FRI Version 1.8.0.0

FRI version 1.8.0.0 is here!  This version of FRI brings Community Ratings, a way to find great ROMs in your collection that you haven’t played before.  This version also contains underlying updates to how FRI scans for ROMs, resulting in a better user experience.  This release’s code is closer than ever to being able to be ported to Media Center for a Windows Media Center counterpart to FRI.

Download FRI version 1.8.0.0 here

fri version 1.8.0.0 main window

Thanks to FlotsamX for providing feedback as a beta tester, and Vimm for providing me access to his website’s user ratings.

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FRI version 1.3.0.0

Main Window:
FRI_version_1.3.0.0_main_window

New File Flags Vocabulary:
FRI_version_1.3.0.0_File_Flags_Vocabulary

Updated Platform Vocabulary:
FRI_version_1.3.0.0_Platform_Vocabulary

Download it Here

Change Log:

  • Fix:  The "Net Play" window’s icon is now the FRI icon instead of the default Visual Studio icon.
  • Fix: The "Net Play" window now opens in the center of the main window.
  • Tweak: When checking for updates, if the received message is blank then FRI will no longer display it.
  • Tweak: Sorting has been improved.  Now "unknown" fields always sink to the bottom.
  • New Feature: The user can now customize which columns in the ROM list are shown.
  • Teak:: Items in the Settings Editor and the Advanced Search dialog are now sorted alphabetically
  • Tweak: "Cancel" is now spelled correctly everywhere.
  • New Feature:  FRI now supports region information.
  • Tweak:  Fields in the ROM list that are unknown now appear blank instead of "Unknown".
  • Tweak: Platform Vocabulary has been updated to include many more platforms.
  • New Feature: FRI now supports release year information.
  • New Feature: FRI will now interpret "flags" in ROMs’ file names.  For example, a ROM named "Super Cool (US)(2008).rom" would be detected as an English ROM with a region of the United States, a release year of 2008, and a title of "Super Cool".  The user may edit File Flags in the new File Flag Vocabulary.
  • New Feature: Previously the user could tell FRI to infer missing ROM information, but now the user can tell FRI to also overwrite existing information.  This is a useful feature for after the user updates the File Flag Vocabulary.
  • New Feature: "File Name" and "Full Path" fields have been added to the ROM List.
  • Tweak: FRI now more accurately infers ROMs’ platforms.
  • New Feature: FRI now automatically scans for new ROMs when a new ROM Library Folder is added in the Settings editor.
  • Tweak:  When scanning for ROMs, FRI now shows that it is scanning in the status bar.
  • Tweak: The Settings Editor is a little wider now to accommodate more information.
  • Tweak:  The default columns for the ROM list are now "Title", "Platform", "Language", "Release Year", "Players", "Rating", and "Image Health".
  • New Feature:  FRI can no generate a "Default Settings File" based on the settings in shown in the Settings Editor.  A default settings file is basically the regular FRI database file, minus the ROM and emulator entries.
  • Fix:  Now the "Default" buttons for the Platform Vocabulary and Language Vocabulary reset the lists instead of append the default values to the existing list.

Note:  "Region", "Release Year", "Image Health", and "Public Domain" fields are not directly editable or searchable yet.  For now their values can only be changed through File Flags, but the ability to edit the information directly is coming.

To upgraders:  To get the updated Platform Vocabulary, go to the "Platform Vocabulary" tab in the Settings Editor, and click "Defaults".

 

FRI Version 1.1.0.0

  • New Feature: Ability to edit ROM platform, language, maximum number of players, title, and notes
  • Tweak: the code for editing a ROM’s rating was re-written to match the same method as editing the platform, language, etc.
  • Tweak:  .a26 is added as a unique file extension for Atari 2600 ROMs in the default Platform Vocabulary
  • Tweak: "JAG" and "J64" extensions for the Atari Jaguar were re-written as "jag" and "j64" in the default .Platform Vocabulary in order to be lower case like all of the other extensions.
  • Tweak: Now the "Help" button goes leads to "http://redirect.somewhatgeeky.com?token=friHelpButton", which is a redirection page that allows me to change the final destination outside of FRI.
  • Tweak: Right-clicking on nothing in the ROM list no longer brings up the list of options.

fri_version_1.1.0.0

Also note that FRI supports editing the information of ROMs in bulk.  Just select more than one before you right-click.

Also, I was talking with a friend about FRI, and he brought up an interesting point.  Previously I pronounced the FRI "fry", but he thought it was pronounced "free", which makes more sense to me.  Now FRI, the Fantastic Rom Indexer, is pronounced "free".

Download it here

The Fantastic ROM Indexer is… Fantastic!

ROMs. No, you don’t shout it! ROM is an acronym that stands for read-only memory. In this context, ROM, refers not to the “CD ROM”, but to the read-only memory of a game cartridge that you would put in an old game system. In this context, ROMs are virtual copies of game cartridges that you can play on the computer using programs that emulate the game system, called (you guessed it) emulators.

