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August 1999

DragText 3.1

Robert Shallenberg bobshall@sd.znet.com


One of the most attractive features of OS/2's WorkPlace Shell is its ability to allow the user to drag and drop files, program objects, URL objects, and windows. DragText 3.1 extends the drag and drop (and pickup and drop) ability to text. and in addition it can do many other interesting and useful things. For example, for DragText-enabled programs it allows the user to set local environment variables, to schedule programs to open at a future time, to link from a program to other objects, and much more. My attention was drawn to DragText by favorable comments on a user group's website, and I downloaded version 3.0 to try. Within a couple of weeks, I registered it and not long after that version 3.1 was issued. The program quickly became indispensable to me. DragText is partly freeware and partly shareware; the basic features are free: they and the DTProgram WPS class may be used indefinitely without nags. There is a six-week trial period for the extended features.

The program's requirements are simple: any flavor of Warp (versions of OS/2 before Warp won't work) and it is reported to work with Aurora. Unzipped, about 700 kb of space on a hard drive is required. System requirements: about 100k globally and 4k per process, according to the author.

This economy is evident while DragText is running. On my system (Thinkpad380, 166 Mhz Pentium, 80 Mb RAM) there is no noticeable impact on execution or loading speed with all three of DragText's WPS classes installed.


To install, unzip DRGTXT31.ZIP into a temporary directory. When that's done, the text files DTREADME.TXT, subtitled "Quick Start for DragText", and the installation instructions, DTSETUP.TXT are available. (If you have an earlier version installed be on the lookout for some special instructions in the latter file.) Next, run DTSETUP.EXE. Change the defaults to suit your needs; among its option are choices to install any or all of three WPS classes, to be described below. If you run more than one version of Warp on the same machine, you might want to install DragText on a partition which is common to them. If you do that, you can run the setup program under each of the different versions of Warp from the common directory, and it will register classes and create objects in each version with no need to copy files. After DTSetup has finished its work, it will tell you if the installation completed successfully, or if it has encountered errors. Installation was easy, fast and without problem for me.

After the program has been installed, it can be run at once, since nothing has been changed in Config.Sys. When the program has been started clicking the DragText icon a second time opens the Options Notebook which allows you to customize the program. This can be done at any time after the program has been started. Below is the first page of the Notebook, showing some of the options for the basic, free, features.

There are twenty-two pages in the Notebook, an indication of the number of controls the program allows. The Notebook's six sections--Basic, Files, Vio, WPS, Disable, and Info--each have general help, and there is specific help for each of the pages in the section. For example, the first page of the Files section and its associated help entry is shown below.

Note the small button marked with a '?' next to the entryfield text in the first illustration. Buttons such as this bring up "Quick Help" specific to the item, for items that need further clarification.

Basic Features

The Basic Features (i.e. the freeware parts) of DragText allow drag and drop to be used to copy, move, or delete the text found in standard edit windows, listboxes, entry fields, etc. and you can drag from a window without bringing it to the top. In addition you can enter the name of a file by dropping its icon into a window.

When dragging text between windows, a default action can be set either to copy or move the text. A similar choice exists for text dragged within a window. Override "move" defaults by pressing "ctrl" to copy. Override "copy" defaults by pressing "shift" to move.

Dropped text may be highlighted or not. Highlighting allows just-dropped text to be copied again if desired, or moved or deleted in case of a mistaken drop. When dropping text from another window into an entry field it can be set either to insert or replace the existing contents of the field. (Listboxes, combo boxes, spin buttons, entry fields and multiline entry fields are each handled differently by DragText.)

You can enable or disable "Background Drag". When enabled, highlighted material in one window can be dragged to another which is over the first. The "covered" window must show enough so that the pointer touches it. In general, dragging from anywhere on a window drags any highlighted text, visible or not, to the current cursor position.

Extended Features

The following quote gives a brief introduction to the extended (shareware) features of the program:

"DragText's Extended features integrate text with files, WPS objects, and the clipboard, and add support for pickup-and-drop and VIO (command-line) windows."

The extended features enable DragText to create files when text is dropped on the desktop or in a folder and to create a URL "...if the text dropped on the desktop or in a folder is recognized as a Uniform Resource Locator". File titles are derived from the content of the first few words of the dropped text and URL titles are based on the URL itself. Naming conventions may be changed and criteria for recognizing strings as URLs may be extended and changed using pages from the DragText Options Notebook. URL objects appear over windows and objects where objects can be dropped (desktop, other WPS folders, web browser objects and the browser itself) if the appropriate classes are registered. Otherwise they appear as temporary files.

