Using Dropbox to access your notes from many computers

Using Dropbox with WhizFolders is the perfect solution to access your notes from many computers. I have edited this article again to make it shorter.

Here is a short introduction to Dropbox that will help you use it with any file application like WhizFolders.

  1. Install Dropbox on all computers where you want to use a note file.
  2. Keep all your note files to be shared within Dropbox in a folder that you can identify later for locating that file. For example, normally you keep your WhizFolder files in “Documents” folder of Windows. But instead, now you keep them in a subfolder of Dropbox folder, for example, in “C:\Dropbox\My notes”.
  3. Now use your program normally with the above files in the Dropbox folder. For example, open a note file in WhizFolders and change it.
  4. As soon as you close this file, Dropbox will place copies of this file on all those PCs in the same subfolder of Dropbox. It uses Internet to do that so those PCs must be connected to Internet. Now, if you open the same note file on another PC, you will see the latest changes in it.
  5. What is more, all these files are also present in the Dropbox folder on the Cloud (server) and you can see them if you login to Dropbox from a Browser.
  6. This gives you great convenience! Suppose you have a Desktop PC at home, a laptop while travelling and a Desktop PC at your office. If you install Dropbox and WhizFolders on all of them, you are good to go. You can have all your WhizFolder notes available on all the PCs in their latest state, provided you follow certain discipline as described in the Key Points below.

Read another article at the end:

Also, don’t forget to read the nice article at the end, “Using Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) with WhizFolders,” contributed by Mary Bernard, a long time user of WhizFolders.

Key points on Dropbox overview and usage with WhizFolders:

  1. Dropbox operates through Internet. It watches the Dropbox folder on all your PCs that are connected to Internet and logged into the same Dropbox account.
  2. As soon as you change a note file on any PC (change means edit and close the file), it gets the file from that PC and transfers it to all your PCs.
  3. Since for typical note files, this may hardly take a few seconds, it means your notes are backed up and instantly available across all the connected PCs as well as on Internet folder of Dropbox itself.
  4. But to get this convenience, you need to follow a discipline as described in the following points:
    A. Do not keep the same note file open on many PCs. If you do that, the file is locked and Dropbox does not consider it a change till you close the file and it can read it.

    B.  If you don’t follow the above rule, conflicts may arise when uploading files. For example, you opened a file on PC1. Then you opened the same file on PC2 and added a note and closed it. Dropbox uploaded the file from PC2 to its own Internet folder. But then when copying to PC1, it found that PC1 has this file already open and Dropbox could not replace it. This is called a conflict. Now if you change the file on PC1 and close it, it’s already out of sync with the one uploaded from PC2 and on dropbox. In this case, Dropbox uploads the PC1 file with “conflicted copy” in its file name. This is just an example. Actual process may be more complicated and may follow a different sequence but you got the idea. So you need to look in your Dropbox folder from time to time to see if Conflicted copies exist. If they do, this means you didn’t follow the rule last time. But all is not lost. You have all your changes in both the original and conflicted files. But you will need to open them in WhizFolders and do some manual work to compare and sync the notes yourself. In this case, you can take help of WhizFolders’ “View–Topics by Modified date” feature to find the notes that changed recently in a file. But this may be tedious depending on the number of changes made on each PC. In any case, it’s better to avoid this situation and follow the rule I described above. If you do, it works smoothly.

    C. Always close WhizFolders before you shut down the PC or put it to sleep. Why? Because if you changed certain files, they will be uploaded by Dropbox to the cloud as soon as they are closed as the part of shut down. But if the file is large, Dropbox may not get the time to fully upload it before the shutdown. Dropbox does not seem to hold the shutdown just for uploads because they may take too much time. To avoid this problem, if you make it a practice to close WhizFolders explicitly before a shutdown then Dropbox gets enough time to finish the upload. In fact, you can wait for it to complete before doing a shutdown. Otherwise, if Dropbox is not able to complete an upload and then you go and edit the file on another PC, the conflicted copies will be created as described above.

What about accessing your notes from other types of computers or tablets? Currently, WhizFolders only runs on Windows so it’s not possible to access WhizFolder notes from other types of computers. But we are working on a web application that will allow that. However, you can export your WhizFolder notes to Text or RTF files and then copy them to dropbox. Then you can connect to Dropbox from mobile devices or a Mac and at least view those files by any text or RTF viewer. If you make a change to them, you will need to manually copy the changes on the original PC. But still, it’s possible.

Interestingly, I came to know of Dropbox from an advanced user of WhizFolders, Mary Bernard. She contributed an excellent article that I’m including below. All along, Mary has been giving many nice ideas to improve WhizFolders. I’m sure this article will be useful to many users. Comments or questions are welcome but you need to send them to me by email.

Using Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) with WhizFolders
by Mary Bernard

Dropbox is a file syncing web application. The first 2 Gb of storage are free, above that there’s quite a reasonable monthly fee. So far I haven’t needed even 1 GB.

You can install the Dropbox wherever you want. I suspect it offers to install in My Documents, but I no longer remember. (I never use My Documents if I can help it.) The program has an option to change the path for its user folder, which is called ‘My Dropbox.’

