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A few requests/suggestions for IMDISK


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#1 was_jaclaz

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 11:52 AM

Olof,
as always I have no idea if the following can be easily done or done at all, so please consider them as a few of my semi-random ideas :thumbup::

1. Visibility of the IMDISK control panel
To start the IMDISK control panel via Start->Control Panel, you have the Control Panel window open, than by clicking on "Imdisk Virtual Disk Driver" the IMDISK CPL window opens.
Once you have mounted your image, and start opening other windows, this window goes in background and cannot be "retrieved" unless you re-click on "Imdisk Virtual Disk Driver" inside Control Panel.
It would be nice if either of the following could be done:
1a. Have a "minimize" button and have the IMDISK window "dock" on the taskbar like any other app
1b. Have a tray docking app

2. Preset settings
I use (mostly) "real" HD images, which need to have an offset in the mounting so, each time I have to enter 63 in the offset box, and tick the "blocks" tickbox in "Unit of image size offset".
2.a It would be reallly helpful if it would be possible to add a dropdown list (possibly populated by the contents of a .ini or similar plain text file) with a nunber of presets for known image types that need an offset, such as HD image, Qemu, VMware, Nero .nrg, and so on.
2.b At least it would be of help having some presets, just as an example, I "think" in "sectors" or "blocks", both for size of image (it is easier to remember that a standard floppy has 2880 blocks rather than 1,474,560 bytes) and for offsets (as well, an offset of 63 sectors is easier to remmember than one of 32256 bytes)

3. History
When working with images (and Virtual Machines) mounting unmounting and re-mounting the same image(s) several times it would be a nice feature to have a history in the "File" menu so as to be able to quickly re-mount last mounted images, with same last used settings, thus avoiding a number of clicks.

4. Explorer/access feature
Once an image has been mounted, and it's drive letter and icon appear in the IMDISK window, it would be useful if by right clicking on the icon we could have a menu with entries like:
"Open with Explorer"
"Open with xxxx File manager"
"Open a DOS prompt here"

5. Size of image visualization
The method of visualization for size of the image in the IMDISK main window appears different from "standard" windows, i.e. a floppy disk image is shown as being "1.406 MB" instead of the "usual" "1,440 KB" we are used to see.

Thanks in advance for your interest in these small suggestions.

Keep up the good work!

:1st:

jaclaz

#2 Olof Lagerkvist

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 04:22 PM

Olof,
as always I have no idea if the following can be easily done or done at all, so please consider them as a few of my semi-random ideas :thumbup::

Thanks for the ideas jaclaz. :thumbup:

Most of them make me think about creating another kind of control program than a simple Control Panel applet. I don't know where to start though... There are also a lot better GUI programmers than myself out there and I hope someone could start developing something, or maybe I start for example a small Visual Basic project) and other people can develop different parts of the interface. Or something. :1st:

Other things, for example the visualization of floppy sizes etc can of course be easily changed as it is right now. Also the dialog box for creating new virtual disks could quite easily be changed to remember last used settings etc so I think I can implement some of your ideas in a few days and some others over slightly longer time :thumbup:

#3 was_jaclaz

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 06:45 PM

Gilles Vollant has written a tray docking app for filedisk:
http://www.winimage..../filedisk64.htm

Maybe it is easier to start from his source code?

jaclaz

#4 Olof Lagerkvist

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 06:51 PM

Gilles Vollant has written a tray docking app for filedisk:
http://www.winimage..../filedisk64.htm

Maybe it is easier to start from his source code?

Yes, something like that. I will take look at it. :1st:

#5 Nuno Brito

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 07:00 PM

I'm a fan of round buttons myself.. :1st:

It's just an opinion, but please avoid visual basic - I admit to be a bit partial do delphi, but if you're thinking on using basic compatible language why not using AutoIt? :thumbup:

It's free, very small and self contained using a very flexible language (also with a very talented community to help sort solving any doubts) good to create your GUI and also let others join in to help.

Look here:
http://www.autoitscript.com/
http://www.autoitscript.com/autoit3/
http://www.autoitscr...forum/index.php?


:thumbup:

#6 Olof Lagerkvist

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 07:22 PM

It's just an opinion, but please avoid visual basic - I admit to be a bit partial do delphi, but if you're thinking on using basic compatible language why not using AutoIt? :1st:

I thought about Visual Basic because it is very easy to create and develop graphical interfaces with it. Especially when it comes to the kind of interface that we were talking about here, with many user-changeable elements and auto-remembered settings, most-recently-used lists etc. I have no experience of any Pascal-like language at all actually so Delphi is out of question for me I'm afraid. I use C/C++ for low-level programming of drivers and system services and Visual Basic for larger GUI projects. I like to use wide-spread well-supported and well-known development environments so I don't think I will start a project in another language or environment than any of these.

