FILE_ID.DIZ

From FILEID.TXT v1.9 authored by by Richard Holler [73567.1547@compuserve.com] and revised 05/17/94.

Conversion to HTML and additional notes (in red) by Tony Zilles of DBM, February 1997.

This file was prepared primarily for use by ASP (Association of Shareware Professionals) Author members, but the information contained in it may be of value to any shareware author.


FILE_ID.DIZ Information

Basically, the FILE_ID.DIZ file is a straight text file, inside your distribution archive file along with your program files, which contains a description of your program. This file will be used by most BBS (Bulletin Board System) software for the online file description of your file.We recommend that the FILE_ID.DIZ file be used in all of your distribution archives.

To use FILE_ID.DIZ:

The Multiple Disk Info applies where you create multiple distribution archives for a single application. This can be useful to allow users to store or transport your application on floppy disks after downloading. Also where an application archive is several megabytes in size, some users will have difficulty successfully downloading. Such applications distributed in smaller components will increase you chances of successfully distributing your software. It also shows consideration for your customers and understanding of the electronic distribution medium.

This file contains a description of the FILE_ID.DIZ file, as well as a description of the recommended distribution archive format.

Although the discussion in this document is focussed on Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) the information is just as relevent to files distributed via the Internet - the communications system that has all but replaced the direct-dial BBS.

Why Should You Use FILE_ID.DIZ?

The use of this file will insure that the online description of your program will be in your own words (and who better to describe your program than yourself?), and that it will remain the same no matter how many different people upload your file to various BBS systems.

As more and more BBS software makes use of this file, you can be assured that your own description will replace such online descriptions as "Cool Program" or "OK utility, but needs better ..."

Please note that the ASP Hub Network, the Author Direct FDN (File Distribution Network), and the majority of other electronic distribution services *REQUIRE* that a valid FILE_ID.DIZ file be contained in your submitted distribution archive. If your file doesn't contain a valid FILE_ID.DIZ file, then it simply won't be distributed by these services. Furthermore, most BBS sysops will not accept uploads of files which do not contain a valid FILE_ID.DIZ file, so you automatically lose out on that distribution as well.

All uploads sent to Digital Business Media File Library are also required to have a FILE_ID.ZIP to be considered for reciprocal download credits.

Description

FILE_ID.DIZ was created by Clark Development for use with their PCBDescribe utility, as a means for BBS callers to upload a file without having to manually type in a file description.

As long as an author creates and includes a FILE_ID.DIZ file in their distribution fileset, the text from that file will be used for the online description (in most cases) rather than anything typed in by the uploader. It also ensures that the online description is always the same regardless of the number of different BBS systems the file is posted on. It has since been accepted more-or-less as the "standard" archive file description. (The "DIZ" actually stands for Description In Zip).

The FILE_ID.DIZ file must be named exactly that, and not something like <filename>.DIZ. It will only be used if it is named FILE_ID.DIZ.

The FILE_ID.DIZ file is nothing more than a straight ASCII text file which contains the full description of the archived file containing it. It can be used by most popular BBS software to describe your program, rather than using the description supplied by the person that uploaded your file to the BBS. It should be placed *INSIDE* your distribution archive file. The FILE_ID.DIZ file is defined by its creators (Clark Development) as being created by the program author, and *NOT* the end user who is trying to upload the program.

The BBS software will "look" inside the archive file. If a FILE_ID.DIZ file is found, it will replace any existing online file description with the text contained in FILE_ID.DIZ. It is an excellent method for making sure that your program files are described the way that "you" want them described. Even sysops who's software can't automatically use the FILE_ID.DIZ file have found it to be an excellent source for manually adding their file descriptions.

Structure

The file consists of straight ASCII text, up to 10 lines of text, each line being no more than 45 characters long. It should NOT contain any blank lines, any form of centering or formatting, or any Hi-ASCII or ANSI characters. (i.e. it should ONLY contain alpha & numeric characters).

We recommended that it consist of 5 basic parts:

  1. the proper name of your program
  2. the version number
  3. the "ASP" identifier (optional, for ASP members)
  4. the description separator
  5. the description

All of the above parts should be separated by a single "space".

PROGRAM NAME
To set it apart from the rest, it is recommended that you use ALL CAPS for the program name.
 
VERSION NUMBER
The version number should be in the form of "v12.34".
 
ASP IDENTIFIER
If you are an ASP author, we recommend that an "<ASP>" identifying mark be added after the version number, to identify your product as an ASP-authored product.
 
DESCRIPTION SEPARATOR
To separate the actual description text, insert a simple "-" (dash/minus) character after the ASP identifier (or version number, if not using the ASP identifier), and in front of the description text.
 
DESCRIPTION
You should attempt to FULLY describe your product, including its most important functions and features. Be sure to include anything which will separate your program from it's competition, and make the BBS user want to download your file. Also try to include any hardware or software requirements that your product may have.
You should try to use the first 2 lines of the text to give a basic description of your program. This is helpful for sysops who's BBS software limits them to less than 10 lines, 45 characters. Sysops who are limited to using shorter descriptions can simply use the 1st two lines and truncate the rest. Thus, you can basically still supply your own description for BBS software which does not actually utilize the FILE_ID.DIZ feature.
The remaining lines of text can be used to elaborate on the programs features, enhancements from the prior version, information concerning multi-file sets. Please note that older versions of some BBS software can only use 8 lines of text. It is advisable that you create your FILE_ID.DIZ file so that the file can be truncated to various line lengths without destroying it's usefulness.
 
EXAMPLE
MY PROGRAM v1.23 <ASP> - A program which will
do anything for anybody. Will run in only 2k
of memory. Can be run from the command line,
or installed as a TSR. Completely menu-
driven. Version 1.23 reduces the previous 4k
memory requirements, and adds an enhanced
graphical user interface. Also, MY PROGRAM
now contains Windows and DESQview support.
Coming soon - an OS/2 version.
From Do-It-All Software, Inc. $15.00

Multiple Disk Info

Please note that if your distribution archive requires multiple archive files, you should create a separate, specific FILE_ID.DIZ file for each archive. This can be utilized to describe the various contents of each archive, and to identify each disk in the set.

For example, the FILE_ID.DIZ file for disk #1 could contain:

"MY PROGRAM v1.23 <ASP> Program Executable
Files - Disk 1 of 2"
[followed by detailed description text]

while the FILE_ID.DIZ file for disk #2 could contain:

"MY PROGRAM v1.23 <ASP> Documentation Files -
Disk 2 of 2"
[followed by more detailed description text]

Optionally, you could also create a "complete" FILE_ID.DIZ file for the first disk, which would fully describe the program in detail, and identify it as Disk 1 of x. Then, for each remaining file in the set, simply include the Program Name, version number, ASP identifier, and the disk number (i.e. "MY PROGRAM v1.23 <ASP> Disk 2 of x").

Additional Info

Don't be tempted to use fancy graphic or ANSI sequences in the FILE_ID.DIZ file, as most BBS software will not allow this, and will render your FILE_ID.DIZ file useless. Also, don't be tempted to simply copy your program description file to FILE_ID.DIZ. Attempting to "format" your FILE_ID.DIZ file (i.e line centering, right & left justification, etc) will also cause unexpected results, especially for BBS software which re-formats descriptions to other than 10line/45char.


1993-1997 Richard Holler. Used by permission.
Portions 1997 Digital Business Media