Category Archives: Reviews

Save the environment (no, not that one)

I’ve been looking for a general purpose IDE and text editor that I can use for writing simple C++ applications but also when playing around with Visual Basic, HTML, CSS and some legacy code written in Fortran (yes I am that old). There are a few contenders and I like Code::Blocks for C++ and EditPlus is a good all rounder with user tools capabilities and syntax highlighting as well as being a good notepad replacement. Notepad++ also has some very good features and is open source.

And then there’s UEStudio v12 by IDM Computer Solutions, which as they say is ‘feature rich’. An understatement if ever there was one and potentially it’s overwhelming but the saving grace is that it can be fully customised into what IDM call ‘Environments’. This means that with a couple of clicks the IDE/ editor will re-configure to suit your needs, from Power User to Notepad Replacement. You can edit the built-in environments or create new ones of your own.

Not surprisingly, I found that on first installing UEStudio, support for Fortan syntax highlighting was not included but I quickly found a supporting file (called wordfile) on the IDM website to download and copy to my wordfiles directory. Simple as that and there are hundreds of such files available for almost any language you can think of.

UEStudioUEStudio is a fully integrated development environment supporting over 30 compilers and assemblers, although these need to be installed separately and are not part of the package. A Quick Start Guide and online tutorials and tips are provided for many common tasks and there is also an active user forum.

I’ve seen complaints that it can be hard to find your way around UEStudio, which may be true at first, but once you’ve set up each environment for whatever uses you have, then its complexity is not a problem.

I’m still evaluating UEStudio but so far some of the features that I like are;

  • Environments
  • Project management
  • Ability to compile, build and debug within the application
  • Built-in FTP client
  • HTML preview
  • CSS style builder
  • Huge number of customisation options (including toolbars and menu items)

IDM Computer Solutions also sell UltraEdit which is the same as UEStudio but without the IDE features and UltraCompare, which is an advanced file/ folder compare utility. I’ve not tried UltraComapre as there’s a built in Lite version with UEStudio but as you’d expect the professional version provides many additional features.

With a little more effort to learn its extensive capabilities, UEStudio is a strong contender to be my favourite editor/ IDE and notepad replacement.

A fully functional trial can be downloaded from the IDM Computer Solutions website. At £50 it’s not cheap but if you need a professional level text/ HEX editor and IDE, then UEStudio v12 is definitely worth a look.

[s3r star=4.5/5]

Mouse Sans Frontières

If you use more than one computer at the same desk e.g a desktop PC and a laptop, then it’s annoying to have to use a separate mouse and keyboard for each. There are open source applications that can help such as Input Director or Synergy or you could use a KVM switch but there’s now a  new solution, for Windows OS only, from the Microsoft Garage.

Mouse Without Borders

The free application is called ‘Mouse Without Borders’ and it lets you share your mouse and keyboard with other Windows OS computers and even lets you drag and drop files between them.

Download it here

[s3r star=4/5]

Where’s my file?

There are lots of ways to find your files on a Windows PC including Google Desktop, Copernic and of course the built in Windows Search. I found both Google Desktop (which is discontinued from 14th September 2011) and Copernic too heavy on resources and although Windows built-in search was improved in later versions to include advanced query syntax, I still prefer to use the excellent and lightweight, free file finder application Locate32.

Locate32 is a desktop search tool that lets you search for files and folders on your hard drive and other locations with amazing speed. It uses databases to store information about directory structures to speed up searches.

Locate32 file finder

There are plenty of options for searching. You can specify file name with wildcards and extension or directory. You can also specify the minimum or the maximum file size and age of the file. In the advanced tab, you can specify whether you want to look for file names, folder names or both as well as specify from a whole range of file types e.g. archives, documents, image files, executables, sound files etc. If you need to, you can also search for text contained within a file from the advanced tab, although this will slow down your search.

The file to download and use is the Release Candidate (RC) version (32 bit or 64 bit), which is the newest, non-beta versions rather than one of the official releases which are, as the website states, rather old.

[s3r star=4.5/5]