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Agent 4.2 Release Notes

NZB Files
Smart Abbreviation
Address Book
Windows Vista
Other Features
Problems Fixed

Upgrading to Agent 4.2

If you are upgrading from Agent 4.0 or Agent 4.1, you may upgrade directly to Agent 4.2. If for some reason you want to revert to Agent 4.1 or 4.0 you may do so. However there are two issues you should be aware of:

  • Multipart messages downloaded in Agent 4.2 are incompatible with previous versions of Agent. If you revert to an earlier version you will need to download these headers again.
  • Domain contacts in your Agent 4.2 address book (which are routing addresses ) will appear as contact records , not domains, when you revert.

If you are upgrading from Agent 3.x, you may upgrade directly to Agent 4.2. Agent 4.2 is backwards compatible with Agent 3.x, but if you revert to Agent 3.x, data for several features (e.g. property schemes and the address book) will not be available in Agent 3.x. Also, multipart messages downloaded in Agent 4.2 are incompatible with previous versions of Agent. If you revert to an earlier version you will need to download these headers again.

If you are upgrading from Agent 2.0 or Agent 1.x, please see our Getting Started for Users Upgrading from Agent 2.0 or Agent 1.x section in the Online Help. Note that Agent 4.2 is not backwards compatible with Agent 2.0 or Agent 1.x. Please make sure you back up your data before installing Agent 4.2.

If you are a new user, please see our Getting Started for New Users section in the Online Help.

NZB Files

With Agent 4.2 you can use NZB files to get message headers. This allows you to download specific Usenet content without having to retrieve and examine all headers in a newsgroup. Here are some highlights of how this works:

  • Agent imports headers into the folder you specify. Use the folder/newsgroup specified in the NZB file, use Agent's folder properties to determine where you import the message headers, or specify the folder each time you import an NZB file.
  • You can make Agent the default application for the .nzb file type. This allows you to open an NZB file from Windows and launch Agent to handle the file.
  • You can drag NZB files from Windows into Agent, or use the Windows clipboard to copy the files and paste them into the desired folder in Agent.
  • As you import headers you can tell Agent to mark messages for retrieval, or retrieve the message bodies automatically at the priority you specify.

Agent also allows you to create NZB files by selecting messages and using the Export NZB Files command on the File menu. Here are some things this allows you to do:

  • Suppose you read and participate actively in a text newsgroup and you want a friend to see a thread in this group but the friend doesn't use the group frequently (or at all). Select the messages in the thread, export them to an NZB file and send this file to your friend, who can then import this file and read the discussion.
  • Often a binary series of files is posted without an NZB file. You can create an NZB file from the existing messages and post it with the series (as a response, say, to the initial message in the series), to make it easier for others to get the series of messages.
  • Many newsgroups contain photographs and other pictures as attachments to messages. If you think some of these message are of interest to friends of yours, select the messages of interest and export them to an NZB files. Your friends can use this NZB file to get the pictures themselves, so you don't have to send them as email attachments to your friends.

See Agent's Guide to Binaries for additional information, links to third-party applications and links to other sites which explain how to post and retrieve binary information.


Agent 4.2 offers significant improvements in database capacity:

  • For Windows 2000 and newer, the maximum .dat file size has increased from 4GB to 8GB. The dat file is where Agent's messages are stored. For earlier versions of Windows, including Windows NT, the maximum file size is still 4GB.
  • The maximum number of messages that can be retrieved and saved in a folder is now 16 million.
  • Agent now stores the header information for multipart messages in a compressed format which uses 3-4-times less space than previous versions. Thus, you can expect a folder to be able to hold 3-4 times as many multipart messages as before. Together with the dat file size increase described above, this means that a folder can hold from 6 to 8 times as many multipart messages.
  • We've increased to 1 billion (1,000,000,000) the limit on the number of headers Agent can attempt to retrieve. You can enter this number in the Sample Recent Headers dialog and the Usenet Messages panel of the Default Properties for All Folders and Properties for Selected Folders dialogs. This allows Agent to retrieve more headers than the 16 million limit (see above), then join headers and apply any kill filters to bring the total down to what Agent can handle. If the number of headers is still greater than 16 million Agent will keep the 16 million oldest messages.

Smart Abbreviation

Agent 4.2 introduces smart abbreviation, a new way to view a folder names and Usenet message subjects when space is limited.

Message List Pane

Many Usenet subjects are so long that you cannot view them completely in the Message List pane . Agent 4.2 introduces smart abbreviation, a way of detecting the key components of the subject and showing you the most important parts in the space allowed. As the space available for the Subject shrinks both the beginning and the end will still be displayed, with the center of the subject replaced by an ellipsis (...), but critical items like the file extension and series/section tags always displayed.

The same method is used to display the subject name in the header of the Message pane.

