21 Points to bliss - my DOp Testdrive

Having since ever been a "file manager fetishist" here are a few comments. For all who need to know my last favourite tool was PowerDesk 6. As the last new version number was not really an upgrade which resolved real issues but rather just a tart up (basically only skins and a new obtrusive, unconfigurable toolbar, rather than fixing real issues such as refreshing issues in multiple pane dispalys, etc.) my loyalties have been substantially eroded.

So I dined out: Total Commander and Salamander for whichever reason do not do it for me. A43 is a faboulous effort, can even be run from a floppy only (!), but for serious handywork ..., - xplorer2 is marvellously fast, but in the end, as yet, just too skinny.

Now I am here with Directory Opus. This is a rock solid program. Not the slightest hint of flimsiness. Not the work of paid programmers, but, apparently, a couple of guys who programmed their heart out. The result is a work of conviction - more than outstanding. The Rolls Royce of file management.

After I have fiddled around with it for a week now I pinned a file named bone.txt on one of the bars to my avail. bones is short for "bones to pick". For non-Australians, that means issues that have crept up for me throughout the use of the program.

Here they are:

  1. 8+ seconds to pop up - that seems awfully long! PowerDesk is here in 3- secs. Also time for expansion of folder tree could be faster.

  2. For copying / moving procedures I still use the right click "Move to / Copy to" shell extensions of ye good old PowerDesk. Bloody oath, they are good and useful! The Copy to Move to dialogue should be copied from the PowerDesak Shell Extensions. It could the be enhanced with sticky settings checkboxes from the DirectoryOpus Prefereces/Copying dialogue. I still use this PowerDesk extension, even though it seems to have an effect on the Window focus after the file operation is finished, and after frequent uses has even crashed DOpus.

  3. Same applies for "Zip...", if I want to use the more efficient, but slower .cab format I use the PowerArchiver extension.

In this context: files for a more menaingful handlibg of .cab, .rar and .7z archives are for free. The one for .cab is, I believe, even part of out of the box windows.

Handling of Zip files (display internally, display as directory) should be extended to other archive formats such as .cab, .rar, .7z, and for historic reasons maybe also to .arj, etc.. The dll's are readilly available for free, thus no licensing issues.

  1. Search should also work in .cab, .rar, .7z, and maybe some other archive types (I could then really renounce "ZipScan"), and should have a memory drop down of the last search locations. Also: it does not seem to work for multiple search items (eg.: ".jpeg;.jpg"; also tried comma separation)

  2. "New Folder" should have a drop down memory which keeps the last ~five folders-names I created.

  3. To replace the gradient background in the seperate "Find" dialogue window seems to be pretty difficult, unless I skin the whole program, which I do not really want to undertake.

  4. I like the Bar Graph in the status bar - I would love to change the underlying graphic! It is regretfully not even visible in one of the dll's etc, otherwise I would fix that with ResHacker and never have a problem with it. Same with the inbuilt icons, the background of the marvellously fast file finder ("Search...")...

  5. Mouseover on non-media files should also show some meaningful information. Shortcut should show target (PowerDesk shows target and as "Description" any applicable parameters). As io the feature is pretty useless. In this context: with html files (incl. asp, php, etc) the Title tag provides meaningful meta data. .urls should show target, dll's should have manufacturer and version number, exe's also, etc. etc. ...

  6. Applications on Bars: As one can create "Three Buttons" buttons it would be also logical to be able to right or middle click a lister item onto one of these buttons of they lead to a program or a btachfile containing %1 to launch the appropriate action. This has already been successfully implemented in "Windows PowerPro" by Bruce Switzer, ie., it's doable.

  7. Applications on Bars: Maybe I want to just launch the application without pointing to a %1. I may have just highlighted some file, and in that state incidentally click an app button. Automatic opening of highlightedf file should be optional (or, eg. subject to a right mouse click (with one item buttons), or a modifier like "Ctrl").

