I'm looking for a simple little program that allows for the organisation of document shortcuts from disparate folders into projects.
Interesting idea, mnemonic. I don't know of a program that does what you need, but for quite a while I've been carrying a project in my head that would accommodate that. I'll probably never write it myself, so this is an [IDEA] post really - but I'd like to see if anyone would be interested in using (or writing) such a program.
The codename is Hunter-Gatherer, or Hunt & Gather (HG for short, and you can already see I've taken tips on naming projects from Mouser
The basic idea is to allow users to create filesets - arbitrary lists of files, named and stored in a lightweight db. Your lists could contain shortcuts and/or any other files. You would be able to create aliases - which meets your requirement to be able to rename files in the list only, without affecting the targets.
Two main modes of operation: manual and auto. In the manual mode you create a fileset by adding files manually to the list: by click and drag, by pasting filenames or by the usual Windows file selector dialog. In the auto mode you would specify one or more rules, and the program would automatically build and refresh your filelist based on the conditions in the rules. The simplest rule could be something like "find *.doc *.xls in c:\docs", but the rule syntax could be quite powerful to allow including or excluding files on a number of properties.
So in a way this is a "virtual folder" program, akin to the file collections in Directory Opus. (And oh by-the-way! Directory Opus does collections, which might do what you need. Have you considered that? I don't use DOpus, I'm TotalCommander all the way, so all I know is that DOpus has this feature.)
But this is only the first half of the program.
Because here's the quandary: once you can build the filelists, what can you do with them? What good are they? This is the second half, and I haven't quite figured that out. Originally my idea was to have a plugin-based program, so that users could write plugins to do things with the collected files: zip them up, encrypt them, convert to mp3, burn to CD, etc. Or the program could serve as a multipurpose front-end to various commandline tools (to do all these and other tasks). However, this approach is impractical; it seems like a lost cause to try to create a generic interface to work with any and all commandline tools. And often it wouldn't work for the simple reason that you cannot feed dozens or hundreds of filenames to a program via the command line, since there is a max length for command line arguments in Windows. So, no good.
Also, it's no good to have the file lists available only in a single, special program. What's the point of collecting files, naming them and all, if you cannot access those lists anywhere else?
Solution: This should really be written as an Explorer shell extension - a so-called namespace extension. There would be a single root folder in Explorer, on the same level as My Computer or directly below My Computer, which you would double-click to display a list of your file collections. Then your collections would be available wherever the shell is accessible, i.e. in practically every application. *And* in Directory Opus, *and* in Total Commander... so that's the way to do it.
But I've never written a shell extension in Delphi and don't know where to begin; this would be a fairly involved project. There's a component that supposedly makes it easy, called ShellPlus, but it has a nasty pricetag. So my idea is merely vaporware, but I still think it's kind of neat, and I certainly would find plenty of uses for such a program.
Meanwhile, you may want to try Directory Opus