You can use the Dropbox program for sharing files with others (they also have to install Dropbox on their computers), or to sync files on a home network. To do this, you have to install Dropbox on each computer on the network that you want to sync files with.

Anything you put in ‘My Dropbox,’ or one of its subfolders, propagates to the ether, very fast. If I put a file in ‘My Dropbox’ on my desktop computer, and walk across the room to my open laptop, the file has arrived in the laptop’s ‘My dropbox’ folder by the time I get there.

You can drop files into the main ”My Dropbox’ folder or into user-created subfolders (which will also sync across the network.

You can sync manually or automatically.

Manual Syncing

You drag files or folders from anywhere on your hard drives into ‘My Dropbox’ (copying or moving, as you wish). You then, in another computer on the network, go to Dropbox, select the files, and drag them wherever you want them on that computer.

One example: When I download a program or an update to one of my computers,  I drag a copy into ‘My Dropbox,’ then run it my other computers the next time I open them, and save a copy to the folder where I keep the downloaded files after installing them. When I’ve installed the program in all 3 computers, I delete it from the dropbox.

Automatic Syncing

You can store your data files in ‘My Dropbox’ or user-created subfolders. I have one called “WhizFolders,” and I have told the program to store all my WhizFolder files there. It’s a wonderful luxury. I add things to various WhizFolders just about every day. Now I don’t have to remember to copy the changed files to my laptops.

I’ve begun to use subfolders of ‘My Dropbox’ as the location for the data files for my most-used programs. For instance, I use Macro Express. The file that stores the macros, ‘macex.mex,’ is now in the Dropbox. I’ve only begun this process, because it takes time: changing the path for data storage in each program–and figuring out how to do it. I haven’t yet tried to make programs like Word and Outlook use the dropbox for customization files such as spell checkers, templates etc.

Nor, as yet, can I use  ‘My Dropbox\WhizFolders’ as the default folder for my customized WhizFolders spell checker and the .wzfgrp files that hold my Document Group settings. (note from WhizFolders support: we’re looking into improving this).

Tips:

  1. It’s very easy to drag files into the Dropbox from the same drive, thus moving them when you only want to copy them.
  2. ‘My Dropbox’ has 2 folders pre-installed: Photos and Public. Unlike the main folder, or user-created subfolders, they and their contents are visible on the web by default.
  3. The usefulness of the Photos folder is vitiated by the fact that, if you want someone to see your photos, they have to install Dropbox. This is a serious limitation, since  computer-savvy people are usually leery of installing extra programs just to look at pictures, and non-computer-savvy people get flustered at the very idea of installing programs.

After reading this article, a thought popped up in mind as a developer–to use this properly, you need discipline too to take care not to edit the same file on two computers at the same time.

Here is a question I asked Mary: “Does this mean you keep  your WhizFolder data files in DropBox all the time and you update directly from in there? Or do you copy it out, edit it and then put it back? The reason is that WhizFolders has the file open Exclusively while you are editing it. All this while, DropBox can’t really get its data. So if you happen to edit a file on one computer while you have its copy open on another computer will put these files out of sync because both will have new data. In other words, this would need a little discipline. Same would happen with MS Word because it opens the file exclusively. Is there a way around this problem?”

Mary answered:
“Yes, the WhizFolder data files are now in the WZ subfolder of My Dropbox, permanently. (The backup folder is different in each computer.)”

“I don’t ‘update directly from in there’, if by that you mean ‘copy the files to another folder on the computer in order to open/use them’. I open them directly from the dropbox, and they are saved/updated directly to it.”

“It had occurred to me that if I wandered from computer to computer, opening the same Whizfolder file and saving it, I could be in trouble –but so far I’ve managed to have enough wit to avoid that. You’re right that it needs a little discipline–but less than it does to remember to copy my recently used WhizFolder data files to 2 other computers.”

Also see:

The tips on “Cloud” drives at the end of the article What are WhizFolder files.

All about using fonts in your notes

Is there a single place where I can change the font for the notes?

If WhizFolders were a plain text notes application, you could get away with just one font setting. But since it’s a rich text application, you end up using fonts and font settings in many places:

  1. You may use multiple fonts within the rich text content of topics in the note editor.
  2. You may use a particular font for the list of topics (this is a per file setting)
  3. You want any new topics to start with a particular font (this is a per file setting)

Multiple fonts within the rich text content of topics

This is easy and obvious. In the editor, you select some text and change its font by the Font pull down on the toolbar. Once a topic has been created, this is the only way to change the fonts within its text. You may ask,”But what font does a new topic start with?” This is described next as “Default font for new topics.”

Font pull down in the editor
Font pull down in the editor

Next two font settings–List font and Default font for new topics can be set up for the current WhizFolder file

1. Font for the list of topics in the current file

There are two ways to bring up the settings for the file as shown–from a button below the list or from the toolbar.

Settings for the WhizFolder file
Settings for the WhizFolder file
Accessing Settings for File from Toolbar
Accessing Settings for File from Toolbar

Change the font for the list on the screen that comes up.