  8. Smarter Copying: Often I copy huge number of files through the network or to another drive. An operation wich might take, say 20 minutes. I then go elsewhere and do something else. after the estimated time I return just to find a dialogue box in front of me, alerting to file 12 of 800: "Cannot copy/move, because write protected,. exists in target directory", etc. Can these events not be captured somehow, and after the other 788 files are dealt with a dialogue box with an exception summary eventually pops up with the usual suggestion (unprotect, skip, overwrite, rename, etc.)?

11a. Another copying/moving gripe: when dragging and dropping I get this semi transparent image of the files and folder I wish to transport. Could I have something less unwieldy? It's not a beginners environment after all, and a token would do, as the objects in question are highlighted anyway.

  1. Toolbars should remember their position. When I hide a toolbar and unhide again it it shows anywhere. It should remember last floating and and docked positions.

  2. No tree view in FTP? Pitty.

  3. I have not yet managed to make settings for system folders sticky; eg. I would like control panel always to be displayed as icons.

Well, I have since managed to get this somehow working: I disabled XP Visual Styles, Restart, Visual styles was checked again, but for whichever reason Control Panel diaplayed icons!

Now the icons display a dropshadow in the text under them, which I consider undesireable. It looks cool on the desktop, but elsewhere it just makes me feel I have drunk too much :wink:

  1. A "Collapse Drive Tree" feature a la PowerDesk would be also desirable. After a while they can get pretty confusing.

15a. An option to automatically collapse non current expanded folders in the tree after n seconds of inactivity would probably be fine :wink:

  1. "Customize / Commands / File should probably include "Restart DOpus"

  2. "Customize / Commands / Help should allow to accept additional commands (that is eg., for me the place where I would want to put a shortcut to the Windows Command Line Help :wink:.

  3. "Command Field" does not accept simple MS-DOS commands such as "del" or "md". Theoretically I could write batch files in place of the commands, which would be a workaround, but, would it then be possible to at least hide the Dos-Box on command output? Interestingly, as "del *.xyz" does not work, "delete *.xyz" does work, similar to ren/rename. Do I have to learn a second set of commands yet? On the other side: here multiple parameters seem to work (eg.: "delete *.txt *.bak") - good one!

  4. The "File Filter" regretfully seems to accept only one filter at a time; eg. only ".txt" and not ".txt;*.bak" or simillar. Pitty.

  5. The Folder Icons feature of PowerDesk is also quite useful, as this does not create desktop.ini files. It allows me always to find eg. my Temp directory file quickly, even when my system startup directive "del C:\temp, md temp" has been executed. Incidentally, these system startup commands can be quite useful, as this way the Internet Explorer history, cookies, index.dat files, etc. can be efficiently wiped without having to install a seperate program for system hygiene.

  6. I have yet to find out, what the VFS RAR plugin actually does. Supposedly it allows reading of .rar files ... Simillar with Ogg-Vorbis plugin. On mousever at least some information from the tags of mp3 files is displayed; why does the plugin not facilitate the same for oggs (incidentaly, my format of choice for rips!).

These are a few issues which I have managed to pin down in the first week of usage. Please note, that I have not collected these points because I want to say that DirectoryOpus is bad. Quite the opposite. I think it is the best and most developable file manager out there and therefore have taken the trouble of compiling this list. If it were a hopeless program, or a program that would itself a different kind of program (eg., a43 and xplorer2, who a both good enough, but define themselves as minimalist Explorer replacements), I certainly would not bother.

Some may take issue with me comparing it too often with PowerDesk. Here I have to say, that I have not been a user of PowerDesk for so many years because it is an essentially bad program, but rather because it has a number of quite outstanding features and is generally excellent. On the other hand, from a programming point of view it is probably difficult to extend on it, and the current owners, V-Com, do not seem to have a real interest in developing it further.

Others may take issue, that some points are already made elsewhere in the forum. I apologize here for probably not having browsed it with the thorughness it really deserves. But, also I do have only one lifetime available :wink:.

I hope this post is understood as a well meaning contribution to the further development and enhancemet of this already most excellent program!

To SysOp: Pls feel free to move to more apprpriate part of forum if desired.

Best regards top all!

#19 ... RTFM ... try *.(bat|txt)

Thanks, RhinoBanga!

That works! Nevertheless, its is quite unusual not not extremely inuitive. Also, why is this then style not carried elsewhere, eg. Search, Command Field, etc.?


