"A friend is someone you wouldn't shoot unless you had to."
Man on bus, quoted by Ray Mills, The Daily Star
SOFTWARE REVIEW: SELECTRIC ALTERNATIVE FILE SELECTOR
(AND SOMEWHAT OF A COMPARISON WITH "UIS III", I'M AFRAID)
by Richard Karsmakers
As I'm used to working with the best of file selectors (I am a
"Univeral Item Selector III" affectionado) I am not adroit at
summarizing these programs' capabilities. I tend to take most
things for granted which usually results in some fairly major
features not being mentioned at all.
What I did here, basically, was translating the "features" part
of the manual. So some of "Selectric"'s features are the
following. As this review pretends to be somewhat of a
comparative review, I have added (!) behind a feature which is
not present in "UIS III", or (?) where I don't really know.
* Shows not only the date, but also the length and date of a file
simultaneously on your screen.
* Can display as many files as your memory allows, and this is
dynamically reserved according to the amount of memory actually
needed. It is claimed to work with 1000 files without problems
* It marks the slider positions of the hierarchically superior
* Real-time sliding is possible.
* The main dialog can be controlled almost fully by keyboards.
When "Let 'Em Fly!" is installed this is also valid for all
other dialogs (!).
* When the Auto-locator is switched on, one only needs to type in
the first character of a file name. It will then search the
first fitting filename and select it. When an application
specifies a default file name, it also tries to localise that
* It is possible to select multiple entries through the Cookie
Jar. The application from which it is called must understand
the protocol, however (!).
* Instead of just "*" and "?" wildcards, so-called globbing
(interesting word that I couldn't translate and that may or may
not be English already) is supported. This means that entries
like "*CRAP*.[A-Z]??" are possible (!).
* Five different sorting algorithms are supported. Also, the
sort order can be inverted, whereas a numerical sort algorithm
can also be switched on (! - at least not completely).
* Ten extensions and paths can be installed.
* Extensive file operations are supported (including copying.
show info, create folder, display drive info, find, touch,
Most of these function recursively, i.e. one can copy an order
INCLUDING all files and orders in there.
* "Let 'Em Fly!" is supported in many keyboard shortcuts and
flying dialogs (!).
* A 'window full' icon in the file selector allows you to select
all files with one operation (!).
* Multiple files can be selected by the 'rubber box' principle,
even up to you dragging this rubber box (which is invisible, by
the way) outside the file selector boundaries where you will
automatically scroll up or down and select.
* It is possible to select whether you want a folder to be
entered either by clicking (which is normal) or double clicking
(which is abnormal) (!).
* Multiple files can be selected either by dragging an invisible
rubber box, or by clicking on it while pressing the SHIFT key
or the RIGHT mouse button additionally.
* A status line mentions byte size info on the selected file(s).
On default this already states the amount of memory the files
in the current path take up (excluding folders). By clicking on
this bar, and keeping the mouse button depressed, it will state
the amount of free storage room on the current device
(including a percentage or, whent he RIGHT mouse button is
pressed as well, a bar graph) (!).
* It uses so-called "BeamUps" (which are 'pop-ups') where
multiple items can be selected. This is usually valid for the
predefined paths and extensions, the drives (devices), and some
other things. These BeamUps appear when clicking the mouse
pointer on shaded buttons. Once you're in a BeamUp, they are
controllable by keyboard.
* Fairly extensive "Disk Info" function, displaying bar graph,
percentage disk free, bytes used/free/total, and the ability to
change the disk label name (!).
* Options can be installed: Display hidden files yes/no, display
filenames in lower/upper case (!), switch auto-locator on/off
(!), switch folder-entry-double/single-click (!), save and
restore system paths on/off (!)
* Works on all ST/TT systems, in any resolution you would care to
use (they emphasize this somewhat, so I guess most others
wouldn't work then).
Note one: "Let 'Em Fly" is a small AUTO-folder program similar
to "FormDoIt" that was featured on a previous ST NEWS disk. It
extends the GEM dialog box routines to allow keyboard shortcuts
and that sort of thing. A really neat program.
Note two: 'Globbing'? What the f*@k is 'Globbing'? Well, it's
basically a great sort of thing that is best described by some
examples. [AB] would, for example, stand for "A or B". [A-Z]
would, for example, stand for "A to Z inclusive". The exponent
sign can be used to invert what you want, so [^A-D] would stand
for "Everything except A to D inclusive". A rather interesting
example that I mention here because it may succeed in boggling
your mind a little is "*[A-Z]B?[^0-9]*.P[0-2]?". Unfortunately,
however, the entire string may not be longer than 16 characters
(or 22 when using "Find"). Tough.
Note three: The advanced sorting methods. Of course you get the
logical ones that you have in the desktop as well: "by name",
"by extension", "by date" and "by size". It adds "unsorted" to
that. The "reverse" sort option can be switched on as well, which
can be handy and which no other file selector has. The "numeric"
sort method can be switched on, too. An example without this
turned on would be:
With the "numeric" thing switched on you would get:
Which is a very handy thing.
When reading the features, what it basically gets down to is
that you have some sort of "Universal Item Selector III" that is
loads cheaper, has some versatile extra functions, and that is
quite different to use.
