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Author Topic: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.  (Read 7256 times)

IainB

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There is something that I have needed for a long time. It should probably be part of my file explorer (I use xplorer²), but xplorer² only seems able to do a part of what I am after. I would like to have the below functionality integrated into the file explorer.

In xplorer²:
Alt+C copies the full path of any selected filename(s) to clipboard. It is a very handy function.
Ctrl+Alt+P copies just the filename+ext. of any selected filename(s).

However, sometimes I want to capture more metadata about selected filename(s), and play about with it. For this I Copy the selected file(s)/folder(s) and Paste into a utility called Filegrab, which acts a bit like a bucket for file/folder metadata. After adding and deleting metadata for files/folders, this can give an editable and sortable display something like this:

Filegrab 01.png

The displayed columns in the view can be changed, like this:

Filegrab 02.png

When you have the display as you would like it, you just click, select and copy those lines of the display you want to communicate.

Any ideas on how to integrate this into the file explorer?

rjbull

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2012, 04:30:47 PM »
I don't know if it helps, but XYplorer offers extended metadata as standard.  The screenshots show the metadata tab on the main pane, and the send to clipboard popup from right-clicking on a file.  Choosing extended data puts something like the following on the clipboard (XY's Help says this data changes according to the file type):

Name: P1010606.JPG
DOS name: P1010606.JPG
Type: IrfanView JPG File
Location: C:\Zdir\
Size: 1.51 MB (1,588,078 bytes)
Space used: 1.52 MB (1,589,248 bytes), 388 clusters
Created: 11/11/2012 22:07:28
Modified: 11/11/2012 16:01:06
Accessed: 11/11/2012 22:07:28
Attributes: Archive


Metadata tab:
xy1.pngDONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
Clipboard popup:
xy2.pngDONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.

IainB

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2012, 04:44:44 AM »
@rjbull: Thanks, but that's not what I meant. I can get a view of all the properties and metadata I need, in xplorer² (and presumably Windows Explorer too?).
If I give an example of what I use Filegrab for, it might help:

1. Select  files in Explorer (xplorer²) and Copy:

Filegrab 04 - xplorer² select.png

2. Paste what's in the clipboard (n file metadata records) into Filegrab's workspace, and tick ON for all the columns in view that Filegrab can offer:

Filegrab 05 - Filegrab display.png

3. Untick those columns I don't want:

Filegrab 06 - Filegrab display.png

4. Delete the metadata for desktop.ini ( I don't want that) and Sort the metadata records on file size in ascending order (I could also add more files to the Filegrab workspace at this point if I wanted):

Filegrab 07 - Filegrab display.png

5. Select and Copy all the files listed in Filegrab (I could select fewer if I wanted):

Filegrab 08 - Filegrab display.png

6. Paste them into a Text editor:

Filegrab 09 - text paste.png

What I want is to integrate this Filegrab functionality (not duplicate it), so that I can select a few files in xplorer², press a magic hotkey which starts Filegrab (if not already running), pastes the files, and leaves me viewing them in Filegrab, where I can then manipulate the metadata records as I need.
I'm not sure, but I think an AHK-L script could help me do this, but I do not know enough about AHK-L, so I hoped someone in the forum might be able to help please.    :tellme:
« Last Edit: November 12, 2012, 11:35:41 PM by IainB, Reason: Typo corrections. »

f0dder

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2012, 05:46:47 AM »
Does FileGrab support command-line arguments? If it does, it would be very easy to integrate into x2 through the use of "Customize -> User Commands".
- carpe noctem

IainB

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2012, 06:38:54 AM »
Does FileGrab support command-line arguments? If it does, it would be very easy to integrate into x2 through the use of "Customize -> User Commands".
Bugger. I don't think it can support command-line arguments.
Here's the Filegrab.txt notes file contents (note the date!) - there's nothing in it about using the command line:
Spoiler
________________________________________________________________
FileGrab (VERSION 1.00) by  Michael J. Mefford
Copyright (c) 1997 Ziff Davis Publishing Company
First Published March 4, 1997
________________________________________________________________
About FileGrab...
Purpose:  FileGrab lets you harness the power of Explorer's listing ability for use by other applications.  When you drop files from Explorer onto the FileGrab window, you get a usable list of filenames rather than the files' contents.  You can then save the list to disk, print it, or copy it into the clipboard for pasting into another application.  View options let you choose which file characteristics (such as date, size, or attributes) to include with the file names.

