File: XTree:\Tips&Tricks\More Tips |Bottom_of_page




NOTE: The entire text, as it is presented on this page, has been originally published on the >Sutton Library Computer Club (SLCC) website, and is reprinted here with kind permission of the author, Tom Ruben, and the SLCC-webmaster, Geoff Cox.

Also, these tips have all been published, or will be published, in the Journal of BOOG, the British Osborne Owners Group (BOOG), edited by Barrie Towey.
They relate in particular to XTree Gold 2.5 and XTree Gold 3.0, although many of them will also apply to earlier versions of programs in the XTree family: XTree, XTree Pro, XTree Pro Gold and XTree Gold.

|Know your XTree
|File window
|Finding a file
|Clearing an entry line
|Split windows
|XTree & memory I
|XTree & memory II

|Disk logging
|More ...
|XTree & Windows
|Date filespec
|Wash your disk
|Jump to directory or file
|Mass copying & moving
|Mass copying & moving
|XTree & mouse
|25 or 43/50 lines
|Cycling through crtl & alt
|Personalising XTree

|Viewing graphics files
|More ...
|Viewing databases & spreadsheets
|Pack view
|Zipping to floppies
|Zipping empty directories
|Network monitor
|Running a program
|Executing from directory window
|Show tagged file
|Arrow keys
|Wordstar 7
|Quitting XTree
|XTree 4: A Warning


XTree describes itself as "a tool for managing your files, directories and disks". It started from small beginnings - the size of XTree 2.0 was just 43 KB - and has grown in stages until today XTreeGold occupies 3 MB of my hard disk. But unlike some programs, each stage of its evolution - XTree, XTreePro, XTreePro Gold and now XTree Gold in version 3.0 - has added invaluable new functions that I would hate to be without. XTree Gold now contains an application menu system which allows it to be used as a front end to DOS, and as such it is vastly superior to MSDOS's Shell or DRDOS's Viewmax. At a gathering of about a dozen expert PC users that I attended recently, it was interesting to note that every one was using XTree.
XTree uses a myriad of commands, and not everyone will be familiar with all of them; indeed, some of the more useful commands aren't even fully documented. Below you will find the first of a series of XTree Tips. They are designed primarily for people who are reasonably familiar with XTree, in the hope that they will enable you to get even more out of the program.
We hope to present a tip each month. I have no wish to claim a monopoly on this series, and I certainly do not know all there is to know about XTree. So if you have an XTree tip which you would like to pass on, please put it on paper or, preferably, disk and send it to Barrie Towey.
These tips will be based mainly on XTreeGold 2.5 and 3.0; many of them will not work on earlier versions of the program.
To find out which version of XTree you are using, hold down the Ctrl and Alt keys. But in early versions this shows you only the author - the brilliant Jeffrey C. Johnson. The version number can be found in Help, which in these versions is accessed by F2, not F1.
The XTree Configuration Memu is entered with Alt-F10. From here you can customise the program to your preferences. You can select screen colours. You can specify whether XTree should start with the directory display or the applications menu. You can select whether the small file window is entered or bypassed, whether the highlight bar in the directory window should be movable or fixed, and whether the file display should initially be three-column (showing the most filenames), two-column or one-column (giving the full directory information - including file attributes and time to the second, which are both not shown by DOS's DIR command).
If you are not happy with XTree's own editor 1Word, you can enter the name of your preferred editor, and this will be used whenever you select Edit. XTree Gold 3.0 also has a second editor, ZEDIT. But two words of warning: you cannot use WordStar, or any similar word processor which uses a default path to store its documents; and if you use another word processor, make sure that it opens automatically in ASCII, non-document, mode.
For security reasons there are three configuration items which may not be changed from within Xtree. These are allowing modifications to the Applications Menu, allowing modifications to files in hex view mode, and allowing access to system or hidden directories and files. A separate program, XTG_CFG.EXE, is provided to change all configuration items including these. To prevent them being changed, delete this program.
Hitting F in XTree brings up the FileSpec command, by which you can narrow down the list of files displayed. Enter the file specification you want using wild cards. E.g., *.BAK will display only files with BAK as the extension; P??.* will display all files with a filename of up to three letters beginning with P, and any extension. F followed by Return will restore the default filespec of *.*, i.e. all files.
Ctrl-I F will display all files except the currently selected filespec. And - an undocumented command - Ctrl-F will select the last filespec used.
In conjunction with S (Showall) or G (Global), Filespec is especially useful for finding an elusive file: in the S or G window, the path of a highlighted file is shown on the top line.
XTree maintains a History of previous filespec selections, accessed by the up-arrow. I have two retained lines in the History:
to show all executable files
and *.DOC *.TXT READ*.* *.WRI *.ME to show all documentation files.
The XTree file window, in three-column mode, has space for 57 filenames, but you may well have a number of directories with far more files than this. The PgDn key will rapidly move to the next page of filenames. But if you prefer not to have all the information from the original page disappear, use instead the Rt-Arrow key; you will move down the file list by one column, or one third of a page, at a time
VIEW is among XTree's most used, and most useful, commands, because it lets you remind yourself instantly of the contents of a file. Unlike DOS's TYPE, you can move up and down the file or through it at a speed of your choice.

To view the contents of a text file you highlight its name and then hit V. If the file is not straight ASCII, this will probably show lots of formatting commands. If you now hit F XTree will attempt to convert the on-screen format so that it displays in the proper format as intended by the program that created the file. For this to work, XTree Gold has to have a viewer for that program - and it has viewers for a vast number of programs, not only word processors but also databases and spreadsheets. It can be much quicker to consult your database in XTree than to fire up dBase.
XTree Gold View has a powerful search facility. Key S or F9 and enter the text to search for. On hitting Return the text will be searched for and highlighted if found. Hit the spacebar to search for the next occurrence. And it will retain the text in memory, search for it and highlight it for all subsequent files viewed. For a fuzzy search, * will match up to 80 characters.
Another invaluable facility of View is Gather. When viewing a file, hitting G enables you to mark out a block of text and copy it to a file; subsequent Gathers will be appended to the same file if desired. If the text has previously been Formatted, then the Gathered text will retain this formatting. Another trick up XTree's sleeve is that if the file to gather to is given as PRN, the text will be printed out immediately. This is useful to extract the essential portions from a large document, or selected records from your database.
