Pubtech Fil Organizer. (file management software) (evaluation)
by Richard O. Mann
To judge from third-party developers' efforts, Microsoft really missed the mark with the Program Manager and File Manager in Windows 3.0. A dozen replacement file managers and shells (program launchers) - and a few products that do both - promise an improved Windows environment. One of the best of these, PubTech File Organizer 3.0, makes good on that promise.
File Organizer strives to simplify controlling the computer within Windows. As with many simplifications, it gets harder before it gets easier. If you have several hard disk and many files, for instance, the first screen you see after installing File Organizer is downright scary. The 320-meg hard drive on my Arche Legacy 386-33 is partitioned into ten drives with an assortment of installed printer drivers. The initial screen displays a double stack of drive icons along the right side and a row of printer driver icons across the bottom. A row of icons representing minimized applications runs above the printer icons. Of the 22 icons on the screen, none will run an actual program. Not even the Windows desktop accessories are available. To launch an application, click on the icon for the program's hard drive. That opens a window with a folder icon for each directory in the drive and icons for all the files in the root directory. If your desired executable file is in a subdirectory, click on its folder and find the appropriate file icon. Double-click, and you're running.
That's not easier than the Windows Program Manager. File Organizer provides three easier ways to launch a program: putting the program's icon on the desktop, assigning a special hot key to the program, or adding it to the pull-down applications menu. All work well.
If you put icons on the desktop, though, you'll fill your already-crowded desktop quickly. Instead, move to the Desktop Utilities function (which has its own separate manual) to create any number of custom desktops. For instance, you could have a desktop with Excel and its associated subprogram icons along with icons for your most frequently used spreadsheet files. Pull up your Excel desktop, and you're ready to work. Or if you have a regular task that involves several separate applications, create a desktop with those applications already running. Although creating the desktop files can take sometime, you have an endlessly customizable front end for Windows.
File Organizer has features, however, that you can enjoy right out of the box, most notably icon-based file manipulation. To move an entire subdirectory from one drive or directory to another, grab its folder and drag it to where you want it. Dragging a file to the trash can icon deletes the file. To print a file, drag its icon onto the printer icon. To start an application and load a file, drag the file icon onto the application icon. Almost any file management task is done solely by clicking on and moving icons.
For file management by icon, File Organizers is topnotch. As a Program Management replacement, it takes a shift of gears and extra time to set up an appropriate batch of customized desktops. If you persist, though, and thoughtfully customize, you'll have a Windows shell that suits you perfectly.