Usage:  To install FileGrab, copy the program files FILEGRAB.EXE and FILEGRAB.HLP to a subdirectory on your hard disk, and create an icon for FileGrab in your shell.  When you first launch FileGrab, you'll see an empty window ready to accept file names from Explorer.  For a quick demonstration of how it works, open an Explorer window (it's okay if the windows partially overlap), highlight a group of files, drag them over to FileGrab, and drop them in its window.  Voila!  There's your file list.

Note that you can copy file names from Explorer's Find utility, as well as from Explorer itself.  You don't have to worry about anything happening to the files when you drop them on FileGrab.
They'll stay where they are; only the file name data is copied into FileGrab.

You can also minimize FileGrab, highlight the files in Explorer, and then drag them to FileGrab's button on the taskbar.  The taskbar button itself won't accept drag and drop, but if you hold down the mouse button, the window will open and then you can drop the files.  The advantage of this method is that you can still use FileGrab when Explorer is maximized.

Another way to copy the files without having to view both windows simultaneously is to use cut and paste.  Select the filenames you want in Explorer, then select Edit|Copy from the Explorer menu, or right click on the selected files and choose Copy from the pop up menu, or simply press the Copy hot key Ctrl+C.  After you've copied the file data to the clipboard, switch to FileGrab and paste the copied file names by selecting Edit|Paste from the FileGrab menu, or pressing the Paste hot key, Ctrl+V.

File names appear only one time in the FileGrab list, no matter how many times you add them.  FileGrab considers the fully specified file name, including the path, when checking for duplicates.  If you seem to see two occurrences of the same file in the list, check the Full Path item in the View menu and you'll see that they're actually different.

Explorer can be in any of its View modes (Large Icons, Small Icons, List, or Details) when you drag or copy files.
FileGrab, however, always displays the file names in the style of Details mode.  Once you have a file name list in FileGrab, you can use the View menu to select which of the file properties you want to include in the display.  Checking an item adds it to the display; unchecking the item removes it.  The View options are Full Path, DOS Name, Size, Creation Date, Modified Date, Accessed Date, and Attributes.  By default just the Full Path and Modified Date properties are displayed.  If you turn off Full Path, just the file name will be displayed.

Once you have set the View options to display the file name list as you want it, you can save the list to disk, print it, or copy it into the clipboard.  To enable the Copy feature, you must first select the files you want from the list.  Click the Copy to clipboard button or select Copy from the Edit menu to copy the selected file names as ASCII text to the clipboard.  If you select Cut instead of Copy, the file names are removed from the FileGrab list as well as copied to the Clipboard.  The Clear button removes the selected items from the FileGrab list without copying them to the Clipboard.
To clear the entire FileGrab list, choose Select All from the Edit menu or press the hot key Ctrl+A, and then click the Clear button.

When FileGrab copies the selected file names to the Clipboard, it ensures that the columns for each displayed file property will neatly line up vertically by making all the entries in a particular column the same number of characters.  Fields that have fewer characters than the longest entry in the column are padded with spaces.  Fields are separated with tab characters so that the columns line up even when a proportional space font is used, and so they will be formatted correctly when pasted into a spreadsheet.

When saving the list to disk, the default format is the same as when copying to the clipboard; FileGrab pads columns with spaces so that they line up.  You can also choose to separate the file properties with commas instead of spaces and a tab character (the CSV or comma-separated values option).  This option is useful if you're importing the list into a database or spreadsheet.  To save the file list to disk, click the Save As button or select File|Save As....
The Save as type drop-down filter lets you choose between the .txt and .csv formats.

