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Author Topic: Finally perfected my download commenter after only 8 years  (Read 11236 times)
MilesAhead
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« on: February 12, 2009, 11:22:15 AM »

I wanted to have a convenient way to add comments to files I downloaded.  Since 2001 I've messed around with various schemes revolving around a Property Page shell extension where you can type or paste in a comment for the file.  After only 8 years I think I have it the way I want it!!

TipOff

To make it easier to use the shell extension in Vista64 get Half Shell also.

(They are both fully functional donation-ware.  No nag screens.)

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tomos
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2009, 11:28:42 AM »

sounds interesting, thanks! (nice to see a colourful site btw smiley)
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Tom
MilesAhead
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« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2009, 02:15:15 PM »


Thank you very much.  I'm not artistic so my only hope is to keep it simple. smiley
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rjbull
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« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2009, 05:33:24 AM »

In the old days of DOS BBSs, most files came as archives containing a FILE_ID.DIZ.  You ran programs that would extract FILE_ID.DIZ and/or DESCRIPT.ION files, and compile them into an allfiles list.  Very useful idea; what a pity "progress" has destroyed it...

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MilesAhead
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« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2009, 10:35:52 AM »

That sounds familiar. I got into the online thing just as the internet boom was starting but I did some BBS.  Seems I can remember what you are talking about. I mostly downloaded fractal programs and ray trace stuff that ran in Dos when I got my 486 PC.  smiley

One habit I tried to develop using my commenter mechanism was to rename the download to something descriptive, then paste the original download filename as part of the comment. Sometimes you still get a search hit long after the utility has dropped off the freeware sites.

« Last Edit: February 13, 2009, 10:50:02 AM by MilesAhead » Logged

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patteo
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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2009, 10:22:18 PM »

I am also a serial downloader and often I find myself trying to figure what is a particular file doing in my download folder.

After a long search, I thought I found the perfect solution in

http://www.filenotes.com/

What was unique about this Filenotes was that it did not matter where I subsequently moved the files to because the comments would follow the file.

Besides, even if I use another file manager such as Directory Opus or even the venerable Norton Commander, the comments would follow.

It achieved this through the use of a 3rd party software component. But this turned out to be the achilles heel as well, as it would also inexplicably cause my Laptop to have a Blue Screen of Death.

Moving the comments with the file is so important since I needed to be able to subsequently empty out my cluttered Download folder.

So I finally settled on using the Descript.ion system which is supported by Directory Opus - because it moves with the file - It's actually part of the file.

I noticed that if I add a comment with Tipoff and the file is moved to another directory, the file comments does not move along with the file and hence "lost".



 


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MilesAhead
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2009, 12:56:38 AM »

First, thanks for trying my utility.  Now to address why things don't work as well as I think they should. smiley

In the Readme it details that the data file is made in each folder.  The trick is to copy the folder as a unit or make a TreePad file from the comments to date, then delete the comment file. Possibly importing the generated TreePad file into some system-wide TreePad data file if that's what you want.

In the old incarnation, CommentConfig, I had 2 more shell extensions that you could use to copy or move the file to another folder via context menu or drag & drop.  The destination key would be added to the central data file and the comment copied. The comment would seem to move with the file.  A weakness of this system is that you have one central data file.  Every time you hover the mouse to get the tooltip, it loads the entire data file.  If you do a lot of comments, that's some bogging down of the shell(which isn't all that stable to begin with.)  Also you fall into the trap of drive letter reassignment.  If you try to copy across a network or make another partition that changes the drive letter assignment, or move your commented files to another machine altogether, stuff breaks.  And, since Windows file paths are not case sensitive, Windows isn't very picky about getting it right(do a search on an existing folder named MyFolder using the string myfolder and chances are stuff will come up named "myfolder" so now if you have the entire file path as the key you need to do case conversion on every entry during the search, slowing things down even more.) That's why I say ideally the FS should handle it.

One of the reasons I put the button to convert to TreePad format was as an escape from this dilemma.  You can convert to TreePad and break the dependence on the key/search mechanism. The Tooltip should really be used as a stopgap convenience. Or if you prefer the Tooltip mechanism, do one to one folder backup.  Merging, even if you concatenated the comment data files, would end up with something overwritten.  If all files of the same name had identical comments then it wouldn't matter.  As the Tooltip search is going on all the entries in the local data file are sucked into a Map that doesn't allow duplicates, as a filter to avoid repeat entries.  But if MyFile has one comment in one folder and a different comment in another.. well you see what I mean.

