Wondering how some of you would approach this format setup

Ok, so, I have a partition with my mp3s- it has 5 or 6 main folders (alternative, classic rock, misc, etc)

Within each of those folders are folders for the bands/albums that go within the category.

What I wanna do, is have the main folder of the mp3 partition and all of the subfolders appear oriented to directories, with columns for subfolders, total files, etc- but when I move into an album folder with the mp3s, I want a music oriented look- bitrate, duration etc.

I had nearly accomplished this by using the music content type. But, once id gotten the main folder directory oriented and applied it to all subfolders, that took precendence over content type, and the mp3 tracks were displaying columns that I wanted only for directories.

So, I reset all the folder formats- since I lost a couple hours work, I thought i'd ask for advices this time before giving it another go- i'm glad to hear any tips anyone may have.

So you have this directory structure:


  • Genre
    • Artist
      • Album
      • Album

And you want a particular format for the Genre and Artist levels and a differnet format for the Album levels.

I don't think there is a convenient way to set that up exactly as described.

1) Method 1 (Perfect result but lots of effort)

Obviously you could save formats for Top and all of the Genre and Artist folders (turning off the option to apply the formats to sub-folders) and then use Content Type formats, or more individually saved formats, for each of the Album folders. That would be a lot of work to set up.

(If you do want to do that, and you're comfortable with text editors and XML, then it would probably be easier to do it using a text editor on the config files. That would let you copy & paste the format into lots of folders without all the clicking you'd have to do using the GUI.)

2) Method 2 (Less effort but not quite what you wanted)

The alternative, which won't give you quite what you want, is to set a format at the Top level which makes things the way you want for the Top, Genre and Artist levels. That format would be set to apply itself to all sub-folders, meaning you sort out all of those directories by just creating a single format. That just leaves the Album folders...

...which is where things break down a bit. Of course, you can save specific formats for each and every album folder and that will work, but that's a lot of effort. In avoiding that, the obvious thing to try, as you did, is to create a Content Type format which sets certain columns in folders which have a lot of music.

That won't quite work, though. As per the Folder Formats FAQ, folder-specific formats are at the top of the list in Preferences -- and above Content Type formats -- which means a folder specific format will be chosen first it it matches a folder. That is still true when the folder-specific format was saved for a parent folder and has the "apply to all sub-folders" option ticked.

The only thing you can do, without saving lots of individual formats, is set the Top format to "inherit columns from other matching formats." This means that when you go to an Album folder it will match the Top format and get all of its columns, but it will then also keep looking down the list of other formats to pick up more columns. The Content Type format will be matched and get to add its music columns as well.

That's perfect, except you've got the unwanted columns from the Top format added to the mix at the Album level. I don't think there is any way around that which doesn't involve saving a lot of individual formats (or not having any special formats at the Top/Genre/Artist levels).


This type of question has come up a few times, almost always involving music folders. The only thing I can think of that could be added to Opus to make it possible is the ability to save folder-specific formats with a regular expression instead of a path, so you could control exactly which folders were matched by them and exclude or include certain directory levels.

That would work very well for me but many people already find both folder formats and regular expressions to be complex so I don't know how useful it would be to everyone else. If you have any ideas about how this could be improved then speak up!

The way I see this issue, users really need it a reusable format that can be defined and maintained in one central location, but then discretely applied to an infinite number of folder paths. A Content Type Format or a Default Format cannot really fill this need, since it is based purely on the user's discretion. Furthermore, Folder Formats cannot meet this need, because they are designed with a one-of or top-down usage in mind. What users need is a way to define a Format once, and then decree where it will be used with nothing much else in common other than the user's desire to view certain folders the same way.

Currently in Preferences - Folders - Folder Formats, there exists a category named Favorite Formats. This concept is half way to what users keep asking for, except that such formats are never applied systematically; they can only be applied manually. I believe that formats in this category would be much more useful, if they could somehow be systematically assigned by reference to various folder paths, in addition to being able to be manually applied on-the-fly.