Changing font for the topics list
Changing font for the topics list

2. Default font for any new topics that you create in the current file

Switch to the page “New Text” int he above settings screen. Then select the desired font.

Setting default font for new topics
Setting default font for new topics

But do I have to change these settings for each new file I create?

No, WhizFolders remembers these settings and applies them to any new file that you create by using the New menu of WhizFolders. You need to change the settings only when you want to change them for an existing file.

Caveat: If you create a new file from Windows File Manager or Explorer, it gets the standard setting of Segoe UI 11 font

So if your favorite font is different, please always create a new file from WhizFolders program and not from the File Manager.

Can I change the font for many notes that I already created?

Yes, you can by using the following steps. But it will change all the text to the given font and font size. The text attributes like Bold, Italic, etc will remain untouched.

To change font for many topics at once:

1. Select the desired topics in the Topics list by the standard Windows multi-select feature–Ctrl-click. Or, if you want to change all of them, use Edit–Select All.

2. Right-click on the topic list and select the menu Change Font.

Change font of existing topics
Change font of existing topics

3. Important: A warning appears as shown below. For example, if in a topic, you have some text set to “Arial, 15” and another text set to “Times New Roman, 10” then this operation is going to change all the text to the new font and font size that you specify. Since this is a big change of formatting that can not be undone, this warning appears each time and you can cancel out if you don’t want to proceed.

.

Warning on change font
Warning on change font

As already explained above, although the font is changed everywhere to the new one by name and size, the attributes like Bold are untouched which is what you want anyway.

How do I clear all formatting of selected text?

A new button “Clear formatting” is coming in the new version 7.1.5 that will be released soon. It clears the formatting and resets the font to the default that you have set up for the New Text above. It’s a smart operation that does not delete the pictures in the selected text. So even if you select all the text of a topic and clear, it will retain your pictures or other OLE objects.

clear-formatting

On a related note, how do I paste rich text copied from other applications as “plain text?”

Use the right-click menu operation “Paste plain text.” This will paste the text in whatever font is set up at the current position in the editor. The shortcut keys for paste plain text are Ctrl-Shift-V. If you do this often and rather want Ctrl-V to do a plain text, you can switch those shortcut keys by a setting on the Settings–General–Clipboard.

Talking of plain text, why is it that I always get Plain Text pasted when I copy some information from the Internet browser. Why doesn’t it paste rich text?

You need to use a browser that puts the RTF format rich text on the clipboard. The only browser that does that is Internet Explorer. So if you copy paste information from Internet Explorer, you will get rich text pasted. But if you use Chrome or Firefox, you will get plain text because those browsers do not support RTF format and WhizFolders rich text is all RTF.

What are WhizFolder files

This is not an introductory article on WhizFolders. You should read it only after you have used WhizFolders for a while. The purpose is to remove some misconceptions about how notes are stored in WhizFolders. Even if you are an experienced user of WhizFolders, you will find some useful information below.

A WhizFolder file is like a notebook: You can keep notes belonging to a subject or category in a particular WhizFolder file. You identify WhizFolder files by their file names in Windows File Manager.

You decide what name a WhizFolder file gets and what location it is created in: The New File action in WhizFolders lets you select a file name and folder location for the new WhizFolder file. By default, it selects the Documents location but you can change it to any other disk.

Identify by File Type in Windows File Manager: WhizFolder files have the File Type “WhizFolder File” and show up with a special icon in the File Manager lists. The actual extension is .wzfolder.

WhizFolder files are not deleted when you uninstall WhizFolders:

  • When you uninstall a program like Microsoft Word, does it delete all your Word documents? No, the documents are your own files and they should be preserved.
  • Similarly, WhizFolder files are not deleted when you uninstall WhizFolders.
  • You can always view notes in your WhizFolder files by using the freeware WhizFolder Viewer that you can get from the download section of WhizFolders.com web site.

Manage by using Windows File Manager: You can manage WhizFolder files like any other files by using Windows File Manager. Copy or move these files to other disk locations with regular File Manager operations like Copy, Cut, Paste, etc.

The List of Files is not the only way to Open WhizFolder files:

  • You can open WhizFolder files directly from Windows File Manager by double-clicking or opening them by right-click menu.
  • You can have shortcut icons on the desktop that open a WhizFolder file.
  • You can create such desktop shortcuts either by the standard right-click drag actions in Windows File Manager. Or, you can use the Tools menu in WhizFolders to create such a shortcut for the current file.

The List of Files in WhizFolders is just for convenience:

  • It automatically keeps the list of WhizFolder files in “last used” order so that you can reopen them directly from there instead of going to Windows File Manager each time.
  • The List of Files is not a database that keeps all your notes. It’s just a list showing you the file names and locations of WhizFolder files that you have been using.
  • List of Files is equivalent to the “Recent documents” list shown in other applications like Wordpad.
  • There are some special menu actions available on List of Files tab, for example, search through many WhizFolder files.

Sometimes you may need to update the List of Files manually:

  • If you move or rename a WhizFolder file in Windows File Manager then the old file name will stay in the List of Files.
  • For moved or renamed files, you need to delete this old file name entry from the List of Files by a right-click action.
  • Also, the new named or moved WhizFolder file will not appear in the List of Files tab until you open that file from the new location by using the File menu or directly from Windows File Manager.