You can View a group of files in turn by tagging them and keying Ctrl-V. To move to the next file hit N. A search will automatically search all the files. Formatted view is not active in Ctrl-V, nor is graphics viewing.
To get a quick look at the contents of all files in the current directory (or branch or disk after keying B or S(howall)) key F7 to enter Autoview mode. This gives you a list of files in the left-hand column, one file highlighted, with a view of the first screenful of the current file on the right. As you scroll down the file list the view changes with it. With the exception of graphic files, the initial format is XTree's default, i.e. wordwrap for wordprocessor files, fully formatted for databases and spreadsheets, and ASCII or Dump for others.
To change format, use shift before the usual command, e.g. use shift-J rather than J to view the current file in Packed mode. But shift-F to format a word processor file does not work in Autoview.
To move around a file view in Autoview, use shifted scroll and page-up/down keys. But you may prefer to enter standard View mode by keying V, which gives you all the normal View facilities, because the Autoview window is considerably (18 columns) narrower. Exiting View will return you to Autoview.
For graphics files, Autoview provides a facility not otherwise available in XTree. It displays summary information: filename, graphics format, file size, date and time, number of colours, and width and height in terms of numbers of pixels. This applies to all files in formats that XTree Gold recognises as being graphics; unfortunately there are a number of graphics formats that XTG does not know about.
When VIEWing a large file in XTree Gold, holding down the Shift key activates a useful set of scrolling commands, which are shown in the Command Menu window at the bottom of the screen. Shift-F2 to Shift-F6 start the screen scrolling continuously through the file. The speed is governed by the key selected: F2 is the fastest, F6 the slowest. Speed can be changed during a scroll. Scrolling is halted by any key - the space bar is convenient.
And then there are the Auto-Scroll keys, the Shift-DownArrow and Shift-UpArrow. Used to start scrolling, they will start either a downward or an upward scroll at a middling speed, corresponding usually to Shift-F3. When used while scrolling is already in operation, the Shift-Arrow keys can be used to reverse scroll direction without changing scroll speed.
There is one Scroll key which does not require shift to be held down at the same time - the Backslash key (\) will work both shifted and unshifted. This starts an auto-scroll in the currently-selected direction: usually downwards, but upwards if you have last been scrolling up.
Like so many of the best things in XTree Gold, Auto-scroll by Backslash is not documented or shown in the Command Menu window, and I discovered it just the other day by pure chance. To remind you of two other essential undocumented commands:-
Ctrl-F4 in File Window displays only tagged files
J when VIEWing shows Packed view
\ when VIEWing starts screen scrolling.
There must be other undocumented features of XTree Gold that I haven't yet discovered. If you know of any that have not been covered in this series, please write them up and send them to the Editor.
XTree has excellent facilities for creating and handling archives in .ZIP format. It is in some ways more advanced, and certainly more user-friendly, than PKZIP and PKUNZIP.
Earlier versions of XTree handle the now obsolete .ARC format as well as .ZIP, but this has been removed from XTree Gold 3.0. Instead a utility program, ARC2ZIP, is provided which converts .ARC files to the .ZIP format. I recommend that you use this on all your .ARC files, for the .ZIP equivalents are usually much more compact.
By their very nature, archives can be very large. How do you cope with getting a large archive file - larger that the capacity of a floppy disk - on to floppies? There are two ways to do this.
If the files have not yet been compressed and are on your hard disk, just adopt the normal XTree procedure for creating an archive. Tag all the files to be archived, select S (Showall) or B (Branch) if they span more than one directory, and key Ctrl-F5. Include the drive letter of your floppy drive in the archive file name. XTree will compress the files to a .ZIP file on the floppy disk, and when this is full you will be prompted to insert another disk. You will end up with a set of floppy disks each containing a complete free-standing .ZIP file, all with the same name. To find which file is contained in an archive file, just View it; there is no need to log the archive with Alt-F5.
If you already have a large .ZIP file, ARC2ZIP will copy this on to a series of floppies.
XTree maintains a history of the last 13 responses to every query it asks which requires a typed response. Whenever you are prompted for an answer, Up-Arrow takes you into the History. Select an entry and hit Return to paste it into the prompt line. A second Return will accept it, or it can be edited first.
History entries scroll off the top of the list as new entries are added at the bottom. But it is possible to retain an entry permanently. Enter History, put the highlight bar on the entry to be retained and hit Insert. Retention can be toggled off by hitting Insert again.
I use History with many commands, particularly \, F, X and C. To make sure that your responses are recorded in XTree's History file, always exit XTree properly by Q, Alt-Q or Alt-Z.
It is often necessary to find a file when we have forgotten where we have stored it. Once again XTree comes to the rescue. Files can be found either by searching for the filename or by searching for some word or phrase they contain.
To find a file by filename, you use Filespec. Hit F and enter the name; wildcards (* and ?) are accepted. Now only files conforming to that specification will be displayed by XTree. To list all conforming files on the current disk, hit S (Showall). As you highlight each file, its directory (path) will be shown at the top of the screen.
To search on the contents of files, the first step is to tag all files to be searched. It is desirable to keep the number of files to be searched as low as possible for, although searching is surprisingly fast, it can still take a significant amount of time to search a large number of files (For instance, a recent search of some 11,000 files occupying 290 MB on two disk partitions, both compressed with Stacker, took 38 minutes).
Set the Filespec if you know any part of the filename. Then hit B to select a branch which you know, or suspect, contains the file, otherwise hit S to select all files on the disk. Next tag all files with Ctrl-T. Then, to search them all, hit Ctrl-S. After you have entered the phrase to search for, the search will start; the contents of each file will be scanned for the phrase, and if it is not found the file will be untagged. So at the end of the search only the files containing the phrase searched for will be tagged, and to list these files only in the File window hit Ctrl-F4 (note this command: it is not documented).
If one of these files is now Viewed, the phrase is still selected for searching; hit the spacebar and you will jump straight to its first occurrence. You can also use Ctrl-V to view all the tagged files, with Space searching out and highlighting each occurrence of the phrase in each file in turn.
But perhaps you don't know the filename, or any of its contents; you only know the date on which you wrote it. The solution then is to re-sort the files in date order. Hit Alt-S, then D. If you now select S(howall), and change the file display with Alt-F until the date is displayed, you will find all files created on this date together.
