Scor­pio News


July–September 1987 – Volume 1. Issue 3.

Page 61 of 67

More Useful Programs

A course I use a number of other utilities and programs, some of which I find highly recommendable.

One I find invaluable is XTREE version 2.0 by Executive Systems. This is a sort of super SWEEP, very useful for burrowing about in the subdirectories on my winnie and generally shovelling stuff from one place to another. It has all the usual facilities including the ability to execute and run programs from within itself, and to ‘view’ text files, whilst removing all the funny control flags from most of the more usual test processors. About the only thing I don’t like about it is that it uses the f1 key to exit. In my experience, the f1 key is used by most programs for ‘HELP’.

Another, a public domain one this time, is the file archiving suite by Phil Kate, PKARC and PKXARC. It has all the advantages of LU and NULU with none of the disadvantages. A major feature is that it ‘squeezes’ the files as it goes. As it analyses the files for squashing, it automatically makes a choice of one of four different ‘squeeze’ algorithms to achieve the greatest packing density. Having re-squeezed a number of CP/M text files which were previously squashed with NSWEEP2 end then archived under RULU I found that PKARC made very significant savings indeed. The only problem is that it is command line driven and to that extent, awkward and inflexible.

Directory programs are ten a penny. Why Microsoft didn’t make the DIR command do an alphabetical sort I don’t know, except perhaps to keep all those people who delight in writing directory programs happy. The one I use is ZSPD by an anonymous author. It does what I want including the ability to look at the .ARC files produced by the archiver to see what’s inside. I made use of this program to do the hard bits in my rather cobbled together ‘DAVE’S MESSY, SLOW, OVER LARGE CATALOGUE PROGRAM’ which I wrote over last Christmas to relieve boredom and an overdose of mother-in-law.

The DRH Catalog Program

On the subject of my cataloguer, I wrote it because I couldn’t find anything half decent knocking around in the public domain (I’m not saying there isn’t one, simply that I haven’t found one). I based the idea on a cross between the best parts of the original Ward Christensen CAT program and the later FATCAT. The original CAT idea is a little too simplistic for use with a machine which can use subdirectories and archives, whilst I found FATCAT so difficult to use (to mention nothing of its size) that you might as well not bother. So my cataloguer is simple to use, whilst doing everything I want it to do. As to its size – that’s a different matter. I recognized that cataloguing is a database management problem, so I wrote in compiled dBASE. There’s only one problem with the Clipper compiler I use, and that is it generates 120K of code just to say:

@ 10,5 SAY "Hello"

If you tell the compiler to generate native code (which goes faster), it’s even bigger! So the cataloguer stands at about 150K. That’s uncomfortably big for a disk based machine unless you keep the cataloguer and its database on s separate disk, but is comfortably lost in amongst the other 2.5 Mbyte of system utilities I’ve got knocking about on my winnie. The main thing is that it does what I want. It’s still got couple of bugs that need fixing when I get round to it, but it goes.

A nice thing about fully compiling dBASE is that once you’ve paid for the compiler (which I have, fully legit – honest), there’s no ‘kick-back’ to Nantucket, who wrote it. Far better than Ashton-Tate’s pseudo compiler which is not only incredibly slow, but they’ll charge you £65.00 for every copy of dBRUN which you would need if you sold the finished product.

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