Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Official ESP Software Blog

Hello all,
This blog exists as a forum for discussion of ESP! which is a very powerful and useful desktop search utility.

As you're surely aware, MSN, Google, Yahoo, and many others offer desktop search. So what makes ESP different (and better)? That's the question this blog exists to explore. What should desktop search be? How should the massive amount of information on your desktop be available to you? How do you want to access it? Shouldn't your computer learn how you use it then adapt to you (instead of you adapting to it)?

ESP has been in existance for a few years. It's the result of 1 great idea followed by a fair amount of programming, tweaking, debugging, and testing. The end product is a revolutionary approach to human-computer interaction.

Ok, that might be overstating it a little, but really, I use ESP every day, it's installed on every computer I regularly use and it has literally become second nature to me to

1) need to open a file
2) press F11, esp's shortcut key
3) type about three letters
4) see the ESP has found the file I need
5) press enter to launch the file

That's it. There's barely any configuing, no updating or managing needed, no tweaking settings. ESP simply exists to serve, and it does a great job.

If you've tried ESP, please leave any feedback here. If you think it's great, let us know, if you think it sucks, tell us why, if you want a new feature, describe how it would work.


At 5:09 AM, Blogger GS said...

I think ESP is one of the best programs I've ever encountered. It meets a desparate need (to access files conveniently and efficiently) in a well-designed and well-implemented way. It's so simple yet so effective. I'm surprised not to see more chatter about it on the web.

About desktop search generally, what I wish for is a lightweight document management system, where you can store all your documents with useful metadata about them (e.g. keywords, description, other stuff) and then search for documents with an ESP-like interface.

Because I use ESP I take care naming my files in a way that will make it easy to find them again. That sometimes leads to long filenames as I try to include every word I might wish to find it by. That's not really a bad thing, but it would be nice to be able to attach a description to a file to give me more flexibility.

I'm not attracted to full-document search because it seems like it would return too many false positives (i.e. documents that match your query because they happen to include that word, but which are not really what you want). Then again, I haven't tried Google Desktop or others; they may be wonderful.

Anyway, thanks so much for ESP. People at my workplace are gradually getting hooked.

I'd like to read what you, the ESP author, think about useful features for ESP or for desktop search applications more generally.

At 7:55 PM, Blogger chadschw said...

Hi GS,

Sorry I didn't respond for SO LONG! Thanks for your very kind words and I am very happy you are able to put ESP to good use.

You and I are on the same page: ESP solves a problem, and does it in a simple and efficient way.

Love your comments on a doc mgmt system. ESP is like a proof of concept: personalized probability is very effective for ordering search results, accessing information should and can be painless, these principals should be applied to more areas involving search.

Great tip on file naming, I do the same thing...

I feel the same way about full-document search. Too many darn results! web-history, chat history, music files, etc etc etc and no way to filter!:( You should give Google, msn, etc a try too, but they don't meet the same need that ESP does. ESP excels at accessing files you know exist on your desktop/local network.

I'm slowly converting other people at my work too. Just trying to get the word out:)

Hopefully we'll be able to use this blog to get some collaboration on dt search going. Get needs identified etc.

Thanks again!


At 5:44 AM, Anonymous LarryS said...

Hello, Chad. I'm very happy with ESP! Use it all the time. Lately, I sometimes get "Failed to create an empty document" messages on startup. I just restart the application and it starts fine on the second try. Not a big deal, but thought I'd let you know.


At 5:12 AM, Anonymous Roy said...

Hi Chad,

I installed ESP 2 in a shared directory where I install all my simple utilities. Then I ran the ESP 2 uninstaller. THE ESP 2 UNINSTALLER DELETED ALL OF MY UTILITIES!!! Luckily, I had just backed up that directory a couple of days ago, so I did not lose much. You should change the uninstaller to only remove the files that the installer installed, not remove every file in the directory. And then, only if the directory is empty, delete the directory. That's what good commercial uninstall programs do. I'm thankful that I did not install it in C:\WINNT!


At 1:08 PM, Blogger chadschw said...


I am sorry for the poor behavior of the uninstaller and thank you for pointing this out.

I'll see if I can get this fixed soon. We're using NullSoft's great installer tools, I'm sure there are examples of how to properly and carefully uninstall the application.

Thanks again, and sorry for the inconvenience!


At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may be missing something obvious. Does ESP search for the content of files? If I have a file named myfile.txt and it has a word "stuff", would search for "stuff" instead of "file" or "my" or "myfile" show this file? Thanks.

At 9:11 PM, Blogger chadschw said...

You're not missing anything. ESP does not search the contents of files. This is a big difference from the other desktop search applications. Those apps will give you file names mixed with excerpts of file contents mixed with web search history mixed with chat log history... etc. etc. ESP will return results based only on the file name and path. This behavior keeps things simple. I know what ESP can do well for me and I use it effectively for appropriate tasks (for example, I need the file named ____). For other tasks, I use other tools.