By default smart abbreviation of long subject is enabled. You can globally disable use of this feature by unchecking the Abbreviate Usenet Subjects command on the View menu. To control use of this feature on a per-folder basis use the Display Options panel on the Properties for Selected Folders dialog. On this panel (and on the Display Options panel on the Default Properties for All Folders dialog) you may also tell Agent the minimum number of characters that Agent should always use when displaying the file name portion of the subject. Note that Agent will not abbreviate subjects for text messages, i.e. messages that do not contain a file name. In that case Agent displays the name truncated on the right, as it has always done.

Folders Pane

Agent now also uses smart abbreviation to automatically shrink folder names that contain newsgroup names so they will fit in the Folders pane . Agent shortens the newsgroup portion of the folder name from the left. For example, for the folder/newsgroup name alt.usenet.offline-reader.forte-agent, as the Folder pane narrows, the name will be shortened as follows:

a.usenet.offline-reader.forte-agent a.u.offline-reader.forte-agent

Note: If you do not want to abbreviate folder names here's how to disable this feature:

  • If you want to disable the feature for all folder names, use the Display Options panel on the Default Properties for All Folders dialog. In the Folder Name Display area, select the option Truncate by trimming from the right.
  • If you want to disable the feature for selected folder names, select the folder(s) and use the Display Options panel on the Properties for Selected Folders dialog. In the Folder Name Display area, check the Override default settings box, then select the option Truncate by trimming from the right.

Address Book

Routing Address Record

Agent 4.2 generalizes the use of a domain record in the address book, allowing you to create routing addresses , which are generally used only when you receive and route email messages. A routing address can be a full address or a domain address, and at any time you can convert a routing address to be a contact record in your address book (and vice-versa). To do this, open the routing address record (e.g. by double-clicking the record in your address book or by selecting a message from this address and using the View Sender in Address Book command on the address book Action menu.

Agent allows you to filter routing addresses in your address book and Pick Address list, so you can keep these lists from getting cluttered with addresses that you don't normally think of as contacts. In addition, when you compose an email message routing addresses do not appear in the drop-down list for the To, Cc or Bcc fields. Since you are unlikely to send an email to a routing address, this keeps the list of recipients to your message to a manageable size. However you can display these addresses in the Pick Address dialog so that you have access to them.

Views and Display

The address book now has a view option that allows you to see the contact records of interest to you. Agent provides these built-in views:

  • All address book entries
  • All except routing addresses
  • Routing addresses
  • Contacts (i.e. no routing addresses, inbound mailing lists or outbound distribution lists)
  • Inbound mailing lists
  • Outbound distribution lists
  • Contacts with junk detection enabled

You can also create custom address book views.

In the name column in the address book window Agent displays the full name, if it is defined. However there are cases where it may not be defined. If so, Agent displays the Organization field, if it exists, and if all else fails then Agent displays the email address.

Agent now clears the search expression when you close the address book.

Merging Address Book Contacts

Agent allows you to merge contact records into a single record.

New Copy of Contact Command

You can now create contact records in the address book based on existing contact records. Select a record and use the New Copy command on the address book Action menu.


Agent 4.2 uses a new installation program. Here's what's new:

  • The installer no longer asks if you are doing an upgrade or a new install. After you choose the target folder, the installer checks to see if the folder contains a copy of agent.exe . If it does, the installer assumes you are doing an upgrade. Only in that case does it ask if you want to backup existing files that are being upgraded. The installer chooses the initial settings for the target folder as follows:
  • If you had previously run the installer, it uses the folder you previously specified
  • Otherwise, it checks the Windows registry to try to determine where the most-recent-run instance of Agent was installed. Usually, this is the copy of Agent that you ran most recently.
  • Otherwise, it defaults to the "Agent" subfolder of the standard Program Files folder.
  • The installer now displays the readme.txt file in the second panel, so that you can read it before actually installing Agent. This panel has a button (View this readme file in Notepad) so you can read the file in a more comfortable setting, and to print it if you prefer to read it in your easy chair.
  • The new installer handles all initializations required by Windows Vista.
  • The installer registers version and support information for Agent, which you can view on the Windows Add/Remove Programs dialog.

Windows Vista

Agent 4.2 follows the guidelines laid out for Windows Vista. Here is a screenshot. Here are the details:

Location of Agent's Data Folder

The Program Files directory in Windows is considered write-only by Vista and can only be updated by sanctioned installation programs. This means that Agent may no longer store its Data directory there. Here's what this means:

  • For new installations Agent will now store the data directory in a user-specific location. For Windows NT/XP this will be in the user's "Application Data\Forte\Agent" folder.
  • For Vista this will be "\Users\<user name>\Roaming\Forte\Agent". This change will make it easier for people who share a computer to run separate copies of Agent, since Agent will automatically create a separate Data folder per user.
  • For upgrade installations, if you have Agent installed in the Program Files folder in Windows or some other non-user-specific location, Agent will offer to move your data directory to a new location that is compatible with Windows Vista. If you ever upgrade to Vista Agent will already be configured correctly. Note: If you are not running Windows Vista you do not have to move your data. Simply tell Agent No. When you upgrade to Vista, Agent will ask you at that time if you want to move your data directory.
  • When initially released Windows Vista will allow programs to run that have not yet been converted to Vista and which still store read/write data in the Program Files directory. This means that it is possible to run older versions of Agent in Vista. However, Microsoft claims that at some point in the future Windows will stop allowing for this. Agent 4.2 will set itself up so you don't have to worry about this.
  • If you run multiple instances of Agent on the same computer you should be able to upgrade without problems. However, please check the help topic Agent Configuration Options to make sure all your instances are upgraded to Agent 4.2 correctly.