After messing with this since 2001 I came to the conclusion it's much cleaner to have a data file in each folder.  Trying to monitor file operations to intercept stuff would slow things down too much. I don't think there's a practical way to implement merging or moving files and carrying the comment. The FS is really the only thing that should have the ability to store annotations as part of the file. The alternative would be just to make a database like with your DVD collection.

After a long time of messing with this I'm sorry to say I don't think there's really a good way to do it in Windows.  Maybe if I had VMS file system to work with I could use some RMS or other mechanism that's available to write something smooth.  As it is, the utility is a hack.  But within its limitations I hope it may be a hack that's fun to use for the small convenience it can provide.
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rjbull
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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2009, 05:09:41 PM »

I am also a serial downloader and often I find myself trying to figure what is a particular file doing in my download folder.

I know that feeling!   cheesy

Quote
So I finally settled on using the Descript.ion system which is supported by Directory Opus - because it moves with the file - It's actually part of the file.

I don't think it's part of the file - DESCRIPT.ION is a separate file in itself, but intelligent file managers understand it and can copy the relevant line.  Total Commander does this too.  I just wish DonL had made XYPlorer's system to match  Wink

I still have to have the self-discipline, and time, to actually add a description...  Sad
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MilesAhead
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« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2009, 11:19:48 AM »



I don't think it's part of the file

...


Right.  Programs like WinZip could let you add a comment to the zip file because the zip file is just a container.  When you check the CRC WinZip can tell you the CRC of the contained file or files, and serve you up the comment because it just stores the comment in the zip file.  If you alter the file itself then you change the checksum, and that's not a good idea for downloads.

The unfortunate thing in the whole business is the drive letter thing.  I'm thinking in the future there will be a Windows where old apps that use a drive letter will automatically be installed in a particular place and the OS or FS will simulate the antiquated FS for it.

Until they get with having a unique identifier for every storage medium and letting the subsystem in the computer handle it(the user should be able to assign a user-frienly alias that is not already in use) then we'll continue with this mess.  A database of app locations and settings like the Registry or whatever, should use the alias or some variable to reference the logical volume location of the program and all its stuff.  Then if you move everything to another partition it just changes the entry in the lookup table.  Something like that.  FS and OS engineers would have to come up with the details but I bet it's already been solved on mini-computers someplace. smiley
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DonL
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« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2009, 06:18:51 AM »

I still have to have the self-discipline, and time, to actually add a description...  Sad

The latest XYplorer (BETA) gives you a way to select a description from a user-created (unlimited) set of ready-to-use descriptions. Spares you the typing... Wink
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rjbull
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« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2009, 07:15:22 AM »

I still have to have the self-discipline, and time, to actually add a description...  Sad

The latest XYplorer (BETA) gives you a way to select a description from a user-created (unlimited) set of ready-to-use descriptions. Spares you the typing... Wink

But the user would have to set up the boilerplate text.  Is there any semi-automated way to import it from e.g. FILE_ID.DIZ, PAD files, or whatever?

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DonL
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« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2009, 07:36:03 AM »

I still have to have the self-discipline, and time, to actually add a description...  Sad

The latest XYplorer (BETA) gives you a way to select a description from a user-created (unlimited) set of ready-to-use descriptions. Spares you the typing... Wink

But the user would have to set up the boilerplate text.  Is there any semi-automated way to import it from e.g. FILE_ID.DIZ, PAD files, or whatever?
Not from factory, but you could create such things (or have somebody do it for you) using scripting.
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« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2009, 07:47:43 PM »

In the daze of Win98SE, a South African guy, Johannes Plachy, (Copyright 1997 {JPlachy@compuserve.com}) wrote Annotator or AnnotateIt! which added a tab to the file Properties box called Annotation with a little notepad icon.  I used that for years!  It has a pretty big writing area, so I would note the URL and date when I downloaded the item, then dates when it was used/installed, then anytime, I could add comments about my experiences with the item/proggy and any other information that seemed important... even when it was eventually uninstalled.  Then along came XP and altho even today the tab Annotation still appears in all of my Properties tabs for a file, if I put any information in it is either lost, appears in ALL Annotation boxes... or none.  When this proggy broke, it broke my heart as I have never seen anything quite so handy, useful and convenient for making notes on a file.  May it someday be resurrected... and even if it was Shareware, it would be worth it.  Today, I have to make all those notes in my computer-side notebook with uncertain results and hard to find later.  I am not a programmer, but if I was, I would immediately start on a replacement for Annotator!

