Copyright 1996-2013,2014 by Thomas E. Dickey
Flist (file-list) provides the user with a powerful and versatile interface to VAX/VMS. Flist is a full-screen editor which shows the effects of commands rapidly and naturally. It provides both interfaces to VAX/VMS file management commands (EDIT, COPY, RENAME) as well as extensions to the command interface to better integrate VMS commands, and to augment them
I wrote flist in 1984-1985 while at the ITT Advanced Technology Center. Seeing the original flist program on VM/SP CMS, then dired on BSD 4.1 gave me the inspiration to go and do likewise on VAX/VMS (which really does need a good user interface).
In adapting the concept to VMS, I made several tradeoffs which make the program different from the IBM program. For example:
While it might be nice to run multiple commands (even without the synchronous terminals), I chose to limit the program to a single command at a time. Aside from this - typing commands and collecting parameters—the programs act much alike.
I added a command to set the displayed width of the filename- and filetype-fields.
VMS has many interesting file attributes to display (4 types of date, record attributes, etc). The default view of the VMS program looks much like the IBM program. I added a command which is used for select the attributes to display.
The VMS program is strictly hierarchical, with only one list shown at a time.
The VMS program must read/reread info after invoking editor, etc., which is a significant performance problem. To work around the limitations of VMS, it includes its own command interpreter to infer when a file has been edited (and detect new versions), handle copying of files (again, to handle versions),
Later, I developed ded, which is nicer in many ways for UNIX. In 1995, I used the (now defunct) AXP demo machine axpvms.pa.dec.com to test and upgrade this version from the original K&R source (which was what VAX C was in 1984) to ANSI, and distributed this on the second and third VMS freeware cdroms. Flist is getting a little old, but still quite usable.
There is another flist written by Hunter Goatley with TPU a few years later. The two programs are unrelated (and Hunter Goatley stated that he was unaware of the other programs using the same name).