Author Topic: Windows Explorer Dialogs: default folder  (Read 7727 times)

Offline NeilR

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Windows Explorer Dialogs: default folder
« on: October 06, 2007, 04:24:39 AM »
This is a fairly minor thing that adds a lot of tiresome work to my workflow.  I get worn out clicking my way down explorer trees (running Win Xp here)....

I think your save as and copy dialogs start the explorer tree at the last used location for the session (oops... see below).   The extract tool always starts at the base "My Computer" location.

I think that any tool or operation (copy, save as, extract, export) should default in all cases to the folder (or first folder or first selected file's folder) in the contact sheet.  Everyone's workflow and folder structuring is different but I would think most people are like me and keep things more or less together.  Where I am coming from is that it is always a better starting point than My Computer, which forces me to use do the maximum number of clicks to work my way back down to where I started from.

While trying to articulate this request, I did some tests and I find that the all these operations and tools use different logic.  I think it would be good to standardize all this so that the behavior is the same across all operations and therefore at least predictable.  For example, I think Copy does exactly what I want:  it defaults to the Contact sheet (or maybe first image's) folder, then defaults to the previous Copied To folder for subsequent copies.  Save As initially defaiults to My Computer, then to the last saved location for subsequent saves.  Extract always starts at My Computer; it has no smarts at all.

If I got any of the above wrong, consider it another reason to use a common behavior for the default Explorer location  :)

If I were maintaining this app, I would try to build a common routine or function that is called by all these operations.  Then I could add user preferences or other tweaks over time.  As I mentioned above, I think the handling of this minor task makes a huge difference in the "smoothness" of the workflow and is worth some development effort.

Regards,
Neil


Offline Kirk Baker

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Re: Windows Explorer Dialogs: default folder
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2007, 07:19:13 AM »
Neil,

This is a fairly minor thing that adds a lot of tiresome work to my workflow.  I get worn out clicking my way down explorer trees (running Win Xp here)....

I think your save as and copy dialogs start the explorer tree at the last used location for the session (oops... see below).   The extract tool always starts at the base "My Computer" location.

I think that any tool or operation (copy, save as, extract, export) should default in all cases to the folder (or first folder or first selected file's folder) in the contact sheet.  Everyone's workflow and folder structuring is different but I would think most people are like me and keep things more or less together.  Where I am coming from is that it is always a better starting point than My Computer, which forces me to use do the maximum number of clicks to work my way back down to where I started from.

While trying to articulate this request, I did some tests and I find that the all these operations and tools use different logic.  I think it would be good to standardize all this so that the behavior is the same across all operations and therefore at least predictable.  For example, I think Copy does exactly what I want:  it defaults to the Contact sheet (or maybe first image's) folder, then defaults to the previous Copied To folder for subsequent copies.  Save As initially defaiults to My Computer, then to the last saved location for subsequent saves.  Extract always starts at My Computer; it has no smarts at all.

If I got any of the above wrong, consider it another reason to use a common behavior for the default Explorer location  :)

If I were maintaining this app, I would try to build a common routine or function that is called by all these operations.  Then I could add user preferences or other tweaks over time.  As I mentioned above, I think the handling of this minor task makes a huge difference in the "smoothness" of the workflow and is worth some development effort.

If you're willing to do the research through all of the various output dialogs that would save me some time and I'd try to get it into the 4.5.3 release version.  Please list all dialogs that need this improvement and how you think the default folder should start out in each case.  Have we got a deal?

Thanks,

-Kirk

Offline NeilR

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Re: Windows Explorer Dialogs: default folder
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2007, 07:24:27 AM »
OK, to the extent that I know where the explorer dialogs are used  ;D

I'm still in eval as you know, and concentrating on areas of interest.   I will look for obvious ones.

One of the good things that would come out of a centralized routine is that something like this would be easier to search for in the future, of course.  Been there done that many times myself and I understand your current problem.

Neil

Offline NeilR

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Re: Windows Explorer Dialogs: default folder
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2007, 11:01:04 AM »
OK, here is my suggested logic and the reasoning behind it, which I hope is not overly verbose...

Default Explorer dialog start at logic...

List of explorer calls:

   Contact Sheet Based   (use last used - in the current app instance - if known, else folder of 1st image in contact sheet)
      - Copy selected images
      - Save As...    
      - extract JPG from Raw
      - Export
      - Edit|Load Selections/Save Selections (Now defaults to a common saved folder location as the 3 "Others" below)  .TXT File

   Others (Each with a separate remembered folder location that survives the app close)
      - Edit|Load Structured Keywords/Save Structured Keywords. .TXT File
      - Edit/Set Code Replacements  (Add button)  .TXT file
      - Import/Export Preferences (I would think this is very low priority; but that's just me) .XPM File

I personally care most about the Copy, save as and extract operations because that is what I use the most.  Per your instructions I included every operation I could find that results in an explorer dialog, and what I thought should be done.

