Directory and File Explorer

Directory and File Explorer


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project, and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.


This student project aims to create something like Microsoft File Explorer, but that works on any Java platform. It aims to bring back some of the ease of the old Lotus Magellan for DOS (Disk Operating System) or QDOS for DOS. This is more of a programmer’s tool than an end user’s tool. Some of the features:


Quick Viewers implement an interface, and can be dynamically loaded. Slow viewers actually launch an app via exec. Each app has to be configured with exactly what that command looks like under each OS (Operating System). Users can write their own viewers to plug in for their own file formats. You might look at how the old Magellan interface worked to get an idea how to design a high performance viewer. It had file format reconinizers, scolling viewers and indexers. You might support a JDisplay-style interface that supplies tokens to render, only computing them if the user scrolls down far enough. That would give you colourised Java, HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) etc which is easier to understand.

You might tackle a stripped down version of this project. You feed it the program directory name or list of directory names. With a single click of up or down arrow you can view the previous or next document in the directory. By hitting Del you can delete a document. It only works on text documents. It displays the first page of the document, the date, size, and filename. You might optionally implement Page Down, Page Up. Even this mini-version would be very useful for rapidly pruning your disks of old junk.

For a more challenging project thing about how you could create tools to rapidly compare files in two directories, letting you see at a glance which files are in one directory but note the other, common to both, bigger, newer, and where matching files differ.


In the meantime, until somebody writes this beast, there is a trick you can use in windows to simulate bookmarks. Use subst to create fake drives P: and Q: attached to whichever directories are important and the moment. You can then refer to them as P: and Q: in commands, though there are no jump-to buttons.
file name spell checker
J Drive

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