Ali

Ali
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MilesAhead
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« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2009, 12:07:04 AM »

That annotator sounds familiar.  It might have been the reason I tried to do a Property Page extension so I could code something similar.  I seem to remember the little notepad icon.  In my implementation the comment can be about 4 kb. Visual C++ 6 is probably the most stable for doing shell extensions.  The only thing is when you do the property page if you try to customize anything it's hell.   I tried to use a slightly larger font and it totally destroys all the metrics.  So I'm stuck with the system 8 pt font. It's very limiting. But every time I looked at a Delphi 5 demo for a shell extension, the demos wouldn't even run without trapping out. Anyway, you should give Tooltip a try if you liked the other property page gizmo.  Doesn't cost you anything. smiley
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IL1keT0Donate
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« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2009, 01:34:03 AM »

In the daze of Win98SE, a South African guy, Johannes Plachy, (Copyright 1997 {JPlachy@compuserve.com}) wrote Annotator or AnnotateIt! which added a tab to the file Properties box called Annotation with a little notepad icon.  ... Then along came XP and altho even today the tab Annotation still appears in all of my Properties tabs for a file, if I put any information in it is either lost, appears in ALL Annotation boxes... or none. ...

Arh the wonders of a good search engine: the program olamoree refers to reply #12 is called ANNOTSX v1.0.0

Description for ANNOTSX v1.0.0:
Is a Windows shell extension that lets you add comments to any file. Once installed, ANNOTSX adds a new page to the "properties" folder of each of your files. This "annotation" page is accessible by simply right-clicking on any file and choosing "properties". In this page, you can add, edit and remove file comments that can be longer than the 255 character limitation that Windows imposes on file names.


Annotation Shell extension for use in all Windows version (Vista not tested) and can be found at the download page of Johannes Plachy's current website  One Step Ahead Software. If this program is such a good file annotator as olamoree suggests, then perhaps someone should write to Johannes and tell him there is a small hopefully fixable problem and then all our troubles will be solved and we'll all have a working annotator (that works well up to Win XP and probably Vista too, if run in Program Compatibility mode.

I personally haven't tested ANNOTSX because I'm in the middle of legal hassles and don't want to change anything on my PC at this exact moment in time, but it sounds like the answer to all of our problems.

So, would anyone like to install ANNOTSX and give it a try and if it needs a tweak to get it working properly, then send Johannes a quick email?

Failing that, File Notes Organizer 3 must have surely been updated by now and the dreaded "Blue Screen of Death", patteo referred in reply #5 to has probably been fixed by now, although, it must be said, the program seems to do a lot more than just simple file annotation.
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MilesAhead
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« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2009, 01:14:50 PM »

btw you can adjust the Mouse Hover Delay that governs how long you have to wait for Tooltips to pop up etc. in Vista as shown here:

http://www.vistax64.com/t...se-hover-time-change.html

also if you have XP there's a setting in TweakUI.  It may be the same registry key but I don't have XP booted right now to look.

Apparently, at least in Vista the default is 400 milliseconds lag.  The downloadable .reg script from that link sets it to 30 milliseconds, but you can edit it to your preference.

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« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2009, 05:14:04 PM »

I've updated TipOff to v. 1.4.  The Property Page dialog will now accept the Enter key.  Tab characters are not supported but you can use Enter and spaces to align comments.  The max comment size is @ 4 kb and there is also a max of 32 lines(hard end of line by pressing Enter.)  Other than that, as before, if you paste a paragraph or just keep typing the dialog text wraps.

The current data file should still be compatible. The comment file still uses alternating key and comment lines but it uses the tilde(~) character to signify a line break when processing the text.  For that reason tilde characters in the input are filtered out.

I also updated the Tip2Tree utility accordingly.


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« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2009, 06:58:54 PM »

I have uploaded a beta 1.5 version with preliminary drag & drop support to copy files with comments out of a commented folder.  Currently it's still pretty buggy.  If the source folder doesn't have a CommentData.tof file, you'll get an error dialog for every file you dragged and dropped.  Also there's some issues to resolve with duplicate comments etc..  I wasted a lot of time today messing with stupid spaces in file paths or I might have made more progress.

Anyway, it works a little bit.  Hopefully with some feedback I'll smooth the operation out enough to make it usable.

If you try the beta please backup stuff and only experiment on expendable files.
Files in the target folder of the same name are overwritten without prompting.

