Softpanorama
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)

Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

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


 

Prev Contents Next

Dos Navigator -- a breakthrough in VFS development

The DOS Navigator (DN) is an extremely interesting and influential early implementation of OFM. Since early 1999 it's an open source product. Before that it was shareware. The initial version was released in 1991.

I discover DN existence rather late when the dynamic phase of its development was well over. The first version that I checked was version 1.5 released in April 1997. See Youtube video: Dos Navigator 1.51 - inside DoSBox. Best File Manager on MS-DOS ever invented. It is still current in 1999 (build 002). At the same time analyses of previous versions and correspondence with one of the authors suggested that technically the DN was the leader (although not very widespread even in the xUSSR region) since early 1993 (from version 1.10).

By implementing three additional VFS DN opened a new generation of OFMs. Also unlimited number of panels and a lot of new important features make it one of the most powerful (and complex) OFM I ever encountered. It should be considered probably as an ultimate DOS-based classic implementation of OFM and it is difficult to compete with DN featurewise in DOS environment. It contains some useless or rarely used features, but until FAR no classic OFM could compete with it. Several other OFMs were influenced by DN design -- FAR was the most important example. Widespread usage of DN was partially damaged by the fact that it was distributed as shareware and not all features were available for unregistered users.

Like MC it is a team effort in RIT labs under the leadership of Stefan Tarnukov. The initial version of DN I (v 0.90) was released in 1991 and written by Stefan Tanurkov, Andrew Zabolotny and Sergey Melnik (all from Kishinev, Moldavia; Melnik is currently with Google, USA).

After that DN was rewritten using TurboVision by Stefan Tanurkov and Dmitry Dotsenko (currently in Moscow State University).  This versions are sometimes referred as DN II.  DN II was actively developed till the beginning of 1995 (until the  version 1.35 that should be considered as a milestone in the OFM implementations). 

Several other programmers participated in the development after the version 1.35. Starting from version 1.37 Slava Filimonov (he is now an author of the MRP Navigator - a file shell, designed for use for Win95/NT) and Ilya Bagdasarov were in charge of DN maintenance.   The version 1.5 was authored by Stefan Tanurkov and Max Masyutin.

In 1998 the development mostly took bugfixing direction as RITlabs new product  the Bat  became a more promising software product with much better commercial potential. So most material below is applicable to v.1.35 although I did not test it.

Although it is a text based OFM,  DN seems to be more close to GUI-based OFM implementations as it is using very refined  Borland Turbo Vision for the command line interface implementation. The size of DN distribution is also more close to GUI-based OFMs (1MB). Although it seems to be a little bit overloaded with additional utilities, the core OFM functionality is really impressive.

In late 1999 the authors released source code of DN  into public domain.  See DOS Navigator Open Source Project - Official Page (Lite version) for details. Several derivatives base on this codebase were created.

The most prominent among them is NDN (Necromancer's DN), currently in version 2.11.   NDN distributive was added to the Sourceforge.net Ultimate Boot CD. As of Sept 2012 current version NDN is 2.31.5309 releases 2010-03-23

DN Contributions

DN 1.35 should be considered as a milestone in the OFMs virtual file system implementations. It had made a very important contributions in this area. The feature set and flexibility of DN in this area are really amazing.

DN works with the Windows and OS/2 clipboard (Ctrl-Ins and Shift-Ins). Pressing Alt-/ you can switch between three modes: timed execution, execute OS/2 app in full screen and window (the last two are available under OS/2 only, obviously).

Among a long list of DN innovations I would like to single out the following three VFS:

This three new types of VFS were really a milestone in OFM development.  For example the Xtree VFS is a very important productivity enhancement tool, but regrettably very few OFMs implement it (for example FAR still lack it in v.1.6). From this point of view DN is still No.1 in Dos/Windows world.

Three other innovations are also very important:

As I already mentioned DN introduced many other innovations. Among them:

Viewer has several interesting features:

The built-in editor in DN is pretty decent, but without any macro facilities. IMHO for OFMs unless the editor is programmable and serve as a base of OFM implementation it probably should belong to QE class (QE or Quick Edit is one of the most famous DOS-based editor programmed in assembler -- a lot of power in 32K of code).

From that point of view the syntax highlighting is probably an overkill for the light-weight build-in editor as well as line drawing; an alternative (external) middle-weight or heavyweight editor should be used in complex cases. But that my point is clearly disputable. I am a MultiEdit editor user and judge everything from that point (I also know KEdit quite well). Many users including some of my most bright programming students never managed to learn a complex editor like MultiEdit and stick with simple solutions. For that class of users as well as users of Watcom C/C++ which don't have a DOS IDE and use DN as a programming environment syntax highlighting is a very useful feature indeed.

Another great thing in DN as a programming environment it that it is truly multi window. You can have any number of files open in editor/viewer windows, can call the calculator from anywhere etc. This is really great functionality that none other OFM come even close.

Among useful thing that can be implemented without much trouble in other OFMs built-in editors I would like to mention:

Level of compatibility

Despite a lot of enhancements semantically DN is still compatible with OFM doctrine and earned more than 66% on the part 1 of the OFM1999 standard. Most operations that I tested were implemented semantically correctly although some of them used different (e.i. non-standard) hot keys.

DN does not use WWW style enhancements.

Quick search of the file in the panel is somewhat nonstandard -- instead of classical for OFMs combination Alt-letter  (or Ctrl-Alt- letter for GOFM) DN use click on the Alt or Ctrl. After that DN is switched to the quick search mode and input of letters from the keyboard lead to quick search of the file with a given prefix.

Sometimes (like in case of switching from quick view windows to full windows view) no key was available at all and the operation need to be performed by the mouse. That is a deviation from the OFM doctrine that stress availability of all (or most) operations via hot keys. For other operation hot keys were different, so the major problem is that keyboard remapping is not supported.

The current version of DN supports archive VFS, but does not support DOS 7 long file names and FTP VFS.  No 32 bit version of DN exists yet.  As DN use TurboVision I believe it would not be difficult to convert DN into the GUI-based OFM. At the same time DN in compatible with

Webliography

Prev Contents Next



Etc

Society

Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy

Quotes

War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes

Bulletin:

Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law

History:

Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Haterís Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least


Copyright © 1996-2014 by Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov. www.softpanorama.org was created as a service to the UN Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) in the author free time. This document is an industrial compilation designed and created exclusively for educational use and is distributed under the Softpanorama Content License. Site uses AdSense so you need to be aware of Google privacy policy. Original materials copyright belong to respective owners. Quotes are made for educational purposes only in compliance with the fair use doctrine. This is a Spartan WHYFF (We Help You For Free) site written by people for whom English is not a native language. Grammar and spelling errors should be expected. The site contain some broken links as it develops like a living tree...

You can use PayPal to make a contribution, supporting hosting of this site with different providers to distribute and speed up access. Currently there are two functional mirrors: softpanorama.info (the fastest) and softpanorama.net.

Disclaimer:

The statements, views and opinions presented on this web page are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of the author present and former employers, SDNP or any other organization the author may be associated with. We do not warrant the correctness of the information provided or its fitness for any purpose.

Last modified: February 19, 2014