The Files section of the DragText properties notebook allows defaults to be set for the result of dropping files other than DT-files (described later) in various contexts. Whether the drop will enter the dropped file's name or its contents may be chosen, and the default choice may be overridden using the "alt" key.

Dropping a WPS folder on a multiline entry field while pressing "alt" inserts a formatted listing of the directory's contents. A page in the Files section allows details of the listing to be set: which files to include and formatting of title and body of the listing.

As a safety measure and to allow text to be dropped on windows and objects that accept only files, one can choose to have a temporary file made for each drag or pickup of text or URL, or only for URLS, or not at all. The default name and path for all temporary files can be changed on a page in this section.

VIO Windows

Another of the extended features allows support for VIO (OS/2 and DOS command line) windows to be enabled. When enabled, text and files may be dragged and dropped to and from VIO windows. It is possible to set mouse marking so that all the usual mouse functions of marking, copying to the clipboard, and pasting from the clipboard are available. Defaults are set in the DragText Options notebook, and each VIO window has a DragText submenu which allow the settings to be changed for the window.

Pickup and Drop

Any window that will allow drag and drop will also allow pickup and drop. Pressing alt-MB2 picks up selected text and URLs if the feature is enabled, while ctrl-alt-MB2 picks up all text in the window for listboxes, VIO windows and multi-line entry fields. You can drop the copied text into a DragText-enabled window, or over the desktop or other folder copy it into a DTFile. While DragText cannot pick up objects accessed by the Window and Text links to be described below, this feature allows you to drop objects and files picked up by the WPS. Depending on the object, and modifying keys used with MB2, dropping will insert contents, path, or (for folders) formatted directory listing.

Drop to Open

If this option is enabled, dropping an object on any system menu button will either locate the object (by opening the folder which contains it) or open the default view of the dropped object. Either of these may be set as the default result. and the default can be overridden by adding the "alt" key . Whatever the default, dropping after ctrl-drag will result in the object's System Menu being shown.

Window Links

This feature establishes a link between a window and the object which opened it. Two items on the Options Menu of DragText allow you to enable viewing the object's menu and/or dragging the object.

Enabling allows you to drag the object by placing the mouse pointer on the window's System Menu button and dragging. This has the same effect as dragging the object from its WPS folder, but by default a shadow is created when the object is dropped. (This may work differently for programs which have their own drag and drop facilities.)

When enabled, clicking the mouse's drag button on a window's System Menu button will display the menu of the object that opened the window. The first item on this menu is the object's title; selecting it will locate the object and open the folder which contains it.

If you are viewing a file using an editor, for example, clicking the System Menu button opens the menu of the file object or drags a shadow. To bring up the menu for the editor object or drag it, ctrl-click on the button.

Text Links

It is possible to have access to WPS objects directly from text. By highlighting a filename or object ID you can drag the object indicated, or open its menu, if these features are enabled.

Drag the object by holding ctrl-shift while dragging the highlighted name or ID. As with Window Links, dropping results in a shadow of the object.

Holding ctrl-shift while clicking MB-2 on the highlighted object name or ID opens the menu of the indicated object. As with Window Links, the first menu item shows the object's title; by selecting it you can locate it and open the folder that contains it.

DragText's Options Notebook Page which allows Text Links to be enabled also has an entry field in which you can specify paths for any frequently used files and directories not listed in the path statement of config.sys, and the root directories of any partitions that the current version of Warp would access. Root directories of FAT and HPFS drives are detected and included by default, but roots of JFS drives must be entered manually. DragText doesn't distinguish between OS/2's partitions and those FAT drives for DOS and Windows; these can be edited out, as can drives or partitions used by other versions and installations of Warp.

These final two features, Window Links and Text Links are unexpectedly powerful tools for navigating the desktop. As I write this, I can type "PMVIEW.EXE", select it (without quotes), click ctrl-shift-MB2 on it, and the System Menu for the PMView folder comes up. The folder can be opened, or the folder that contains it.

WPS Classes

Registering the program allows the extended features, including the "DTFile" and "DTClip" WPS classes, to be used after the six-week free trial period. Options for the DTFile class are set in DragText's Options Notebook. Once installed, any or all the three classes can be removed or reinstalled from the Options Notebook.


