FileStar/2 v2.0- by Bob Smith

Back in the days when DOS was the only operating system available for home computers, the one program that I could not live without was Central Point Software's PC Tools. It was a program which let you manipulate files and directories easily without having to utilize DOS commands which were inhospitable to users. It was also the one program which I missed when I finally saw the light and changed to OS/2!

Now, I have my utility program back, although it's not by Central Point (since swallowed up by Symantec) and not named PC Tools. It is FileStar/2 by SofTouch Systems, Inc. Version 1 has been out since approximately February 1995. Version 2 was released mid-June of this year.

FileStar/2 comes on one 3.5" floppy and has its own install program. One disadvantage, which the company says will be corrected in future releases, is that v1.x must be totally removed from the system prior to installing v2.0 since it has a totally new INI file format.

Interface

FileStar/2 is a simple interface to your files (GIF, 19.6k), combining familiar file manager concepts with the superior controls available in the OS/2 Presentation Manager environment. A multi-threaded program, FileStar/2 lets you perform different operations in each of its two main display windows. Additionally, operations which do not require a window, such as formatting a diskette, may be performed concurrently with the other two operations.

FileStar/2's appearance is somewhat reminiscent of PC Tools, with two main windows displaying the files of two directories. Also displayed is a drive table listing available drives and a directory tree for whichever drive contains the subdirectory displayed by the main window with the focus.

Across the top of FileStar/2's main window is a menu bar with drop down menus which allow you to manipulate the files and directories selected. Below that is a tool bar, considerably improved from v1.x in both utility and attractiveness. The tool bar also has an adjustable bubble help display to let you know what some of the less used buttons do. Across the bottom of the screen are a series of display panels which give data on the drive space, swap file, size and attributes of selected files and the date and time.

 [Pic of Miniaturized FileStar/2] One nice touch is that with a double click on the swap file size panel, the on-screen display is reduced to a small box which shows alternatively: Drive Free Space, Available Memory, Work Space Free (defined as a rough indicator of the proximity of swap file growth) and Swap File Size.

Almost everything on the screen is user adjustable, from colors to fonts to size and placement of windows. When the total display is resized, all the individual windows within the display are automatically resized too. In fact, when screen resolution is changed, one click on the size label with the Control key depressed will reset the display size for the changed resolution.

Features

The really nice thing about FileStar/2 is that it allows you to do many things that heretofore required the use of the command line. If, like me, you could never remember the syntax for the ATTRIB command, then you will like the ease with which FileStar/2 lets you change attributes (GIF, 4.6k). FileStar/2 will also let you do things you cannot do from the command line. Perhaps most important is the ability to MOVE files or whole directories between hard drive partitions.

With the "SET DELDIR" command installed in the CONFIG.SYS file, you can do undeletes from within FileStar/2, as well as change, individually or wholesale, the date and/or time stamp on files and view, browse and print any file with ease.

SofTouch Systems has made FileStar/2 a very useful program by adding several other functions. With InfoZip installed (PKUNZIP is not supported) zipped files can be viewed and unzipped from within FileStar/2. They have also utilized an extensive set of "hot key" assignments which will make the day of those who don't like to use the mouse. And for those who do like the rodent, a wide range of "drag and drop", both within the program and to the Desktop (or the shredder and printer), is available.

Documentation and New Features

Documentation is a bound soft-cover 5" x 8" manual and also excellent on-line help. Both cover almost every aspect of FileStar/2. My only complaint is that one must delve through 83 pages of information on how the windows work and can be manipulated before getting to how to use the program. The documentation itself is well written with very few grammatical or typographical errors.

Changes from Version 1.x to 2.0 are, for the most part, cosmetic. The toolbar has been vastly improved but there are few new functions. The whole program runs much faster and the overall look and feel are improved.

Conclusion

All in all, FileStar/2 is one program that I feel should be on almost everyone's "must have" list of utilities. You might not use it every day, but the time and effort it saves will make it well worth your while.
 * FileStar/2 v2.0
by SofTouch Systems, Inc.
MSRP: US$99
Bob Smith is a 15 year veteran as a USAF pilot, retired from the Fire Service as an Arson Investigator and Fire Chief in a small city in California, USA. He is currently working as a photographer and computer consultant and has been using OS/2 since v2.0.

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