Edit Yes, it works in "Search" too. My clumsiness when testing :wink:

I agree that .txt,.bat is more intuitive however I am more and more getting used to using regular expressions as they are much more powerful.

#2: Context menus for all files, all folders, and individual file types are completely configurable. You want to right-click a file, and choose "Copy to" from the context menu, then copy the file using a dialog box with a folder tree, that can be done easily.

#8: Infotips are configurable by file type in the file type editor.

#9: You can make a three button for a program, let's say Notepad. Left clicking the button opens notepad, selecting a file and right clicking opens the selected file in Notepad. That's easy to do. I don't think it works to have a button that opens Notepad, then opening a specific file by dragging and dropping onto that button, but (at least to me) that's no better than selecting a file then right clicking a button, anyway.

#10: I have plenty of apps on my toolbars that don't open anything except the app. They don't have to point to a file, just put the app's path in the function field of the button.

#15: I have a button (Go ROOT=collapse) that brings you to the root of the drive and collapses the tree. Not perfect, but better than collapsing it all by hand. :slight_smile: I'll agree with the request to be able to collapse the tree without having to go to the root folder.

#17: Create a button. The buttons in Customize/Commands are not all that you can use. :slight_smile: You want a button that goes to Windows Command Line Help, make it. Custom button creation is, in my opinion, one of DOpus's most powerful features.

#18: "Command field" is for internal Opus commands, not DOS commands. "Del" doesn't work because "del" is not an internal Opus command, but "delete" is. Same with ren/rename.

#21: Support to read ID3 tags in mp3 files is standard in Opus. You can create artist, album, title, year, etc. columns in the folder view. Ogg files don't use the same ID3 tag system, but do use tags all the same. The Ogg plugin adds the ability to read Ogg tags just like Opus can read ID3 tags "out of the box." If you have artist and album columns displayed, and you navigated to a folder with mp3 files, you could see the info for each file in the columns. You can do the same with Ogg files, but only if the plugin is installed and enabled.

The rest are good points, most of which I agree would be nice things to have.

You admit that you haven't had much time to play with the program. I'd suggest doing that, and also checking out Nudel's big Opus tutorial. If you knew how to customize Opus, like you would learn from the tutorial, many of your bones wouldn't need picking anymore, they'd be non-issues.


You may be able to speed this up. Mine takes about 5 seconds (after loading Photoshop and Image Ready to ensure nothing is cached :slight_smile:) and that's including a toolbar full of external programs whose icons all have to be loaded separately.

Running FileMon to see what Opus is doing at startup might help point to things that can be sped up. Some things off the top of my head:

  • Getting the status of Network and Removable drive buttons that might be directly on the toolbar. (Move them to a sub-menu to speed things up, then the delay only happens when you access the sub-menu. You can partition your drive buttons so you have local HDDs directly on the toolbar and other things in a sub-menu.)

  • Loading icons from external programs for use on toolbars.

  • Checking that paths in the Favorites or Collections still exist (though I think this is done on a background thread now).

With all of that said, though, why not configure Opus to run when Windows starts and leave it in the background at all times? You can then double-click the desktop and a new Opus window will appear instantly. The extra memory used up is negligible these days and will be paged out to disk if another program needs it anyway.

I haven't used PowerDesk beyond a very brief look so I'm not sure what this extension does exactly. Opus lets you add pretty much whatever you want to the right-click context menus so you could add a lot of "Copy TO C:\blah" type commands in a hierarchy of submenus if that's what you want. But I'm just guessing at what the extension does.

It's true that Opus lacks extensive archiver support at the moment. Apart from RAR the other formats could be integrated but it's a question of resources. Lots of people do want RAR but the file format and compression algorithm are not documented and apparently cannot even be licenced. (There's only the basic unrar.dll which Opus already uses that to provide read-only RAR access.) Formats like CAB and 7Zip would be nice to support but I don't think a huge number of people would appreciate them so other features always take priority.