Two of the three "Others", plus the Edit/Load Selections operation now share a common retained default folder yet all are by default *.TXT files, but have different uses and formats.  I think this leads to confusion because the file picking dialogs list all these things in, presumably, the common default last used folder preference, unless the user is bouncing around with each save/load. 

In the case of Edit|Load/Save Selections, I think it makes sense to use the same logic as the other contact sheet based operations because the contents are specific to a folder or set of remembered folders.  Putting them all in one folder forces the user to pick one that's right.  This is my theory; I have not actually used this feature except to write this up.  Maybe input from other actual users of this feature would be helpful.

I think the 3 "Others" listed above should all have their own remembered folders to keep the various *.TXT files separate.  You now use a single folder location retained between aapp closes. Personally I am going to create a "Photomechanic Settings" folder in My Documents or My Pictures, and then a subfolder for each operation.  Again, I have not seen am immediate need for these features so my thinking is limited to a theoretical level.  A better solution might be to define your own custom file types, maybe all starting with PM, one for each feature/format.  At this late date, you probably don't want to do that for legasy reasons if nothing else, so establishing separate default remembered locations for each type is probably the best solution.  As the app evolves, this issue of multiple structured .TXT file formats may increase as new features are added.



Basic Logic for Contact Sheet based operations (same as current Copy Images logic, I think):

1.  Remember last used folder during the current app instance, separately for each operation, as in current Copy and Save As.operation.
2.  Fist time after each app open, start at folder of 1st image in contact sheet (if the operation is contact sheet based)
 

Should the app remember folders after App close (registry entries)?  I think this is subject to each user's preference (pun intended) and folder structure.  Capture NX does this and I find that annoying because it always seems to take me to the wrong folder.  As I recall, Adobe CS's browser starts off at the current open folder, as I suggest here, which I find intuitively easier to deal with and works better with my own workflow.  It would make a good user preference but that then leads you down a path where users want separate user preferences for each operation- copy, save as, etc.  For example, with my own workflow copy, saveas and extract makes sense as above, but export may not because some people may want their exported HTML in a completely separate folder tree, rather than intermingled in their image folder trees. 

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Re: Windows Explorer Dialogs: default folder
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2007, 02:35:17 AM »
Though I don't extensively use all the features, here's my two cents on the proposed solution.

List of explorer calls:
   Contact Sheet Based   (use last used - in the current app instance - if known, else folder of 1st image in contact sheet)
      - Copy selected images
      - Save As...    
      - extract JPG from Raw
For these it makes sense to default to the directory of the contact sheet (or directory of first image if multiple directories).

      - Export
The way this works now is excellent; the last working directory is remembered, and in fact even saved when you take a snapshot (excellent!).  I see no need to change this approach. (Looks like the solution for "Others")

      - Edit|Load Selections/Save Selections (Now defaults to a common saved folder location as the 3 "Others" below)  .TXT File
I've never used these, but here it does make sense to save them with the directory of the contact sheet.

   Others (Each with a separate remembered folder location that survives the app close)
      - Edit|Load Structured Keywords/Save Structured Keywords. .TXT File
      - Edit/Set Code Replacements  (Add button)  .TXT file
      - Import/Export Preferences (I would think this is very low priority; but that's just me) .XPM File
This would indeed be my "expected" behaviour in these cases.

Thanks Neil for taken the time to write this all out!
Hayo Baan - Photography
Web: www.hayobaan.nl

Offline NeilR

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Re: Windows Explorer Dialogs: default folder
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2007, 04:39:31 AM »
Thanks for the feedbck, Hayo.

Regarding Export, I think you are right that it defaults to the last used folder (the remembered location survives the app close), but I tested a snapshot and don't see how snapshots might affect the default folder location.  Maybe I didn't test it right?  In any event, since the location is selected AFTER the prompter dialog that sets the snapshot is completed, I don't see how a location could even be saved to a snapshot.  Does that make sense?

Interestingly, I saved an Export to a certain folder, closed the app, reopened it and did another export.  The app took me to my previous location (on a different drive than the contact sheet), yet I could not locate the folder name anywhere in the registry.  Where is the last used export location saved?  I started looking at the registry for clues to this behavior but here it ended in confusion.

Regarding the current Copy and Saveas default location, I did some further testing and examination of the registry, and I see that there are entries for CopyLastDestPath and SaveasLastDestPath; these are used to remember the last used location and it survives the app close.  I did not think the last used location survived app close but apparently I was wrong.