When a command is being entered, XTree often requires keyboard entry. For instance, when copying files it asks for the destination directory. Where possible, XTree will paste in its own guess, such as the last destination you entered. This is very helpful, but on occasion it is not what you want and has to be deleted. This is done by keeping your finger on the Backspace key until the whole of the entry has been erased.
To quickly erase a complete entry, use Ctrl-Backspace.
F8 splits the screen window vertically, giving you two simultaneous views of the directories and files on your disk. You lose the information column on the right, and each window shows only two columns of file names instead of the usual three. To move from one display to the other, use the tab key. All subsequent commands affect only the currently-active display, the other one being frozen; any changes which affect it will not be shown until you tab back to that display. To exit split mode, key F8 again.
All the usual directory and file commands are available in split mode, with one exception: the tab key is no longer available in a directory window to drop to the next entry at the current subdirectory level. A particularly handy feature is that, in any command involving a source and a destination - copy, move, compare - the path of the opposite display is automatically pasted into the command line.
Split mode is often used to compare two directories. The Compare command (C from the directory window) can be used to see whether all files in one directory exist in the other, whether files with the same name are newer or older or are identical (i.e. have the same name, size, date and time; contents are not compared). This is done by setting the following criteria to either yes or no before comparing: identical, unique, newer, older. These criteria can be combined as required. Files that meet the selected criteria are tagged; make sure that all files are untagged (Ctrl-U) before running Compare.
To see which files in a large directory have been tagged, enter the file window and key Ctrl-F4. Tagging is applied separately to the two displays.
Similarly, Filespec is applied separately to the two displays. To change the Filespec for both displays, you have to enter the F command separately for each display (use History - the up-arrow - to save re-keying the filespec in the second display).
XTree uses conventional RAM memory, i.e. a maximum of 640 KB, both for its own operations and for storing information on the logged directories and files. A block of 32 bytes is used for each item logged, and thus the absolute maximum that can be logged at any one time is 640 x 1024 ö 32 or a little over 20,000 items. However, it is most unlikely that you will have all your conventional memory available, and in any case XTree sets aside a portion of memory for its own basic operations, so that the maximum number of directories and files that you will be able to log is probably under 14,000. And for many of its operations, such as viewing and archiving, XTree itself needs more than the minimum: memory equivalent to perhaps 5000 files. So in order to get the best use out of XTree you should try to keep the number of logged directories and files under 9000.
As hard disks and programs both get bigger, it is only too easy to exceed this limit. As I write this, my C: partition contains 7555 files in 194 directories, and the totals in four partitions amount to 397 directories and 12,543 files, a total of 12,940 items.
Another problem thrown up by this proliferation of files is time. XTree takes 7.5 seconds to log in the 7749 items on C: - and the disk is fast; a slow disk would take much longer.
Clearly ways of monitoring and managing this situation are needed. I will discuss monitoring below; managing will follow next month.
Monitoring Memory One way to monitor available memory is of course to run MEM from inside XTree - always supposing that you have enough free memory to do so. But this is not necessary: hit X (eXecute) and the available memory is displayed. In my case, with all 12,940 items logged, there are only 45,072 bytes of RAM free and I cannot run MEM, or indeed any other program. With nothing logged but still inside XTree I have 469,744 bytes free. Problems are likely to arise if this figure falls much below 200,000 bytes.
Incidentally, do not forget that you can release memory used for logging to run a program by using Alt-X instead of X.
A much more direct way to monitor XTree's memory usage is to start the program with the Display Memory Usage switch, \XTGOLD\XTGOLD /XM. This will display a figure in both the Directories and Files screens, in the DISK box immediately above Available Bytes (on the same line as "Available"). This is the number of blocks (not bytes) available for logging, and will be seen to decrease by 1 for each directory and file logged.
This is the best way to monitor available memory, if only because the figure is visible almost all the time. Keep it above 6000 and you should have few memory problems.
The way to ensure that XTree never runs out of memory is to limit the number of directories and files logged. This can best be done by setting the default disk logging method in the Configuration menu (Alt-F10 1). Items 5 and 6 are "Log disk commands only read the root directory" and "Log disk commands only read the directory tree". Both can be set to Yes or No. I will discuss each of the four possible combinations below.
(1) Root No, Tree No This, the default configuration, is known as full logging. All directories and files on the disk are logged, which takes a finite time. This is the best method if your total number of files is such that you have no memory or time problems.
(2) Root No, Tree Yes Displays the full directory tree, with a + against each entry to indicate that it has not been logged. Uses very little memory, but offers virtually no time saving over (1), as each directory on the disk still has to be read.
(3) Root Yes, Tree No This displays only the first level of subdirectories below the root, with a + against each, and the files in the root directory. Uses very little memory and no time, as only the root directory is read.
(4) Root Yes, Tree Yes This is similar to option (3) except that the files in the root directory are not logged.
If you have a large number of files on your disk, I would recommend either (3), which I use, or (4).
Having achieved partial logging, the next step is to fully log a disk when needed, and then to revert to partial logging when the memory is required for other purposes. These can be achieved with the Alt-L command, but as there are short cuts for all its options I will describe only these. They involve the four keys Home, +, - and *.
* fully logs a branch. To fully log a complete disk, first move to the root directory with Home, then key *. Expect the logging to take a finite time on a well-filled large disk.
- releases, i.e. unlogs, a branch. Only the directory name will then be displayed, with a + alongside to indicate that it is not logged.
+ will log a branch to first level only, with a + alongside every directory.
Thus to revert from a fully logged disk to 1st-level directory logging only, equivalent to (3), go to the directory window and key Home, -, +.
An alternative way to achieve this is with the Release Disk command, Alt-R D. Select the current disk to release and to switch to; e.g. if currently logged to C, keyAlt-R D C C. The Release Disk command is probably more useful for releasing disks other than the current one to free as much memory as possible.
TreeSpec is a tool for moving quickly around the directory tree. Key \ (backslash) and the prompt line displays the present path. Delete this and enter a different path (the drive name is compulsory, and XTree will automatically add :\) and the highlight bar jumps straight to it. Indeed, as soon as you enter the first letter of the directory name, the bar will go straight to the first directory with that initial. When you have arrived at the desired directory, Return will anchor the bar.