The problem with ROMs is that they can be tricky to use. If you want to play a specific game, you have to think what platform the game is played on, then find the emulator on your computer, open it, and then find the ROM file. If you’re organized this is a hustle at least, and if your aren’t this is a big pain.

My program, The Fantastic ROM Indexer (FRI) makes it easier. With it, if you want to play a game, you open FRI, type the title of the game, and double-click on it. That’s much more simple! Among other features, it also allows you to rate your games, which is great if you have a ROM library of 1,000+ ROMs, most of which you haven’t played.

to see a quick demo you can click here.

So, here’s some directions for how to set it up. At the time of this post, the latest version of FRI is 1.0.0.0.

First you have to download FRI. You can get version 1.0.0.0 here, but search this blog for a later version. If you download an old version, no sweat. FRI will tell you when it is opened and tell you how to get the latest version, but it’s easier to get it right the first time. The download will be a ZIP file, so extract the executable file inside it to a safe place.

pretty.
FRI icon

Telling FRI where the ROMs are

When you first open FRI, you will get a message telling you to add a library folder. Click OK.
what you see when you open fri for the first time

The settings window will open. Here is where you tell FRI where all of your ROMs are. Click “Add”.
empty library folders list

A dialog will come up. Click “Browse…”.
library folder editor

Select the folder that contains all of your ROMs, and click OK. Then click OK on the other dialog.
selecting the library folder
library folder selected

Telling FRI where the emulators are

Now FRI knows where your ROMs are, but it still can’t let you play them until you give it some emulators to act in place of each ROM’s respective platform/console. So the next step is to download all of the emulators. Note that FRI expects each emulator to be in it’s own folder, but it will only squeal mildly bit if they aren’t.

To add an emulator, switch over to the “Emulator Integration” tab in the settings window and click “Add”.
empty emulator integration tab

This dialog will open. Click browse and find the executable of the emulator that you want to add. Notice how the “Name” field is automatically filled in. Next type in the names of the platforms that the emulator supports. Separate the names with commas, and use correct capitalization. If you know that the emulator can play ROM files that are nested by themselves inside of ZIP files (this is often done to reduce the size that the ROMs take up), then check the first checkbox. (This doesn’t do anything now, but in a later version of FRI it will automatically compress all of the applicable ROMs with only a few clicks.) Don’t mess with the last checkbox, unless the emulator gives you some sort of error message when you try to play a ROM through FRI. (Note that you can’t harm anything by checking it, though most likely everything will work fine if you don’t.) When you’re all done, click OK.
emulator information editor

The emulator is added.
one emulator added

Do that for all of your emulators. When you’re all done, close the settings window.
all emulators added

Scanning for ROMs.

Now that you have all the settings done, it’s time to tell FRI to look for ROMs. In the main FRI window, click “Database Management” and click “Scan for new ROMs”.
scan for new roms

Here’s where some magic happens. FRI scans the library folders that you specified, and looks for file types that are listed in FRI’s Platform Vocabulary. Based on the file type and what folders each ROM is in, FRI will try to figure out the ROM’s platform, language, and maximum number of players. It get’s the ROM’s title strait out of the file name. For example, a ROM located at “F:\My ROMs\Super Nintendo\English\1 Player\Super Mario RPG.smc” would be recognized as a 1 Player, English, Super Nintendo ROM with the title “Super Mario RPG”. “F:\My ROMs\Sonic The Hedgehog.smd” would be recognized as a Sega Genesis ROM with the title “Sonic the Hedgehog”. But anyway, that’s just a little FYI. A window will pop up telling you how many ROMs were added.
roms added

Everyday use of FRI

To quickly find a ROM, go type all or part of the title in the search box in the upper-right of the window and click the little search button.
title search

To play a ROM, double-click on it or select it and press enter.
play a rom

To rate a ROM, right click on it, click on “Rating” and select a rating.
rate a rom
rom rated

To do an advanced search, click on “Advanced Search” in the upper-right of the window. Select what you want and click OK. If you select nothing in a group, like I did for the language filter in this example, FRI will not take that section into consideration in the search.
advanced search

In this example I did a search for the Sonic the Hedgehog games, so that I could rate them rate them all 5 stars. Rating one ROM is just like rating one, except you select more than one when you do it. :-P
rate a bunch of roms
a bunch of roms rated

Yes, if you really want to, you can select a bunch of ROMs and press enter.

FYI

Here’s what the Platform Vocabulary tab looks like by default in the settings window. If a ROM won’t play when you double-click on it, it is possible that the platform name in the Emulator Integration tab does not match anything in the Platform Vocabulary tab.
rom vocabulary tab

And here’s the Language Vocabulary tab:
language vocabulary tab

I hope you enjoy using FRI. the ability to edit ROM information is coming. It was in previous versions, but since I have given FRI a major makeover inside and out since the last version, I haven’t gotten around to doing that yet. Just know that it’s coming! :-)

I would really appreciate any constructive criticism and error reports in the comments.