Thanks for the question:).

At 9:13 PM, Blogger chadschw said...

While I'm logged in... Concerning the uninstaller behavior. I looked at the documentation and the RMDIR function from NULLSOFT should only rmdir if the dir is empty. I'll run some tests and see if I can figure out what's going on!

At 1:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's great software.
Only 3 things :
1) An option to clear the search result when close (no exit) the program
2) A window (as Google) on deskbar
3) More colored icons (program and search result)

At 3:11 AM, Anonymous Steve Conway said...

Hi Chad,
I use ESP all the time it is a wonderful utility.
I use ESP to index file names for instant retrieval.
I use Copernic desktop search 2 for indexing file content.
A huge number of my files are drawings so the content is not relevant and a search of the file name is all it needs.
Copernic has a fairly small limit on its index file size and I reached that limit when I included the drawing files in the index.
I also sometimes get the "Failed to create an empty document" message on startup the same as larrys.
Anyway thanks for ESP.

At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of ESP, however I found with version 2 on Windows XP it locks my computer up when I highlight a file and then click on the folder button. The only way I can get out is to cold boot my workstation. Disappointing - went back to the previous version.

Really wish the screen showed file dates and allowed sorting. But I still LOVE the product.

At 9:48 PM, Blogger chadschw said...


I tried to recreate the lock up but could not. So I've got a question or two for you.

Were you pressing the picture of a folder with the word "Explore" next to it?

Does it happen any time you press that button? No matter what file you have selected? Is the file on the local hard drive or a network drive?

Try right clicking on the file and select "Open containing folder" does the lockup happen then too?

I don't mean to have you debug the program for me but as I can't reproduce, it's hard to know what could be going on...

Thanks for taking the time to tell me about it.

Those suggestions for sorting and getting the date are great. Wouldn't be too difficult to add either... I've been trying to find the time to work on the code. Have been considering open-sourcing ESP on Source forge... What do you think?

At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Mr Jolly said...

first of all may i just say THANKYOU!
esp is a wonderful thing and really something badly needed

it does a great job instasearching my 350,000 odd files at the moment

using win2ksp4
i think it said it was meant to work on win98se too but when i tried it, it tends to just crash v quickly

glad to see the site back worried it had died for good, tho i see u have some house keeping to do... images are broken and dont load u must need to update the urls for em
also the help guide thing link is dead

really interested in you mentioning open sourcing esp.. that would be awesome! PLEASE do !
could deffo get some interest going and development

such as adding the sort by field whose absence can be a bit maddening
the esp thing can be really useful but ability to turn it off sometimes would be invaluable too...
for instance sometimes i am clicking to look at what certain things are and esp starts jigging the order of the list all over making a logical search thru the list impossible

but esp is definitely something i use all the time its great saving so much time and being not much of a resource hog compared to other things either!

oh a note about the multi threaded abilities i have a core duo e6600
esp does indeed (noticebly) use both cores on occasion when its got a big list to sort mostly it hardly really touches the cpu much even for decent sized requests
but it seems to be single core touching only during both startup n shutdown... which is cpu limited on the one core for several seconds of course my files searched are prob quite high ;)
but it would be useful to have it use both maybe, but date, filename etc sorting more of a priority i think!

just some thoughts for now :)
i could go on ;) like auto refresh on startup(it gets it over faster)
but thanks again for this great v useful app

At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Mr Jolly said...

oh a thing that would be super useful
you can search with filetypes and add them to the quick list thing... but there is noway i know to get only folders to show!
having to search thru a list just to get the folder is a bit of a pain.. so a way to for only folders to be shown would be v helpful!
i want this a lot of times so i can open the folder view as esp opens the explorer thing instead if u do the menu thing

possibility to reduce refresh time : scan all physical discs at teh same time i think it is doing them sequentially the now.. safer but slower :)

At 8:04 AM, Blogger Robert said...

I find ESP invaluable -- it's very difficult to work without it. Adding Date and FileSize fields would be the one essential improvement that would make it much more useful-- I often have duplicate or similar filenames that I then have to use other means to distinguish.

At 7:15 AM, Blogger germanpn said...

Its program ESP 2,0 is excellent.
very good.

Navegue long time looking for its Web site.
When about” in its program presses “I take to this site
soon a goes

Pense that habia perished its Web.

It cheers to me that its Web it exists, and I am thankful to him by its excellent Web

Seria agradable que publicara una versión con varios idiomas.

Serious pleasant that published a version with several languages.

Spanish, German, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, etc

At 5:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

again excellent software

some suggestions:
- ability to select multiple files directly from the result list to copy etc.
- renaming files directly from the result list
- shortcut to copy path (without the filename)

At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"renaming files directly from the result list"

You can in a round about way.

(1) Right click on the file you want to rename
(2) Select Properties
(3) change the filename
(4) click OK.

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