You should maintain a backup copy of your WhizFolder files:

  • Hardware failures or network problems can cause corruption of WhizFolder files like any other files on your disk.
  • Hence, you should copy your important WhizFolder files regularly to another location for safe keeping.
  • You can use Windows File Manager to do simply copy files or you can use other backup software.
  • The backup feature given in WhizFolders is a straight copy operation with some file naming features for your convenience.

You can keep WhizFolder files on “cloud” drives to use from multiple computers:

  • You can keep WhizFolder files on “cloud” drives like Dropbox so that you can always access the latest copy from another computer.
  • You have to take certain precautions when doing it. Always close such WhizFolder files after use otherwise the cloud syncing will have errors and you won’t be able to access the latest copy of such a file from other computers. You can identify such problems by looking for “conflicted copy” in the file name when using Dropbox.
  • Windows shut down can also cause such problems for any type of file. You should close all applications like WhizFolders separately and give their files a chance to be synced before you shut down Windows.
  • See some background and details in the article Using Dropbox.

Backup features in WhizFolders

Before you read this article: You should know that WhizFolders saves a copy of a note whenever you save changes or delete that note. You can see these copies in the Changed Notes program that is accessible from the menu Edit–Recover Information from Changed Notes Archive. This database is deleted when it’s over 100 MB in size but you can change that setting to let it grow till you delete it. So whenever you lose any note accidentally due to changes or deletion, you can look for old copies in the above database.

Backup features in WhizFolders

On any computer system, a data loss or corruption can occur due to any reason–hardware or software problems, viruses, etc. You must make a backup copy of all your files belonging to all applications like WhizFolders.

A simple copy is enough: You can use standard backup software or you can do simple copy by using Windows File Manager. Just copy all your WhizFolder files from time to time to a safe location. That’s enough if you need a basic backup copy.

Then you can always copy WhizFolder files back in case of a disaster. No special software is needed.

WhizFolders backup feature is an extension of the simple copy operation

In WhizFolders, a Backup is simply a copy of the file with a different name. To reuse such a copy in case of a file corruption, you just need to copy it back to your original location and rename it to remove backup and date prefixes. That’s it. There is no need to do some kind of import or restore operation from the backup folder in order to use the copy. In fact, you can go to the backup folder and directly open a file to look at it. But that file won’t be added to the List of Files since it’s from the backup folder.

Setting up the backup folder: You can set it up on the Main Window menu “Tools–Backup Options.” WhizFolders will ask you to set it up anyway when you go to do your first backup.

Backup options

In the above picture of Backup Options, the folder “G:\Mybackups” is set as the back up folder.

There is a second option “Number of document copy names to reuse every day.” I will explain it in a minute. For now I select the value 3 for it.

First you need to understand how the backup takes place. OK. So I select the above backup folder and click on Apply. Now WhizFolders remembers G:\Mybackups as the backup folder.

Backing up a file: Once I set up the Backup folder, all I need to do is, use the Save and Backup operation on the File–Save Other menu. As soon as I do that, WhizFolders saves and copies that file to the backup folder. Actually WhizFolders copies it by the same file name but appends the date and a number to that name.

For example, here is a message WhizFolders shows after performing the backup: “File copied successfully to G:\Mybackups\Backup My notes 20 Dec 07, 2.wzfolder” Notice how it made up that name. The name starts with “Backup” followed by the document name “My notes” and then the date “20 Dec 07” and finally 2 to show that it is the second backup copy of that document on that date.

Now you will understand the meaning of that second option “Number of document copy names to reuse every day” in the above picture. If I make its value 0 then on each backup a fresh copy will be created. Since I selected 3 for the value, it will create copies by the following names:

  1. Backup My notes 20 Dec 07, 1.wzfolder
  2. Backup My notes 20 Dec 07, 2.wzfolder
  3. Backup My notes 20 Dec 07, 3.wzfolder

If I do another backup operation on that day, the oldest file copy “Backup My notes 20 Dec 07, 1.wzfolder” will be overwritten because WhizFolders will reuse that copy name. So I will always have last 3 backed up copies of a file on that day.

If you want automatic backup operation whenever a file is closed, you can set that up on the Settings–List File–Backup page.

There is another option there that also allows you to save an RTF copy of the file at the same time. Use it only for small documents as it will make the operation slow.

What if I want to see the contents of the backup folder to explore some old copies? You can do that by going to that folder in Windows File Manager. For example, in this case, I can open G:\Mybackups in Windows File Manager to see its contents. For this purpose, WhizFolders also gives a quick “Open Backup Folder in Explorer” menu on the Tools menu of List of Files tab.

Important Note: Note that I can directly open a backup copy of the file in WhizFolders but it won’t appear in the List of Files because WhizFolders treats the backup folder as not a “regular use” folder.

Don’t do this: For the reason given above, please do not set up one of your regular document folders as a Backup folder. It makes no sense. If you do this then any files opened from that folder will not appear in the List of Files.