But, if I start anything in Visual Basic I will keep it compatible with the free editions of Visual Basic. I want to keep the development of different parts of these applications in environments that are free to download and use.

#7 paraglider

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 10:58 PM

If you wanted to write it in C++ then there is always the WTL templates ( http://sourceforge.net/projects/wtl/ ). They give you all the benefit of MFC without the bloat.

I know people around here don't like .NET but vb.net / C# are very powerful languages and development environments for developing gui applications. There is now also a port of the .NET framework to linux.

#8 Olof Lagerkvist

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 11:14 PM

If you wanted to write it in C++ then there is always the WTL templates ( http://sourceforge.net/projects/wtl/ ). They give you all the benefit of MFC without the bloat.

Yes that could be a good alternative. I will try some ideas in some framework like that one too.

I know people around here don't like .NET but vb.net / C# are very powerful languages and development environments for developing gui applications. There is now also a port of the .NET framework to linux.

Agree. I think that now when we are discussing more powerful and sophisticated graphical user interface it is probably not worth the extra work to continue developing a GUI in C/C++ (even with the help of any window framework I would think). A simpler GUI like the current Control Panel applet could always survive with smaller fixes and updates and continue in plain C++ of course. Such a simple GUI never requires any particular additional dll files or run-times so there is a point in providing something "simple-stupid" as a user interface too.

#9 Oleg_II

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 06:01 PM

Well, I'm far-far away from what you are talking here about programming :1st:

But, Olof, please, please keep it simple! Maybe like filedisk utility jaclaz mentioned (it's small and convinient). Please don't make a bloated installer with a dozen of files if it is possible to make it in a few (like it is now).

Just my 2 cents:
1. Management in Control panel is good but it would be better to have somewhere near (maybe in Start Menu). Agree with jaclaz...
2. The main window is a bit bigger than it could be...
3. I agree with jaclaz that "minimize to tray" or just "minimize" button would be very convinient...
4. Don't know why but now I have a right click menu "Mount as ImDisk Virtual Disk" on any file including shortcuts...

Though I can't agree that "History" would be good - it mostly bloats system regestry (MRU keys all over) or configuration INI for a program (if it should be done it's better to write all settings in an INI file - a simple text file that is easy to understand and edit according to one's liking).

#10 bobsobol

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 11:32 PM

I'm a fan of round buttons myself.. :1st:

It's just an opinion, but please avoid visual basic - I admit to be a bit partial do delphi, but if you're thinking on using basic compatible language why not using AutoIt? :thumbup:


I like AutoIt... but when you talk about "Round Buttons" I do know where you are coming from. Buttons made with VB6 forms are just like any other buttons made in Delphi or AutoIt or any other language. It's only a little tricky to get the manifest linked in so that Visual Styles picks it up. The easy solution I find (during development) is to write a .exe.manifest, and ResHack that into the program before distribution.

My only request would be, please don't relight on .net framework. I do not have, and will never install that piece of garbage VM.

Then again, I see no real need for a GUI, I'm quite happy running from the command line. I don't like the icon in the control panel, I have too many of those already it seems. Likewise with the system tray, unless it could replace DemonTools, which it's not uncommon for me to tell not to have an icon either. If anything is added to the Start -> Programs menu, that's fine but I will probably delete it.

Perhaps we are moving into a realm where Setup Options are in order?

If you are using this to create network background stuff like I am, then having a user interface is just a pain, because "users" will fiddle with it, and then wonder why their system doesn't work right, so I'll only have to disable anything added that they can access. If you are using it on your own machine, or as a temporary install in a forensics lab, then the quicker and easier the better.

Horses for Courses as they say. :thumbup:

An equivalent of ImDisk.exe as an ImDisk.dll that could be called from other languages without each tool including a lot of custom code would be nice tho. :thumbup:

#11 Olof Lagerkvist

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 01:05 AM

My only request would be, please don't relight on .net framework. I do not have, and will never install that piece of garbage VM.

Then again, I see no real need for a GUI, I'm quite happy running from the command line.