Defining Agent as the default program for email, news and NZB files.

Previous versions of Agent referred to the "Default web client for email", which is how Internet Explorer described default programs on its Internet Options dialog. But Windows XP introduced the concept of a "default email program"; which appears at the top of the Windows Start Menu and is the program that handles mailto: URLs. This has been carried forward into Windows Vista. Accordingly, we have made the following changes:

  • We reworded the text on Agent's setup dialog.
  • Agent 4.2 has a new Default Program Settings panel on the Options dialog where you set Agent to be the default program for email, Usenet news, and NZB files (also new in Agent 4.2). Some of these options are new, and the rest have been moved to this new panel from the URLs panel. Note that Agent no longer supports Netscape 4.x and older so these options have been removed.

Other Features

The junk folder now behaves like the trash folder when closing Agent and when you manually empty the trash. Set options on the Trash and Junk Folders panel on the Options dialog. As part of this, we updated the context menus for the Trash folder and the Junk folder.

Agent supports ad hoc addresses. When an email arrives from a contact which has been sent to an ad hoc address you will see the Choose Address for Reply dialog, where you can specify how Agent should respond to this email. You can use the Ad Hoc Address Advanced Settings dialog to define precise formats for ad hoc addresses.

We increased the speed with which Agent retrieves email messages. We also increased the speed with which the Review Recent Email window is displayed.

We added checks to ensure the integrity of the file agent.ini . Most of this work is internal to Agent and you won't see anything different. However you will see that a backup file, agentini.bak, is created each time agent.ini is updated.

Problems Fixed

We improved the speed with which the Review Recent Email window opens. Users with a large number of email messages should notice a significant speed improvement when opening this window. We also added an Explain button to this dialog, which opens the Filter and Routing Explanation Dialog, which explains how Agent routed the selected message.

In some cases (e.g. when a message-ID was missing) the explanation for how an email was routed would be incorrect.

Text larger than the default size (8 points) would not fit correctly in the status bar.

When trying to create an attachment or temporary folder without the proper permissions, Agent would display the following message: "Agent could not create the temporary folder .\nnCheck that the name is valid."

For the %% symbols in introduction strings, Agent required that the be a standard field name. Now Agent allows any field name. If the specified field is not present in the original message, Agent inserts a blank string in its place, as it always has.

Junk detection was not working for inbound mailing lists.

In the composition window , pressing F8 (Check Addresses) removed the context specification from an email address, so that when the message was sent Agent would report that the address was ambiguous.

In some cases Agent was not properly quoting the To: field when using the replacement text for an outbound distribution list.

When picking a folder for a contact in the address book, if you entered a non-existent folder then told Agent you didn't want to create this folder, Agent did not return to the contact form, but rather forced you to cancel out of the Pick Folder dialog.

Agent would give a cryptic error message if you attempted to start Agent from the command line and used an invalid command line switch.

We fixed a typo on the When to Mark Read panel in the Default Properties for All Folders dialog.

The background color in some HTML messages was not correct, with the side effect that it was possible that some text could not be seen. This was due to the fact that Agent was not recognizing the bgcolor attribute in the tag.

Related to the above, the background color was being applied to message headers in addition to the actual message itself.

Large fonts were not correctly displayed in the RBI Folder Training wizard.

If the sections of a multipart contained references to other messages, Agent did not properly encode the references if you split the multipart into the individual messages. This caused the sections to fail to thread correctly.

We fixed a memory leak that occurred when viewing certain HTML messages.

In some cases when you pasted values into the property grid of an address book contact the value would not be refreshed, so you couldn't see the update.

We fixed a bug where ignored messages without bodies were always purged when doing a manual purge or when purging on exit, despite purge settings. In particular, Agent was purging ignored subthreads.

We improved the way Agent handles multiple entries in agent.ini . When reading the file, if the same parameter appears multiple times, Agent will always use the last value in the file. This is how Agent has always worked. When writing the file, if the file contains multiple copies of a parameter, then Agent replaces the first copy of the parameter with the value of the last copy, or with the new value if Agent has changed it since reading the file. This has the effect of removing duplicate copies of parameters.

We fixed a problem that prevented Agent from running on certain older versions of Windows 95/98. The system would report that symbol ShGetSpecialFolderPathA was not defined and would refuse to run Agent.

Learn More

Go here for All Release Notes.