Thursday, June 08, 2006

Making Explorer Do The Right Thing

Windows Explorer while usually well behaved, has some odd quirks which make things unnecessarily complicated.

For instance, unbelievable as this may seem, there's no way to sort files using extension. There is instead a generic "Type" which lumps all kinds of files together depending upon the application they are registered to.

In the folder below, there seems to be no way of sorting to differentiate between the mp3 and ogg files.

The solution is to install this Explorer extension. It neatly adds a "Ext" column. (In the Explorer menu, select "View -> Details" to popup the dialog below.)

Now we can sort by extension, and all is well in the world!

This sort of thing also strengthens my theory that Microsoft is filled with excellent programmers (They designed a file browser so beautifully that you can write an extension for it with relative ease) but overeager user interface designers. This problem should never have happened in the first place.

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Not exactly the Explorer's interface designer's problem. They can't possibly think up for all possible columns in the 'Detailed view'. Its upto the associated application to do a better job at naming each filetype. If they have a different .ext for a reason, they should have a different name for it too. So again, they cut corners and Microsoft get the rap.
Who's asking them to think up all sorts of columns?

Microsoft designed their OS with names and extensions. If they could add a column for the name, it's just natural to think that they should have added another for the extension!

And additionally, although my example involves Winamp, Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0 is itself guilty of lumping together *.obj and *.sbr files as "Intermediate files". That was what made me look for such an extension to begin with.

Read the Filename Extension article on Wikipedia on why extensions were a bad idea.
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