If this WPS class is installed, you can create a DTFile by dragging (or picking up) text and dropping it on the desktop or in a WPS folder. DTFiles differ from standard files in that text can be appended to a DTFile's contents by dropping new text or a file on the DTFile's icon. There are a number of options which determine how the newly appended text will be separated from the old, and these options can be set individually for each DTFile in use, using a page in the file's Properties notebook. A second notebook page allows identical options to be set for DT-files system-wide. Screen shot below.

The Default button allows a return to the system-wide defaults. The second page default button restores the built-in system default. The %d and %t symbols that appear in the Separator edit window allow time and/or date stamping of each inserted item as options. DTFiles are very convenient for dropping URLs from the internet for later exploration rather than adding to a bookmark file. File names are derived from the first text material.


When the DTClip class is installed, the DragText program icon is joined on the desktop by a second icon, this one for DTClip. The latter icon is fixed in place--if you want to move it to a more convenient location it is possible, but not by the usual drag and drop method. Its immobility allows a very convenient use: any text (but not graphics) copied to the clipboard can be dragged directly from the DTClip icon. Text dropped on the icon will be copied to the clipboard, replacing the current contents. To append the dragged text to the clipboard's contents, drag the text on top of the icon and quickly press and release the 'insert' key.

Double clicking on the DTClip icon opens a viewing/editing window to which {optionally) text copied to the clipboard is inserted either at the cursor, or before or after the current content, either with or without a separator (which can be a string of text characters, a blank line or a line feed). Another set of options enables text to be dropped on the title bar of any application not disabled for DragText, appending the dropped text to DTClip's window (handled in the same way the window handles text from the clipboard), and optionally opening the window if it is closed. Text may also be dropped on the window in which case it can be inserted normally, or handled in the same way as above. Word wrap may be set on, the window may be set to float, to rise or to act as a normal window. It can be set to cooperate with other clipboard viewers that might be active. The options are set in DTClip's own Properties notebook, but most can also be set using the window's menu bar.

URLs may also be dropped on or sent to the window. They will appear as text in the window, appended as described above.

You can open more than one DTClip window at a time, and once open they act independently. (Options set in the properties notebook act on all instances of the window, while those set using the window's menu bar are independent and act only for that specific window.) It is also possible to create more than one DTClip object, and have independent default settings. Following is an image of the window with text sent to it in different ways and showing word wrap.

At the bottom of the window is a status bar which shows the settings in effect, which can be changed by clicking. At the right end of the bar are switches which allow clearing the window and pasting (see below).

With word wrap on, the window can serve as an editor, and as a collection point for material of any sort copied to the clipboard or dropped on a program's title bar. Items dropped on a titlebar open the window. If something has been saved to the clipboard before the window is opened, it can be appended to the window by pressing the "paste button".


Installing the "DTProgram" WPS class, which is included as a free "bonus" feature, adds functionality summarized by the following quote from the text version of the Help file:

"... you can:

These features are described in detail in the following sections: "

The Help file goes on to give very detailed information about the DTProgram class and what it does, and the use of the pages it adds to the Properties notebook of program objects for which DragText is enabled. The descriptions are clear, with a number of examples and suggestions for the use of these features. I'll give a very brief and cursory summary of the operative four of the added Properties notebook pages.

Environment Page

For OS/2 programs the Environment page lets you customize the program's environment (normally set globally in config.sys). You can use substitution variables to merge new entries with existing variables. For example, adding the following string to the entry field on the page merges "MYAPP" with the existing path from Config.Sys: PATH=c:\MYAPP;%PATH%

For DOS and WinOS/2 programs, any non-default values set using the properties button on the notebook's Session page are shown, and may be useful for copying these from one program to others.

Schedule Page

The Schedule page allows you to set a future time for the object to open (after a fixed interval, or daily, weekly, or monthly, single or repetitive openings, with several ways of establishing criteria). I use this feature to set my IRC client to open to remind me of on-line meetings, and to set my backup program to remind me of regular backups.

Objects Page

On the Properties notebook's Objects page, you can drop objects, or list file names or object id's. By doing this, they are added to the Objects Submenu (on the system menu). Below are screen shots of the notebook Objects page of Smalled as I set it up for work on this review, and the submenu which results

Smalled Properties Notebook Object Page

Smalled System Menu Objects Submenu

Choosing one of the menu items opens the editor with the selected file. This, and the "Locate" menu reached by selecting the current object's name (which indicates the folder which contains the object) furnish a powerful way to navigate the desktop.

