12 August 2015

Idealist and Windows 10

As long-time readers of this blog will know my computer use is built around Blackwell Idealist, an ancient database management program which used to be marketed as ‘the information manager’. In addition to it being essential to the bibliographical research and note-taking phases of my workflow, I use it to manage my personal journal, a repository of story and novel ideas, and several other databases. If I add that the date on the copyright page of my copy of the Idealist manual is 1995 (!), you’ll realize why it was with some trepidation that I pressed the button to start my system upgrading to Windows 10 this weekend.

The good news for any other worried Idealist users out there is that the whole upgrade process went smoothly. In fact, this has been the smoothest transition to a new version of Windows in my experience (and my experience encompasses ten different versions since the days of my very first laptop, which ran Windows 3.1 on 4MB of RAM and which I upgraded to Windows for Workgroups in order to make full use of the then cutting-edge 32-bit capabilities of Idealist). Yes, there are a few annoyances (Microsoft will insist that they know better than the user when it comes to all kinds of settings), but the main thing is that Idealist is still working! What is more, my first impression is that it appears to run more smoothly on Windows 10 than it did on Windows 7 (which sometimes seemed to be slow about shutting Idealist down).

So, for any Idealist user worrying about the prospect of Windows 10:

  • Don’t worry. The upgrade should be fine.
  • If you are planning to install Idealist on a shiny new Windows 10 computer: (a) If it’s a 32-bit system, Idealist’s installation program should still work (and once installed, set Windows to run the program in compatibility mode for e.g. Win98). (b) If it’s a 64-bit system, the installation program won’t work. But it is easy to install the program manually. Simply save the folder containing your existing working program (which will most likely be in the Program Files (x86) folder of your current computer) to the Program Files (x86) folder of your new computer, create a shortcut pointing to i32.exe (with the appropriate compatibility setting), and you’re ready to go.
  • You should probably devise a viable migration strategy anyway. Idealist may have survived to work with another generation of Windows but it is over 20 years old. Sooner or later 32-bit programs will go the way of their 8-bit and 16-bit predecessors.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I have been using Idealist since Win 95 days, and I maintain four databases on it; it is brilliant. Everything lives in folder “Idealist” on the C:\ drive on a Win XP and on a Win 7 machine in the programs folder. Every month I back the database files from one machine to the other by copying across the most recent individual database files (*.tex etc.), and thence all files to an external hard drive. I have now acquired a Win 10 machine (64 bit) and although Idealist I32 works fine on it, copying the most recent database files to and from the Win 10 machine from the other machines does not. The individual database files (*.tex etc.) on the C:\ drive of the Win 10 machine (alongside I32) do not change as you put in more records, what Win 10 seems to do is to replicate these files 5 folders deeper and change them there, from where they can be copied. However the reverse procedure, to put updated files from another machine into this deep folder does not seem to work on my machine. The only way I can get the reverse procedure to work is to delete the database files in this deep folder and replace the unchanged individual database files in the I32 folder. This is such a pain that I am keeping my XP machine running. Has anybody cracked this problem ?