It’s been a while coming but… FileLocator Pro 8.0 is now available for immediate download!
In a FileLocator Pro QA “Does FileLocator Pro create an index for searching?” I once answered:
“No FileLocator Pro does not use file or content indexes and for very good reasons. While indexing can certainly improve the speed of searches in certain circumstances there are many drawbacks. These drawbacks include …”
and I go on to list resource issues, syncing issues, security issues and more. So it might seem surprising that I’m now announcing that FileLocator Pro v.8 supports indexing. Yes, I know, I’m still a little surprised myself.
However, and this is a really important point, it’s not the type of indexing component that’s always running in the background. If you don’t use the feature then you won’t notice it because it’s effectively disabled by default. It won’t be running in the background consuming valuable CPU cycles and it won’t be building secret indexes consuming valuable disk space. It won’t do anything until you ask it to.
That’s because it’s not intended as a Desktop Search replacement instead it’s more for searching large repositories of fairly static data.
- Switch FileLocator Pro to Index Search
- Create an index using the Index Manager
- Specify what should be included in the index
- Build the index
- Search the index
The index isn’t updated unless you specifically update it and the index isn’t loaded unless you try and search it, so there is no performance impact to people who never need to use the indexing functionality.
You can create multiple indexes and indexes can be shared over network drives with other people (searched concurrently) and, most importantly, the searches are sub-second ‘Search-as-you-type’ speed operations.
Personally I’ve been using the indexing feature for searching an archive of over 15 years of emails. I have a scheduled task that runs once a day updating the index and I now use it more than the Outlook search.
I still use the ‘classic’ FileLocator Pro interface more frequently because it’s more suitable for source code searching, which is exactly how it was planned. The index feature is just another search method you can use when it’s appropriate for you.
There are plenty of other changes that, while not as radical, are hard to let go once you’ve got used to them. Here’s a quick run through:
To allow for easier reading of results keywords can now be highlighted in separate colors.
The colors and font adjustments can be customized or even switched off in the Color Settings.
A highly requested feature multi-line regex, ie regular expressions that can span multiple lines, is now possible with a new expression type ‘Multi-line Regex’.
When searches take a long time it’s not always obvious why. Version 8 adds a new ‘window’ into the search engine with the Search Threads pane.
It displays which files are being searched and how long the search is taking, and it even let’s you cancel individual searches.
FileLocator Pro has always defaulted to a two phase search process, step 1 collect the file list, step 2 search the file list. This has the advantage of being able to show accurate search progress for step 2, and works well for smaller searches. However, on larger searches it can be confusing because it appears to show the search going past locations of expected hits.
The new multi-phase searching method immediately searches files as soon they are discovered without waiting for the initial collection phase to finish. When the collection phase finishes the UI then starts displaying accurate progress information, just like it used to.
The effect is to make all searches, including small searches, just that little bit faster.
Custom EXE interpreters
I’m not sure how many file formats exist in the world but there’s more than we can possibly code for. But now if you know how to convert a format into text you can do so with you own custom EXE interpreter. As long as you can specify a conversion command in the form:
SomeCommand input.file output.file
you can add it to FileLocator Pro.
Then of course there are the smaller changes, such as:
- Run reports from the command line.
- Additional warnings for common search mistakes.
- Sticky sort order.
- Stability improvements for Word and Excel searching.
- Fuzzy search option, using the LIKE functionality to provide approximate term searching for every term.
- Search-as-you-type for the internal viewer.
- Various bug fixes – such as scrolling issues on Hits tab, date/time parsing with custom formats, disabling inappropriate criteria for Basic searches etc.
- and more…
And with all this there has been an ever vigilant attitude to performance. All comparable searches are as fast if not faster than previous versions of FileLocator Pro.
For any customers still using Windows XP I’m afraid Version 8 does not support it. Sorry.
I know there are features that people requested that are not in this release so I just want to highlight a few of the major features planned in the 8.x release schedule:
- Customizable columns – the ability to add/remove columns and column options such as Author or Comments.
- Document preview – WYSIWYG view for the most common document formats.
- Thunderbird email searching.
- Support for WTP attached storage (e.g. Phones).
- Allow file criteria to be included in Persistent Search Filters.
And, of course, they’ll be other improvements driven by your feedback.
I hope you like the new changes, some of this work was started over four years ago. As always my thanks go out to you, our customers. Your enthusiastic requests, bug reports, and general support keep making FileLocator Pro better and better.
Update – 8 Apr 2016: So, why did we add indexing functionality? FileLocator Pro works great, Windows Search can be switched off, everyone’s happy. Right?
If you use FileLocator Pro for source code searching or some other text format that’s constantly changing or hard to index you probably won’t use the indexing feature. However, if you imagine the scenario of 20 telephone reps each searching a 10GB data repository sitting on a network drive, multiple times every hour, you can see that if you’re not careful the network is going to be swamped with traffic.
Or that if you were a lawyer searching through 50GB of case files looking for relevant references, wanting to quickly drill down on searches with sub-second response times, a traditional FLP content search might be cumbersome.
You can think of the indexing part as just another tool in your toolbox. A light weight cordless drill that’s good for many tasks but not if what you need is the power of a corded hammer action drill.
I also want to say that this a v1.0 when it comes to the indexing component. There is much more we can do with it and this will be driven by customer feedback.
Update – 12 April 2016: There have been a number of people unable to find the indexing functionality. In our aim of keeping UI changes to a minimum it looks like we’ve made it too hard to discover. Please accept my apologies if this has been frustrating, hopefully this should help…
The first step is to switch FileLocator Pro to Index Search:
The next step is to create an index using either the Create New Index drop-down option or by launching the Index Manager using the button next to it: