When and how to use SOR Shell Extension

Everything is good in its season.
(English proverb)

Sometimes we get e-mails with similar text: “I’ve just installed your SOR Shell Extension. How can I run it?” Users download an installer as usual, run it as usual, complete an installation as usual, as usual they try to find a new program to run in Windows “Start” menu. And they cannot. (Or, to be more precise, they can find only SOR Shell Extension Configurator).

The reason is that SOR Shell Extension is not a program in common sense. As you can guess from its name, this is an extension to Windows shell. This means, that after SOR Shell Extension has been installed, Windows looks like if SOR-file support is built-in into the operation system. I.e., you can see trace pictures directly in Windows Explorer window (as, for example, JPEG or BMP files) or edit specific trace properties in «File Properties» dialog, activated from context menu (as, for example, with MP3 files). And this applies not only to Windows Explorer. A lot of software use Windows API (often indirectly, through different libraries) to allow a user to access files – this is also the case for SOR Shell Extension to show its worth.

But there is sometimes another kind of misunderstanding: users expect SOR Shell Extension to substitute some full-weight OTDR traces workshop software (let’s call it SOR-viewer for short). And so there is another kind of emails: “I’ve just tried your SOR Shell Extension, and, you know, I will continue using Censored SOR-viewer”. It has the same sense, as to write: “I’ve just tried to view pictures in Windows Explorer, and, you know, I will continue using Google Picasa (ACDSee, Windows Imaging, your favorite software)”.

Every software is created for its own purpose, and SOR Shell Extension was not developed as a substitution for full-weight SOR-viewer. You should not expect SOR Shell Extension to do automatic analysis or OTDR measurement, for example. But, there are tasks to be solved with SOR Shell Extension with more convenience. Consider the following examples.

Let’s assume that you need to find a trace in a folder, but you have forgotten its filename. Though you remember how it looks. If you are using usual SOR-viewer, you need to open and look at all SOR-files trace-by-trace, until you find the required one. This procedure may take a long time if there are a lot of files in the folder. But if you are using SOR Shell Extension, all you need to do, is to open the folder in Windows Explorer, switch to “Thumbnails” view and look through trace images for the one you need.

Or probably you need to copy traces with 80 km distance range from the folder to an external drive. With usual SOR-viewer you have to open traces one-by-one, check each for its distance range, and copy relevant to the external drive. The more files, the longer algorithm. In addition, you can make a mistake and miss some relevant files. But if you have SOR Shell Extension, you just need to open the folder in Windows Explorer, switch to “Details” view, sort traces by “Distance Range, km” column (if you can't see this column, you need to add it by pressing right mouse button on the table header). And then, it’s trivial to select and copy files with 80 km distance range.

If you need to set SOR-specific “Comment” field for large number of traces, it’s a misfortune for you to have only usual SOR-viewer. In this case you need to open traces one-by-one and set this field in each. Having SOR Shell Extension allows you to succeed much faster. You just select the required files, press right mouse button, and select “Properties”. The “File Properties” dialog shows, which allows you to set “Comment” field value for all selected files at once.

These are only several from large amount of cases, in which using of SOR Shell Extension is much more convenient. Thereby, if you work with OTDR traces, then SOR Shell Extension will serve as nice and convenient add-on to full-weight SOR-viewer.

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