Outline numbering features, their limitations and workarounds

Outlining in the topic list is the “recommended” approach in WhizFolders because it gives you the power to rearrange your outline by the easy “Move” buttons or by simple drag & drop of multiple topics, including their children.

Is it possible to automatically number the topic titles?

The topic titles serve as headings for an outline. Consider the following test outline prepared in the topic list.

A sample outline for testing in WhizFolders
A sample outline for testing in WhizFolders

To auto-number the outline, I click on the “List Settings” button marked in the above picture. I get this screen.

How to number an outline automatically
How to number an outline automatically

I switch on the marked option “Show Numbered List” above. Here is the result.

An auto-numbered outline
An auto-numbered outline

Once you switch on the Numbered List option, the list stays numbered, no matter what you do. If you add more topics or move the topics up or down, all the topics are renumbered automatically.

Is it possible to print the outline from the topic list while preserving the indentation?

Yes, here is a screenshot of the Microsoft XPS printout of the list.

A printed outline in WhizFolders
A printed outline in WhizFolders

If you don’t get the same results, check the printing options for multiple topics. You can see them by clicking on Settings–General Options.

Changing General Settings in WhizFolders
Changing General Settings in WhizFolders

You need to look at the page “Printing multiple topics” and switch on the option “Print indented” shown below. Make sure that the other marked option “Do not print topic titles” is off.

Outline printing options in WhizFolders
Outline printing options in WhizFolders

The space before and after the headings is controlled by the “Spacing in lines” settings at the bottom of the above screen. Currently, the minimum values allowed are 1 line before and after. But on an afterthought, I’m going to allow “zero” as the value for a more compact printing in the next version.

How do I print a compact outline without the headings?

This is the best part of WhizFolders when used in outlining. It’s so flexible! You can break up a large block of writing, even a complete novel into pieces that you outline, develop and write separately. Now you want to combine those pieces into a complete text draft. You don’t want the headings or topic titles in that case. All the export and printing features of WhizFolders give the option of switching off headings. So you can select all the parts and then perform operations “copy to clipboard” or “export to RTF” with the option not to include topic titles. Once you do that, you get a complete merged block of text without headings.

A similar option is available in printing too. In the options described above, you switch on the option “Do not print topic titles.” Here is the result.

How to print a compact outline without headings

Can I switch off the numbering of headings in the printed outline?

Yes, that is controlled by another option on the “Printing” page of the general options screen. The option that you want to switch on is marked in the following picture, “Do not number topic names in the printout.” Note that printing of numbers in the headings is controlled entirely by this option and not by the auto numbering option that was described above for “viewing” the topic list as numbered.

How to switch off numbering of outline when printing
How to switch off numbering of outline when printing

Logically, this option should have been with the same set of options described earlier but I never had a chance to redesign printing options and I can see that they are over crowded. I have plans to redesign the whole options area using a nice ribbon bar menu.

Do you see now why you should be using the topic list for all outlining?

You can break up your whole writing project into pieces, develop the outline and later merge it while printing or exporting the way you want.

Current limitations of the topic list are, “No control on the numbering format and style of the individual headings.”

Currently, you can not control the number format for the auto numbering or for printing. This is not too difficult to implement, and I’m going to do that in the next version itself. Another thing, it’s not possible to change the style of individual headings or topic titles. That’s more difficult to handle but will definitely be there in the next “major” release of WhizFolders.

But you should know that you can control the font of all the titles by the same “List Settings” screen that we saw earlier. Also, the printing options allow you to select the bold or italic type formats of all the headings. See the screenshot of the options for “printing multiple topics” above.

Workaround solutions for the above limitations

1. Export to Word Outline format: If you export the outline to Word outline format by the Tools–Export to RTF menu, you can then open it in Microsoft Word and change the styles as well as numbering by its advanced formatting features for headings. I had implemented this solution on the request of a customer who was happy with the results. But I, myself, have not used or researched it extensively. If you want to go this route, please share your experience with me.

2. Put headings in the topic text itself: If you put the headings to be printed or exported within the topic text itself at the top, you can still control them fully. But then you will have to switch off the export or printing of actual topic titles by using the options described above in “How do I print a compact outline without the headings?”

You can even avoid putting the headings in certain topics if they don’t need it in a merged output. You get complete flexibility. The only problem is, if you move the topics around, you may need to renumber the headings that you put in the topic text. They won’t renumber automatically because they are not in the topic list. But this is a solution that is workable indeed as long as you don’t resequence the outline often or do not need numbering at all for the headings but just headings with different styles.

Exit topic list and Enter topic editor for outlining

How else can we work around the above limitations of the topic list? For smaller outlines, you can use the nested numbered lists in the topic editor.

Then you can use custom numbering as well as style because it is within the topic editor. You will lose the power to move the headings around though which is available in the topic list. Perhaps, drag and drop will work in the editor too but it will be difficult to select whole items before dragging.

Making nested numbered lists for outlining in the topic Editor

For this to work properly in WhizFolders, the editing caret (blinking cursor) must already be on a list item. See the following picture where I started a “numbered” list in the editor and the caret is on the second item.

