27 January 2012

WindowBlinds 7.30a Beta with fixes for Opus users

Stardock have released a new WindowBlinds beta update which includes fixes for the Opus-related issues which were mentioned here recently.

Here's their page with the full list of changes and download links for registered WindowBlinds users:

Many thanks to Stardock for the heads-up, and for the fixes as well, of course.

(I've also updated the previous post, but I thought it best to post a new headline so more people know that the update is available.)

The recent Opus beta also included some fixes/workarounds for cosmetic issues on our side, so these two updates (or later versions) are best used together.

21 January 2012

Directory Opus (Beta) + Video Guide

Directory Opus beta is now available for all Opus 10 users.

This is a preliminary, beta release. It fixes a number of issues reported since the release of Directory Opus 10.

Because this is beta version, translations may not be fully up-to-date and some English text may appear in non-English versions.

15 minute video about the new version:

New features and minor changes:

  • Added a new field button -- the Drive List field lets you have a drop-down list of drives on your toolbar. Similar to the Go DRIVEBUTTONS command but takes up much less space.
  • Added the CURDIR/S argument to the Go command. When this is used with a drive letter for the PATH argument (e.g. Go PATH C: CURDIR) it makes Opus go to the last used folder on that drive. When used with the DRIVEBUTTONS command, the generated drive letter buttons will have the CURDIR arg set for them, and will highlight to indicate which is the "current drive". In this way you can click from one drive to another, remembering the previously used folder on that drive. Opus remembers the current directory on each drive between sessions.
  • Pressing the Insert key now gives Total Commander-like file selection (the file with focus is selected/unselected, the focus moves to the next item automatically, and no other items are affected). Also added the Select NEXT=mark and Select PREV=mark commands which allow the same behaviour to be assigned to other keys.
  • Opus now detects problematic versions of WindowBlinds and warns the user if needed.
  • It's now possible to set a different background colour for the destination file display in Preferences / Display / Colors and Fonts.
  • Added a Disc number column to the Music category. If a music file indentifies itself as part of a multi-disc set, this column will display the disc number. You can use disc number as a term in the Advanced Find function.
  • Added Physical Width, Physical Height and Physical Size columns to the Image category in Folder Options. These fields indicate the "native" physical size of the image, and are calculated using the image resolution and its pixel size. If an image doesn't specify its resolution these columns will be blank.
  • Added Preferences / Miscellaneous / Advanced / image_res_units option to control the units (inches or centimetres) used to display the image resolution and physical size columns. If not set, the default unit specified by the image file itself will be used.
  • Hovering the mouse over the status bar's hidden item indicator now shows a tooltip listing the first few hidden items' names.
  • When exporting Opus to a USB device on a 64 bit system, as well as being able to choose to export either the 32 bit or 64 bit version, you can now choose to export both versions. The program will automatically select the appropriate version when running off USB.
  • In the FTP Quick Connect dialog, the Passive checkbox is now tri-state -- the "indeterminate" state means use the default value from Preferences, otherwise it overrides the default setting.
  • The folder tree behaviour, where double-clicking the expand/collapse icon on a folder also expands or collapses the first level of its child folders, is now a Preferences option.
  • Added noroot, subdir and noshort, three new modifiers for filepath codes.
    • noroot returns the path without the root. For example, {filepath|noroot} will turn C:\Windows\Notepad.exe into Windows\Notepad.exe.
    • subdir converts the path so it can be used as a sub-dir of some other path. For example, if {filepath} returns C:\Windows\Notepad.exe then {filepath|subdir} would return C;\Windows\Notepad.exe. Note that the colon has been replaced with a semicolon.
    • noshort prevents Opus from automatically shortening very long paths (over 260 characters). For example, {filepath|noshort}.
  • Opus can now view TIFF images produced by Microsoft Office Document Imaging and other tools which output files using the deprecated, old-style JPEG-in-TIFF format.
  • Added Preferences / Miscellaneous / Advanced /mp3_custom_comments option which lets you change the ID3v2 COMM tag description in order to make Opus compatible with other third-party MP3 tools you might be using. For example, MediaMonkey labels its COMM tag as Songs-DB_Custom1, so you would put this string into the mp3_custom_comments value to make Opus MP3 comments compatible with MediaMonkey.
  • Registration codes can now be copied out of the Licence Manager even when using an evaluation certificate (useful for bug reports).
  • Registration codes and email addresses are now always hidden in the Licence Manager when running from USB.
  • When sorting by size, "empty" folders now sort separately, and before, "0 bytes" folders. (Empty folders are completely empty. 0 byte folders may contain empty files or other empty or 0-byte folders.)
  • Added the option Preferences / Display / Options / Use visual styles to draw folder tabs. This lets you control whether or not Folder Tabs are drawn using Visual Styles, and is independent of whether or not the standard system colors are used for the tabs. If Visual Styles and custom colors are used at once, the Visual Style elements are dynamically re-colored. If you dislike how that looks, turn off either option.
  • Added the option Preferences / Miscellaneous / Advanced / button_editor_advanced, which tells Opus to always open button editors in advanced mode.
  • The Preferences / Display / Colors and Fonts page now informs you if the selection colors it shows are being overridden by the "use visual styles to draw items" option.
  • The name of the coverart.jpg file, which forces folders to be displayed as CD album thumbnails, can now be changed via Preferences / Advanced / cd_thumb_coverart_file.
  • Added an option to Preferences / File Displays / Filter Bar to automatically type * into the filter when activating an empty filter. This is most useful when partial-matching is turned off, since it lets you type *.txt instead of **.txt.
  • When adding/editing folder tabs via Preferences, the Name field now shows a cue banner telling you to leave it blank if you want the folder name to be used.
  • Button editors now open centred on their parent windows.

