Power Query v Filecats Standard

Introduction

My previous articles showed how to catalog files using Power Query, and some of the pros and cons to doing so.

This article compares the experience and power of using Filecats Standard compared with Microsoft’s Power Query.

Software Requirements

As mentioned in my second article, there are some very specific requirements for even installing Power Query, which most computers will not have.

In contrast, Filecats Standard requires:

  • Windows XP or above, so it also works on Windows XP and Vista as well as Windows 7 or 8.
  • Microsoft Excel 2003 or above. (So, any registered full version of Excel 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 or 365).

Don’t have Excel? Then Filecats Explore offers similar functionality of Filecats Standard but doesn’t need Excel, as it imports the data into its own stand-alone table.

Creating a catalog

The first article in this series showed the allegedly “intuitive” way to create a catalog in Power View. It is a four-step process which can be summarised as follows:

  • In Excel, go to Power Query – From File – From Folder. (Note that it says: “Import metadata and links about files in a folder.” – I’ll refer to that later.)
  • Select a folder path and click OK.
  • Look at the first 100 records and then click “Close & Load”.
  • The catalog is then exported.

Conversely, in Filecats Standard, the process is this:

  • Open Windows Explorer to the folder you want to catalog.
  • Right-hand click on that folder.
  • Select “Filecats Standard”.

I personally think that the second way is much easier and more intuitive.

Presentation

3. Power Query initial resultsMicrosoft Power Query exports Name, Extension, Dates and Folder Path into Excel. It also apparently exports the Attributes into a field, but when I click in that field, all I see is the text “[Record]”. It is very much a bare bones export.

Filecats Standard catalogFilecats Standard exports the above, and adds colourful headers for each folder, separating the folders from each another (although that can be filtered out). Unlike Power Query, it also adds hyperlinks to the file and to the folder, so that you can open the file directly from the Excel spreadsheet or open that folder in Windows Explorer.

Expandability

The fields that Power Query exports are fairly fixed. You can hide certain fields, but you don’t seem able to add it.

Power Query - From File - From Folder

Do you remember the description that Power Query gave: “Import metadata and links about files in a folder.”? However:

  • It doesn’t export Microsoft Office document properties such as the Author, Last Printed, Last Saved Date, number of words, slides, pages.
  • It doesn’t export photographic or picture properties such as resolution, size, Camera Model, Date Taken, Focus, Aperture, or GPS co-ordinates.
  • It doesn’t export music or video properties such as Track Name, Artist, encoding method, length (in minutes).
  • It doesn’t export MSG email properties, such as Sender, Recipient, Date Sent, Attachments or Body Text.
  • It doesn’t even create hyperlinks to the file or the folder. So much about this creating links about files.

The field list is fairly fixed – just file name and dates. And those Windows Explorer dates are not necessarily 100% reliable.

However, Filecats Professional for Windows 7 or 8 can export all of that metadata and more into the same spreadsheet, which just a few clicks from Windows Explorer.

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Conclusion

Whilst it is possible to create a catalog files and folders in Power View, it is much easier and better to do so in Filecats Standard. And if you want document properties, Filecats Professional allows you to do this, quickly and easily.

Why not download a free 7-day trial and see how easy it is. Compare it with Power View for yourself, and then never go back!

More articles.

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