Starting a numbered list
Starting a numbered list

By the way, I’m using the Advanced Editor that gives me a wider window for editing. You can do this in the quick editor too.

Whenever you click on the increase indent button, it starts a nested list

In the following picture, the increase indent button is shown marked. When I click that, I get a nested numbered list in a different format than the enclosing list.

Start a nested list with different number format
Start a nested list with different number format

The inner list is in roman numbers. But I can change the number format by the “List Type” pull down on the Tool bar.

Changing number format of the nested list
Changing number format of the nested list

I change the nested list format to A., B., … Then I click on the same increase indent button and add another nested list, changing its type to 1., 2. by using the same technique as described above. Here is how it looks now.

Resuming an enclosing list in nested lists
Resuming an enclosing list in nested lists

Now, how do I resume adding items to the “enclosing list?”

When the editing caret is as shown above, I click on the decrease indent button circled above. This will resume the enclosing list. Please see the picture below.

Enclosing list resumed at correct next item, C
Enclosing list resumed at correct next item, C

Did you notice that it resumed at the correct next item, C. If I were to click the same Decrease Indent button again, it will resume the main list.

Resuming the correct number in the enclosing list can sometimes break

You will see that as you increase and decrease indent, making nested lists, or even insert blank lines in between, WhizFolders is able to continue the numbering.

For example, see the following picture. I hit the Enter key several times to insert some blank lines. This stops the list numbering. But if I click on the Numbered List button, it resumes the list again at C. This “correct” resuming has lot of effort behind it.

Inserting several blank lines and clicking on the Numbered List button resumes the numbering at the correct sequence.
Inserting several blank lines and clicking on the Numbered List button resumes the numbering at the correct sequence.

What if the numbering breaks? There is a solution.

Resuming the numbering might break at times due to some internal rtf formatting. If that happens, you can take help of a special button. See the button marked in the above picture, next to List Type pull down. That is a “Change starting number” button. If I click that button, I can change the next sequence number.

Change next sequence number
Change next sequence number

I can enter the number 3 if the sequence was other than C and I wanted to correct it to C. The only trick is that you need to enter a number that you want the numeric list item to use. If the numeric list is of the type A., B., C., you still need to enter a number, 1 for A, 2 for B and so on.

You can use “Change Starting Number” button to start a new numbered list in the same topic.

If later in the same topic, I want to start a new numbered list starting from 1, I will have to use the same button and start at 1. In fact, that’s the main purpose of the button as originally designed. But it can be used for fixing a number too.

If you get any more questions or ideas on the same topic, please write to me and I will try to answer them in a new post.

Use organizing features in WhizFolders creatively

There are some key advantages of using WhizFolders for organizing your notes and ideas:

  1. You can arrange the note titles in a hierarchy, often with a simple drag and drop.
  2. A note in WhizFolders is in free rich text format, there is no rigid data entry screen that limits you.
  3. You can insert links going from one note to another and use these links for better reviewing of your notes.
  4. You can have links opening external files or web sites in their respective applications.
  5. These links can also be directly inserted in the hierarchical list of notes, giving you a powerful bookmarking app.
  6. You can print a bunch of notes together with an automatic table of contents.

The free format, drag and drop outlining and linking features should get your creative juices flowing. See the following presentation to get ideas on the applications that can be made with WhizFolders.

If you missed seeing the following demo from the beginning, please right-click on Rewind and then Play. Or, else, use the buttons at the bottom to go back and play

Make an application and document launcher with WhizFolders

In a previous article, I showed you how you can make your own bookmark or favorites application where you can attach detailed notes to the bookmarks to help you remember why you created them.

Here I will show you how you can make an Application or Document launcher utility with WhizFolders with the added advantage that you can keep detailed notes on these applications or documents. Moreover, it is easier to arrange your launching links in a hierarchy with WhizFolders by simple drag and drop.

Links in the topic text

If you have already used Links in the text of your topics, you are half way there.  There are many types of links possible in WhizFolders. You can read all about them in the tutorial file given with WhizFolders or in the user guide. A topic link when clicked goes to another topic. A file or folder link opens any kind of document or folder on your system. If the file happens to be an application, it is launched.

Links in the topic list

To make a launcher utility, I suggest that instead of inserting links in the text of a topic, you directly insert them in the Topic List.  The main advantage of keeping your links in the topic list is that it gives you the power of outlining them in a hierarchy. You can still write notes in them as described below.

The easiest way to insert launcher links is to Alt-drag them from Windows Explorer

Make a WhizFolder file that you want to serve as your application or document launcher. Open a Windows Explorer window on the side and inside it, locate and select the file, application or the folder that you want to launch. Then press the Alt key and drag the selected file to the topic list. This will insert a launcher link. Double-click the topic name in the list to test that the target file opens.

A few tips:

  • You can even drop multiple files this way to insert multiple links in the topic list.
  • Each link gets the icon of the target file.
  • If you drag and drop a text file without pressing the Alt key, you don’t get a link but the whole file contents are inserted as a topic.
  • After making these link topics, you can rearrange them like any other topics by Move buttons on the toolbar or by drag and drop.

How do you attach notes to these links?