Also check out the data shown during and after install.  You can send feedback to Support@FavesSoft.com if you like.

I think this is only supposed to be an announcement thread so perhaps sending feedback
via email is preferable, but Mouser can clarify if he wishes.

« Last Edit: February 19, 2009, 07:00:34 PM by MilesAhead » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2009, 01:42:51 AM »

I made some good progress.  The readme files aren't up to date, but I got rid of calling the external app in a loop and just made a list of files, then called the copy app.  Seems to work from what I can see so far.  The copy app comes up with a progress bar.  Not that spiffy yet.  Should probably make it one of those thin shiny jobbers like hjSplit uses, but.. cosmetics can wait for a bit.

TipOff 1.5 Beta

edit: I spruced it up a bit.  Made the copy window small and centered. At least what I've tried so far if I drag to a 32 bit shell window, even a mapped network drive, it copies and the destination tooltip works.  I changed to Delphi 5 to implement the copy program since I have an Associative Array component I wrote that makes it trivial to filter out duplicate entries. The comment data files should be self-cleaning afa dupes.  No mechanism yet to filter out dead entries.  With a comment file in each folder it may not be a priority. A TreePad file made from a folder is easy enough to sort and edit in TreePad. There may be some subtle bugs still but it looks usable.

Take it around the block a few times and see what you think. smiley
« Last Edit: February 20, 2009, 10:44:09 AM by MilesAhead » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2009, 12:48:41 PM »

Works as well as anything afaict.

TipOff 1.5

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« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2009, 04:25:11 PM »

I updated to include a Help file.  The help is in TreePad format.  This utility is very  simple so there's really no need for screen shots.  As a convenience the installer puts a link in the program group in the startmenu to download TreePad Lite.

TipOff 1.62

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« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2009, 08:31:36 PM »

One more little fix.  Changed to ebook stand-alone reader format for the help in the Start Menu group.  TreePad no longer needs to be on the system to read the help file.  The original .hjt help file is still in the install folder for those who prefer to read it with TreePad.

TipOff 1.63

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« Reply #22 on: February 26, 2009, 09:17:38 PM »

In the old days of DOS BBSs, most files came as archives containing a FILE_ID.DIZ.  You ran programs that would extract FILE_ID.DIZ and/or DESCRIPT.ION files, and compile them into an allfiles list.  Very useful idea; what a pity "progress" has destroyed it...

I still download archive files (ZIP, RAR, 7z...) with those files - interesting to know what they are (or were) for. Heh.

Also, good idea for info on files (Really_Long_Setup_Program_Filenames_Can_Get_Annoying.exe), but does it preserve the data when moved to another directory? What about from NTFS -> FAT32 (or any other conversion)? Also, out of sheer curiosity, would the info be readable under any standard Linux file browser (eg: Nautilus)?
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« Reply #23 on: February 27, 2009, 03:51:25 AM »

Also, good idea for info on files (Really_Long_Setup_Program_Filenames_Can_Get_Annoying.exe), but does it preserve the data when moved to another directory? What about from NTFS -> FAT32 (or any other conversion)? Also, out of sheer curiosity, would the info be readable under any standard Linux file browser (eg: Nautilus)?

DESCRIPT.ION files are preserved when you move files, provided you either use 4DOS, or a file manager aware of DESCRIPT.ION files.  Several are; Total Commander, for instance.  Most of the FILE_ID.DIZ compilers also understand DESCRIPT.ION files.  If you move a file, you may have to re-run your file information compiler / allfiles lister, but it all works.  It's a long time since I did things that way, though, especially with the move to .EXE installers.



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MilesAhead
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« Reply #24 on: March 04, 2009, 12:41:28 PM »

The help is a bit of a stickler because I want the small download size but don't want to force people to get TreePad.  I added a Help Button to the Property Page instead of resorting to a start menu icon.  The running code can determine if there is a program associated with .hjt file type and prefers loading TipOffHelp.hjt.  If that isn't the case, it looks in the install folder for the ebook stand-alone help, which is available as a separate download. If both searches fail the Help Button is disabled.

Bundling the help in the stand-alone reader adds about 1.25 MB whereas the TreePad help file is only 7 KB(before compression) so it seems silly to include the large file in the setup program.

I know I could do HtmlHelp or make an index page from a bunch of html pages but for simple utilities with no screen shots TreePad is ideal. The help copy is already in overly long ReadMe files.  TreePad format makes them much easier to navigate.

TipOff 1.7

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