Well, as I see the demands for a better GUI is growing I really think that a simple VB.NET application would be the easiest and best solution. They are very easy to build and maintain after all. But I principally agree with you anyway and I think that people like you and me will continue to use the tools as they are today (with fixes and additional features over time of course). I will continue to maintain a command line application with access to all available features in the driver and a simple GUI application much like the current Control Panel applet without any additional run-time requirements and then a separate GUI application more intended for the people who like self-learning, user-adjustable graphical user interfaces and who don't mind that take priority over keeping the program files small.

Perhaps we are moving into a realm where Setup Options are in order?

Yes maybe, or as a completely separate install. I don't know yet what would be best but I think that it would be a good idea to have a very small installation package with just the minimal control applications as it is now, and then another package (possibly including the first one internally) that installs a better graphical user interface.

An equivalent of ImDisk.exe as an ImDisk.dll that could be called from other languages without each tool including a lot of custom code would be nice tho. :thumbup:

That exists already, imdisk.cpl exports practically everything needed as a few simple to use functions. :1st:

#12 Oleg_II

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 06:14 AM

Separate CMD tool + separate GUI file (or two) would be fine :thumbup: (much like filedisk utility).

In fact imdisk.cpl is fine as it is right now. A user can make a shortcut to it anywhere he/her likes.

But "minimize" button on imdisk.cpl control window would be great :1st:

#13 Nuno Brito

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 12:02 PM

I like AutoIt... but when you talk about "Round Buttons" I do know where you are coming from. Buttons made with VB6 forms are just like any other buttons made in Delphi or AutoIt or any other language.
...


Round buttons in the sense of an acessible UI - one that even people who can't set up an email account for themselves on hotmail can use. :1st:


Olof, there's no need to bloat simple tools with an over complicated work environment and I really think that autoIt is a good solution for your case.


I also recommend AutoIt over any other basic type platform. Only uses a single standalone file with ~122Kb as interpreter to run any autoit scripts which we can later compile to an exe if needed and run under Win9x up to Vista.

Won't require .NET installed nor downloading hundreds of megs worth of vb compilers.

Your GUI script would surely be sized in just a few Kb and everyone would be able to join and help - wasn't this what you needed? :thumbup:


At least try autoIt once before saying that you don't like it - and I will stop bothering you with this suggestion (even thought I should promoting delphi here, but I think you'd prefer a more familiar language.. :thumbup:)

It's a well implemented basic language and a lof of support is given on their forums which are very helpfull, please visit and test to see how easy it is to understand.

:thumbup:

#14 Olof Lagerkvist

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 12:28 PM

I also recommend AutoIt over any other basic type platform. Only uses a single standalone file with ~122Kb as interpreter to run any autoit scripts which we can later compile to an exe if needed and run under Win9x up to Vista.

Your GUI script would surely be sized in just a few Kb and everyone would be able to join and help - wasn't this what you needed? :1st:

Yes I can try it, I just had never heard about it before and thought I wanted to use something very common, well-known and well-supported. If in fact this is the case for AutoIt then it may very well be a good solution. I have used Visual Basic for about 10 years and it is very well-known and supported language everywhere and that is the tool I use for most projects where the priority lies on the graphical user interface so that is why I thought about it first.

At least try autoIt once before saying that you don't like it - and I will stop bothering you with this suggestion (even thought I should promoting delphi here, but I think you'd prefer a more familiar language.. :thumbup:)

What scared me a bit was to use a relatively unknown development enviroment or tool and then end up with a lot of code that not many people understand how to work with. Again, I may of course be wrong at this point about AutoIt, it is probably more unknown to me :thumbup:

And yes, Pascal-based languages are for me something between C/C++ and Basic-based languages that I have never felt I have had any need for. :thumbup: Sounds a bit hard spoken, but actually I would have had a very limited use of Delphi with the kind of projects I work with so that is the main reason I have never used it actually. It should be said though that I find Delphi code easy to read and understand and I know a few (but often very large) open-source or otherwise free software projects in Delphi so I know it is being used somewhere after all. :thumbup:

#15 was_jaclaz

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 12:32 PM

Though this could seem some kind of "self-promotion", do have a look at the small "pseudo-GUI" I wrote for Ken Kato's VDK:
http://home.graffiti...ts/VDM/vdm.html

It is written in BATCH language, (the only one I am able to write something working) and uses the WIZARD'S APPRENTICE (Wizapp.exe is 150 Kb).

As Nuno said, an Auto-it pseudo-GUI would be MORE than enough, using .NET is like using a bazooka to shoot at flies!


jaclaz

#16 Olof Lagerkvist

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 12:47 PM

I have now done two small changes that I thought was easy to do in the existing Control Panel applet. :1st:

1. Visibility of the IMDISK control panel

I have changed the window style so that it is now an "application window" and with a minimize button.

