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Old 06-20-2007, 04:00 PM
Don Tolson
Thoughts Media Review Team
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 749
Default File Ho! -- File Management with Resco Explorer 2007

Product Category: Software � File Management
Manufacturer: Resco
Where to Buy: MobiHand [Affiliate]
Price: $29.99 USD A fully-functioning 14-day trial version is available.
System Requirements: Pocket PC 2003, Windows Mobile 5 or 6. PC Desktop extensions work with Window 95/98ME/2000/XP and Vista.
Specifications: Resco Explorer 2007 requires 735K memory; Registry Editor requires 105K; FTP Add-in requires 140K; Today Plug-in requires 80K. Desktop PC extensions (for encryption and file transfer) require 187K.

  • Very powerful and flexible package of tools;
  • Interface is intuitive and well laid out;
  • Provides ability to transfer files to the PPC without using ActiveSync!
  • Today plugin includes the ability to shut down running applications directly.

  • Requires use of stylus to access file operations on Pocket Phone Edition (not really one-handed operation capable);
  • A 'Send To' function from PPC to Desktop without ActiveSync would be a great addition!

    When you start delving deeper into the inner workings of your Pocket PC, you quickly find that the basic tools provided by the Windows Mobile O/S are just that � basic. You need to expand and upgrade the toolkit to get any real work done. Resco's Explorer is a package of powerful and feature-rich file management tools which have been around for a number of years now. So how does the 2007 version (v6) stack up?

    Read on for the full review!

    While the File Explorer provided with Windows Mobile provides the basic functions for managing files on the device, it is limited. It lacks the more sophisticated features we've come to expect from the Windows desktop version (such as drag and drop capability) and only deals with files on the device itself, as there is no network capability. Fortunately, developers like Resco have stepped in to provide much better and more robust file management software.

    Resco Explorer 2007 is not the cheapest option available, but it provides a robust solution by packaging a significant number of tools with it. These include:
  • File Manager;
  • Recycle Bin;
  • Today Plugin;
  • Strong File Encryption;
  • ZIP File Compression/Decompression;
  • File Viewer;
  • Network Browser;
  • Registry Editor; and
  • FTP Browser.

    Many of these are available separately from other vendors, but Resco's package integrates them into a workable and cohesive interface. The 2007 version (also known as V6.0) is an enhancement of the award-winning previous versions, so if you've worked with any of them before, the interface and accompanying toolkit will be familiar. In fact, I was quite happily surprised at how easy it was to use this toolkit, after having been away from it for at least a couple of years.

    So what's new in the 2007 version of Resco Explorer? Well, according to the website, you now get:
  • Status bar;
  • File Decryption in memory (on the fly);
  • Quick-Search bar;
  • Advanced Network Settings;
  • File Types highlighting;
  • Task Manager within Today Plugin; and
  • Folder Properties � recursive file attribute setting.

    I'll be looking at how most of these are implemented in the review below.

    When you run the install package provided by Resco on the Desktop PC, you get the chance to select which options you would like to install. Some of the options are packaged together to make installation a little easier.

    Figure 1: Desktop Installation Screen.

    Two nice features of the install routines are that, as you select items, the size requirements for program memory on the PPC are automatically updated and a quick description of the functionality is displayed. Little things, but they show that Resco is trying to help out the user as much as possible.

    So, let's take a look at each of the modules available....

    File Manager
    Resco's File Manager is like Windows Mobile File Explorer on steroids. It's bigger, beefier and kicks sand in the faces of all the other 'runts' on the beach.

    Well, maybe it isn't as quite as rude and uncouth as the bullies we saw on the back of comic books years ago, but it certainly can claim status as one of the most functionally complete file managers available. All of the features have been fully integrated with the File Manager interface.

    Navigation through the files uses the now typical and familiar folder tree format.

    Figure 2: Navigation through the folder structure.

    Alternately, you can run the Explorer in split screen mode (horizontally or vertically!) to show the contents of the next level down in the hierarchy. You do this by selecting 'Show Tree View' from the Menu/View menu � otherwise, it rewrites the screen with the contents of the folder tapped, similar to WM's File Explorer.

    Figure 3: Split Screen operation (horizontal) in File Manager.

    Unfortunately for those of us looking for one-handed operation, almost all the file-based functions are only available from a menu which shows up when you tap and hold a file name. The Menu soft key at the bottom right brings up global functions for Resco Explorer as a whole.

    Figure 4: List of available functions from tap and hold on a file.

