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Less is More: The Orthodox File Manager (OFM) Paradigm

by Dr Nikolai Bezroukov

Content : Foreword : Ch01 : Ch02 : Ch03 : Ch04 : Ch05 : Ch06 : Ch07 : OFM1999 : OFM2004 : OFM2012


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CN -- Connect or IBM HandShaker

CN (also known as Connect or The IBM HandShaker) is a freeware product written in  Kharkov, Ukraine, by Ian Balter and Dmitry Orlov. It was first  designed as an integrated environment for the embedded system software and hardware developers, but eventually it has become OFM with its own (although very primitive) scripting language and debugger. In this sense it is the first representative of the new generation of OFMs -- OFMs with its own scripting language.  It was later opensourced and the full source is available from kiarchive

I tested only one version of CN and was immediately impressed. It is definitely the greatest freeware OFM for DOS. CN looks a lot like a Borland-style integrated environment. Like DN it is written in Turbo Pascal using Borland TurboVision.

CN can be downloaded from several sites (check with Google): 

Level of compatibility

I did not evaluate the level of compatibility of CN with the OFM1999 standard.

Advanced features implemented

Keyboard macro editor and player. Enables to quickly record, edit and play any sequence of keystrokes and commands and reassign any key or any sequence of keys in the editor, File Manager or1 terminal windows.

Very impressive support of  a clipboard concept. One can copy/paste data not only from any of the program windows and input lines, but also from any launched program output screen (via special snipper component).

Interface is very flexible and has well developed mouse support. If you investigate the interface with the mouse you will quickly discover that there are many context sensitive areas. Press both left and right mouse buttons when attempting to use drag and drop copy in file manager (and editor). Many file manager setting dialogs (e.g., display options, archive settings) are accessed through a right button pop up menu in file manager (same for the terminal). To view DBF files select a dbf file and invoke the VIEW command.

Build-in viewer has some interesting features:

CN contributions

CN made two important contributions to the OFM doctrine.

The main contribution of CN is a built-in script language compiler. CONNECT built-in script language is a very simple unstructured language, but its a language, and here CN is definitely the pioneer. Unfortunately scripting is limited to editor and serial protocols connections. It also has built-in script language debugger with the ability:

The second important contribution is HTML viewer. It has the following capabilities:

CN  has the most capable built-in editor among OFMs that I know about (the authors claim that it is as powerful as MultiEdit 6.0 -- I doubt that this is true, but the claim itself is an interesting one). The editor has scripting language support and is capable of processing files up to 1M. It has: 

CN also has a very powerful multi-window hex editor.  It has:

Among other features one can mention dBASE file viewer. It has the following capabilities:

CN was designed as a programmer integrated environment and has the ability to run various programming tools such as cross-assemblers, compilers etc. with the user-defined parameters depending on currently active window, or current file name. For example, one can run an assembly code compiler for the newly edited text, view a report generated by the compiler in a special Message window, and quickly go to the source line which caused an error, if necessary. 

Like DN, CN also has built-in terminal and a lot of pretty interesting programming tools. Among them:

CN also has special context-sensitive help system, but probably HTML-based help system would suffice (zip archive can be used for compression, if needed). Anyway CN help-system includes help compiler and decompiler;  it supports: 

There are many files in Connect help format in kiarchive

Among other features worth mentioning are:

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The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D

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Last modified: March 12, 2019