There is a Virtual FileSystem API for Opus which would allow other people to write a plugin for any of these formats, but so far nobody has stepped up to do it. (The API isn't yet published but that's due to the time it'd take to document it and the apparent lack of demand that makes it not seen worth the time at the moment. If someone wants to write a useful plugin in this area I know that help would be provided. I've seen the VFS plugin header files and, with some Q&A from Jon, I was able to get a basic VFS Registry plugin working so it's not hard to work with. Unfortunately work and other plugins have got in the way of me finishing it or else it would be a reasonable example for other people to base their VFS plugins on. But the information is there if people request it.)

I may be wrong (and don't have a RAR file to test against right now) but I think that if a VFS plugin is written for a format then searching will automatically work inside the format as well. (i.e. The search within Zip files option causes searching within VFS-plugin formats as well).

Sure, I don't see why not.

That gradient is part of the standard Windows XP visual styles. All tab controls should be filled with it. (Although some programs with resizable tab controls, e.g. Task Manager, opt not to fill it because you have to resort to tricks to get the fill to work with tab controls larger than a certain size.)

What do you want to change about it? You can configure the colours and gradient (or lack of) via status bar codes. I guess you want it themed in some way?

I wouldn't recommend it but the internal icons and animations are stored as resources and could, in theory, be replaced. You'd be in for a load of hassle every time new internal icons got added, though, especially if the dimensions of the resource changed. Definitely not recommended!

You can configure whatever you want to appear in file infotips via the Opus filetype editor. Edit a filetype and switch to the Info Tip tab, then enter codes for the fields you want.

Opus wouldn't be able to get that at the moment but it'd be pretty trivial to write an HTML viewer plugin which extracted the data.

Add the Description field to the URL filetype's infotip and viola.

There are items categorised under Programs which you can add to the infotips to see that information.

It works as you want if you select the items and then click the three-button with the appropriate mouse button. I think what you're asking for is to be able to drag the items onto the button using the appropriate mouse button which currently always results in the left-button action being run. I don't see any reason not to change it to how you suggest.

If you add @filesfromdroponly to the button on a separate line then the button will always launch the program with no arguments when clicked (even if files are selected) but will still launch the program with files if you drop them on it.

Alternatively, make a three button which launches the program with the selected/dropped files on the left-click and launches it with no arguments via the right-click.

I like this idea, although it's come up before.

If you're toggling a particular toolbar a lot you can make a button or hotkey to toggle it and specify where it should appear. Some examples:

Toolbar NAME=Nudel-CommandBar STATE=bottom TOGGLE LOCAL

Toolbar NAME=Quick STATE=float TOGGLE

Nor for Zip files. Unfortunately the Tree isn't supported for virtual filesystems.

Display the system folder (aka "namespace") how you want it in an Opus lister and then close the lister. This should save the settings for use next time you visit the folder.

This happens when you enable Preferences, Display, Options, Enable background images in virtual folders. Turn it off and the shadows should go away.

Why do you want a button to restart Opus? You could probably make one via a batch file somehow.

What use it is to have a link to the Windows Command Line Help within the customize dialog? The buttons in Customize, Commands are just presets for you to drag to your toolbars and menus. If you want to make custom buttons you usually do so directly on the toolbars themselves. You can, however, make your own commands in the Customize, Commands, User section. This lets you reference the same command from several different places, as well as provide arguments to your own commands which allows you to build up customized versions of a single command that you've made.

The command field is just for running Opus internal commands. If you want more you have to open a dos window ("CLI DOSPROMPT") which I do all the time.

Maybe it's not a bad idea to have a field like the Command Field that runs whatever you enter through the command interpreter (cmd.exe) and hides the output.

Why not just hide desktop.ini files from view? :slight_smile:

It does. If you're having problems have a look in the FAQ post about setting up RAR double-click in the case that you've already got a program installed to handle RAR files.

You probably just need to move the .ogg filetype's into the Music group. (But double-check that your Music group has something appropriate defined for its InfoTip. Maybe I added that myself and it's not part of the default configuration, but I expect it is.)

Here's a screenshot showing it works with FLAC files via the same plugin. (I don't have an Ogg file to hand):

I am very grateful for the great responses I have received. This will give me something to chew on for the next couple of days, after which I will report back.

For now thank youse again!