When you print a file name list, by default FileGrab uses a ten point Courier New font so the characters in the columns will line up.  To select a different font, select Printer Font under the File menu.  You do not have to use the same font for printing and screen display.  To select a different font for screen display, choose File|Screen Font.  Note that the font is not saved when you copy the list to the clipboard.  You'll have to reselect the desired font from within the application where you paste the list.

FileGrab supports in-place editing, like Explorer, in case you want to make any changes to the list.  To shift into edit mode, select a file, wait a moment, then click on it again.  The original file won't be renamed; only the text that is sent to the clipboard, file, or printer will reflect your changes.  You can also sort the list by clicking on the column header buttons.  A second click on the same button before clicking on any other will sort the list in descending order.  You can also resize the columns by dragging the left or right edge of the header button above it.  FileGrab remembers all your custom settings.

Support for FileGrab:
Support for the free utilities offered by PC Magazine can be obtained electronically in the discussion area of PC Magazine's Web site and in the Utilities section of ZD Net's TIPS Forum on CompuServe.  For PC Magazine's Web site go to the URL http://www.pcmag.com/discuss/ and select the Utilities area.  You can also access the Utilities discussion area from the utility's download page.  The authors of current utilities generally monitor the discussion area every day.  You may find an answer to your question simply by reading the messages previously posted.  If the author is not available and you have a question that the sysops can't answer, the editor of the Utilities column, who also checks the area each day, will contact the author for you.

For ZD Net's TIPS Forum (GO ZNT:TIPS).  The authors of current utilities generally visit this forum daily.
You may find an answer to your question by reading the messages already posted in the forum.  If the author is not available and the forum sysops can't answer your question, the Utilities column editor, who checks this forum each day, will contact the author for you.

Michael J.  Mefford is a contributing editor of PC Magazine.
________________________________________________________________


Nor in the Help file:
* FILEGRAB-HLP.zip (3.66 kB - downloaded 103 times.)

I also tried using Filegrab in SendTo and from the Command line, but no joy.
The Command line just brings up the Filegrab GUI when you enter in something like filegrab.exe /? or other obvious commands. It seems to be expecting Paste or drag and drop.
Filegrab appears to be just selectively accepting some of the metadata contents of the Clipboard or a drag-and-drop and placing it in a fixed-width array workspace measuring 7 or 8 across by n down. You can perform rudimentary editing on just the Path/Filename field (I have never needed to use this feature).
It's a very nifty little tool, and there's still nothing quite like it - or not that I have come across, anyway. Which is why I still use it.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2012, 06:53:27 AM by IainB, Reason: Minor corrections. »

f0dder

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2012, 07:01:01 AM »
Humm, I wonder if it would be OK for you to post the program somewhere - as far as I can tell, while pcmag requires money for it now, it used to be entirely freeware...

I wouldn't mind trying to cook up a solution, but I'm not going to pay $8 to do it :)
- carpe noctem

IainB

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2012, 08:43:25 AM »
Yes, I think it's in the Public Domain - it was given out free by PC Magazine and/or on their website.

f0dder

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2012, 10:33:27 AM »
Here's a first attempt.

Put the SendToFileGrab.exe 'somewhere reasonable', then in xplorer2 go to "Customize->User Commands->Add new...". Choose whatever name you want, an optional hotkey, and for the "Description" field (which should really have been called "Command" O_o), add something along the lines of ">D:\src\autoit\SendToFileGrab.exe $A" (yep, the larger-than character is required).

shot-2012-11-12@17.33.58.png

The script currently requires FileGrab to be started - starting it if not already running is something to be added if the script otherwise works for you :)
- carpe noctem

IainB

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2012, 11:28:29 PM »
@f0dder: Many thanks! That works a treat!    :Thmbsup:
It runs with the correct/expected results when FileGrab is running and when it's not running.