5. Size of image visualization
The method of visualization for size of the image in the IMDISK main window appears different from "standard" windows, i.e. a floppy disk image is shown as being "1.406 MB" instead of the "usual" "1,440 KB" we are used to see.

I have changed it now to "thousands of KB display" for floppy sizes 2,880 KB, 1,722 KB, 1,680 KB, 1,440 KB and 1,200 KB.

#17 was_jaclaz

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 01:21 PM

VERY good! :1st:

:thumbup:

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#18 paraglider

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 01:43 PM

I wasn't really serious about suggesting .NET for use in a PE environment. That would definitely be a bad idea.

Only this week the MS support answer to a problem we were having at work with XP + Sp2 was - we don't support VB6 any more.

#19 Oleg_II

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 01:53 PM

Just tried it. GREAT :thumbup:


Frankly speaking if "2. Preset settings" could be incorporated into existing GUI I don't think any other GUI creating is needed :1st:


PS "Mount as ImDisk Virtual Disk" on any item is still here but I already had the previous version installed, maybe I should try a clean installation if this exist in the latest version.

#20 Olof Lagerkvist

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 01:54 PM

I wasn't really serious about suggesting .NET for use in a PE environment. That would definitely be a bad idea.

Not in a PE environment of course, in such cases a small tool like the current command line tool and Control Panel applet is perfect. Less features but small and easy to use for what they are mostly used for. I really don't expect that people need features like image file history and things like that in a PE environment... :1st:

On the other hand there are other situations where people may be working with lots of different kind of image files etc and where a graphical user interface with some of the features jaclaz requested in the original post would be preferred over keeping the size of the application files small. Also, as it is right now it is easy to build different user interfaces for ImDisk because of the functions exported by the imdisk.cpl file so it could very well be worth trying to develop two different GUI applications as the driver interfacing technical things are kept in one place anyway.

#21 Olof Lagerkvist

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 02:03 PM

Just tried it. GREAT :thumbup:

Good :thumbup:

Frankly speaking if "2. Preset settings" could be incorporated into existing GUI I don't think any other GUI creating is needed :1st:

I think I will try that before anything else. :thumbup:

PS "Mount as ImDisk Virtual Disk" on any item is still here but I already had the previous version installed, maybe I should try a clean installation if this exist in the latest version.

This has not changed. It is not looking good, I agree, but the problem is that there are many differnt extensions for images files out there. I even use many image files with no extension at all. This means that it is a bit problematic to know which kind of file extensions this menu item should turn up for... This is the reason why it is displayed for all kind of files. The problem with the menu item on non-image files would turn up even if it were restricted to a few common extensions. For example, even if .img is usually an extension for disk image files it is also sometimes used for graphical image files and other sorts of images.

#22 Oleg_II

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 02:12 PM

Ok, I can live wth that :thumbup:

Or, in fact, I'll just edit this through the regestry for myself :thumbup:


PS By the way, there are two more options if you choose you local hard drives :1st:

#23 Olof Lagerkvist

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 02:42 PM

Ok, I can live wth that :thumbup:
Or, in fact, I'll just edit this through the regestry for myself :thumbup:

Good. :thumbup:

PS By the way, there are two more options if you choose you local hard drives :1st:

Yes, the "Save disk contents as image file" should work for any drive (a bit unsafe[1] if the drive is in use but still doable) but the "Unmount ImDisk Virtual Disk" of course only works for ImDisk drives. :thumbup: The reason it shows up there is that I just added it under the HKCR\Drive registry key to keep it simple (but stupid). :thumbup:

[1] Not unsafe for the drive you are saving but the contents of the image file may be inconsistent if the file system is modified while the image file is saved.

#24 Oleg_II

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 10:31 PM

I repacked the installation for myself after changing some settings in installation INF file.

Olof, why don't you just use iexpress.exe that comes with W2k or XP systems by default? It simple, easy and makes the same simple EXE files with or without user interaction and without including other utilities inside the package? (my customized package is 104KB against official 137KB - I know, it's just 30-something KB but anyway :yahoo:

#25 Olof Lagerkvist

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Posted 13 July 2007 - 12:13 AM

Olof, why don't you just use iexpress.exe that comes with W2k or XP systems by default?

Historical reasons. I wanted the installer to support everything from Windows NT 4.0 to latest. :yahoo:




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