Options Page

This page contains an entry field which allows the Object ID to be viewed, edited or assigned. (This feature would be of use chiefly for manipulating the object using REXX, but an object's ID may be used to specify it in instances such as on the Object Page described above.)

Also on this page is the option to maintain a D & D History, i.e. a list of the last eight items dropped on the object, so that they can be opened again. There is also a button to clear the list.

The Undo button returns the settings as they were when the Options page was opened.

(The last added page, DTProgram, serves to identify the version number, copyright information, gives access to the help file and an e-mail contact address for the author.)

"Problem Programs"

There are a couple of programs for which DragText has some or (in one case) all of its drag and drop features disabled by default. Its drag and drop features are also not available in the Netscape browsers. Warp is installed on such widely varied equipment, and the variety of programs (and programmers' skill levels) is such, that provision is made--and made simple--to disable all or part of DragText's drag and/or drop features for any program. Here is a screen shot of the "Disable" page in DragText's Options Notebook.

To disable a program type its name in the box. Initially the "Remove" button will read "Add". Press it and it changes to "Remove" and all the boxes will be checked. Uncheck the box or boxes for the type of action that caused the problem, restart the program and try again. According to the author, unchecking just one box might solve the problem. The "Remove" button serves to remove any selected program from the list of those disabled.

Keeping Track

With so many possible actions it might seem that one might lose track. The next screen shot from the DragText Options pages shows the icons and pointers that the program uses to help the user know exactly what is going on.

If you have dragged text to a window and one of these pointers shows, DragText is in control, and will determine if the drop is legal. Otherwise the window is in charge. If another program has drag and drop facility, DragText gives it precedence for its windows.

DragText switches among all these icons and an URL object if all Extended features are enabled, otherwise only two icons are used. Icons and pointers change dynamically: as the drag crosses areas with different "drop rules", changes are made to show what results from a drop at any time.

A Few Problems

I found only one program which had a problem--it caused a system hang when text from any source was dragged to it. It turns out that this was a known problem for that program, and it will be one of the default programs on the "Disable" page for the next version of DragText. When it and Netscape 2.02 were both running with DragText, my system locked beyond the ability of ctrl-alt-delete to get out of it--only the power switch did the job. It was a simple matter to disable DragText for that program's entry window, and I later found a substitute for it which worked perfectly with DragText. (The DragText website has more information about this.) I imagine that desktop enhancement programs which add other functions to the mouse buttons would also cause conflicts.


The author has responded quickly and in detail to questions I have had, and when I found a bug (while doing an "unusual" operation) and reported it July 6, a new version of the offending DLL was sent July 14, along with instruction in using DTSetup.exe to install the DLL. It worked perfectly, and I was unable to cause any more problems, although I tried. Other than the few instances noted above, the program has operated flawlessly.

Final Impressions

As readers can probably tell from both the length and tone of this review, I like this program very much. It complements the way I work, and works very well on my equipment. It was necessary for me to read the "Help" on many of the Options Notebook pages in order to understand what the author describes as "some of the less obvious features" but the "Help" is clearly written, detailed, and truly helpful, so the program is not difficult to learn. It cooperates completely with the WPS and the programs which I use.

My initial impression of this program were positive, and as I used it more, I became more and more impressed with it. I now use many of its features daily, and have tried and occasionally use almost all except those which involve Rexx programming. Despite the program's name, some of the features can be very useful with programs in ways which don't directly affect text. I have URL files and folders linked to the browsers I use, folders of jpg, bmp, and gif files linked to PMView, and I have begun to navigate the desktop using text and window links. I have found it increasingly useful and in fact now seems indispensable. This is one application listed on Gary Hammer's "Must Have" web site for which I agree completely with the descriptive term "Must Have".


The program can be registered with the author or through BMTMicro and costs $20 US. More information can be found at The DragText Homepage (http://www.usacomputers.net/personal/rlwalsh/), and evaluation copies can be downloaded there or from the following and other sites.
BMTMicro (http://www.bmtmicro.com)
The OS/2 Web and BBS (http://www.os2bbs.com/)
Hobbes (http://hobbes.nmsu.edu/pub/os2/util/wps)
OS/2 'Must Have' Utilities (http://www.musthave.com/)

Some tips for using DragText may be found at the OS/2 Supersite Master Tips Database:

Copyright 1999 Robert Shallenberg, 2009 Estero Street, Oceanside, CA 92054

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