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Saving picture lists as tag files

What are tag files, and what are their advantages?

Tag files are "picture lists" created by QuickSlideshow which list the volume names, file names and folders of every file being currently viewed. These have a number of uses:

Speed of tag files

The time taken to scan an entire CDROM, for example "GIFS Galore" which contains 6,483 pictures can be quite long, in this case 9 minutes 30 seconds. However, to read the tag file for this CDROM which lists the name of each of these files, only takes 14 seconds! You can see that it is much preferable to spend 14 seconds starting the slideshow rather than almost 10 minutes.

To make a tag file

To make a tag file, press Command-T ("T" for Tag file) while you are viewing a series of pictures. You will be asked for the name of the tag file. Then, when you have finished viewing your pictures the tag file will be written.

It does not matter whether you make the tag file (i.e. press Command-T) before or after you tag each picture by pressing a key in the range "A" to "Z". The tag file is only written once you have finished viewing the pictures (i.e. by reaching the end of the list of pictures, or pressing "Esc" or Command-period). Any pictures not tagged at that stage have the #' character recorded against them.

Automatic creation of tag files

If you have spent more than 15 seconds scanning a disk or CDROM for pictures, and have not chosen to save the current picture sequence as a tag file, you are prompted to do so when stopping the slide show. A dialog box will appear indicating how long it took to scan for the current picture list, and asking if you want to create a tag file. If you click "Yes" (or press "Y" on the keyboard, or Return or Enter) then the "Create tag file" file selection dialog box will appear. This is for the benefit of users who may have found creating tag files confusing, or for those who simply forget to do so.

Tag file format

The tag file can be read into a word processor, database, or spreadsheet. The format of each line is:

Each of the above fields are separated by tab characters, so that they can be processed by any program that recognises tab-delimited text (e.g. spreadsheets, word processors and databases).

Comment lines may appear in tag files. These must start with two hyphens (i.e. "--").

QuickSlideshow inserts some comment lines of its own. Each file written starts with a comment indicating when it was produced, and as mentioned above, each time the folder number changes a comment line is written identifying the actual folder name corresponding to that number.

Changing tag files

Feel free to change the contents of a tag file by deleting lines, duplicating lines, or changing their order. You can omit comment lines (lines starting with "--") or add comments of your own.

Tag files can refer to files from more than one volume (disk/CDROM) provided you have those volumes online (mounted) when you are attempting to open that tag file. For example, if you have two CDROM drives you could create a tag file that listed the files on both of them.

As described in the section "Viewing a tag file" you may need to open tag files that have been saved by other applications such as word processors using the "Open tag file" menu item in order for QuickSlideshow to recognise that file as a tag file.

Example tag file

A typical tag file might look like this:

-- Tag file created on Friday, 5 November 1993 at 8:01:23 PM
-- Directory ID 388358 is the folder: "GIFS:PEOPLE"

Notice the tag letters in the right-hand column.

Note: The comment lines with directory names in them (Directory ID xyz is the folder: "abc") are now used by QuickSlideshow to speed up the display of the pop-up folder menu in the "Find picture by name" dialog box. Removing or changing these comments may either slow down the performance of QuickSlideshow or cause it to display incorrect information in the "Find" dialog box.

Size of tag files

As an example, the tag file produced by QuickSlideshow for the "GIFs Galore" CDROM, which has 6,483 GIF pictures on it, occupies 231,874 bytes of disk, or approximately 36 bytes per image.

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Written by Nick Gammon - 5K

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Page updated on Wednesday, 15 December 2004