    Depending upon options set in File Manager (we'll talk more about those later), most functions will provide an 'Are you sure?� dialog prior to doing anything permanent. Drag-and-Drop functionality for movement of files can be turned on as an option from the Menu/Edit option. The File Manager also includes a built-in Search capability which can look for text either in the file name or in the actual content of the file. The typical wildcards (*, ?) are fully supported and the Search also provides filtering of files, based on attributes such as age, creation date, and overall size.

    Figure 5: Advanced Search capabilities in File Explorer.

    The 'Status Bar', described as a new feature, is a selectable option from the View menu, which displays information regarding the number of files in the currently selected folder, etc. The same View menu also allows you to include display of the Tool Bar and a bar showing the navigation to the current folder.

    Recycle Bin
    The Recycle Bin works much the same way as on the desktop version of Windows, providing a final 'Are you sure?' place for files to be stored before they are permanently deleted. Resco has implemented this through the creation of a folder called 'Recycled' in (I assume) a default location. On my unit, it selected the SD/MMC card. When you run Resco Explorer though, it shows up as 'Recycle Bin' on the mobile device's desktop.

    Figure 6: The Recycle Bin on the device hierarchy. Note that you can also access the Recycle Bin through the little icon at the top of the screen.

    Through the Options, it is possible to enable/disable the Recycle Bin and its overall size, but I couldn't find anywhere to specify its location.

    Figure 7: Setting the size of the Recycle Bin.

    Today Plugin
    There are so many features available from the Today Plugin provided with Resco Explorer 2007 that it's tough to figure out where to start. Well, to paraphrase Resco's own PR material, �...from the Today plugin, you can:
  • Check your battery and free storage/memory usage;
  • Launch your favorite applications and documents;
  • Browse the contents of the storage card;
  • Manage running applications with Task Manager;
  • ...and much more!�

    It's almost bewildering the number of options available for configuring what the plugin does for you. Certainly, most of these features are available from a number of other Today Plugins from other developers and vendors but integration is what makes the whole package work so well.

    Figure 8: Display of Resco's Today Plug-In with most of the features turned on.

    One of the features I find most useful is the ability to review and stop currently running tasks directly from the Today screen. There are two ways to enable this feature � either through a separate icon at the left of the Resco Today plug in (just below the Search icon) or as an option after tapping the Program Memory icon (dual memory chips icon).

    Figure 9: Managing the currently running programs from the Today screen.

    Resco also provides three different downloadable skins for the Today Plugin on its website plus information for developers on how to build their own.

    Figure 10: Today Plugin Skins available from Resco.

    File Encryption
    As with most of the other functions within Resco Explorer on the Pocket PC, encryption or decryption is accessed via the menu displayed when you tap and hold on a displayed file.

    Figure 11: Encrypting a file on the PPC.

    There are a significant number of encryption routines available from the dropdown lists, including RC2 (40bit), RC2 (128bit), RC5 (128bit), DES (56bit), 3DES (168bit), 3DES TWO KEY (112bit), AES 128, 192 and 256. In all cases, the user must supply a password, which I suspect is used as the key for the encryption/decryption routines. The encryption routine is the same one that is used on the desktop (as long as you know the password :-)), so files transferred between the two are usable on either system.

    When you encrypt a file, you get the option to delete the original file or to simply create an encrypted copy. The former would provide the maximum amount of security, while the latter is for those of us who are more cautious and not quite willing to trust the decryption routines completely. :devilboy:

    ZIP File Compression/Decompression
    The ZIP file compression / decompression utility works the same way as the well known ZIP function now provided as part of the Windows File Explorer. Files are zipped up by selecting the Compression option from the options menu displayed when you tap and hold the file on the PPC.

    Figure 12: Zipping up a file on the PPC.

    The .zip files produced by Resco File Explorer are fully compatible with all the usual extractors, etc. and the ones built into Windows XP and Vista. The compressor routines also provide the usual capabilities of adding to existing archives, validating archives, etc.

    Unzipping the file is done the same way -- by tapping and holding on a compressed file.

    File Viewer
    Resco's File Viewer is built into the File Manager module. It provides on-screen reading (no modification) of all files by interpreting / displaying them as text, binary or hex formats. It can also natively display JPEG, GIF, BNP and PNG graphics. The viewer is accessible from the options available when you tap and hold on the file name.

    Figure 13: Displaying a file in ANSI mode.

    Figure 14: Displaying a file in HEX.

    Figure 15: File Viewer handling a JPEG.

    Figure 16: Not so good handling the display of a screenshot (.bmp format).

    You can even display encrypted files with File Viewer, as the decryption routines are built-in to the application. But you still need to know the password. :-)

    Registry Editor
    More and more, Registry Editors are becoming 'de rigeur' for the advanced user's toolkit, as we find ways to enhance the performance of the WM devices through the registry. As most of you are no doubt aware, changes to the registry need to be done carefully and hopefully with some knowledge of what you are doing, since there is the potential to completely disable the unit � effectively creating an elegant electronic brick. Fortunately, most commercially available registry editors, like the one in Resco Explorer, guide you through the process of changing or adding registry keys and always provide an 'Are you sure?' question before making any permanent changes.