  • Each such topic in the list contains its target link at the top of its topic text. You can write your own notes below that line. Don’t disturb that first line.
  • If you don’t want to disturb the link topic’s contents, you can add a child topic that contains notes on that link. You can color your notes and link topics differently so that you can identify them easily.

You can have different WhizFolder files keeping different set of links. All the above features allow you to make very powerful launcher documents where your detailed notes will help you find and remember your documents and files in a better way.

More advanced users can even take help of OLE

WhizFolders also allows you to insert ole objects in the text of your topics. For example, you can keep a spreadsheet directly in the text of a topic. For more details, please see the OLE OBJECTS category on the right.

Tips on the “insert text” menu operations

Since I’m already on the topic of Import (see my earlier post on the Import Utility), let me also tell you about how powerful the insert menu features are when it comes to importing text or RTF in WhizFolders. If you are a programmer and can create text files by scripts, you can also finely control the Insert text feature to even insert a tree of topics with rich text.

Take a look at the Insert menu in WhizFolders. Here, I will be mainly discussing the first two menu operations.

MENU OPERATION 1. Insert Text Files as Topics: Although, it says “text files,” it does support inserting RTF files too. This feature alone can give a head start to new users when importing their notes created with notepad and wordpad in the form of TXT and RTF files. Just use this menu and it gives you a file selection dialog. You can select multiple files in there. So if your TXT or RTF files are in a single folder, you can just select all of them and they will be imported, each as a separate topic.

A nice feature to get printout of program sources:

If you think about it, the above feature can be put to good use. If you understand text files, you also know that many types of files are also text files. For example, htm, html and js files that make up a web site are all text files. If you are a web designer and want to take a printout of all your web site source files, just insert them into WhizFolders by this operation so that each gets inserted as a separate topic. Then by using the powerful printing features in WhizFolders, you can get a complete printout of your source files, complete with a table of contents. If you are a programmer, you can get a complete printout of your program modules, source files like PAS, CPP, C, HPP, H, ASPX, and so on. This makes WhizFolders a developer’s or programmer’s tool to get a nice listing of sources.

MENU OPERATION 2. Insert Topics from Text File: If you have a large text file that you want broken into separate topics, you can insert a line beginning with topic: in various places followed by the topic name that you want to give to that piece. For example:

topic: topic name 1
this is the text of the first topic and can have many lines.
topic: topic name 2
this is the text of the 2nd topic and can have many lines.

Then use that file with this operation and you will get your text split into topics at the places you inserted the names. If you already have some lines beginning with a fixed word other than “topic:,” followed by topic name, you can change the operation slightly to look for that word. This will help when some other program exports text in such a way and you want to import it in WhizFolders, split into topics. WhizFolders itself uses this format when you Export a text file from the Tools menu from your notes. It splits the topics by the Topic: prefix. If you have files in some other format and it is difficult and tedious to insert topic names, you can look at the import utility described in this blog and see if that will help you in some way. If it doesn’t, let me know and I might add a new import feature in the utility. If you are a programmer, look at the next section and perhaps, you can do that job yourself.

Programmers can make this operation do wonders!

If you are a programmer and can generate text files by scripts, you can combine information from various places into one text file such that the import operation automatically creates topics in the file. Here are some tips related to this.

Tip 1: The pieces can have RTF! If you want a topic to have RTF, put the complete RTF code after the line that begins with “topic: a-topic-name”. Here is an example:

topic: topic name 1
this is the text of the first topic and can have many lines.
topic: an rtf topic
{rtf... the rtf code of the topic having many lines.
}
topic: topic name 2
this is the text of the 2nd topic and can have many lines.

The topic “an rtf topic” will be imported as an RTF (rich text) topic. Some users have made very useful WhizFolder files this way by generating these text files by programs. For example, Steve Jarjoura (a user) made a Calendar file. See http://whizfolders.com/calendar.aspx. Another user, Carl Haddick,  is using a very old machine to create some text files which he then imports into WhizFolders by converting into this format by a script. He also converted some exported text from another note organizer into WhizFolders by using this feature and a programming script.

Tip 2: You can make a tree of topics by using level specifiers (version 6.3 or later only). To make levels in the topic list, just append a line “~level: n” after the “topic: topic-name” line in the import text file. The topmost level is level 0. Here is an example of such an import:

Topic: Top level topic 1
~level: 0
Content of this topic. Content of this topic.
Content of this topic. Content of this topic.
Topic: Child 1
~level: 1
This is a child topic.
Topic: Child of Child 1
~level: 2
This is a child topic.
Topic: Top level topic 2
~level: 0
Content of this topic. Content of this topic.

The possibilities are endless if you are a programmer. But if you are not, you can ask me for help, and I can put that intelligence in the Import Utility.

Save on typing with the Auto Text feature

Auto Text is a new feature in WhizFolders that will save your typing time for often used words, phrases and even whole text blocks. All you need to do is make up a WhizFolder document containing your Auto Text mnemonics and their expanded text or text snippets. Then set this document as an Auto Text reference list. It can’t get easier than that, thanks to WhizFolders two-pane document design.