One way to use TreeSpec to, e.g., jump to the WordStar directory on the current drive, is first to hit Home while in the directory window, then key W. This will probably take you to Windows. Now key O and you are at WordStar (provided you don't have a Women directory!). Then hit return. Total four key strokes.
History is particularly useful with TreeSpec. \ followed by the up-arrow takes you to the TreeSpec History, which offers the last 13 paths selected. Use the arrow keys to move to your choice and hit Return twice.
There are two errors in the TreeSpec Help screen. It says that Ctrl-\ will toggle between the two most recent choices; the correct key is Ctrl-`. And it is also wrong in stating that TreeSpec cannot be called from the file window.
TreeSpec will work across drives. If you delete the current drive letter and enter another, the new drive will be logged to first subdirectory level.
XTree is full of surprises. I keep on finding new and ever more useful commands which are either well hidden or not documented at all. Or friends point out these unsuspected commands. For this one I have to thank Mark Jackson.
I have written about Treespec before. Hit the backslash, type in a path, hit return and you are taken straight to that directory even if it is on another disc. I pointed out that a very useful way to use this command is through its History - hit the up-arrow key and select from the last dozen or so treespecs used. Mark has now discovered that typing ^` (that is Ctrl-`, where ` is the opening single quote character, on the key to the left of the 1 on my keyboard) takes you straight to the last Treespec selection. Thereafter ^` toggles between the two last entries in the History. Very handy.
LogSpec is a new facility in XTree Gold 3, introduced to cope with the proliferation of files with the advent of very large hard disks and of CD-ROMs. When XTree logs a disk the directory entry for each directory and each disk is stored in RAM, each entry consuming 32 bytes. Consequently XTree cannot function properly with more than about 9000 files logged, depending on your memory configuration. The capacities of hard disks and CD-ROMs have far outstripped these limits.
LogSpec copes with this by allowing you to limit the files logged to those selected in FileSpec. Invoked by F, FileSpec normally operates by selecting from all the logged files only those conforming to a selected specification (filename, including wildcards, and/or dates) and displaying only these files. But when LogSpec is active and a FileSpec is set up before logging, then only files conforming to the spec are logged. LogSpec can be activated only from the command line, by including the switch /ZL.
A FileSpec can also be set on the command line. For instance, if you wish when starting XTree to log only executable program files on drives C and D, your command line might be
*.COM *.BAT /ZL.
Note that /ZL must come after the filespec, else all files will be logged. After starting XTree, the Filespec can of course be changed to log other files; to change the FileSpec to *.* to cover all files, simply key F followed by Return.
From the directory window P allows you to print a list of all the pathnames on the current disk, the same information arranged as a tree directory, or a catalogue of all tagged files on the disk arranged by directory. From the file window you can print the contents of a text file, with or without a header. The header, which appears on every page, consists of the file's path, name, size and date, and the page number. In XTree Gold 3 you can also select the destination.
The destination can be either a device or a file. The file has to be named as TEMPFILE, and it will be created in the XTGOLD directory. Therefore if you wish to keep the file you must rename it, otherwise it will be overwritten the next time you print to a file.
Any valid device can be specified as the destination. This includes the parallel ports LPT1 to LPT3, serial ports COM1 to COM4 and PRN. If you wish to view the file on screen you may specify CON, although the file will probably scroll too fast for this to be useful. Better to use TEMPFILE and then View this.
The destination entered is treated as a configuration item and is remembered by XTree even when you exit the program.
You can also print portions of a text file by Viewing it and then selecting parts for printing with G(ather). When prompted for a filename, enter PRN.
Windows 3.xx is a program like any other, running under DOS (I am not talking here about Windows NT or Windows 95/96/97). You can run Windows from inside XTree, but make sure that you start it with Alt-X to make as much memory as possible available to it. If you plan to start Windows from the Application menu or by double-clicking with the mouse, make sure that you configure the appropriate item in the Configuration menu (Alt-F10) to use all memory.
And once you are running Windows, you can run XTree Gold either full-screen or in a window. First of all install XTree: in the Program Manager click on a group, such as Main, where you want to install XTree. Select File, New, fill in a suitable program description to appear beneath the icon, and enter "C:\XTGOLD\XTGOLD.COM /XM" for the command line enter , then change the icon to C:\XTGOLD\XTGOLD.ICO. XTree can now be started in any of the normal Windows ways. It will normally come up as a full screen.
To change XTree to run in a window, key Alt-Enter. A second Alt-Enter reverts to running XTree full-screen.
Date filespec
One way to find a lost file which you know was created on or about a given date is to change the Sort Order to Date (Alt-S D) and then to go to S(howall). Alternatively, a new facility in XTree Gold 3 allows you to specify a date or date range in Filespec.
Key F, then <, = or > followed by a date, and only files dated on or before, on, or on or after that date will be shown. These can be combined with other filespecs, positive or negative. Thus to show, for example, only .DOC or .TXT files dated February 1995 but no files starting with A, you should hit F and then enter the Filespec as
>1-2-95 <28-2-95 *.DOC *.TXT -A*.*
You can invert the Filespec, to show all files except those specified, by Ctrl-I F.
When you go through the process of deleting a file in DOS, the contents of that file are not removed from the disk: the file is marked in the directory as deleted, and the space it occupied on disk is freed. This makes possible the undeletion of previously deleted files, which is often a life-saving boon but can also be a security risk. I have also heard of cases where confidential data has inadvertently been sent over the Internet because the transmitting software read and sent out unerased data beyond the end of the file being transmitted.
So for the sake of security and confidentiality it is good practice to periodically remove the remnants of deleted files from disk. The Xtree command for this is Wash, invoked by Alt-W from the directory window. You have the option of a single-pass data overwrite or, for extra security, a six-pass operation. Before starting either operation you must make sure, though, that there aren't any files that were deleted in error, because after Washing they will not be recoverable; that, after all, is the purpose of Wash.
The Treespec command, described in a previous tip, allows you to quickly jump to a directory entry by typing \ followed by the first few characters of its name. Another jump command, this one not documented, is shift-letter, which works both in the directory window and the file window. Simply key Shift + a letter, and the highlight jumps to the next entry starting with that letter.
