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Directory Opus 8.1 for Windows

Directory Opus 8.1 for Windows
Creativecow.net Software Review


Directory Opus 8.1 for Windows


John David Hutton
mYth productions
Kansas City, Kansas, USA

©2005 John David Hutton and Creativecow.net. All rights are reserved.

Article Focus:
CreativeCOW leader John David Hutton shows us why Directory Opus 8.1 for Windows "is an outstanding workflow addition at a great price... What is it? Some would say it's a windows explorer replacement and while this is technically true it also offers multitudes of capabilities normally included in many other apps, namely ftp, image conversion, complex file searches including metadata searches, image and file viewer, zip capabilities, folder synchronization, slideshows, etc. It also supports easy access to common utilities like Nero burning software and Google Desktop Search (GDS) software, freely downloadable from Google."



Directory Opus, a funny name with some serious features.

What is it? Some would say it's a windows explorer replacement and while this is technically true it also offers multitudes of capabilities normally included in many other apps, namely ftp, image conversion, complex file searches including metadata searches, image and file viewer, zip capabilities, folder synchronization, slideshows, etc. It also supports easy access to common utilities like Nero burning software and Google Desktop Search (GDS) software, freely downloadable from Google.

Now I'm normally a guy who likes my apps separate because it's difficult for any one thing to be great at a lot of things. With a couple of exceptions I haven't even noticed I'm not using these extra apps anymore, the exceptions being zip and ftp are actually better and easier in Directory Opus, or “Dopus”. When you double-click on a zip file, it simply opens like a new folder would, enabling you to check it out in a familiar interface before unzipping it. Ftp is a literal snap, each site opens like a new folder would and with the advent of the “folder tabs” feature introduced in 8.1 mentioned below, communicating online and locally can seem VERY seamless.

But you can go to their website for a list of features, what I can offer is how I use it in my workflow. Let's take a look.

I work in video - which ironically means I deal a lot with audio files - specifically .wav files. I typically save my daily voice-overs in one large .wav file and go back and edit out the good takes later. Often, I need something my voice-over talent has already said, so I face the dilemma of sifting through hundreds of .wav files looking for it. You can save the filename and make it two feet long if you like, or you can save what the VO talent says in metadata attached to the .wav file. That way, anywhere that .wav file goes what the VO talent said stays with it - short filenames and convenient handling of just one file. This is where “Dopus” comes in to play. By default it searches the metadata of media files so it will find those audio files who contain the copy I need read. If you've never entered metadata into a .wav before, it's a snap with programs like sound forge. You simply open (or create) the .wav file in your app, go into the file > properties and choose the summary tab.

This was the original reason I looked at this software. Once I did some digging I found so much more. I won't go into all of the features this thing has because I don't have that much energy. I will highlight my favorite features, however.


Graphic 1


Lister Styles:

After installing the demo, the next thing I noticed were the Lister Style layouts. These are the style tabs at the top, just above the “Location” field (Commander, Dual Horizontal, etc.). By default they offer 7 different ways of viewing your folders but also offering the ability to save your own layout. Once saved your own tab appears and is available in present and subsequent windows you open. Among the different views is my favorite, dual-horizontal (pictured). This gives you two panes, one on top of the other, giving you the option of dragging files to and from different locations on your computer or over a network. Extremely handy for folks using only one monitor who have to navigate to many places throughout their day. Our copywriters continually have to save word documents to their own drives as well as several places on the network, then have to load other documents from different locations and re-save them. This mode has definitely improved their workflow. For those preferring the standard explorer look, an “Explorer” style tab is also available. Even though this will only display one pane at a time, you can still use a new location tab feature (mentioned below) to be in several places at once.


Location Tabs:

Where style tabs customize the layout of your “lister” or explorer window, the location “tabs,” located at the bottom of each pane, allow you to have many locations open at once. In the picture above, the top pane consists of two location tabs called “Daves” and “My Network Places” and the bottom pane contains one tab called “Desktop”. You can have as many open as you like. Each location tab honors selections so you can switch tabs without losing the files or folders you've selected (great feature). To add a tab means you simply double-click in a blank area, to take it away you double-click that tab. You have the choice of mouse or keyboard when you want to switch between them - cntrl-left and cntrl-right takes you to and from tabs in the relevant direction. Similarly the alt-left and alt-right keyboard shortcuts take you forward and backware a la browser buttons. Like everything else in this program (and I mean everything), the shortcut keys and mouse clicks used to work these location tabs are customizable.