Bug fixes:

  • Fixed several issues with Explorer Replacement mode:
    • "Open Containing Folder" or similar commands in some programs could cause the calling program to hang or delay for up to 30 seconds, even after the Lister was opened. For example, the "Find Target" button in the Properties dialog.
    • With some other programs (e.g. uTorrent), an Explorer window could be opened as well as the Opus Lister.
    • Programs that attempt to open a folder and automatically select a particular item in the folder should now work correctly with Explorer Replacement mode.
  • The Copy ARCHIVE=single command always acted as if keepfolder was specified when multiple folders were selected.
  • The Relative Path column would switch to showing absolute paths in a quick search collection that had already been used once
  • dopusrt.exe /runstd previously only worked with limited-admin accounts (normal UAC elevation); it now also works with standard-user accounts (over-the-shoulder elevation).
  • The Set GROUPBY command now works correctly with the Extension (dirs) column (e.g. Set GROUPBY=extdirs).
  • If the Filter Bar was activated following a Windows Search via the FAYT field (by pressing =), the Escape key could not be used to dismiss the Filter Bar.
  • A button with the command Set Utility=TOGGLE (without a specified page) did not highlight when the output pane was open.
  • The jump list would display full paths instead of just the folder name if localization was enabled and the folder had a localized name (e.g. My Documents).
  • The Copy MOVE function could incorrectly remove a folder from the file display/tree if the folder move was actually unsuccessful. (The folder wasn't actually removed and was shown again after a refresh.)
  • A style set to load a library folder and change the view mode would sometimes (always?) not change the mode.
  • In Windows 7 (and possibly Vista?) selecting fonts in the virtual Fonts folder now correctly triggers the viewer panel to display a preview of the font.
  • The Filetype NEW command now delays any subsequent commands in the button until the inline rename is complete. This means the {$newfile} variable now works correctly if you change the name of the new item from the default.
  • In flat view, the file display border was incorrectly blocking drag & drop of a file from a nested folder to the current folder (i.e. the last component shown in the file display border).
  • EXIF data was lost from images when using the Convert Image command in a library path.
  • Fixed ZIP infinite recursion and crashes due to a folder in the zip file that contained one or more \ in its name.
  • The folder tree now correctly performs numeric sorting of folders underneath libraries.
  • The Replace dialog would switch the descriptions of the old and new files when copying shortcuts.
  • The folder tree could fail to detect changes to folders below My Documents, if a profile (sub-)folder was the current directory when the tree opened.
  • Fixed problem with SSL FTP reconnecting unnecessarily on every parent or tree directory change.
  • Nav Lock did not work correctly when the active file display was a library folder.
  • The Owner column was not available in Libraries.
  • Fixed a problem that could cause the archive context menu configuration to be cleared if you applied a Preferences change after filtering the Preferences dialog.
  • Fixed or worked around a number of cosmetic artefacts that only appeared in Opus when used with WindowBlinds. (Only visible via hex-edited WindowBlinds DLLs until Stardock release a fix on their side.)
  • The Find panel's Type drop-down can now be changed using the cursor, home and end keys without first opening the drop-down.
