I am not a programmer, but can at least say that an INI, generally speaking, is a text file with lines of instructions for a program to follow on launch and during operation. nPOPuk is an email client I use, for example, and it uses an INI file for many functions. If deleted and then launched without the INI, or on first launch, an INI file is generated by the EXE. There will be a basic list of functions/instructions in this INI. Some may be modified by user options selected as preferences within the UI of the program. All INI elements may also be modified in a text editor while the program itself is not running, so that on next launch these new instructions (if properly edited/added) will modify behaviors within the program while running. One line, for example, selects whether or not to call the device Pocket Outlook Contacts database to fill an Address.lst file with email addresses and accompanying names. By default this is not used, but by toggling a line from a 0 value to a value of 1, the PO database is accessed for later use in building email lists or selecting individual addresses. Other options control email server selection and download behaviors, font scale and face display, and many, many other options.
More generally, a lot of programs in Win32 programs use INI files in similar ways. In a Pocket PC this is not so common, but does apply for some programs. You may learn a lot about INI functions with specific programs simply by opening them in a notepad or other word processing software.
Joined: 01 Feb 2000 Posts: 7017 Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:16 pm Post subject:
.ini files are no longer recommended by Microsoft. With Windows 3.x, the .ini file was used to keep track of settings for applications. Now these settings are stored in the registry. _________________ Chris De Herrera
Microsoft MVP - Mobile Devices & Tablet PC
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Microsoft may recommend against using INI files, but for user preferences in a given program to be used portably (ie; running a mail program or browser from a USB stick or memory card), I know of no better means of retaining this information. This is not only for reasons of convenience - the portable INI file goes everywhere alongside the EXE on the same portable storage media, making it unnecessary to re-do the settings when using with different computers - but also for security reasons. For example, if one leaves username/password type data in the registry of a host machine while in a web cafe or someone else's workplace or home, then moves on, perhaps never to return to that place, what is to prevent some other random user from accessing that data by looking into the registry? This is one of the many basic problems with storing important data in the registry. A small, plaintext INI is a very convenient storage tool for such information, and of course can be secured by various means on a portable device including a thumbprint scanner in a USB stick, an encrypted RAR or ZIP archive to wrap the program folder, and other methods.
Sorry for the very late reply, I didn't notice your post until now. There are some special characters which Notepad cannot see through. I am not well versed in exact rules for this, but it seems certain header lines prevent the program (and more so the Pocket PC versions, such as Tillanosoft pNotepad) from reading such content. Usually one can find an alternate text editor which will allow viewing contents. The built-in notepad of TotalCommanderCE for example, can usually see any text file's contents.
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