The new version 6.3.6 of WhizFolders has an Auto Text feature. Auto Text is a feature that will save your typing time for often used words, phrases and even whole text blocks. All you need to do is make up a WhizFolder document containing your Auto Text mnemonics and their expanded text or text snippets. Then set this document as an Auto Text reference list. It can’t get easier than that, thanks to WhizFolders two-pane document design.

If you set up Auto Text, you can type a word and then press Ctrl-Space to have it replaced by any text replacement, even a big block of text having many paragraphs.

For example, you type “inf” and press Ctrl-Space to have it replaced by the text “information.” In this article, I will call such a short word inf–a mnemonic and information–its expansion.

You might have seen such a feature in word processors but the best part in WhizFolders is making up the list of mnemonics and their expansion. Here is a step by step example:

  1. Create a new WhizFolder document called “my mnemonics.”
  2. Add a topic with the name “inf” and its text as “information.”
  3. Click on Tools–General Options–Editor, Auto Text. Then click “Select Document” to select the above document. That’s it. You’re done.

    Save on typing effort with auto text feature

  4. Now open a topic for editing and type “inf” then press Ctrl-Space. It will be replaced by “information.”
  5. Now another convenience of using WhizFolders. To add more mnemonics or to modify one, just reopen your document created above. Add or change stuff then press Save All. As soon as you do that, your new mnemonics are in effect. It’s the extra convenience of changing and testing right there that really matters.

Since this is a new feature, we would like to get more ideas on how to improve this and whether some things don’t work correctly.

All about custom dictionary files for the Spelling Checker

If you are already using WhizFolders, there is a help topic on custom dictionaries that you can find with Search in Help. That gives a brief description of this feature. I am writing this article to explain it a bit more.

When you check spelling in WhizFolders and get a spelling error, this screen appears:

Spelling Error Dialog

When some word like your first name is not in dictionary, the error appears for it. In this case, you press Ignore All so that the spelling checker ignores it for the rest of the session. But it is better to use the Add button for such cases so that the word becomes a part of the dictionary and is always considered correctly spelt (always ignored) for all future sessions. Similarly, instead of pressing “change” every time, you can use the Auto Correct feature to replace often mistyped words automatically. You might wonder where these words are actually added. To see that, click on the Options button on the above screen.

Spelling Options

Look at the bottom of the Options dialog. In this case, the Custom Dictionary file addict.adu is used to add the words or replacements when you click the Add or Auto Replace buttons in the error dialog. Once the words are in that file, the next spelling check operation will ignore or auto replace those words.

Can you have more than one such dictionary? Yes, you can. But the Add or Auto Replace can add new words to only one custom dictionary that you select in the Custom Dictionary pull down above. In the above picture, it is addict.adu.

Let’s click on the Dictionaries button and see what other custom dictionaries are present.

Custom Dictionaries

As you can see several of them are present. Addict.adu and Autocorrect.adu are installed when you install WhizFolders. But you can make more of them as you can see in this picture. All the dictionaries with check marks against them will be consulted to ignore or auto replace words. When you click on the Edit button, you can actually edit the lists in the selected dictionary. Let’s try that for Addict.adu.

Editing a custom dictionary

You can easily recognize the lists Added Words and Auto-Correct pairs.

There is another feature in the custom dictionary, called Excluded Words. Excluded words are always considered incorrect during a spelling-check operation. For example, in the Australian Dictionary both “organise” and “organize” are acceptable words. However, you want to make sure that “organize” was always marked as misspelt so that you could change it to “organise.” Then, you would add “organize” as an excluded word.

In which file system folder are all the custom dictionaries (.ADU files) kept? If you are using Windows XP, you will find them under a subfolder “dicts” in the Program Files folder where WhizFolders is installed. If you are using Windows Vista then WhizFolders puts them in the application data folder under your user name in Windows. For example, on my Windows Vista system, they are kept in the “V:\Users\Sanjay Kanade\AppData\Roaming\AvniTech\WhizFolders” folder. Why? Because Windows Vista does not allow writing to the files in the program files folder and custom dictionaries are meant to be written to. Can you see the effort that we programmers need to take to make sure that things work OK on different Windows systems?

Microsoft Word ignore lists: Sometimes, you may see a CUSTOM.DIC file listed in the Custom Dictionaries. This file can not be edited but it can be consulted. It is the file that Microsoft Word uses to keep the ignore word lists. If this is not listed on your system, it might be because it is a unicode file. WhizFolders spelling checker is not unicode yet. In this case, you can select the non-unicode words from that file and add them to one of the custom dictionaries by using the Edit button above. But adding one word at a time is painful. Soon, I am going to release a utility spellutils.exe so that you can make a text file containing those words and import the text file in a custom dictionary.

You must backup your custom dictionaries: If spelling checker is important to you, you must backup your custom dictionary files from the above locations. If you are using some backup tool to back up your Document and Program files, the custom dictionaries are probably included in that. But it is good to make sure that they are included.

I have also released a utility called SpellUtils that allows to import and export text files containing words to be ignored, auto corrected or excluded in the spelling check operation. Please see SpellUtils, Custom Dictionary Utility.