Customization:

Customize your explorer


With a dizzying list of ways to customize your new explorer, the preferences window can seem a bit daunting. Each topic is listed on the left with its own tabbed list of pages on the right. To give you a brief example of how you can customize your layout, special codes are available to customize the display at the bottom of your screen (where it usually lists file size, number of files, bytes selected, etc.


Preferences

In a studio environment customization becomes a very real possibility. I equate it to Mel scripting in Alias' 3D application Maya (some call it an OS rather than an app), which gives you the ability to alter just about anything in the program, even the interface itself.

You don't need to use these features to get great things out of this program, they're nice to have as options though!


Toolbars:

There are a number of toolbars available and my favorite is the “Drives” toolbar. This usually appears below the “location” field by default, but like all toolbars with the vertical dotted line and similar to most windows apps like Word, you can move those toolbars around to suit your liking.

Toolbar

This becomes increasingly helpful the more local drives as well as network shares you have mapped. With one click of a button, the requested drive pops up, eliminating the need for scrolling up and down in the left drive list pane, a la standard windows explorer.


Favorites:

Favorites


Something else that eliminates the need for scrolling are “Favorites”. These are exactly like favorites in Internet Explorer or Bookmarks in Netscape, they're saved drive/folder locations that make it a snap to jump to your favorite (most-visited) location. You can have as many as you need and they are editable so you may organize them into folders or however you wish. In addition to saved favorites, at the bottom they list (by default, again you can change this) the last ten different places you've visited so you can easily jump back and save it as a favorite if you like.


Viewer Pane:

Viewer Pane

Among one of the view options is something called the viewer pane. It appears on the right side of the window (by default) and will display stills, text (including word files), movies and will also display binary info if the file isn't in a viewable format. This is incredibly handy, especially since it supports lesser-known (at least to native windows) formats such as targa (.tga) files.

If you don't like the viewer pane, that's no problem. Hover your mouse over a file it can view and it will bring up a thumbnail and detailed information about the file in question.

Thumbnail and file information

Graphicphiles such as myself will appreciate this extra information, specifically the resolution and bit depth, which by the way is available in another column in your standard display (in prefs if you wish it there).


Convert Image:

Image conversion

A very handy feature, this allows you to convert one or more than one image into another format, including Photoshop files without having the Photoshop software on your system. This is invaluable when you work with those who don't have Photoshop on their computer but need access to Photoshop files for their own work. An example of this is when our copywriters need our screens we make for our spots to insert into their storyboards. Our screens are in .psd format but they need .bmp format for their software. This makes it a literal snap.

It also offers the rotate and resize buttons too. We've used the resize option a couple of times to convert square 720x540 stills to 720x486 so our editor can import them natively with no aspect pixel weirdness (our editing software assumes graphics brought in are 720x486).

Notice the “All” button? You can multi-select many files and do this conversion at once.

Love it love it love it.


Print Folder:

Print Folder

The “Print Folder” option wasn't something that blew us away but it was definitely a welcome feature. This allows you to print out a neatly-formatted document listing the folders and files in your present folder. If you're in the root of your C drive, you can print everything there. An option exists to include sub-folders as well as a filter to filter only the files you want to show up on your print report. Not something we use often but it's very welcome when we do want it.

Wait a minute … like the features of this program but want to keep your original windows explorer also? No problem, both are available simultaneously. How is that for options?

Directory Opus 8.1 For Windows
By GP Software
http://www.gpsoft.com.au/




SUMMARY:

This is an outstanding workflow addition at a great price. At the time of this writing, a single license costs $85 AUD (about $65 USD). Not bad for all of these features.


I give it a frighteningly-solid 5 cows for stability, feature set, great price and incredibly flexible customization.






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