Product Type: Winzip utilities
Newest Review: ... longer the longer you have had it installed, which can get a bit annoying. WinZip is very fast and reliable in both zipping and unzipp... more
Allegiance to the standard
Member Name: Excelle
Date: 26/03/01, updated on 26/03/01 (53 review reads)
Advantages: Does what you want quickly and easily
Disadvantages: Not enough support of varied file types
The computing industry revolves around standards. Without them, the whole business collapses around us – standards help us to define what everyone should adhere to – how we should communicate and work, in order to encourage maximum compatibility with all others. If it weren't for these principles, the Net wouldn't work anywhere near as well as it does – there would be many different forms of the code that makes up the web, and everyone would be prepared to read different types.
The Zip compression format has become something of a standard – most PC based systems are using it right now – and it's important for us to be ready to read it, especially if you're intending to be downloading things from the Net. For those who don’t know, compression takes the composition of files, and reorganises it in a more efficient way so it can be stored in a smaller space. This is a useful technique if you're short on space, or have a slow internet connection (smaller files download quicker). As well as this, in terms of downloading, it helps to collect all the files together, so you only have to download one file rather than many to get a program or such like.
Winzip, now in it's 8th edition, is a popular program for compressing and decompressing (extracting) within the Zip format specification. In fact, it's THE Zip compression program. The demo version is free to download from lots of places, not least the main website (www.winzip.com). It's fairly simple to use – when you load the program up, you get an empty fresh window, or if you double click on a Zip file, you are presented with a window displaying the contents of the Zip file. You can then specify 'Add' and select what files you want to add from a file browser, or simply 'drag and drop' them into the main window. You can remove files from the Zip file by selecting them and clicking 'Delete'. And finally, if you
want to extract your files, you select them within the window, and click 'Extract' and selecting where you want the files to go. Or, again, you can drag and drop the files out of the window.
These are the simple functions that you would expect any compression tool to incorporate, but as with many things in life, it's the little things that set Winzip apart from everything else – that's why it's so popular. It's these things that enhance the usability of the program, and make it more pleasant to use. I already mentioned the drag and drop feature, but on top of this there's the right-click menus, the setup options and the file splitting options to consider.
The right-click menu options are becoming more and more useful these days. Right click and drag a Zip file to another location, and the popup menu has the option to extract it to that directory, or more importantly, to a directory created inside the current directory with the name of the archive. This is most helpful, and makes extraction processes a lot quicker and less painless. If you simply right click on a Zip file, you're given the extraction options, along with the option to create a Self Extracting Zip file from this file, and to e-mail this file to someone else. The Self Extracting Zip is a simple executable file which you double click on and can then extract to a directory, bypassing Winzip completely, which is handy if you're not sure if your recipient has Winzip or not. The e-mail option simple pops up an Outlook express 'New Mail' window with the file already attached, allowing you to send a message there and then with the file attached – yet another useful shortcut.
By setup options, I don't mean the preferences. I mean the way that a Zip recognises if there's a standard setup file inside the Zip. You can then click on the 'Install' button, and the Zip will be extracted to a temporary directory, and the
Setup run, with the temporary files deleted when Setup is complete. This is very handy if you use this kind of Zip often – otherwise you'd have to extract the files, run the setup files, install into a different directory, then delete the setup files after. Winzip shorten this process for you.
Finally, the file splitting options. These are getting less important these days, although they can still come in handy. Winzip allows you to span a Zip file across disks. By sets certain options in the 'Add files' browser, you can get the Zip to split across several floppy disks, and then be recombined at the other end. This used to be really helpful, especially in the days of expensive Net connections, and low storage sizes on removable media. Now, it's only occasionally helpful.
Well, that's the main features. What experienced users will be saying right now is "I knew all that already. How is this different from my version of Winzip?". Well, Winzip 8.0 has quite a lot of differences to its predecessors. First of all, are the aesthetic changes – it looks prettier, as it seems to with each incarnation. There are nice animations, and pretty buttons. For those who use it, the Winzip Wizard is more complex – this is the program that guides you through the zip creation and extraction process. Personally, I prefer the classic setting, but that's personal choice.
You can now right-click on files in the main window, and be presented with most of the options you would be if you had right-clicked on the film in Explorer, which can prove handy. More usefully, you no longer have to select 'Include subfolders' when adding files and folders to a Zip – if you add a folder, Winzip will automatically add the folders inside it. Winzip now supports 'What's This?' usage in major dialog boxes, and finally – it can be minimised during long file operations – which is very useful ind
eed, a long awaited enhancement!
Well, that's pretty much everything covered – the basics, the changes. All that remains is to say that Winzip is possibly the best program you could use to manage your file compression, it will come in handy many times, and it's quite likely using it will become like second nature. I know I extract Zips using the right-click menu without even considering what I'm doing! This is a great little piece of software, reaching perfection with these new additions. Recommended.