Proposed Changes:[ol][li] A new tab, named, Folders, could be added to the Edit Favorite Format Dialog. In this new tab, the user could assign any number of Folder Paths, to which this particular Favorite Format should be automatically applied. A given folder path could only be listed under one Favorite Format at a time—adding a folder path to the Folder List of a second Favorite Format would automatically remove it from the first. (Alternatively, maybe only the first Favorite Format to which a given Folder Path is assigned would be applied automatically—others would be ignored.)
[li] Add Favorite Formats to the Formats Precedence Order, after Folder Formats, but before Content Type Formats and Default Formats. Opus would automatically apply the first Favorite Format, whose Folder List contained the listed folder path, but only if an applicable Folder Format did not also exist for that path.
[li] In Folder Options Dialog add these enhancements:[ol][li] To the Save button's menu, add an option named Save and assign as Favorite Format. When this option is chosen, Opus would save the current Folder Options as a Favorite Format (prompting the user for a new or existing Favorite Format name.
[li] The Reset button's menu currently will list all Favorite Formats. If the user holds down the shift key when selecting a Favorite Format, Opus will not only apply the current Favorite Format to the listed folder, but also assign the Folder to the Favorite Format's Folder List.[/li][/ol][/li]
[li] The Properties FORMATLIST raw command already displays any Favorite Formats along with Content Type Formats. Change the behavior of this dynamic list such that if the user holds down the shift key when selecting a Favorite Format, Opus will not only apply the current Favorite Format to the listed folder, but also assign the Folder to the Favorite Format's Folder List.[/li][/ol]I believe such an approach would have the huge advantage in that it would allow the user to maintain a list of Formats in one centralized place but apply them discretely to many different folders. I've been thinking about submitting a feature request along these lines for some time now. This is a half-baked idea of mine, so I'd like to know what other users think about it.

Ken, wouldn't that idea still require a lot of manual set-up for each folder and continual maintenance?

As soon some new album folders are added to the collection there's more work to be done because that album/folder won't automatically pick up the desired format.

(This isn't to say I don't like the idea. I think it's at least worth thinking about as it has some other benefits, but I don't think it solves the particular problem that der_affe and others have raised. As I understand it, people want a way to set different formats at different levels of a directory hierarchy without having to manually apply formats to individual directories.)

Isn't there a way to set & save folder format from a command?
After adding new Album folders it would be enough to select them all and click one button.
Ability to define folder formats with regexps instead of fixed paths is brilliant!


Oh, and ability to copy folder formats would be nice!


I think there's only a command to set (not save) the format for the current folder (not the selected folder(s)).

Having such a command would make it easy to mass-apply formats to lots of folders, and you could find those folders however you wanted (e.g. via a complex Find operation) so it could be useful. Still not the holy grail of being able to automatically apply formats based on more than absolute paths, though.

(I'm not sure I would want 400 folder formats in my list, either. That's what Ken's idea would help since it allows a single format to be associated with multiple paths. Still absolute paths, though.)

I know I'd like it... Would enough people understand it though?

You can do that already. :slight_smile: Right-click a format in the Preferences list.

Ability to define folder formats with regexps instead of fixed paths is brilliant![/quote]
I know I'd like it... Would enough people understand it though?[/quote]

Well, just make possible to use wildcards as well? The problem with people is that sometimes that they don't want to learn, even if there's no other way. Give them universal language which enables saying 'All folders below c:\Music with name Album' and they will find another way to say that.
I guess, no easy thing to do, no simple way to do that. BTW, somewhere I've heard that good systems "makes simple things simple and hard things not impossible".


[quote="nudel"]Ken, wouldn't that idea still require a lot of manual set-up for each folder and continual maintenance?

As soon some new album folders are added to the collection there's more work to be done because that album/folder won't automatically pick up the desired format.[/quote]

This is true. Remember, I labeled this idea half-baked, which is why I had not yet submitted it. I had only thought through as far as what I posted.

Defining the Favorite Format itself is no more work than how you define any other Format today—a Format need only be defined once. Changing the Format itself is minimal effort, once you assigned a 1000 folders to the same Favorite Format, you would only need to edit the Favorite Format, to change how all 1000 folders are listed. It is in assigning the Favorite Format to a 1000 different folders where a significant amount of manual effort would still be required. As you point out, adding newly added folders wouldn't pick anything up automatically.

But the collection of suggestions I posted does provide the user to a simple one-click solution to quickly assign the listed folder to a given Favorite Format. surely, those commands won't help you much when Windows Media Player creates a folder automatically when you rip a new CD. But then again, if you never list the Album folder, you would never know it. And if you did list the album folder, it would be a one-time-only shift+click action on a dynamic menu to not only apply the correct Favorite Format, but to also ensure that it would always be applied automatically in the future.

And like Xyzzy has suggested, perhaps there should also be an additional raw command argument which allows the user to assign all selected subfolders to a given Favorite Format. That would speed things up quite a bit.

It would certainly not a fully automatic solution, but rather a semi-automatic solution. But it would enable a user to format a large folder tree exactly how they want with far less work than is required today.

The only other thing I can think of is to use some sort of rule-based assignment (similar to the Advanced Filtering System, but more simple) in the proposed Folders tab assignment list. Perhaps with these sort of options that could be logically ORed together:[ul]
[li] Apply to named folder path listing (only).[/li]
[li] Apply to all subfolders N levels deep under named folder path.

Where N = 1 would assign the Format to all subfolders immediately under the named folder path. This assignment could be added multiple times to assign more than one level of subfolders to the Format.[/li][/ul]Opus would then have to check the assignment list of a given Format, not only for the currently listed folder, but for any superior folder along its path to see if the current folder should inherit an assignment.