As I tried to say in my last post, I personally would prefer that the app default to the contact sheet folder for copy, saveas and extract, rather than remember the last used location even from a prior open of the app, but I want to be clear that that is a very personal preference that I am not trying to "enforce" on other users by virtue of my involvement here.  If I were writing this app, I would make that a user preference but I don't know if Kirk wants to take it that far.  As I see it, the current logic works well when you are working a set of folders over a period of time, it does not work well when you are picking through different folders and working with single images, which is the problem I run into with NX, where I don't personally like this logic. 

IOW, for me, the contact sheet is always a good guess for a starting point and very intuitive.  The last used location works sometimes, but not always. YMMV of course.

With that said, in general anything is better than what extract now does, which always starts at My Coimputer.  My main issue with all this started with the Extract behavior, which does not have any smarts at all.  My secondary issue is segregating the "Other" operations that save .TXT files because I'm concerned about getting them mixed up and picking files that aren't even formatted for the operation I selected.   I didn't test the app's response to that type of "user error".

I may be out and about today, in case this conversation progresses.  I hopefully have some actual shooting to do.

Regards,
Neil

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Re: Windows Explorer Dialogs: default folder
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2007, 07:23:57 AM »
Thanks for the feedbck, Hayo.
You're welcome  :D

Regarding Export, I think you are right that it defaults to the last used folder (the remembered location survives the app close), but I tested a snapshot and don't see how snapshots might affect the default folder location.  Maybe I didn't test it right?  In any event, since the location is selected AFTER the prompter dialog that sets the snapshot is completed, I don't see how a location could even be saved to a snapshot.  Does that make sense?

Interestingly, I saved an Export to a certain folder, closed the app, reopened it and did another export.  The app took me to my previous location (on a different drive than the contact sheet), yet I could not locate the folder name anywhere in the registry.  Where is the last used export location saved?  I started looking at the registry for clues to this behavior but here it ended in confusion.
Snapshots are saved (under windows) to C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data\Camera Bits, Inc\Photo Mechanic\htmlexport\snapshot\user\<export filter name>
The snapshot files contain all settings of the dialogue, including the working directory.
Under C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data\Camera Bits, Inc\Photo Mechanic\htmlexport\ a file called main-dialog.yml contains the generic (left pane only?) settings.
Under C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data\Camera Bits, Inc\Photo Mechanic\htmlexport\templates\user files called <export name>.yml contain the last used settings for that export filter (note: not all settings as far as I can tell though, last used work directory isn't part of it for instance).

(Kirk, please correct me if I'm wrong here; this is knowledge I gathered from the diverse files present)

Regarding the current Copy and Saveas default location, I did some further testing and examination of the registry, and I see that there are entries for CopyLastDestPath and SaveasLastDestPath; these are used to remember the last used location and it survives the app close.  I did not think the last used location survived app close but apparently I was wrong.

As I tried to say in my last post, I personally would prefer that the app default to the contact sheet folder for copy, saveas and extract, rather than remember the last used location even from a prior open of the app, but I want to be clear that that is a very personal preference that I am not trying to "enforce" on other users by virtue of my involvement here.  If I were writing this app, I would make that a user preference but I don't know if Kirk wants to take it that far.  As I see it, the current logic works well when you are working a set of folders over a period of time, it does not work well when you are picking through different folders and working with single images, which is the problem I run into with NX, where I don't personally like this logic. 

IOW, for me, the contact sheet is always a good guess for a starting point and very intuitive.  The last used location works sometimes, but not always. YMMV of course.
Your reasoning certainly makes sense.  And yes an option to steer the (default) behaviour would be nice.

With that said, in general anything is better than what extract now does, which always starts at My Coimputer.  My main issue with all this started with the Extract behavior, which does not have any smarts at all.  My secondary issue is segregating the "Other" operations that save .TXT files because I'm concerned about getting them mixed up and picking files that aren't even formatted for the operation I selected.   I didn't test the app's response to that type of "user error".

I may be out and about today, in case this conversation progresses.  I hopefully have some actual shooting to do.
Ah, yes... Taking actual pictures, now that's a novel thought...  Ah well, next weekend we are on a short break with friends in Belgium so finally some time and reasons to take pictures  8)

Cheers.
Hayo Baan - Photography
Web: www.hayobaan.nl

Offline Kirk Baker

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Re: Windows Explorer Dialogs: default folder
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2007, 10:09:06 AM »
Neil,

List of explorer calls:
      - extract JPG from Raw
      - Edit|Load Selections/Save Selections (Now defaults to a common saved folder location as the 3 "Others" below)  .TXT File

I think the 3 "Others" listed above should all have their own remembered folders to keep the various *.TXT files separate.  You now use a single folder location retained between aapp closes. Personally I am going to create a "Photomechanic Settings" folder in My Documents or My Pictures, and then a subfolder for each operation.  Again, I have not seen am immediate need for these features so my thinking is limited to a theoretical level.  A better solution might be to define your own custom file types, maybe all starting with PM, one for each feature/format.  At this late date, you probably don't want to do that for legasy reasons if nothing else, so establishing separate default remembered locations for each type is probably the best solution.  As the app evolves, this issue of multiple structured .TXT file formats may increase as new features are added.