Moving a file is a two-stage process. Where the source and destination directories are on the same disk, the stages are merely altering entries in the destination and source directories. A cross-disk move, on the other hand, involves making a copy of the file on the destination disk and then deleting the original. XTree of course handles this effortlessly: the command is M.
To copy or move multiple files, tag all the files and ensure that they are all displayed by selecting B(ranch), S(howall) or G(lobal) if necessary. Then start the process by Ctrl-C, Ctrl-M, Alt-C or Alt-M.
Ctrl-C and Ctrl-M copy or move all tagged files to a single target directory. Alt-C and Alt-M copy or move to a destination directory while keeping the original directory structure beneath the designated destination; directories will be created if they do not already exist. A useful option is offered if you invoke Alt-C or Alt-M from the Branch window: you can duplicate either full paths or partial branch paths. The latter are paths relative to the current parent directory.
This can be useful for making a copy of a floppy with a complex directory structure on a hard disk and later re-exporting all the files to another floppy. First of all log in the source floppy, select S(howall) and Ctrl-T to tag all files, then Alt-C to the hard disk in a directory called, say, DISK-1. To export this to a floppy, log in DISK-1 as a Branch, then Ctrl-T, Alt-C and select partial branch paths. The target floppy will be a faithful copy of the original.
When mass copying or moving and the destination disk becomes full, XTree beeps and prompts you to insert a new disk. If you do not have a formatted disk to hand, you can now select Alt-F2 and format one or more disks, and then resume copying where you left off.
The mass copy and mass move commands were described in an earlier Tip. To recap, Ctrl-C and Ctrl-M will copy or move all tagged files to the designated directory; Alt-C and Alt-M will do the same but duplicate the paths (full or relative) in the destination directory.
But what if you run out of space on the destination disk? If it is a floppy or other type of removable disk, you can just insert a new disk and resume the copy/move operation. But perhaps you want to suspend the operation and resume later. In that case key Esc, then Ctrl-F8; this will remove tags from all files already copied. A subsequent mass-copy or -move command will continue the original command. But note that all tags will be lost on closing Xtree, so the continuation will have to be in the same session.
To see which files have not yet been copied, key F4 to show only tagged files.
What is the plural of Mouse? Is it Mice, Mouses or even Mices? I've seen all three used in print. Whichever, XTree works with a mouse, but only the Microsoft-compatible two-button type. It does not recognise a Mouse Systems three-button mouse.
25 OR 43/50 LINES

The normal DOS text screen shows 25 lines. However, both EGA and VGA video adapters offer alternative text screens showing extra lines: 43 for EGA, 50 for VGA. XTree can operate in these modes: Alt-F9 from the directory windowtoggles between 25-line and 43/50 line modes, or 43/50 lines can be set as the default in the Configuration menu (Alt-F10).
The VGA 50-line mode shows 35 directories in the directory window compared with the standard 14, and the small file window shows eight rather than four lines of files. The large file window has 44 lines compared to 19. Useful for showing more of your disk contents, but the type is of course much smaller. If you have a 15-inch or 17-inch VGA monitor it may well be worth adopting 50-line mode as your default.
The box at the bottom of the XTree screen shows the available commands - or most of them (I have attempted in these Tips to discover and to describe as many as possible of those not shown, including a number not documented elsewhere). Hold down the Ctrl key and the Ctrl commands are shown. Similarly with the Alt key.
F4 enables you to show the Ctrl or Alt commands without having to keep a key depressed, and to carry out Ctrl and Alt operations one-handedly. Press F4 once and the Ctrl commands are shown; press it again for the Alt commands. The next press of F4 returns to the standard display of the DIR or FILE commands.
When you install XTree Gold from the distribution discs, the program does some personalising: it asks you for your name and your company, and then enters these into the program so that they appear in the bottom line of the opening screen which is displayed when the program loads; the line starts with "Registered to: ". You can view this line while XTree is running by holding down the Ctrl and Alt keys simultaneously. Let's call this the personalise line.
This is not, however, the full extent of the personalising possible in XTree: you can change the personalise line to any text you want, so long as it is no longer than 80 characters. This is done by editing the file XTG.EXE, and of course this is best done in XTree itself. But a word of caution: if you get it wrong, you can irretrievably damage the file, so make a backup copy before you start. Highlight XTG.EXE, hit C to copy the file as, say XTG.XEX to the current directory (just enter "."). Then you can go ahead with editing XTG.EXE without any worries.
To edit this file - or, come to that, any program file - you must NEVER use a text editor, but a specialised hex editor. And, would you believe it, there is one in XTree Gold: it resides in View.
Highlight XTG.EXE again, hit V and then H to view the file in hex mode. This shows the contents of the file as hexadecimal bytes in the centre of the screen, with the ASCII equivalents, where printable, on the right. To edit the file, first search for the string "Register" by hitting F9 or S. When you have found this, hit E to enter Edit mode, and tab to move the edit cursor to the ASCII block. You can now replace the text you find there by your own personalised message, but be very careful not to go beyond the 80-column character limit. If you make a mess of it, just hit F8 to zap your changes and revert to the original text. When you have got it all right, hit Enter. Note that this is an irrevocable step, as the hex editor does not save a backup version of the file - that's why you backed up at the start. Now exit View.
You have now finished editing. To see the new message in action, quit XTree and restart it. But if, for some reason, XTree refuses to load, delete XTG.EXE, make a new copy of XTG.XEX as XTG.EXE and re-edit.
Recent versions of XTree, i.e. XTree Gold, have the ability to view graphic files, and XTree Gold 3 has viewers for vast numbers of graphic formats. Simply highlight the graphic file and View it (V); then key F to have XTree format the view to display the graphic. XTree Gold will even apply the formatting automatically if it is suitably configured (Alt-F10) by setting File Detection when Viewing Files to Automatic.
To determine details of the image format, use Autoview (F7). This does not display the image but shows directory information (filename, size, date, time), graphics format, number of colours (with 2 colours signifying monochrome, or black and white) and image size in pixels.
Once the file has appeared on the screen, it is useful to know about the action of the first four function keys. If you have a colour screen and the image is in colour, it will display in colour. F1 will convert it to monochrome and F2 will restore the colour. This can be useful if you wish to preview how the image will look when printed on a black & white printer.
