed "support" you're entitled two during the registration period isn't all that responsive.  I mentioned the Autocad thing to him on more than one occasion, and he responded maybe once to it, but obviously never implemented anything (which I guess is not my right, I'm just saying), but it's not like he's the most responsive person in the world.  I mean, look at guys like Pierre, they respond immediately for something you haven't even bought yet.
I doubt his new version adds anything besides being compatible with Vista.

Another thing that bugs me about him is how on his webpage, he proudly and liberally uses the word "FREE" (yes, all capitals) even though nothing is free, and he actually is quite restrictive and paranoid even for the shareware norm.
Examples:
Quote
Join XDESKSOFTWARE MAILING LIST and get the latest information about our programs and tips about other valuable programs and sites! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED !!! FREE OF ANY OBLIGATIONS and with no "spam risk". It is also the only way to get access to beta versions and inside information!
Oh really?!  I can join a mailing list for free?  Wow, thank you for being so gracious.

Quote
New registered users get a FREE 12 months subscription (which means FREE updates and FREE technical support)!
Wow, free 12 month subscribtion...all that means is you get updates for only a year.  Again, compared to most other shareware (except AV programs), it's nothing to brag about.  And, whoopee, I get Free technical support which I probably won't use, and even if I do, it's not that responsive or special in any way.  I can get free technical support for most shareware, even if I haven't bought it, simply by contacting the author.

Anyway, that's all I'm saying.  If his software was the by far head and shoulders above the rest, I'd give him a little slack, like I do for DOpus.  But it's not.
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Darwin
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« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2008, 04:22:31 PM »

OK - I think I misunderstood you: I thought you were talking about Direct Folders and Stardock's Enhanced Dialog and responded based on that assumption.

You're preaching to the choir about XFilesDialog...  Wink The first person I "met" at DC (after Mouser) was Scott and we had quite a PM session about XFilesDialog. That coincided with me taking advantage of some offer or another and buying (very cheaply) a three year subscription. I recall we were both quite sheepish about doing this, given that we were complaining about the product to each other. Anyway, XFilesDialog has been gone from my system for a very long time, because I won a copy of File-Ex here on DC. Since then, I've had a lengthy daliance with Enhanced Dialog, a brief one with Direct Folders, and an extremely brief one with XFilesDialog - just long enough to figure out that it didn't work with an app that I wanted it to and to have waves of flashbacks about some of the things that got up my nose about it that last time I had it installed - and I am back to File-Ex. I'd be back to Enhanced File Dialog except that the last time I tried to install it, perhaps a month ago, I could not get it to work at all, so gave up.

I'll give Direct Folders another gander when I get a chance.
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« Reply #18 on: March 16, 2008, 04:32:10 PM »

dont you have Powerdesk Mike - or anyone else out there too smiley

and it has a "Dialogue Helper" -
how does that one shape up / compare ?
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« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2008, 05:05:52 PM »

Yessiree Bob, er, Tom! I do... Powerdesks Dialogue Helper isn't bad. It inserts a Favourite Folders and a Recent Folders Icon into the Menu bar along with a Preview buton to take advantage of its Stellent Viewers. I used to have it enabled but never used it. I'll play around with it when I get a chance and report back.
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superboyac
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« Reply #20 on: March 16, 2008, 07:01:59 PM »

Darwin, yeah, I guess you know then!

I think the real, bottom line, determining factor for me in this category of software is the software's ability to work with NON-standard dialogs.  However, none of the programs work with non-standard dialogs.  And they all pretty much work with the standard dialogs + Office dialogs.
File-Ex had a great idea with the "training" of new dialogs, but the truth is that it still doesn't work with any non-standard dialogs.  All that happens is that you train a new dialog, and the File-Ex interface will pop up for that dialog later, but when you choose the folders and stuff, it still won't work right.  So, it only seems to work right.  Same for Filebox extender, like I mentioned before.  The buttons may appear on the non-standard dialogs leading you to believe that it works, but when you use the buttons, it doesn't work.

Therefore, the only factor that a user should use to help them choose is really interface, that's pretty much it.  For me, I like the Direct Folders interface the best.

Hey!  Darwin, and Tomos, I used to have Powerdesk also!  Yeah, I remember their dialog helper, it was pretty cool at the time.  Nothing special, but it worked as well as the others that are mentioned here.  Powerdesk was a cool suite.  I used it from about 1998 until 2004, when I started learning more about other software out there...Dopus and such.  But before I was a hardcore poweruser, Powerdesk was awesome!
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« Reply #21 on: March 17, 2008, 09:12:44 PM »

I'm keeping a list of requested features for the next CFDButton release. Feel free to PM me with any ideas. I'm not sure what I will have time for, but it never hurts to ask  cheesy
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« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2008, 02:32:51 AM »

Double click in Direct Folders doesn't work for me under Vista. (and I'm not the only one: see the first comment at http://blog.codesector.co...rect-folders-33-released/). However, it has a big advantage over FileBox eXtender -- the hotkeys are actually useful!
In the latest version of FileBox eXtender hotkeys show the list, but you can't navigate it with the arrow keys, only with the mouse. And if you open the list by clicking the mouse, you can use the arrow keys to navigate it... so both ways you have to use the mouse. And the folders in the Recent menu seem pretty random (those are certainly not the folders I actually used recently). Didn't see how it works in Direct Folders yet.

"folders of currently open files" feature of Flash Folder sounds great Thmbsup, but it's a pity it doesn't work under Vista Cry.
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Alexey Romanov
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« Reply #23 on: March 23, 2008, 03:51:01 AM »

Double click in Direct Folders doesn't work for me under Vista. (and I'm not the only one: see the first comment at http://blog.codesector.co...rect-folders-33-released/). However, it has a big advantage over FileBox eXtender -- the hotkeys are actually useful!

Scratch that: yes, hotkeys show the list, but clicking on any folder from there opens it in Explorer, _not_ the file dialog Sad
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« Reply #24 on: March 23, 2008, 07:14:01 PM »

Quote
I'd be back to Enhanced File Dialog except that the last time I tried to install it, perhaps a month ago, I could not get it to work at all, so gave up.
I know how you feel Darwin, as you know I couldn't get it to work either, anyway I've just done a reinstall of windows on both my computers and its working fine on both of them now, it is a fine little program, but not worth paying for object desktop just for it, nor is it worth reloading windows for it, there are other alternatives: I kinda like flash folder, but if it does work it must be close to the best IMO
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