DragText v1.2- by Martin S. Hanoian

DragText (DT) is one of a small, but growing number of truly useful OS/2 utilities. DT's author, Rich Walsh of Pond Street Computing, has been hard at work extending the object-oriented capabilities of the Desktop. His first release of DT allowed drag-and-drop text (hence DT's name) and drag-and-drop file name entering. The latest edition adds drag-and-drop file creation, contents listing, URL creation and more. DT automatically changes the mouse pointer to show exactly what is about to happen when an object is being dragged, so you won't get confused and if the action is not what you've intended, you can press the "Esc" key and the operation will be cancelled. (DT does not interfere with normal moving, copying, dragging or dropping operations which are supervised by an individual application or by the WPS.)

Some of DT's features with their corresponding icons and pointers are:

Automatic file creation
 (text file icon) Lets say I just received an e-mail message, but all the good information was in just one paragraph. Before DT, I would highlight the paragraph, copy it to the clipboard, open a text editor, paste the contents into the editor and then go through the "save as" dialog, thinking up a good name and location for this new file. With DT, all I have to do is highlight the text and drop it on the Desktop!

DT automatically creates a file right there and names it based on the beginning of the text, making it easy to tell what it contains later on. Or, the dragged text can be dropped within any open folder or on any folder's icon (open or closed) to have the file created within that folder, instead of on the desktop. There are also flexible naming options, allowing your choice of the number of lines in the title and number of characters in each line. These files can display DT's "Text" icon or an icon of your own choosing and always open in your default text editor when double-clicked.

DT files insert their contents when they are dropped into an entryfield or editor. This feature makes it easy to repeatedly enter bits of information. For example, I was in the process of selecting a new Internet provider, e-mail client and dialer, so I had DT create individual files with my modem initialization string, news servers, mail servers, phone numbers and the like, simply by highlighting, dragging and dropping. Any time I needed to enter any of these items, I just dragged the respective DT file to the corresponding entryfield.

Automatic WebExplorer URL creation
 (WebExplorer URL icon) If I see a web address in someone's newsgroup post and want to keep it, with DT all I need to do is highlight it and drop it on the Desktop or even into a WWW bookmarks folder. DT automatically creates and names a URL object at the drop point. No more going to the templates folder or "Create another" for a blank URL object and no more transcription errors. Even if the http:// is missing, DT is smart enough to add it back in. Or, if your WebExplorer is running, you can just drop the address (complete or partial) right in to switch to it!

Path or contents
 (file name icon) With DT, dropping a file or folder onto an entry field or editor enters the object's full path (no more typos or incorrect guesses at the path). This is great for all those dialogs that ask, "Where do you want this program installed?" or, "Enter the path to your editor." I use this feature when I assign associations via an associations editor. Instead of typing the path to the program I want to associate all my *.xyz files with, I just drop that program's icon into the entryfield and I'm done. It's also useful for modifying config.sys PATH, SET and DEVICE statements. For entryfields, there is even a toggle (and, of course, a different pointer icon) for overwriting the contents of the entryfield, instead of just adding to what's already there.

 (file contents icon) To enter the contents of a file instead of its path, you can hold the "Alt" key while dropping. (Start dragging without it pressed, adding the "Alt" key after the drag operation has begun.) Don't worry, the icons tell you which result you'll end up with. Some editors have their own support for importing files via drag and drop but DT adds this capability to those that don't, without interfering with those that do. DT does not cause a new editor window to open; the dropped file's contents are simply inserted at the cursor point in the current document.

Dropping a DT object (a file created with DT) into an editor automatically enters its contents, without the need for holding the "Alt" key. (Holding the "Alt" key while dropping a DT file enters its full path.) Dropped URLs (again, no "Alt" key) enter the web path to the site they contain, so you can easily include the web address in an e-mail message or other document. Confused by all these possibilities? Don't be--just watch the icons until it becomes second nature.