  • Combining the CreateFolder command with the {dlgstring} code could cause the new folder to be created inside another folder (if another folder was selected when the command was run).
  • Changes to Preferences pages were ignored for pages which were hidden by a filter when OK or Apply were clicked.
  • Changes to the Status Bar configuration were not saved if you toggled between the Single and Dual modes without manually applying each mode separately.
  • The text plugin in hex mode did not correctly highlight the matching string when searching and didn't redraw properly after hiding the quick-find panel.
  • When doing a Find by exact or maximum folder size (e.g. Type = Folders Only, Size = 0), Opus no longer matches folders whose sizes could not be exactly determined (e.g. because permissions prevented their inspection).
  • When doing a Find by folder sizes, there were situations where protected folders got Opus stuck in an endless loop. Similarly, when doing a recursive Rename, clicking the Full Preview button may have resulted in an endless loop if one of the sub-folders was protected.
  • Fixed problem with the Viewer panel not loading the file if it was selected by a Cursor Up immediately after entering a new folder.
  • The generation of file metadata was not being triggered by an mp3 field in the status bar if the file display was in a mode other than details/power/tiles (and so the field in the status bar wouldn't work unless an information column in the file display triggered the metadata to be read).
  • Fixed crash that could occur when right-clicking items in the drop-down Styles list.

10 January 2012

"Open containing folder" opening two windows

If you are seeing a problem where clicking "Open Containing Folder" (or similar) in other programs causes two Directory Opus windows to open, don't worry; a fix is on the way.

So far, we are aware of this affecting Opus when launched by newer versions of uTorrent, Firefox 9 and Visual Studio 2010.

It seems that all three programs made similar changes to the ways they open folders in their more recent versions, with the side-effect that Opus opens two windows instead of one.

The other programs are not doing anything wrong; it was just unexpected, and it took us a while to work out what was going on. We don't know if the changes in all three (and possibly other tools we don't know about) were simply coincidence or if they were driven by something external. (I have a theory that it may related to differences between WINE and Windows, but it's just a guess.) Either way, it was good that we had three different programs to test with.

We have been testing a fix internally for a few weeks and it is looking good for inclusion in the next beta update ( Keep an eye on this blog, or the Opus forum or twitter feeds, to know when the beta version is available for download, if you'd like to get early access to it.

New guide: "Opus: The Other Manual"

A new guide to using and configuring Directory Opus has been written by Andy, aka Playful on the Opus forums.

You can read it here, on A Site About Nothing:

The guide walks you through Andy's personal configuration of Opus and discusses how and why he got there.

As you can guess from the name, the guide is long and detailed. Don't let that put you off because it is also laid out in a way which makes it very easy to digest. Even if you just scroll down the page, skimming the headings and screenshots, you'll still learn something new about Opus.

Since Andy is from outside the GPSoftware camp, his guide will give you a fresh perspective on Opus. Andy's quest to configure Opus the way he wants is sure to provide you with new ideas and techniques that you can use yourself.

We owe Andy many boxes of kittens for his brilliant contribution to the Opus community!

