Choosing a program -- how to decide, which one is the best?
The quality and the level of comfort, when working with a computer, is largely determined by the set of programs (including different tools and small utilities) that you use in your work. It's their functionality, flexibility and interface that directly influence your productivity and the results of your work.
While "major-league" programs are more or less the same on every computer, though some people have their favorite Internet browser or anti-virus program, the utilities are much more individual. This type of software is loved, bragged about, and recommended. "Hey, have you heard about a small program that does this and this?"
But if computer is merely a tool for you, especially if you are a developer, then finding such utilities is critical. You probably closely examine each, looking for the ones that will increase your productivity and simplify your life. After you have tried a new program recommended by somebody, you decide whether to use it or uninstall it. While a lot of programs get deleted, the ones that were deemed worthy park at hard-drive for years, sitting in the system tray with other utilities.
Each advanced computer user has such programs, like the ones that process html code on the fly to cut out banners and counters, or like the utilities that remind about planned events. But there is a separate category that stands alone called file managers.
Windows File Managers -- what they are and what they do
File manager is a special program that can perform a variety of file related tasks — copying, moving, deleting, editing text, offering more flexibility with launching files. For many users it substitutes operating system shell, being the interface, through which he or she works with OS and other programs
The first and the most famous file manager was Norton Commander, with its genius two-side panel interface, loved by many users for almost a decade. Then other, professional-oriented file managers came out, the ones that could work with multiple files simultaneously, use keyboard macros and with a rich set of document editing options.
But they were born in the DOS era and stayed there. New file managers for Windows came out. Some of them were console based, ignoring opportunities graphic user interface offers. Others were not very reliable. Third group of programs was not flexible enough or the interface was very ugly. I'd say 16 color icons (when 16-bit color has long been the standard) is too much.
Luckily, there is one Windows file manager that stands out. It's called Frigate and was developed by Helmsman. The first version came out in 2001 and the program has been continuously improving ever since. The last version is Frigate 3 and it was created from the ground up on an entirely new foundation. The internal architecture of the program was entirely changed. Frigate is truly an excellent module-based file manager with great plug-in support features. While other file managers use mostly modules developed by other companies, Frigate users can turn off and/or unload almost any part, with the exception of the core. If you don't need a picture viewer — turn it off. If you don't need any component, like the clock or volume control, then there is no need for them to take your computer system resources. At least, Frigate's developers strongly believe so.
This approach to program's architecture also makes it very stable. If anything happens to any module (which occurs very infrequently), it won't affect Frigate's work in any way.
Frigate also has very pleasant appearance (you can verify it by looking at screenshots) and a flexible interface. Another great feature is a capability to open as many panels as you need. These panels are easily accessed by pressing tabs, which are located in the upper part of the program window.
All utilities are tightly integrated into Frigate, which tremendously increases the level of convenience when using the program. All plug-ins and utilities are launched either as a new tab (editors, viewers, built-in browser) or as a floating window, which, if necessary, can be minimized (moving/copying window, calculator and so on).
All utilities that come with Frigate are quite beneficial to developers and professional users. It's always handy to have graphic file viewer available, see pictures as miniatures, plus various viewers and editors and, naturally, 16-bit ones.
The features worth noticing are:
- Structured notes where you can store any text, presented as a tree. This is great for working with notes, gathering information, accumulating feedback, making plans and so on.
- There is a built-in browser that can work offline, so you can enjoy browsing local HTML documents ad-free.
- Another great feature is a viewer and editor for Excel files, which works through own plug-in, not OLE. A similar feature is planned for working with the Word documents.
- Add to this synchronization of files and folders, which comes in extremely handy for comparing or searching for differences in two versions of the same file.
- Size manager visually displays disk space distribution by files and
But that's not all. There also are a picture converter, FTP client, slideshow builder, support for 11 most popular compression formats, clock, volume control, quick access to folders and favorites feature, SFTP client (that works though Total Commander's file plug-ins), option to work with DBF, and much more. The volume and the number of features are really quite astounding.
New advanced features of the evolving File Manager
Recently, a new handy feature has been added. It allows you to manage copying tasks, schedule them and set the order. This option is a real life saver when copying large files over local area network or copying files from several locations to a floppy or other «slow» storage media.
Every plug-in featured in Frigate has the essential features that most users require. If you need more options, you can download a third part plug-in and use it instead. But in reality most folks don't like fancy applications that have so many features that it makes it almost impossible to run the program efficiently. Most users opt to work with native plug-ins exclusively. Some substitute one or two plug-ins.
Frigate has been noticed for its powerful text editor. There is syntax highlighting for different languages. Right now, there are 35 colored schemes that support AWK, PHP, C, SQL, HTML, CSS and other popular languages. If you don't have a scheme you need — simply make it yourself with a special built-in tool. You don't have to know anything other then the syntax rules. Another convenient feature is support for different keyboard layouts, among which are Windows, Borland, Visual Studio, Brief, Epsilon. You can also change editor background and insert any picture you want. Spell checking is done based on Microsoft Office database; quick templates speed up work by letting you insert «pre-made» code fragments. Vertical blocks and vertical selections, both supported by Frigate, are a heaven-sent gift to programmers who need to cut out or move code fragment.
Frigate can export text files to HTML or RTF, saving the color scheme, which is a huge plus when publishing or printing source code or similar materials. The editor comes with a special navigator feature (method, function, class) that lets you quickly jump to any part of the edited file. The extended HTML support feature offers floating hints and tag insertion. This is of great assistance, when working with HTML documents and PHP scripts. The result (static) can be viewed immediately after editing is finished in the built-in browser, which can be launched by pressing hotkeys. The list of encoding formats supported by Frigate includes Win1251, Unicode, Dos, Koi8, Mac, Iso. You can switch between encoding formats as necessary. The program even works with Unix and Mac text files.
If one tallies up the cost of all programs that you would have to buy to do what Frigate does, the total might look a little scary. If your company is budget sensitive, Frigate makes perfect sense, since you are saving up to 90%
Frigate is a tool created by the developers and for the developers. Really, no one knows what developers need better but the developers themselves. The C language was created by the programmers for the programmers and turned out to be hugely popular. We are confident that Frigate is to follow this path with your support.
Another uniqueness of Frigate is that it is totally open to its users. The site offers newsletters and forums where users communicate with the creators «face to face«. This way the product gets improved and bugs get reported and fixed fast.
Andrew Sergeev in one of his interviews said there is a simple algorithm of assessing all suggestions. The team estimates the work it is likely to take to implement the change, guesses the size of the audience who might need that feature and looks how organic it is to Frigate. While there has been a lot of new additions, the developers have made a strategic decision not to add anything that is not windows file manager related. That's why there is no address book or planner. There are plenty of excellent third party products already available on the market that do that.
You can get the latest version of Frigate from the official product page. The Lite version is freeware. The standard and professional versions are available for 30-day free evaluation period. That's long enough to find out what Frigate is about and how it can help you.
Written by Daniil Kaltchenko
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