Two things:
  • 1. FileGrab run status/location: To ensure that it is always running, I'd do one more thing myself if it was in AHK (but I don't know AutoIT), and that is an if/else something like:
    Spoiler
      IfWinExist Untitled - FileGrab
          WinActivate
       else
          Run C:\UTIL\ZiffDavis\FileGrab\FILEGRAB.EXE

    Would you be able to add that into the script, and (maybe better?) as well pick up the FileGrab.exe path as a string variable (parameter) provided in the xplorer² Command Description string? That would make the script independent of both the run state of FileGrab.exe and its location.

  • 2. Focus: After the Paste has been applied, could you force the focus of the FileGrab window to come to the front so it is ready to be used/edited? At the moment it stays in the background.

By the way, I had a look at your SendToFileGrab.au3 script, and I think I might try at some stage to translate it into an AHK script as an AHK exercise lesson. (I don't really want to learn AutoIT until I've got some mastery over AHK.)

Thanks again.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2012, 12:00:44 AM by IainB, Reason: Minor corrections. »

f0dder

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2012, 12:29:45 AM »
Sure thing, I'll have a look at the changes after work today - I had already planned adding those, since they're required for the script to really be useful, just wanted to know if this was what you had in mind before spending more time on it :)

However, I think it might be better to define the path to FileGrab.exe in an INI file or similar, rather than on the commandline - there's a limit to how long commandlines can be (depending on Windows version as well as the API used to start the new program), and xplorer2 has to pass full file paths to the script.
- carpe noctem

IainB

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2012, 02:29:56 AM »
Thanks. That's very helpful of you.
Yes, the script that you made worked a treat and was exactly the sort of thing I was looking for. It does integrate xplorer² and FileGrab quite nicely. The .ini file sounds like a more sensible approach.
It sort of gives FileGrab a bit of an extended lease of life, and much easier to use now that it is integrated with xplorer².

Actually, the thought occurred to me that the script might lend itself to being adapted and used as a generic "Send File To Application" tool, or even (say) just a "Send To" tool - if one were needed. Pros and Cons there.

DonL

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2012, 02:55:18 AM »
Hi,

No need for filegrab. XYplorer supports this as a one-click feature for more than 10 years. Simply open the Report tab on the Info Panel (F12) and press "To Popup" or "To Clipboard", and you get something like this (of course, showing the column headers is optional):

Name                                        Size  Modified             Created              Attr         
--------------------------------------  --------  -------------------  -------------------  ------------ 
LuckyLuke.jpg                             171629  2012-10-18 18:28:34  2012-10-18 18:28:34  ----A-----I- 
Pacific-Heaven-a24501011.jpg              356100  2012-10-13 17:37:13  2012-10-13 17:37:13  ----A-----I- 
That-certain-Holiday-a24501032.jpg        275696  2012-10-13 17:36:47  2012-10-13 17:36:47  ----A-----I-


Don

IainB

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2012, 05:18:27 AM »
@DonL: Thanks for the suggestion. Yes, I think you can do what you say in XYplorer and in xplorer² also, but that's not what I want.
As described above, I use FileGrab to get the file/folder metadata into FileGrab's workspace, where I use it as a tool to massage the metadata - as described above - e.g., adding other files' (metadata) or removing it, and choosing to display Path, Short DOS name, etc. FileGrab is the tool, and seems to fill the niche.
It's the only reason I've held onto FileGrab since 1997!

It's a multi-step process to use it as it is though, and I noticed I was needing to use it more frequently lately, so wanted to reduce the repetitive steps. I'm l-o-n-g overdue for asking for help to integrate it with xplorer².    :-[
(I suggested to the xplorer² developer that he might consider adding the functionality into xplorer², a few years back, but he didn't seem too interested.)

DonL

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2012, 05:50:45 AM »
You said:
Quote
When you have the display as you would like it, you just click, select and copy those lines of the display you want to communicate.

That's exactly what you can do with XYplorer, even the width of the columns, the order of columns, the selection of files, etc. everything can be set in XYplorer very easily because the Report exactly mirrors the current list. I tried, but I cannot see which part of filegrab could be missing here.