Images are recorded in 2,4,16 or 256 colours. 2-colour, 4-colour and 16-colour images will normally display with one image pixel to each screen pixel, i.e. a standard VGA screen will show 640 x 480 pixels, whatever the size of the image file. Thus if there are fewer pixels in the file, the image will not fill the screen. Conversely, if there are more pixels only part of the image will be shown. It is then possible to move the image around the screen with the cursor keys, or centre it with the space bar. The cursor keys move it in rather large steps, but in conjunction with the shift key they move the image one pixel at a time.
The four diagonal keys on the numerical pad, Home End, PgUp and PgDn, move the image diagonally to the edges. F3 is a toggle which puts them into a mode similar to the cursor keys, i.e. large steps when used solo or a pixel at a time when shifted.
256-colour images are displayed at twice the scale of 2- and 16-colour images, with each image pixel being mapped to a 2x2 block of screen pixels. If the image extends beyond the boundary of the screen, F4 shrinks it to fit the screen, with some loss of detail and possibly distortion if the horizontal and vertical reductions are not equal. A touch on the space bar restores the original size. F4 works only on 256-colour oversize images.
Thanks to John Parmigiani for alerting me to the use of function keys when viewing graphics.
Sometimes you may find, when attempting to view a graphics file, that XTree serves up an "out of memory" error message. This happened to me with the Autocad file COLUMBIA.DWG, which is supplied with XTree Gold 2.5. I found that I could not view this using XTree Gold 3.0, even though I had ample conventional RAM memory.
It turns out that a large slice of the RAM is used by XTree for storing the directory of logged files; the more files are logged, the less RAM is available for XTree's operations. You can keep an eye on available Ram by loading the program using a switch, XTGOLD /XM. This shows in the DISK box on screen the number of 32-byte blocks of free RAM, one block being required to log each file. Keep this number above 6000 for maximum functionality.
The solution is to minimise the directories logged by XTree. First of all, release all disks except that containing the graphic, using Alt-R. This will usually provide enough memory, but more can be released by restricting the current directory to the first level only. This is most readily accomplished by going to the directory window, keying Home to highlight the root directory, and then keying -, then +; use the grey keys on the numeric key pad for convenience. Alternatively, key Alt-L O. You can then move to the main directory containing the graphic file and log to the second level by keying + again, or log the whole branch by keying *. When you have found the appropriate file, there should now be enough buffer memory to permit normal viewing.
XTree Gold is a very convenient way to view your database or spreadsheet files, and can be much faster than running the native application, provided you only want to view, not modify. You can also extract portions to another file or the printer.
XTree has viewers for dBase III and IV .DBF files. It can also be used with other database programs which use the same format, e.g. Foxpro. There is a Paradox 3 viewer, which in XTree Gold 3.0 also encompasses Paradox 4. The formatted view shows one record per line, with the top line showing the field names. All fields are shown: there is no facility to show only selected fields.
The column width allocated to each field is the larger of field width and field name. This means that frequently the display is very much wider than one screen, and horizontal scrolling is necessary. The horizontal arrow keys move the display by the usual two characters, as in most other XTree View modes, but in addition you can scroll by one field at a time using the Tab key: Tab to scroll right, shift-Tab to scroll left. When scrolling vertically, the top line showing the field names does not scroll, remaining visible at all times.
Individual records or groups of records may be extracted and moved to a separate file, orto the printer, by keying G (Gather). This will copy only complete records, and you cannot include the top (field name) line.
To view the database structure, key S; this opens a window showing the structure, i.e. field name, type, width, in a scrollable list. As a consequence you cannot use S as an alternative for F9 to start a search.
If you know the record number of a particular record, you can jump straight to it by using F2.
XTree Gold has viewers for Lotus 123, Excel and Quattro spreadsheet files. Cell co-ordinates are shown on the top line and down the left margin, while the second line gives the co-ordinates of the highlighted cell and its contents: where a cell contains a calculated value, this shows the formula.
To scroll horizontally, both the arrow and tab keys move by one cell at a time. The co-ordinates in the top line and left margin change to follow horizontal and vertical scrolling.
G (Gather) may be used to copy the contents of a cell, or a block of cells of any size, to a file or the printer. To jump to a particular cell, key F2 and the co-ordinates. Use F9 for a text search; S is not available as an alternative.
Another undocumented and well-hidden XTree command is Pack. This lets you view only the printable text in any file, freed from any non-printing characters and formatting. Select the file and hit V to view it. Then hit the Pack command J. Toggle masking with M to display or not display characters above ASCII 127. Wordwrap is active to end lines at spaces in the text, which aids readability.
Zipping, i.e. compressing multiple files and storing them in a .ZIP archive file, to floppy disks differs from zipping to a hard disk in that the archive is likely to be bigger than a single floppy, and there has therefore to be provision for distributing the archive between a number of floppy disks.
XTree offers three methods for accomplishing this. In each of them the starting point is to tag all the files to be zipped; then ensure that they are all displayed by either entering the file window or selecting B(ranch), S(howall) or G(lobal) as appropriate. Next key Ctrl-F5 to start the Zip creation, and enter the name of the destination archive file. From here on the methods diverge, and I will describe them separately below.
The ending point in all cases is a series of floppy disks each containing one .ZIP file bearing the specified destination filename.
Segmented When a floppy drive is specified in the destination, XTree offers the choice of segmented or spanned volumes. If you choose segmented, the files will be archived to a succession of free-standing .ZIP files, one on each floppy disk. When a disk does not have enough space left for the next file, you are prompted to insert the next disk. This means that there can be a significant amount of wasted space on each disk. And there is no indication of which files are on which disk (not important if you are only likely to extract all the files together at the same time).
Spanned If you select the spanned option, each destination disk (except the final one) will be completely filled by splitting files if necessary. The ZIP directory will be placed in the file on the last disk of the set. When you then try to log into the archive you are prompted to insert the last disk, and when accessing a specific file you are again prompted to insert the relevant disk. So make sure that you label the disks adequately.
Spanning makes the whole disk available, overwriting any existing files, so before you start zipping make sure that there is nothing you want to keep on the disks. It does mean, on the other hand, that there is no need to clear the disks before you start. And of course XTree issues an appropriate warning when prompting for a new disk.
This method will sometimes use fewer disks than the others.
