Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 133 / SEPTEMBER 1991 / PAGE 129

Beckertools for Windows. (utility program) (evaluation)
by Carol Holzberg

Some computing enthusiasts regard Windows 3.0 with near reverence. Yet recent converts have been quick to point out that Windows' File Manager leaves much to be desired. Sure, you get conventional file and disk management options such as Copy, Move, Delete, Rename, Find files, Edit text, and Format. Windows' File Manager also launches applications. However, it handles these tasks in a less than elegant way. Even Microsoft acknowledges there is room for improvement in File Manager, and the company promises a performance upgrade by year's end, when Windows 3.1 ships.

If you seek file manager relief now, don't despair. BeckerTools may be just what you need to overcome File Manager's deficiencies. Once installed, it offers dozens of disk and file options previously unavailable under Windows. For example, you can undelete files and directories, read disks in a single pass to make multiple copies, do selective backups, pack (compress) or unpack specified files and directories, find duplicate files, create a bootable System disk, and much more. Advanced users will appreciate the specialized hexadecimal, sector, and file editors. Any one of these options may be selected with the point and click of a mouse.

Setup is a breeze! BeckerTools installs directly from File Manager or from the DOS prompt. The application (along with an aesthetically pleasing screen saver called STARLITE) can be configured to load automatically with Windows. Alternatively, you can disable automatic loading and elect to have BeckerTools and its screen save sidekick added to the Accessories or Applications group.

The first time you view the BeckerTools window, you may experience a bit of a shock. The screen could be a clip from a movie titled Nightmare on Icon Street. I counted 65 3-D icons, not including scroll arrows and boxes and title bar boxes. Luckily, whenever the cursor points at an icon in the Toolbox area, the program displays a brief description of that icon at the bottom of the screen. For example, aim at the icon labeled Info, and the bottom line message reads Display directory information. Zero in on the icon with the large red X, and the bottom line discloses Unselect all files and directories. Toolbox options can also be invoked from pull-down menus (on the menu bar) or with keyboard command shortcuts.

The BeckerTools workspace is divided into five areas. The icon-rich Toolbox and two windows depicting the contents of Source and Target directories occupy most of the screen. A menu bar and two additional information fields (one showing current source and target paths, the other displaying user and system messages or icon descriptions) complete the lineup. Unfortunately, the information line at the bottom of the screen displays icon descriptions only for the Toolbox area and not for the Source or Target window areas.

Spend some time with BeckerTools, and navigating the workspace presents little difficulty. To complete a task, you must first set up a Source directory. This tells the program where to look when you click on a Toolbox icon.

Next, establish a target path. Then select an icon (tool) from the Toolbox window. In this way, copying or moving files and directories from one disk or directory to another is reduced to a few simple mouse clicks. Several tools--such as Delete or Rename files and directories, Create new subdirectory, Display directory tree, and Format disks--do not require a target path.

BeckerTools offers online help and a choice of three menu displays. To minimize confusion, new users should select Beginner. Seasoned veterans of Windows-type interfaces may opt for the Intermediate feature level or Advanced (complete) menu display. Whatever option you run BeckerTools under, it performs flawlessly.

You can launch an application by selecting executable programs from a Source directory, double-clicking to pull up the Quick menu, and pressing Launch. Alternatively, you can launch as many as ten applications via a user-configurable list available from the Applications menu.

As a substitute for Windows' File Manager, BeckerTools offers a host of different utilities designed to please novices as well as techies. And since it does such a nice job of launching applications, you might even prefer it to Windows' Program Manager.