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                        DirOpus 5.5 Review: Part 1
                            By:  Jason Compton 
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When DirOpus 5 showed up, I was skeptical.  I'd gotten along just fine
under the WB2/3 system and was comfortable using DirWork 1.62, and later 2,
for my file management purposes.  I installed DOpus 5 and played with it a
bit, but it just didn't have a lasting appeal for me.  "Too much memory
use" I said.  "Not really my style." I said.  I put it aside.

Now it's back in my face again and I can't ignore it.  DirOpus 5.5 is here,
and I've given in.  I'm not going to fight it anymore.

DirOpus 4 was quite popular as a file manager akin to its contemporaries,
DirWork and DiskMaster, among others.  The basic idea for those of you who
somehow have lived without any of these tools is that you get two
side-by-side directory listers, and can copy, delete, picture view, LHA or
un-LHA, whatever you like, between the two sides.  They're often great
timesavers and are in general very convenient to use.

DirOpus 5 was a major departure from this system.  Instead of being a
lister tool that you run in a window or on a separate screen like all the
rest, it was going to go farther.  It was going to make you throw Workbench
entirely out the window.  Preposterous, you say?  Nope.  DirOpus 5 can
replace your workbench, backdrops and all.  You access your directories as
you would have under Workbench, but instead of the fairly limited power
Workbench gives you to manipulate files, you have complex button bars, docs
full of commands, and other new goodies at your command.

As I alluded to earlier, it doesn't come for free.  My less-than-elaborate
boot system puts up DirOpus 5 on an 800x600x256 color (Retina Z3
CyberGraphX) screen and leaves me with about 11.5 out of 14 megs free when
all is said and done.  This is fine by me, as memory is so cheap it's not
worth complaining about anymore.  But it does mean that those systems with
under 6 megs of memory are going to feel the burn at one point or another.
It is possible to run DirOpus as a separate program rather than as a
Workbench replacement, but I so far haven't found a reason that affects me
personally.

In Part 2 of this review, we'll go into some of Opus 5.5's more endearing
configurability properties.  For now, I want to look at a few of the
advantages immediately available to users who don't have the time, desire,
or skill to do in-depth configurations on their file manager/Workbenches.

LHA: Opus, like any good file manager, knows how important LHA is to users.
But the way it de-archives files is quite interesting.  You can de-archive
to a new, separate window which acts as a temporary lister for the files in
the LHA archive.  You then can selectively copy out the files you need for
your purposes, in case you don't want everything in the LHA archive.  This
is significantly easier than the same operation done from the shell.

OpusFTP was released as an add-on previously, but is now an integrated part
of the DirOpus 5.5 package.  A little innocuous button in the default
toolbar reads "FTP", and if you're running any sort of TCP stack or clone
(MLink), you're in business.  Opus will let you open any FTP site,
anonymous or otherwise, as a standard lister window.  From there, you can
carry out just about any operation, from simply copying files to or from
the site to renaming to deleting and viewing and reading.  There have been
other implementations of this scheme (notably, the FTPMount device) but
this system feels faster.  It is worth noting that I've had some difficulty
in getting the OpusFTP program to actually quit.

Opus brings a lot of new options to the Workbench.  Besides replacing other
ToolManager-style dock and button bars, it enables you to keep your
left-out Workbench icons, as well as offering the ability to create
Windows-style Program Groups.  Some may find this useful for organization's
sake, or to make the system more palatable to a Windows user who needs to
the system for certain purposes.

None of this is really as impressive as one particular advantage over
standard Workbench (and most directory management utility) operations, and
that's the introduction of multithreading.  In the Workbench, you're more
than welcome to multitask in another program or on another screen if you
have a big task going in the WB, but you're not able to, say, start up
three different copy commands.  DirOpus 5.5 multithreads everything (each
lister is its own task), so you never have to wait for something to finish
before proceeding with the rest of your work again.  There is of course a
speed hit, but I find DirOpus very capable under a 4000T standard 040/25
setup.

Now, I'm not at all against the shell.  I use it quite a bit.  But for mass
operations that don't necessarily follow any particular wildcard pattern,
having a good GUI way to go about them is a great benefit, and DOpus 5.5
provides an excellent medium.  Next time, we'll take a look at some more
specific configuration options for DirOpus 5.5.

DirOpus 5.5 by Jonathan Potter
Published by GPSoftware
PO Box 570
Ashgrove, Qld
Australia 4060
++61 7 33661402 voice/fax
zzgperry@mailbox.uq.oz.au e-mail
http://agnus.livewire.com.au/gpsoft/