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4DOS/tcc Describe Helper


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.

4DOS and tcc/TakeCommand are replacements that add a richer set of commands to the DOS (Disk Operating System) box. One command is called DESCRIBE which allows you to create a one line description for each file. These automatically follow files when they are copied. The DESCRIBE command is quite clumsy for adding these descriptions or viewing them.

Your task is to create a utility to make entering and viewing these descriptions easier. The descriptions are stored in each directory in a hidden file called DESCRIPT.ION. It looks something like this: Freewheel mouse driver
aezs1a.exe Easy scheduler
aspi32.exe Adaptec ASPI (Advanced SCSI Programming Interface) 4.6
atmnt40ue_1of1.exe Adobe Type Manager 4.0 deluxe purchased
awent40.exe Sound blaster NT drivers
cdc-35a.exe Adaptec CDRW update to 3.5

Files without descriptions are not present and sometimes there are dead descriptions for files that were previously deleted. The descriptions may be in any order. In pathological situations, there may be duplicates.

Your utility will display this information in two scrolling columns. The user can enter new descriptions. The user can enter descriptions for files that don’t have descriptions yet. The user can click a button to sort by filename, extension, size or date. On exit, you sort and save and make DESCRIPT.ION hidden again. There is an option to exit without saving changes in case you have made a real botch of things.

There is an optional wildcard command line parameter to limit the files listed.

I have written a Java class called FourTidy that tidies the DESCRIPT.ION file, sorts, removed duplicates and orphans. It also creates a human-readable text version of the file. If you tackle this project I would be happy to send you the source.

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