I have the thing (i.e. "Selectric") installed in my system
right now and the only thing that irritated me so far (but it
irritates me rather mightily) is that I'm used to use function
keys F1-F10 to jump to the paths I need to be in. Needless to
say, this doesn't do the same in "Selectric". So, obviously, in
order to work properly with this other file selector one would
have to get down to actually unlearn "UIS III" and learn
Instead of the function keys I mentioned above, "Selectric" uses
ALTERNATE combinations with numeric keys. Though two key presses
instead of just one, this is hardly more intricate and I grew
used to it myself within half a minute or so.
What about the other key presses? I guess it may be useful to
make a list of the keyboard shortcuts that "Selectric" supports.
These should allow you to make a fair account of what you have to
do to perform certain operations.
RETURN Ends the dialog and gives the selected
filename. If the selected name is a folder,
it will be opened.
UNDO Same as selecting "Cancel".
HELP Display copyright information.
ALT+A-Z Changes drive.
ALT+1-0 Selects one of the ten preset paths. When you
add SHIFT, it defines them.
ALT+ESC Selects the original path.
CTRL+1-0 Selects one of the preset extensions. When
you add SHIFT, it defines them.
CTRL+ESC Select the original extension.
CTRL+F1-F10 Goes one to ten directories up (comparable
with the "Mac Path").
CTRL+A Selects or deselects all entries in the
CTRL+BACKSPACE Closes the current folder.
CTRL+SPACE Reads the directory anew. NO media change,
F1 Opens the "Drives" BeamUp.
F2 Opens the "Mac Path" BeamUp.
F3 Opens the "Extension" BeamUp.
F4 Opens the "Sort by" BeamUp.
F5 Opens the "Path" BeamUp.
F10 Opens the "Functions" BeamUp.
SHIFT+F1 Executes a forces Media Change.
SHIFT+F3 Calls the extension dialog.
SHIFT+F5 You can now enter the path manually.
CURSOR ACTIONS IN THE DIALOG
CRSR UP Inverted entry one up. If none, it will
appear at the bottom.
CRSR DOWN Inverted entry one down. If none, it will
appear at the top.
SHIFT+CRSR UP One 'page' up.
SHIFT+CRSR DOWN One 'page' down.
CTRL+CRSR UP One entry up, but inverted entry stays
CTRL+CRSR DOWN One entry down, but inverted entry stays
HOME Go to top entry.
SHIFT+HOME Go to bottom entry.
KEYS WITHIN THE BEAMUPS
RETURN Selects the currently inverted entry.
ESCAPE Leaves the BeamUp without doing anything.
UNDO See ESCAPE.
CRSR UP One entry up. If at top, appears at bottom.
CRSR DOWN One entry down. If at bottom, appears at top.
HOME Puts cursor at top entry.
CTRL+C Calls the copy function.
CTRL+D Delete files.
CTRL+F Find file(s).
CTRL+I Display file or folder information.
TAB See CTRL+I (for "Gemini" freaks).
CTRL+M Move files.
CTRL+N New file or folder.
CTRL+O Calls the "Options dialog".
CTRL+Y Displays drive information.
CTRL+H Sort by name.
CTRL+J Sort by date.
CTRL+K Sort by size.
CTRL+L Sort by extension.
CTRL+X No sort.
CTRL+R Reverse sort.
* There are multiple pros. Just check at the paragraph headed
"The Features" again. It's truly extensive. Especially the bits
it can do that "UIS III" can't are nice (like this globbing
stuff, the program remembering slider positions, and it using
the current operating system paths for the devices).
* It's very fast and intuitive.
* "UIS III" can do some things that "Selectric" can't:
1) It is not possible to increase the number of files that can
be displayed if you happen to have a larger screen
2) You cannot display several rows of files on the screen at
the same time.
3) You cannot save the options or copy/move files from within
a program that hogs memory, for example "First Word Plus".
4) You cannot delete/move files that are read-only (an alert
box for confirmation would be neat here, after which it
could be done anyway).
5) Read-only files are not marked in the list.
6) No separate "rename" function (this has to be done through
the "Show Info" option).
7) The time of a file's creation is not displayed.
8) You cannot display a simple text file on screen or printer.
* The auto-locator does not allow use of wild cards.
* I find the keyboard shortcuts for sorting methods somewhat
unlogical (though this is sortof like splitting hairs).
* Slider positions are only remembered for one drive at a time.
When switching devices (also on hard disk), the ones on other
devices are lost (unlike "Tempus", which does this rather
"Selectric" is an excellent, extensive and well-designed
utility, definitely worth its shareware fee of 30 German marks.
If you have not yet acquired an alternative file selector I would
wholeheartedly advise it to anyone. It beats hell out of most
other Public Domain/Shareware alternative file selectors I know,
and I needn't even mention the ultimately crummy Atari file
selector which is totally useless.
For users of "UIS III" such as myself, however, the program may
not offer enough new things to justify switching to it,
especially with the "cons" I have mentioned above that relate to
stuff "UIS III" can do and "Selectric" can't. When updates of
"Selectric" become available, however, I am sure that its author
will have made most of the above "cons" disappear.
The program is available from the address below and from most
decent Public Domain libraries. Documentation is in German. If
you get it from the author directly, you should send a disk and
sufficient International Reply Coupons so that he can actually
send it back to you. If you are stuck with the Atari file
selector it may be a good idea just to send the man 30 German
marks right away so that you'll become a registered user.
Unter Krahnenbäumen 52-54
D-5000 Köln 1
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.