ZTreeWin Review

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The Age Green Guide - 22 February 2001

Bleeding Edge - by Charles Wright
Bleeding Edge blames it on Windows Explorer.  Microsoft's housekeeping utility encourages you to regard your hard disk as a well-ordered filing cabinet, full of neat little folders and tidy files.  Just drag this icon across the screen and pop it here, or maybe there, it suggests, and everything's as neat as a pin.  It isn't neat.  In fact the average hard disk isn't really hard.  It's flabby with digital scraps whose greatest desire is to become a form of data soup.  Clusters want to get lost.  Files yearn to be fragmented.  Files with .tmp and .bak extensions digitally reproduce themselves, soaking up gigabytes of space, so that one day, when you least expect it, your hard disk is completely full.  Your only defence against hard disk disharmony is a powerful file management utility which, Windows Explorer isn't.  It's easy to use, and for basic things like moving and copying files, it's adequate.  But if you want to be able quickly to find your files, individually or in bulk, search them, copy, move and rename them, change their attributes, archive them and see immediately how much space they're taking up etc.  - in short do all of the things that are required to earn the good hard disk housekeeping seal of approval - you'll need something with a lot more power.  Back in the dim mists of time, when Bleeding Edge first started using PCs, we used to use a program called XTree.  It had many incarnations - XTree Pro, XTree Pro Gold, XTree Gold - before it was released in a Windows version called XTree Win.  XTree Win was possibly the most ironically named program in the history of computing.  It should have been called XTree Lost, because it ditched most of the useful features that made the original version so popular, and was ignominiously made XTinct by Symantec.  Your correspondent will report on this sad history in next Tuesday's Age I.T.  section.  Although XTree operated in the DOS environment, it didn't use DOS commands.  It had a basic, no-nonsense windows interface, and it used a series of key combinations that allowed you to perform the most difficult file operations with one or two keystrokes, with blinding speed.  Alas the 640kB memory limitation of DOS rendered the original 16-bit version of XTree pretty ineffective in the Windows era.  It simply couldn't handle all those files.  And Windows Long File Names stumped it completely.  XTree might have remained XTinct, had it not been for Kim G. Henkel, a boy from Boronia, who produced and markets a shareware XTree look-alike called ZTreeWin (http://www.ztree.com), which has just been updated with a new beta version that is pretty much the final build of an updated version 1.50.  It's a full 32-bit program, handles long filenames, has no apparent memory limitations, having logged more than 4 million files on a single hard drive, and provided you're prepared to spend a little time configuring it and learning its simple command structure, will allow you to keep your head above the data soup.  ZTree uses an "inverted hierarchical structure", or an upside down tree, in which all your directories are presented as branches.  As you move the cursor onto each branch in the directory window, all the files are represented in a window below.  Press the Enter key, and you're in the file window, where you can perform whatever operations you want.  Press F (for file specification), and enter the name of a file, or wildcards - *.txt for instance - and it will instantly filter out all but the files you're interested in.  If the file you're after isn't in that directory, simply press G (for Global), and you'll be presented with every file matching the specifications across your entire hard disk.  Press F8, and you get a split display, which gives you two directories on screen, and the ability to compare directories and speed up file operations.  Follow the instructions in the readme.1st file that is included with the program, and enter the path of your archiving program into your autoexec.bat file, and ZTree will allow you to tag a batch of files for archiving and automatically complete the job, simply by press the Ctrl F5 combination, and following the prompts.  On the subject of archiving programs, Bleeding Edge has recently been trialling the new PKZip Suite (http://www.pkware.com) to which we were able to upgrade for $US19.  It gives you PKZIP 4.0 for Windows, PKZIP 4.0 Command Line, PKZIP Explorer 1.1, PKZIP Attachments, and PKZIP Plug-In, and allows you to do things like digitally sign your Zip files for security.  We can recommend it highly.  ZTree also uses the TFC file compare program written by Daniel Schroeder to compare two files.  Make sure you configure ZTree correctly, using the Alt F10 combination, and start the program from the ZTWIN.BAT file.  If you then right click on the MS-DOS icon at the top left of the DOS box in which the program runs, you will be able to adjust the properties, and choose a suitable icon.  Bleeding Edge uses the ZTW13.ICO file available from the ZTree win icon gallery at http://www.ztree.com/html/ztreewin.htm You can communicate with the program's author and other users at the independent ZTree fan page at http://www.serve.com/vico/about.html You can download the product free and trial it, but if you decide to use it, please register.  When you consider that at one time XTree Gold cost $245, it's a bargain at $US30.  Depending on the exchange rate Australian users can pay slightly less ($A55) at http://www.zedtek.com/download/ORDER-AU.TXT cwright@theage.fairfax.com.au

copyright (c) 2004 Zedtek, Inc.

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