We don't want to create new file types unless it is really necessary.  Files that can be manipulated by a text editor will end in the .TXT extension.  Selects files are just a list of paths.  Code Replacements are definitely meant to be edited by a text editor.  Structured Keywords files are just tab-separated text files.  We encourage users to make large changes via a text editor.  Small changes can be made in the Structured Keywords dialogs themselves.

I would expect that users would name their files in such a way that the base name would be descriptive enough for them to discern each file's usage.

That said, I have made the following changes:

The "Extract JPEG Previews from RAW photos" tool now remembers/restores the last path chosen if you are not telling it to extract to the source folder.

The Load Selection and Save Selection dialogs now default to the Contact Sheet's primary path.

No other dialogs were modified in any significant way.

What I would like to do for the Save as dialog in 4.6 is to have some choices:

1) Choose path (will prompt you each time but will start with last path used which is the current behavior)
2) Save to source folder (won't prompt you, will save each image where its original came from)
3) Save to path (which would have a Set... button)
4) Save to path + folder name (which would add a text field where you could enter variables)

I'm open to ideas for the Copy dialog.

-Kirk

Offline NeilR

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Re: Windows Explorer Dialogs: default folder
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2007, 11:24:44 AM »
Hi Kirk,

Sounds like a plan.  I'm not sure why you would want to treat Copy any different than Save As... in terms of the default behavior.  The more consistent, the less confusion among the users and the less complex the documentation, and, I would think, the code.

The 4.5.3 beta expires today.  What is the plan?  Do we have to step back to 4.5.2 tomorrow?

Regards,
Neil
« Last Edit: October 15, 2007, 11:43:10 AM by NeilR »

Offline Kirk Baker

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Re: Windows Explorer Dialogs: default folder
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2007, 11:36:27 AM »
Neil,

Sounds like a plan.  I'm not sure why you would want to treat Copy and different than Save as in terms of the default behavior.  The more consistent, the less confusion among the users and the less complex the documentation, and, I would think, the code.

The 4.5.3 beta expires today.  What is the plan?  Do we have to step back to 4.5.2 tomorrow?

A new beta will arrive shortly.

-Kirk

Offline Frantisek Vlcek

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Re: Windows Explorer Dialogs: default folder
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2007, 03:04:32 PM »
Hi Kirk, what would certainly be great if the save as/copy to/... dialogues offered some sort of variable/custom name expansion. As the usual workflow goes, I ingest the card, do selects, than copy the selects to a working folder for editing in Photoshop (as I don't want to touch the ingested "originals"). Some way of just hitting Command-Y/S and having the variables do the rest of work would be great. Like "'current folder name'\Edit" or "\Edit\'datesort'\'current folder name'" and similar. Or at least the option on Windows, to type in the path for save as/... .Currently only the tree opens, which is very slow to navigate (windows fault, not Photo mechanic's). But there are folder choice dialogues in Windows that allow one to write the exact path, maybe it could even work with the variables.

Thanks for the great work, Frantisek

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Re: Windows Explorer Dialogs: default folder
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2007, 04:03:14 PM »
Sounds like a plan.  I'm not sure why you would want to treat Copy any different than Save As...

I completely agree. A system entirely consistent is more easyer to get used to than one working some times this way some times that way. Especially all of them using the same window, same appearance just different work. The standardization mentioned above is a good step forward but some time earlier in other threads Kirk mentioned the possibility of rewriting the entire save/copy dialog. Maybe this is what you mean by the quoted part below?

What I would like to do for the Save as dialog in 4.6 is to have some choices:
1) Choose path (will prompt you each time but will start with last path used which is the current behavior)
2) Save to source folder (won't prompt you, will save each image where its original came from)
3) Save to path (which would have a Set... button)
4) Save to path + folder name (which would add a text field where you could enter variables)
I'm open to ideas for the Copy dialog.

These options sound great, but I hope to convince you to add a list of last used paths/folders for even more options. I would really like to see the options mentioned in http://forums.camerabits.com/index.php?topic=1229.msg9491#msg9491this topic. It would really enhance the options to have the list of last used folders, and if clicked on the list one would be able to edit the path to his liking in the text field.
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