From my point of view, the solution is simple.

If we had the ability to set our own individual Default Formats on a specific Folder/Location basis then this would solve the problem. Then this user-defined Default Format would be used when browsing the music drive, until a Content Type or Folder Format overrides it.

To me, this appears to be the most simple and elegant solution.

So my suggestions, is to request the ability to add your own specific Default Formats, as the current system is limited to location types.

That suggestion still might not cover all scenarios; it assumes that all folder levels within a tree should always use the same format unless overridden.

I think there is still a need to assign a format to all folders of a certain hierarchy level of the tree—not affecting their parents or their children.

Ken, I can see the point you make. I suppose I'm just afraid of things becoming overly complicated. Not just because it would confuse - simply from the point of view of bugs :slight_smile: Considering, as we both know, the current Folder Format system is failing because they've tried to include some sort of hidden Format lock automation, I'm just afraid of what other complications could ensue.

In this case, my above suggestion would work for der_affe but I can certainly see where the limitations would be. The whole Folder Format system is an extremely good and powerful concept but I fully understand the hurdles associated with implementing such a system. (I have had to deal with this same problem in my own project at mapmixer.oceaniaut.com)

I'm very afraid that the whole Folder Format system could end up looking like a grand "kludge" - which I believe it currently does to some extent because of the hidden assumptions and inconsistencies in it's current state.

Having said that, nudel's idea of regular expressions in Folder Formats seems like a very interesting and quite powerful idea. I think that is worth some looking into.

Also, I like your (Ken) idea of providing a branching level of override. It is simple - a good thing.

Again, I'm afraid of everything becoming unnecessarily complicated to such an extent that the powerful concept of Folder Formats gets broken even further.

Override precedence can be a tricky problem but I do believe user-definable locations for Default Formats is a good place to start - as it provides a way to fully customise the bottom (ie starting point) in the hierarchy.

I can see a need for a user to be able to assign a format to all subfolders of a given name (or names), at a given hierarchy level. For example, I have a customer, who is an attorney who uses a folder structure similar (but with many more subfolders) to the one below, who would like to systematically assign formats as follows:

D:\Users\UserName\Documents\Clients Favorite Format = Traverse | +--Client 1 Favorite Format = Folder Details | | | +--Matter A Favorite Format = Traverse | | | | | +--Depositions Favorite Format = Depositions | | +--Photos Content Type = Pictures | | \--Pleadings Content Type = Documents | | | \--Matter B Favorite Format = Traverse | | | +--Depositions Favorite Format = Depositions | +--Photos Content Type = Pictures | \--Pleadings Content Type = Documents | \--Client 2 Favorite Format = Folder Details | +--Matter C Favorite Format = Traverse | | | +--Depositions Favorite Format = Depositions | +--Photos Content Type = Pictures | \--Pleadings Content Type = Documents | \--Matter D Favorite Format = Traverse | +--Depositions Favorite Format = Depositions +--Photos Content Type = Pictures \--Pleadings Content Type = Documents

Favorite Format = Traverse displays in List View Mode, since these folders only contain subfolders, and the attorney doesn't want to be slowed down by accessing folder meta data and wants to minimize scrolling so as to quickly locate a particular subfolder.

Favorite Format = Folder Details displays in Details View Mode and includes folder meta data fields like subfolder count and file count and calculates folder sizes. The attorney wants to constantly monitor know how big a client's folder is getting.

Favorite Format = Depositions displays in Details View Mode and has some fields related to .mp3 files, and some related to ordinary files, like the creation date, modification date, and Description. This format is quite different than how the attorney wants to view his own Music Album folders, so he really can't rely on his Music Content Type Format here.

The attorney doesn't need to create a different Favorite Format for either the Photos and Pleadings subfolders, since he already has Content Type Formats which adequately display them.

So what the attorney would like to be able to do is:[ol][li] Assign Favorite Format = Traverse to:[ul][li] D:\Users\UserName\Documents\Clients[/li]
[li] Hierarchy Level = 0|2[/li]
[li] Folder Name = *[/li][/ul][/li]
[li] Assign Favorite Format = Folder Details to:[ul][li] D:\Users\UserName\Documents\Clients[/li]
[li] Hierarchy Level = 1[/li]
[li] Folder Name = *[/li][/ul][/li]
[li] Assign Favorite Format = Depositions to:[ul][li] D:\Users\UserName\Documents\Clients[/li]
[li] Hierarchy Level = 3[/li]
[li] Folder Name = "Depositions"[/li][/ul][/li]
[li] Rely on Content Type Format = Pictures to handle all the
Photos subfolders.
[li] Rely on Content Type Format = Documents to handle all the
Documents subfolders.[/li][/ol]So I believe we need both the ability assign Favorite Formats at a given level, and we need to be able to use RegExp for the names at given level.