Make my editor(s) more like my word processor
 (moved text icon) DT makes it easy to copy or move text within an editor window too. Just highlight the text and drag it to the new location. Copying is the default action, holding the "Shift" key results in moving the text. Most word processors do this already, but DT adds this to editors which don't. But, that's not all! DT lets you drag text, not just inside one window, but also between windows. You can even drag between unrelated editors, entryfields, MLEs, settings notebooks and dialog boxes. No need to use the clipboard--just drag and drop.

Behind the scenes
When text has been highlighted and is about to be moved or copied to its new location, the mouse does not have to be over the highlighted area to drag it, nor does the highlighted area even need to be visible. This allows DT to be used when both the source and target locations of a document cannot be viewed together in the same screen. Just highlight the text you want to move or copy (but don't start dragging it yet), scroll the window to expose the target area, hold mouse button two down and drag from anywhere within the window, position the I-beam portion of the pointer at the desired drop location and then release. This feature also functions when the source and the target areas are in different windows.

What did I just do?
DT also has an option which allows dropped text or filenames to remain highlighted. This feature is useful for repeated drops of the same text, or for identification of an inadvertently dropped item.

Static cling
Have you ever been faced with a dialog message you need to record for tech support? No more pen and paper with DT. Just start dragging from the face of the popup and drop the text onto the desktop or even directly into an e-mail. This also works for other static text, such as that on the face of a settings notebook or other dialogs.

Dir made easy
 (dir listing icon) Have you ever wanted to record the contents of a folder? You can use a command line and save the results to a file, but DT has a different approach for command line phobics: drop the folder into an editor while holding down the "Alt" key and the information will be entered. Options exist for what headings and details will be included.

Exceptions to the rule
Not every application will allow DT to function with it. At the very least, the application must be an OS/2 PM application--Windows programs don't qualify. Walsh is working on adding support for command line windows and establishing a link with the clipboard, but these two features are not yet ready. There are only a few known OS/2 programs (three, at this time) which DT does not interact well with. These applications have already been entered in a very flexible "Disable list" in DT's settings notebook, so DT knows to suspend some or all of its actions when they are involved. Also, depending on how they are programmed, certain applications' windows are invisible to DT, so no DT functions are possible. Walsh is working on a way around this as well, so there will be fewer windows in this category in the future.

Settings, help and installation
DT has a very complete settings notebook which allows all its options to be modified to suit your desires. Besides having settings for all the options, a disable list and a status list, there is even a practice page for trying out most of DT's functions as they relate to the different possible types of PM windows. The help is very thorough and informative, describing some of the functionality of OS/2 as well as everything you would ever want to know about DT. Installation is smooth and straightforward, with ample help concerning the install options. If needed, an uninstall utility is also provided.

For DT to install and work, OS/2 Warp must be running. To have DT change the icons during different operations, FixPak 8 or higher must be installed. (Most versions of Warp come only with FixPak 5 installed.) If DT is used with a stock Warp installation, all the various DT functions will still be available, but the icons will not change.

Not the first, just the best
DT is not the first or the only enabler of drag and drop text. Word processors have been doing it for years, but only within their own windows. OS/2's EPM editor and the current Mac OS allow highlighted text to be dropped on the desktop to create a file, but the name does not describe the contents. There are also a few entryfields that I have come across which allow a filename to be entered by dropping in a file, but they are rare. These are the only places where I've seen even a fraction of DT-like features in use. If you want all the functionality of DT, your only option is to get the real thing.

Run, don't walk
 (dragtext icon) DragText is very sophisticated and has many thoughtful options. DragText's basic features (drag and drop text) are free and its extended features (file and URL creation) cost only $15 US ($18 via BMT Micro) and there is a free six week trial period to test the extended features. In short, DT lets Warp do things no other operating system can. OS/2 needs more freethinking, talented programmers like Rich Walsh!


 * DragText v1.2
by Pond Street Computing
Registration: US$15
Martin S. Hanoian is a dentist in private practice in Providence, RI and a long time supporter of OS/2. He and his wife are expecting their first child at the end of June, so he will have little time for hiking, biking, golf and computers this summer. (Except for when he gets his hands on a copy of Merlin, of course.)

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