ARC2ZIP In this method you first of all create one large archive file on the hard disk, and then copy it with splitting to floppies. XTree Gold includes a free-standing program, ARC2ZIP.EXE, whose primary purpose is to convert archive files in the now-obsolete .ARC format to .ZIP format. But it is also capable of copying a .ZIP file to a series of floppies. This facility is useful if you want to create a ZIP file to store on your hard disk, but also to be able to copy it to floppies for backup or for distribution.
Ctrl-F5 will compress all tagged files to a .ZIP archive, and the paths can be stored with the files if desired; toggle this feature on and off with P. But, since XTree will zip only files, it will ignore empty directories.
If you have a directory branch - \MYPROG, say - with empty subdirectories, and you wish to zip the whole branch, you must use PKZIP if you wish to include empty directories in the .ZIP file. Use the -rp switch:-
PKZIP -rp zipfile \MYPROG\*.*
Having created this archive, it can be unzipped with PKUNZIP -d -e zipfile *.*. Unfortunately, if you try to use XTree to do the unzipping it will again ignore empty directories.
The inability to zip empty directories is a major omission from XTree. It can, however, be overcome by storing a file - any file - in these directories before zipping. To conserve disc space I suggest you use a zero-length file. This expedient lets you stay within XTree and reap the benefits of the ease and simplicity of its Zip implementation.
But where do you get hold of a zero-length file? In the CP/M days on the Osborne, it was easy, using the CP/M Save command; but DOS does not have an equivalent. However, you may well have a suitable file lurking somewhere on your hard disc. To find it, key Alt-S S to change XTree's sort order to size, then in the directory window key S yet again to select Showall. Any zero-length file will now be at the start of the file list.
If this fails, you might have an erased zero-length file in your \TEMP or \TMP directory. Unfortunately, just as XTree doesn't let you zip empty directories, it also doesn't let you undelete empty files. So run the DOS Undelete command to see if you have such a file which you can undelete.
If there is no suitable file there, you will have to resort to BASIC - either QBASIC or GWBASIC. Start BASIC and type in the following line:
OPEN "R", #1, "ZERO"
Having by whatever means found a suitable zero-length file, copy it with the new name ZERO or EMPTY to a suitable directory (the root will do) where it will be readily available for copying to empty directories.
A novel use for XTree is to monitor the state of a network. On your network, run XTree (in a DOS box if you are in Windows) and log a disk drive on a remote machine.
How long does this take? If it logs in quickly, the network is in good shape. If logging takes a long time, it shows that the network is overloaded.
The inventor of this XTree application is John Parmigiani.
You know the problem: you have a program on your hard disk that you want to remove. It is in its own subdirectory, but underneath this are subsubdirectories, and underneath them subsubsubdirectories, all containing files to be deleted. Under DOS, you have to start at the bottom level, delete all the files, then the subsubsubdirectories, then delete all the files in the subsubdirectories followed by the subsubdirectories themselves, then delete all the files in the main subdirectory and finally delete the subdirectory. Very tedious.
Well, XTree has a command which deletes a whole directory branch at once. It is Prune, invoked by keying Alt-P from the directory window. It is of course a potentially very dangerous command, so XTree insists that you confirm it by typing the word PRUNE.
When using Prune you may occasionally encounter an error message denying you access to the directory. This usually means that the actual contents of one of the subdirectories beneath the current directory is not what XTree thinks it is. This situation often arises when you have been executing a program from within XTree. If this program has created or deleted any programs, XTree will not be aware of this unless you relog the directory, branch or disk. The easy way to overcome this is to key * from the directory window, which relogs the branch.
Another possible cause of Prune failure is if one or more of the files to be pruned has its attributes set to System, Hidden or Write-protected. XTree's error message will tell you if this is so, and the A(ttribute) command will allow you to correct it. Key B to show all the files in the branch to be pruned, Ctrl-T to tag them, then Ctrl-A followed by -R-S-H and return (after you have done this once, you can summon -R-S-H from the history by using the History).
X (eXecute) will run the currently-highlighted program. If you want the maximum amount of memory to be available to the program, use Alt-X instead. This discards the information on XTree's logged directories, so that XTree occupies only 7 KB of conventional RAM. The penalty for this is that the disk will relog after execution, which can take a considerable time if you have a slow hard disk. You may prefer to save time by initially logging only the directory tree. XTree can be installed in this mode from the Configuration Menu (Alt-F10).
If the program you are running ends by displaying a screenful of text, you should always choose Alt-X, and set Configuration to pause after program execution. Otherwise part of the text may be overwritten.
If you have space available in Upper Memory (above 640 K, and you must have a suitable memory manager installed) you can gain a little more conventional memory by loading part of XTree in uper memory. Under MSDOS, use LOADHI XTGOLD; under DRDOS, the command is HILOAD XTGOLD.
I have a long wish list of features that I would love to see in a future version of XTree Gold. But, alas, there won't be any more versions - at least not from the current owners of the program, Symantec. Does anyone fancy taking up the challenge?
High on my list is to extend the X and Alt-X commands to the directory window, so that if one of these commands is invoked when, for example, the WIDGETS directory is highlighted, the program WIDGETS.EXE or WIDGETS.COM is executed. But since this command doesn't exist in XTree Gold, can we perhaps fake it?
Well, it turns out that we can - almost. The trick is to write a batch file in the WIDGETS directory which contains just one line in ASCII:
This file must be named X.BAT. Similarly, for e.g. WordStar, write another file also called X.BAT, containing
Now to run Widgets or WordStar , just highlight the appropriate directory in the directory window and enter XX Rtn or Alt-XX Rtn. No need to change to the file window and hunt for WIDGETS.EXE or WS.EXE.
You can extend this technique to cases where the program name is not the same as the directory name, or where you normally add a command line parameter; these can be incorporated in the batch file. For instance, I run Calendar Plus with the /S parameter; accordingly, X.BAT in the CALENDAR directory contains
This technique is also useful for DOS programs using a mouse. Since Windows loads its own mouse driver and most DOS programs do not make use of a rodent, I do not load a DOS mouse driver by default from AUTOEXEC.BAT. Instead, I include the mouse command as the first line of X.BAT in those directories requiring it.
The essence of this technique, then, is that each directory where you wish to use it must contain a file X.BAT, the content tailored to the program in that directory. You can then run that program from XTree's directory window simply by typing XX Rtn or Alt-XX Rtn; only one more keystroke than if the command were an integral part of XTree Gold.
