Review: ESP

ESP 1.0
ESP Software LLC
Pullman, Washington

ESP is a helpful shareware tool with a simple concept that makes you wonder "why didn't Microsoft think of that?" When you load up ESP, it scans through all the folders you tell it to, and builds its own index of documents. Then, when you start typing in an input text box, it finds matching documents.

For example, I've got rather over 100,000 files stored on my networked documents drive. ESP didn't complain about the load, and was ready to go in under a minute (actually, it was ready to go almost instantly; it lets you search even before it's finished indexing). Now suppose I want to look at the source code for HtmlTransformer.cs, which I know is buried many layers deep in the complex folder structure on that drive. Instead of opening Explorer and starting to drill in, I call up ESP from the taskbar and start to type "htmlt" - Oh, look there it is.

ESP presents three panes. The center pane shows the matching files. This is essentially an Explorer window, so right-clicking to get the context menu or double-clicking to open the file works just as you'd expect. The right pane shows files that you've accessed recently (though the contents of this pane don't persist between runs of the program, which would make it more useful). The left pane tracks, on an extension-by-extension basis, which actions you have performed on files. A nice touch to this "associations" pane is that you can assign shortcut keys to the actions you've taken. So, having once looked at the properties of a JPG file, for example, you can set F1 to always work as a properties key for JPG files. You can also build your own custom file associations.

Overall, the result is a surprisingly useful tool, especially if you have a lot of files and use a deep hierarchical structure to arrange them. As long as you can remember part of the filename, you're there. You can download a trial version from the ESP Web site, and register it for $10 if you like it.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.


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