Directory Opus now available

Directory Opus is now available as a free update for all Directory Opus 10 users.

You can download the update via the GPSoftware website, or use the Check For Program Updates command in the program's Help menu.

If you use the German (Deutsch) version of Opus, go to Haage & Partner's downloads page for the program update, Help file and additional resources translated into German. (For all other languages, use GPSoftware's site.)

The update includes everything from the 10.0.2.x beta versions:
The update also includes the following new change:
  • Fix for not being able to delete/rename PDF files open in the viewer with some PDF software installed. It wasn't our fault but we can work around it. (The ActiveX plugin now forces all .PDF preview handlers to open temporary copies, after discovering that Adobe's preview handler wasn't the only one which incorrectly locks files while displaying them.)

7 January 2012

WindowBlinds breaks Opus (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Neil from Stardock has posted a response in the comments below and also in the Stardock forums. I've copied my reply to both places as well. Looks like we're making progress, which is much appreciated.

UPDATE 2: From a support request I just handled and confirmed, we've also found that the current version of WindowBlinds breaks the Configuration Backup and Restore wizard in Opus, making it so that nothing happens when you click Next. There are probably other issues as well. As a general rule, if you're using WB with Opus right now and something doesn't work, try switching to Windows Aero.

UPDATE 3: List of related issues and their statuses: http://leo.dopus.com/dowb/index.html#summaries

UPDATE 4: Stardock have released WindowBlinds 7.30a Beta for registered WB users, with fixes to the Directory Opus issues (and a bunch more). Use it in conjunction with the beta (or later) versions of Opus. I'll post about this separately as well, so more people see it.

This post is borne of frustration, and it's a shame it has come to this, but for months now (maybe longer), Stardock's WindowBlinds software has been breaking Directory Opus in ways that make it look like Opus is at fault when the problems are entirely caused by WindowBlinds.

As the videos below show in detail, these aren't just the kind of cosmetic issues which WindowBlinds causes with a lot of software (including standard tools like Windows Explorer).

WindowBlinds explicitly detects Opus by its executable name (dopus.exe) and, in its latest version, does something (we have no idea what or why) to Opus which completely breaks any standard file dialog which Opus tries to open. The dialogs simply do not appear and Opus looks broken.

(If you rename any other program to dopus.exe then WindowBlinds will break that program as well, so it cannot be anything wrong with Opus itself.)

Anyone who already had WindowBlinds installed and decided to try Opus would think Opus was faulty due to problems that do not exist without WindowBlinds.

Stardock have known that WindowBlinds causes problems with Opus for at least six months. We proved to them that various problems seen when WindowBlinds and Opus are used together are caused by WindowBlinds, and we even demonstrated how the WindowBlinds DLLs could be modified to solve most of the problems. Even though these issues are entirely due to WindowBlinds, we did all the investigation, provided the proof and explained how Stardock could fix their own code.

Despite giving them the solution on a plate, Stardock have done nothing. (Worse, in fact: They released an update which breaks Opus even more than it did before.)

Stardock do not seem to care. Their shoddy software is making our software look broken to anyone who doesn't know the details, but they do nothing. The barely-supported product that they sell is damaging our product's reputation, through no fault of our own. We have run out of patience and want everyone who has used the two programs together to know the full story.

I have made a series of four videos about this, embedded below. These explain the symptoms, prove where the fault is and show how Stardock could easily fix things. The last video, the most informal of the set, closes with a brief look at problems that WindowBlinds causes with other programs, like Windows Explorer.

A tool like WindowBlinds, which modifies the operating system and individual programs in this way, needs to be updated more proactively than Stardock are doing. A tool like that, and which hasn't really even been updated and tested to work properly with Windows 7 (see the last video), should not be given away for free, let alone sold for money.

(All videos are available in 720p resolution, with optional subtitles.)

Part 1 of 4: The symptoms.

Part 2 of 4: Whose fault is it?

Part 3 of 4: Fixing WindowBlinds.

Part 4 of 4: WindowBlinds breaks other things.