“PickSync – I invented it”

Microsoft didn’t invent it in Windows 7, so I had to.

Of course, it depends what “it” is.  The idea of a side-by-side folder display isn’t of itself new: I first saw it in a very useful text-based program called Dirmatch running under DOS on 5″ floppy disks in the mid-1980s.  Dirmatch wasn’t upgraded for Windows, but as my personal storage moved to 3″ disks and then Jaz drives, and I found myself shuffling these between home and work more frequently, the need for selective file copying became more pressing and Windows Explorer was too blunt a tool.

I drafted the central core of the engine on paper on a beach on Grenada in the late 1990s.

The author in the Caribbean when the program was first drafted,
here seen contemplating boundary conditions and error scenarios.

Initial versions of the program were written in Delphi (a variant of Pascal packaged by Borland).  I never cared for the language: it was much too verbose, and I felt that Borland had lost the plot after their wonderful implementations of the C language (Turbo C) in the 1980s.  When Microsoft released its C# language and the .NET platform, I switched to that and have never looked back.  I’m currently using the freely-downloadable Visual C# Express Edition for program development.  The folder trees are ActiveX components from a licensed copy of Jam Software’s ‘Shellbrowser’ package.  The help files were prepared with HelpNDoc and the installer is Inno Setup.  The icon was created with IcoFX (and I am still working on a decent design for it, but it’s not yet a priority).

Some drafts of the icon – not finally there yet!

As the program became more and more useful to me, I continued to add features that I found convenient.  Originally it worked only with a single folder on each side.  Subsequently I added the ability to compare subfolders.  This led to the addition of the “Favourites” button.  The Safe Mode helped me to experiment. The ‘Filter’, ‘Report’, ‘Options’, ‘Search’ and ‘Thumbs’ tabs followed later, not necessarily in that order.

It has now matured sufficiently that I am considering distributing it more widely.  I hope you will find PickSync as useful as I have done.

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Posted on December 28, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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