    Resco's Registry Editor is directly accessible from an icon on the Today screen Plug In or from a 'My Registry' entry in the device root in the File Manager.

    Figure 17: Resco's display of the Registry hierarchy.

    It has the capability to import registry files from other sources, but I would exercise extreme caution with that. New entries can be defined by their data type and the Editor will ensure the new data conforms to the standards (length, etc.) of that type.

    Figure 18: Displaying / formatting of entries into the Registry.

    What I didn't see was the ability to export or take a backup copy of the registry and put it in non-volatile storage (like a card) -- although it's mentioned in the PR material on the website. Fortunately, most backup programs do this as part of a 'full' backup, but it would be a helpful addition to Resco's product.

    Accessing Network Drives
    If you have a network card attached to your Pocket PC, you can map access to your network drives, just like you do from the desktop. Then, the drive(s) becomes just another storage device on your unit and can be browsed and managed using the full functionality of the File Manager. Unfortunately, my Eten X500 is not so equipped so I couldn't check this out directly.

    FTP Explorer
    Similar to the File Explorer module, FTP Explorer creates an entry under the My Device root for you to browse the content of an FTP server, just as if it were part of your Pocket PC device. This is an optional add-in, available from Menu/File/Option/Add-Ins to either download or activate.

    To connect to the FTP server, you create a session under My FTP locations and tap Connect. Once you provide the session parameters and tap Connect, the FTP server becomes an extension of your PPC and all the features of the File Explorer are available.

    Desktop Extensions
    Resco Explorer 2007 comes with two extensions for the File Explorer on your desktop PC. Both hide unobtrusively within Windows File Explorer and provide greater compatibility with the Pocket PC / Windows Mobile device. The first is the 'Send To' function, which allows files to be transferred from the Desktop to the PPC without using Activesync. It can be found on the list of options when you right click on a file name in Windows File Explorer, or can be selected from the Send To option on the File menu.

    Figure 19: Accessing the Send To function on the Desktop PC.

    Figure 20: Sending the file to the mobile device.

    Once you tell it to send the file to �My Device�, a pop up window is displayed which asks you to define the destination folder on the Mobile Device. After this is selected, transfer occurs fairly quickly, taking only a couple of seconds for a medium-sized Word document. Unlike Activesync, no messages or prompts are provided for conversion of the file to Windows Mobile formats. I wasn't able to absolutely confirm this, but it appears the files are transferred simply 'as is'. The WM6 versions of Mobile Word and Excel had no problems with any of the documents or spreadsheets I transferred this way.

    Too bad there isn't a similar 'Send To' function available from the PPC to the desktop. (Although, if you have established the Desktop as a Bluetooth or IR recipient, I suppose you could accomplish it that way.)

    The encryption extension 'Resco Crypting' seems to be available only from right-clicking the file. Depending upon whether the file is already encrypted or not, you get options to either encrypt or decrypt the file. You also get the option to delete the original file, if desired.

    Figure 21: Encrypting a file on the PC.

    Figure 22: Adding the password (encryption key?)...

    As noted above, the same encryption routine is used on both the desktop and the PPC to facilitate transfer between the two systems.

    User Customization
    Resco provides a significant number of options and settings to allow you to customize the Explorer 2007 package to your individual tastes. Almost every screen and facet of the application has settings available.

    Figure 23: Setting General Options for Resco Explorer 2007.

    Under the 'Colors' setting, you can a specific highlighting color for any type of file, based on its extension, so that it stands out in the display listing.

    Figure 24: Setting up highlighting for specific file types.

    There is a manual for the 2005 version of Resco Explorer available from the Resco website. A 2007 version is promised to be available 'soon' but almost all the features of the application are covered in the 2005 manual. Resco also provides video tutorials for major functions within Explorer 2007 on their website. There is no Help function available from within the application, but generally, I didn't find I needed it, since the functions were where I'd expect to find them and easy to understand. It was good to read through the manual for some of the finer points, though.

    While the Resco package is a little pricier than other File Explorer replacements, the toolset provided is much richer and allows significantly greater flexibility in managing storage on the PPC. In fact, there is so much power available in this package, I'm not sure why MS hasn't decided to incorporate the functionality within the Windows Mobile or Desktop operating systems. Depending upon your needs, the Resco Explorer 2007 package is probably a better deal than trying to find integrated zip, encryption, file management, task management and Today plugins separately.