@Leo I believe if we combined all these ideas (the suggestions I posted earlier, plus the ability to assign formats with a raw command, plus these ideas in this thread), that we would have a vastly improved (comprehensive yet flexible) Format System that:[ul][li] Can achieve the "Perfect Formatting Solution".[/li]
[li] Requires minimal human setup and maintenance effort[/li]
[li] Doesn't add too much additional user confusion to an already complex topic.[/li]
[li] Requires a few additions/changes to the current Format System, but leaves it largely in-tact.[/li][/ul]

As Leo and I have both said, this is an inaccurate description. First the Format system is not failing, it largely is doing what it was designed to do. It is also not a Format Lock, because any applicable Folder Format or Content Type Format can override it. When Format Lock is enabled, only a new Lister Style can override it. Most of the behavior we discussed is simply the way Default Formats have always intentionally worked. However, I do agree the most (all) users have issues with that behavior, since the Formats System has evolved to include things like Folder and Content Type Formats, and it is time for that behavior to be changed. Let's limit discussion on that topic to that thread.

This thread is about a different issue, one that the current Formats System cannot address, except by some very serious manual labor.

And I really don't think the suggestions proposed here will add too much additional complexity to things. If a user never assigns a Favorite Format, they would never be impacted by them. So the pain-of-change is non-existent for a new Opus users. And the more advanced users have been consistently asking for something like this for some time.

The real concern I have is how much work would Jon have to do to make it feasible? And, how valuable would the proposed changes be to the user base? But I believe we can make a good argument here that the perceived value makes the required efforts worthwhile.

Opus already allows you to copy Formats:[ol][li] Open Preference - Folders - Folder Formats[/li]
[li] If the format you want to change does not already exist, create it.[/li]
[li] Right-click on the format you wish to copy, and select Copy from the context menu.[/li]
[li] Right-click on the format you wish to change, and select Paste from the context menu.[/li]
[li] Click the Apply button on the Preferences dialog to save your changes.[/li][/ol]
Opus allows you to reset a single page of any Folder Format (or the current Folder Options) to that of a different format:[ol][li] Open Preference - Folders - Folder Formats[/li]
[li] If the format you want to change does not already exist, create it. Otherwise, double-click the desired format to change.[/li]
[li] In the Edit Format dialog, navigate to the page tab you would like to change.[/li]
[li] Click the Reset Page button and choose the desired Format from which to copy the settings for the currently display page tab. The list of Formats includes:[ul][li] All Favorite Formats[/li]
[li] All enabled Content Type Formats[/li]
[li] The Custom Default Format[/li]
[li] The Defaults settings Opus uses when you first create a new Format.[/li][/ul][/li]
[li] Click the OK button on the Edit Format Dialog.[/li]
[li] Click the Apply button on the Preferences dialog to save your changes.[/li][/ol]

Or, did you mean that you would like to create a toolbar button (or File Type Context Menu item) that could accomplish the same thing?[ol][li] List a folder (or select it)[/li]
[li] Click a toolbar button (or a context menu item) to Copy the folder's Format[/li]
[li] List (or select) a different folder.[/li]
[li] Click a toolbar button (or a context menu item) to paste the folder's Format (or to assign this folder to the same Favorite Format in the context of the changes I suggested).[/li][/ol]

RegExps alone would give us the ability to apply formats to different hierarchy levels, since you could match the number of \ in a path to limit which levels a format is applied to.

That said, having an explicit hierarchy field, as you suggest, probably would be better. It's much easier to type 0|2 than to work out a regular expression which matches the desired folder, and folders 2 levels below it, but nothing else. So that idea does seem good to me.

Your example with particular folder names shows that regexps can still be very useful and, crucially, without them turning into really complex expressions that nobody can understand. Rexexps would also still work in that example when the folders were at differnet levels (e.g. the Depositions folder might not always be at level 2 but that doesn't matter as the regexp will still match).

I am guessing that both regexp matching and hierarchy/level matching are fairly easy to implement on top of the existing system. (I don't know the code so it is just a guess.)

So, yeah, I think the combination of a hierarchy field and regexp paths are a good idea. They make it possible to format music collections (and similar, and a bunch of other things) without being so complex that nobody outside of this thread would ever use them.

this discussion has gotten a bit over my head- but i think i know one way i could theoretically do it:

i could set a directory oriented folder format, then save that format as default, then let the content detection pick up on my mp3 folders. since no paticular format would be specified for K: then content detection would work,

but then since a directory oriented folder format was the default, everything else would appear as directory oriented.

then on other drives/folders, you could remove this directory oriented format by setting specific formats, at the drive level maybe??

That should work, yes. Of course it only works once as you can't have two default formats. :slight_smile: But if you only need it for this one situation then that solution should work fine.