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FileSpec enhancement PROPOSAL/UPDATE - Summary

Posted By: Walter Rassbach <>
Date: Sunday, 27 September 1998, at 8:47 a.m.

In Response To: FileSpec enhancement PROPOSAL (Walter Rassbach)

Due to the final size of the FileSpec proposal (as updated in the second part), it seems like a good idea to summarize it (thanks John ;-) and the things I have proposed should be added/enhanced.

The main goal of the proposal is to enhance the current ZTree FileSpec feature while preserving, for the most part, the interpretation of the FileSpec strings that ZTree currently accepts... The enhancements are intended to increase the flexibility and power of the FileSpec mechanism and to allow it to be used to specify selection criteria which simply cannot currently be expressed in the current (1.40d) ZTree function, for example, a selection of all files either before 1/1/97 or after 1/1/98 (i.e., exclude files from 1997).

The things proposed are:

1) Provide a method of selecting/filtering according to the file attributes -- especially nice if "tags"s are treated as attributes.

2) Provide selection/filtering against file size (and maybe, in archives, compressed size and compression ratio)

3) Extend the current DateSpec feature with:
. . a) Additional "relative" specifications like TODAY (including some "expressions".
. . b) Allow time to be specified
. . c) Provide various "time period" forms (explicit and via:)
. . d) Provide "wildcard" capabilities (similar to filespec '?' usage).
. . e) Julien date formats
. . f) Filtering against creation, last access, last write in addition to the current last-updated date
. . g) Provide methods for specifying date "range"s.
. . etc.

4) Provide DirectorySpec functionality as part of FileSpec.

5) Provide alternative prefixes for the functions provided the prefix usage of '-' and '=' so that they can be treated purely as filename characters (this would probably require a configuration option).

6) Provide a configuration option to allow un-quoted embedded spaces in wildcard strings (disables space separation of wildcard strings...). Allow TAB to be used in place of SPACE as a "whitespace" separator.

7) Relax/enhance the quoting rules/code to match the standard Windows console usage, which allows (e.g.) this" "file.txt for "this file.txt".

8) Provide escape sequences for comma, embedded periods (which are explicitly NOT the rightmost/extension "period"), and space.

9) Implement/enable the ctrl-"I"nvert/"F"ileSpec function.

10) Allow labelled FileSpecs to be "called out" in other filespec strings (essentially as "subroutines"), and implement it in such a way that various special forms like TODAY can be overridden at need...

11) Significantly enhance/add to the "operations" (currently only space, comma, and, in some sense '-') available for combining individual FileSpec items into a FileSpec string. In particular:

. . a) Give space/"whitespace", as-an-operator, higher precedence than comma to provide a two level heirarchy, with further levels added by:

. . b) Provide OR, AND, NOT, etc. "operations".

. .This "level" heirarchy is similar to the precedence of * over + in arithmetic expressions and serves as implicit parenthesization.

12) Rather than the somewhat ad hoc and undocumented syntax/semantics of FileSpec strings, provide complete and accurate documentation of the syntax and semantics of FileSpec strings. This is, of course, made much more difficult (AND neccessary) by the addition of additional types of specification items and new "operators" to combine them.

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