IainB

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2012, 07:55:05 AM »
Maybe I misunderstand what you are talking about...

tomos

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2012, 08:10:09 AM »
XYplorer has a very nice implementation of dir/file listing.
From the screenshots above, FileGrab does seem more flexible in the way you can add files from multiple locations. I guess it would be the equivalent of making virtual folders. Otherwise XY seems to have things well covered (and could cover that option too by combining [output] files or clipboard info).

Screenshot - 2012-11-13 , 15_05_00.png

- but I guess that's not much help to Iain as an xplorer² user :-)
Tom
« Last Edit: November 13, 2012, 12:23:03 PM by tomos, Reason: clarification - see [square brackets] »

IainB

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2012, 09:00:39 AM »
@tomos: Thanks for that. Yes, I am an xplorer² user, now, though I used to use XYplorer some time back. I am sure it's been improved over the elapsed time since I "jumped ship" though!    ;)

f0dder

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2012, 12:14:57 PM »
See if this works for you :)

Sending arbitrary stuff to arbitrary windows might be useful, and I'd be kinda surprised if there wasn't already some tool around to do it - but it was fun enough dusting off Auto-It again (and I'm sure the task could be done a lot cleaner than my quick hack :)).
- carpe noctem

IainB

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2012, 07:11:44 PM »
Thanks, I installed the new version and appropriate .INI file path.
Something wrong. Repeatable.
If you initiate the first run (i.e., FileGrab not already running) of the xplorer² command whilst in either the script's directory or FileGrab.exe's directory, then it works fine and you can add/paste files into Filegrab from those directories and from others.

However, if you initiate the first run (i.e., FileGrab not already running) of the xplorer² command whilst in any other directory, then you get the error message:
___________________________
[Window Title]
FileGrab.exe

[Content]
Windows cannot find 'FileGrab.exe'. Make sure you typed the name correctly, and then try again.

[OK]
___________________________

If you press OK, then you get the error message:
---------------------------
Ewwor
---------------------------
FileGrab not running, and ShellExecute failed
---------------------------
OK  
---------------------------

If you press OK, then you are returned to the active window.

f0dder

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2012, 05:59:12 AM »
Hm,

I think I have an idea what this could be. If you use Sysinternals' Process Explorer and check the properties of the SendToFileGrab.exe process (when it throws up the error messagebox), what does it's "current directory" say? My guess is that it's going to be the active directory in xplorer2 rather than the script directory, which means it won't be able to read the .ini file.

If that's the case, try moving it to your c:\windows folder and see if that solves the problem temporarily - I'll look into a better solution later, which obviously means reading the .ini file from the same directory as the .exe is in :)
- carpe noctem

IainB

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #20 on: November 14, 2012, 08:18:21 AM »
OK, when it fails to find FileGrab.exe, the process properties for SendToFileGrab.exe say that it is currently in the directory XYZ that has been selected to send some files from.
Putting the file SendToFileGrab.ini into the XYZ directory causes the SendTo to work fine.
However, putting the file SendToFileGrab.ini into the C:\Windows directory seems to have no effect.

Odd.

f0dder

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2012, 04:41:29 PM »
There, .ini file path should be taken care of - embarrassingly simple fix :)
- carpe noctem

IainB

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Re: DONE: "Filegrab"-like functionality integrated into the file explorer.
« Reply #22 on: November 16, 2012, 03:44:45 AM »
Problem solved!
Many thanks @f0dder! That seems to work perfectly now.

By the way, in the discussion above, there are some notes about what file metadata you can get from which file explorer.
Just by coincidence, I have today tried out a proggie called SysExporter, and it was so good that I thought it might be useful if I wrote a review report about it. Here it is: SysExporter - (Screen-scraping) Export data from Windows controls - Mini-Review

What it shows is that, in the case of file metadata, you can capture all the metadata text that you can cause to be listed in a file explorer display window. For example:
...The next image shows the same approach, where I captured the data displayed by SysExporter about some music files listed in one of my file manager (xplorer²) windows. Rather nice. (Again, the embedded question marks - this time in the bitrate field). Notice how the column headings have also been captured in Excel.

SysExporter - 01 sysexp + Windows update history(800).png