    Don is an Associate Director with Fujitsu Consulting and a member of its Enterprise Mobility Community. His son is starting French Immersion in September, so you more 'Frenglish' might become de rigeur in future reviews :-)
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    Old 06-20-2007, 04:31 PM
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    I have no trouble accessing the file options one-handed. If you hold in you enter button (middle of your navigation pad) for a couple of seconds, it brings up the file options. It does not show the cirle of dots like when you use a stylus, but it still works.
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    Old 06-20-2007, 06:08 PM
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    Hokie36 is right.

    Actually, pressing and holding the action button (D-Pad) is the STANDARD method for single-handed access to the context menu in most applications, including the so-called "basic" applications provided by Microsoft. Try holding the action button while viewing email messages or SMS messages in your InBox... or try holding the action button after selecting one or more files in the File Explorer provided by Microsoft.

    I'm surprised at how often guys reviewing applications on this and other web sites appear to be unfamiliar with such basic operations.
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    Old 06-20-2007, 07:40 PM
    Jason Lee
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    Yep tap and hold on the dpad works just fine.

    However i don't understand why they no longer display the dot animation. It was in resco version 5.x. For some reason it was removed in 6.x. Although it is much faster now to get the tap and hold menu to come up. Trade offs i suppose.
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    Old 06-20-2007, 10:22 PM
    Don Tolson
    Thoughts Media Review Team
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    ..and I humbly plead ignorance. I had no idea that you could 'simulate' a tap and hold using the Enter button of the d-pad. Thanks, guys. I'll make sure I check for that in future reviews.
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    Old 06-20-2007, 10:26 PM
    Jason Dunn
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    Originally Posted by a.morreale
    I'm surprised at how often guys reviewing applications on this and other web sites appear to be unfamiliar with such basic operations.
    In all my years with Windows Mobile devices, I NEVER knew that. So it's not as obvious as you seem to think it is... 8O
    Want to contact me personally? Use this. Want to read my personal blog? Check it out. Want to follow me on Twitter? Here you go.
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    Old 06-21-2007, 12:42 AM
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    Can Anyone tell me how cna i reflash my windows mobile 5.0 software or where can i download it to flash it
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    Old 06-21-2007, 01:29 AM
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    Jason (Lee): I think there's a global registry option somewhere governing how long it takes to trigger tap and hold (and the circle animation), but developers are also given control on a per-application basis, depending on how they invoke the API that recognizes the tap&hold gesture. It looks like the guys at Resco opted for a short timing without any animation.

    Don: sorry if my last comment sounded harsh... I didn't mean anything bad and I should have probably kept it for myself. If it may help to explain what I meant, and though I understand it may sound hard to believe, I'll just add that I have stumbled in articles where it was very clear that the "reviewer" didn't even know that he/she could "tap and drag" to select multiple items or files... or use the D-Pad while tapping to get a non-contiguous selection of items. 8O

    Jason (Dunn): actually holding the action button as a surrogate of tap&hold is something that Microsoft introduced only with 2003/SE. It's not just a guideline to developers. It's something that the OS does on its own. Any application that supports tap&hold to display a context menu will also react automatically to holding the action button. It's the OS that takes care of that, without the developers having to change a single line of code.

    As for not being aware of this kind of things, well, most of us are aware of "tap and hold" just because of the "tap and hold" tutorial that's shown when you first power on a Pocket PC (ops. a "Windows Mobile Classic" or "Windows Mobile Professional" device). Considering the increasing attention given by Microsoft to "single handed operation", they should probably revise that tutorial now, and teach how to keep the action button pressed instead.


    PS: thanks for the note about the avatar policy: the one I had was old anyway, and it didn't reflect my current "look" anymore... The one I have now is much more appropriate.
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    Old 06-21-2007, 02:23 AM
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    Originally Posted by a.morreale
    I'm surprised at how often guys reviewing applications on this and other web sites appear to be unfamiliar with such basic operations.
    it seemed like a great review but that single statement made it look like the guy didn't know how to use a pocket pc. what's worse is that it's on the CONS list [on the main page]. some readers might be misled and look elsewhere if that feature is a deal breaker for them. maybe someone should write the guy and let him know so he can revise his review to be fair to the product.
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    Old 06-21-2007, 02:32 AM
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    Originally Posted by Don Tolson
    ..and I humbly plead ignorance. I had no idea that you could 'simulate' a tap and hold using the Enter button of the d-pad. Thanks, guys. I'll make sure I check for that in future reviews.
    ok he already knows, as long as we learn new things everyday it's all good

    I always thought the pressing+holding dpad should work as tap-n-hold. might be because I think of the dpad press as a tap and therefore pressing+holding as tap-n-hold.
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