Of course, you can do much the same thing by using XTree Gold's Application Menu, invoked by F9, where you create a menu and then write a batch file for each menu entry. I use the Application Menu for the most frequently used applications only, to save cluttering up the menu; the X.BAT technique is reserved for other programs, particularly where the directory contains a great many files making the program file difficult to locate quickly.
To recap on the difference between the X and Alt-X commands, these are both used to run, or execute, a program from within XTree Gold. X provides the program with the currently-available memory after XTree has taken its share, and if there are a great many files logged in there may not be enough memory left over to run the program. When using Alt-X, on the other hand, only a small part of XTree itself, about 7 KB, is retained in memory, the remainder being released for the program to use. When used from the file window and if a program file (.EXE, .COM or .BAT) is highlighted, that filename is pasted into the command line; no pasting occurs in the directory window.
Very often in XTree one wishes to operate on a number of files at once, by tagging the files concerned and issuing a Ctrl-command. However, before taking this step you may like to see a list of the tagged files only. As so often in XTree, there are documented and undocumented ways of doing this.
The documented commands from the directory window are Ctrl-S or Ctrl-G, which will show all tagged files in all directories of either the current disk or all logged disks. Or you can key Ctrl-B, which will show all tagged files in the branch defined by the highlight position. But what if you want to show only the tagged files in the current directory? The undocumented command for this is Ctrl-F4 from the file window.
XTree has many tricks up its sleeves to ease the chore of moving through the disk directories. One of these is the Tab key in the directory window.
Tab will move the highlight bar down (and Shift-Tab up) to the next entry at the same level of indentation, jumping over all entries at a lower level and stopping whenever it comes across an entry at a higher level.
The left-arrow and right-arrow keys are useful for moving between levels. Within a given main (1st level) directory, the right arrow moves down one sub-directory at a time, but will not proceed to the next main directory. The left arrow, in contrast, will move up to the parent of the current directory each time it is pressed. But it stops at the main directory; to go to the root, use the Home key. And to go to the very bottom, use End.
XTreeGold contains viewers for many wordprocessor, spreadsheet and database formats. If you select a file and hit V to view it, hitting F will then cause XTree to try to identify the file's format and, if it recognises it, convert the view so that the file displays properly in its native format. WordStar for DOS versions 3 to 7 are among the formats catered for by XTree Gold 3.0, but WS7 cannot be formatted by XTree Gold 2.5..
The file format for WS7 has not changed from WS6 but, since WS7 had not been published when XTreeGold 2.5 was being written, XTree Gold 2.5 is unable to format WS7 files. To get a formatted view of a WS7 file, XTree has to be fooled into thinking the file was produced by WS6. Fortunately this is simple to do, and it can all be done within XTree's View function.
First of all check in Configuration (Alt-F10) under Security that modifications to files in hex view mode are allowed. Then select the WS7 file and hit V to view it. Then hit H to change to Hex mode and E to Edit. Cursor right 8 times to the fifth byte, which is 70 indicating that the file was created by WordStar 7.0. Key 6 to change the byte from 70 to 60. Then hit Return and Y to save the modification to disk. If you now hit F you will have a properly formatted view of your document.
When the time has come to close your XTree session, there are a number of ways in which you can exit from the program.
As I normally use XTree as my DOS shell it is usually running all the time, and I often just switch off the power when XTree is on the screen. While this does no harm it is not really good practice, for the Histories of the various commands used in the current session will not be updated. Far better to use Q (Quit). As a safeguard, XTree will normally ask for confirmation before quitting, but you can turn this off by altering the Configuration (Alt-F10).
Normally XTree will Quit into the directory from which you started the program. But if you wish to run another program straight from DOS, you may prefer to quit into its directory. To do this, select the directory either in the directory or file window and key Alt-Q.
The final way of exiting is only available in the most recent versions of XTree. This is to Zap, invoked by Alt-Z. All the currently logged information, including all taggings, is saved to disk, and will be read when you next start XTree. It saves a lot of time if you have a large hard disk with thousands of files, but if you have been computing outside XTree the stored information may be out of date.
The last version of XTree Gold for DOS is 3.01 ; XTree Gold 4.0 is a Windows version. Any program out there that calls itself XTree Gold for DOS 4 is not what it seems.
There are these days many bulletin boards from which one can download pirated copies of a host of commercial software, and some of these programs have even found their way onto pirate CDs. A copy of what purports to be XTree Gold for DOS 4.0 (XTG-D 4.0), originating from one such source, recently came my way. On close examination this turned out to be merely a disguised copy of XTG-D 3.0. It claims to be "a full version released by XTree. It's almost the same as the last version (3.0), but this version supports the latest PKZIP (4.1v) from PKWare". You should not believe a word of this.
The disguise takes the form of altering all references to "Xtree Gold 3.0" in all the component files to "Xtree Gold 4.0" and copyright dates from "1989-1993" to "1989-1994", as well as uprating version numbers of some of the component programs to spurious higher numbers, e.g. ARC2ZIP from 0.01 to 1.00, XTG_EDIT from 2.3i to 2.7i and ZEDIT from 2.0 to 3.0. In every case the programming code is pure unchanged XTG-D 3.0, except that most of the graphics viewers have been doctored to display the pirate's name (The House of Mayhem) during format conversion. Doctoring of the program files was probably done by XTree itself, using the hex editor, and a little detective work revealed that the two altered text files were edited with XTree's 1-Word.
The current version of PKZIP at the time of writing (August 1995), incidentally, is 2.04. PKZIP 4.1v, if it exists, is presumably a pirated rip-off of PKZIP 2.04.
To sum up, there is no such thing as XTree Gold for DOS 4.0. Any copies carrying these version numbers are nothing more than XTG-D 3.0 in disguise. And we are never likely to see any genuine new releases higher than version 3.0, for Symantec (who now own XTree) have recently announced that they will in future only be developing Windows 95 programs. So we will all have to content ourselves with 3.0. The XTree Tips series is dedicated to helping you to get the best out of it.
I hope that the recent advertiser in Micro Mart who asked for XTree Gold 4 for DOS did not pay good money for a copy.

Tom Ruben


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Last updated 05-22-18
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