Moving from MZ-Tools 3.0 to 8.0 Part 4: Personal Options, Team Options, anywhere

Another improvement of MZ-Tools 8.0 is the Options window. The old MZ-Tools 3.0 suffered several deficiencies that caused many support requests:

  • The most common issue was: “Where are the options stored so I can make a backup?”.
  • A variation of the previous one was: “I’ve got a new computer. How do I move the MZ-Tools options from the old one?”.
  • Another common one was: “How can I share settings with my team (code templates, error handler, headers, etc.)?”. Or “How can I share settings between all my computers?”.
  • There was also a 64 KB limit for the mztools3.ini file that was used in MZ-Tools 3.0, that in some cases was reached if there were many code templates, or very large ones.

The first improvement is the Options button itself, that now shows a caption apart from the picture to stand out:

OptionsButton

The next improvement is the Options window layout. In MZ-Tools 3.0, the options were grouped by tabs at the top:

In MZ-Tools 8.0, there are only two tabs at the top, to distinguish Personal options from Team options:

Then, options are grouped vertically in nodes, where each node is identified with a picture that is the same used by the feature whenever possible.

To overcome the 64 KB limit of the single .ini options file of MZ-Tools 3.0, MZ-Tools 8.0 uses .xml files instead. To improve startup performance, rather than one single file for all the personal options and another one for all the team options, each node uses its own .xml file, which is loaded only when demanded, not on startup. So, you can have a huge code library that would be loaded only when a code template is required, not on every startup.

All personal options files are stored in a single folder, and all team options files are stored in another folder. The folder of each options file is clearly shown at the bottom of the Options window, with a linkable “Folder” label that opens the folder in the Windows Explorer (with the options file selected), and with a “Change…” button that allows you to select a new folder. Both the folder for personal options and the one for team options can be located anywhere on the local file system or on the network (for teams). If you are a standalone developer, you can store them in subfolders of the local folder that cloud storage providers (Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.) create when you install their client applications for Windows:

CloudDriveProviders

With this approach, you can keep your options synchronized between several of your computers. Even if you have only one computer, you get a backup of your options on the cloud.

Also, a “Read-Only” checkbox is provided, even for Personal options, to set read-only the file that contains the options, to prevent unintended (or forbidden) modification.

Another area of improvement is about the lists (or treeviews), that now have a consistent user interface with a toolbar that provides the New, Edit, Delete, Export and Import buttons:

ImportExportButtons

You can use the Export button to create a file anywhere with the selected items. This is useful if you want to exchange lists of items with someone:

ExportDialog

The Import button provides the reverse operation. While the exported file uses a different format than the regular options file (because the exported file is a list of items, while the regular options file can contain settings that are not lists), the Import button can import from both formats.