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Just as if it were a regular toolbox full of useful yet sometimes not necessarily interconnected gadgets, XL-Tools is an open-source software toolbox that gathers a wide variety of small and not-so-small utilities aimed at making your life a bit easier. It includes routines to manipulate text strings, to sort data in various ways, to convert between text-based codes, to operate with times and dates, and an extra pocket of other “utils” for a number of miscellaneous tasks.
The program’s interface is not extremely sophisticated – it consists of two (sometimes three) panels where you input the text or the files you want to work with (left panel) and where you can see the results or the location of a temp.txt file with the results (right panel). Above the panels, you’ll find five tabs, each of them devoted to a theme that glues in some way the tools included in that category. All tools work with textual information, which you can copy and paste, type, or load as a file.
None of the tools brought together in this software package may carry enough weight to become a standalone application, but all of them are truly useful in their own right. They perform tasks that, simple as they may look, will keep you away from time-consuming and/or tediously repetitive tasks. The best examples are found in the Lists tab, where you’ll come across simple utilities to select or remove duplicate items from lists, to count or characters, to move data from a column to a row and vice versa, to merge lines, or to transliterate, reverse, replace, or split a text string.
In the Sorting tab, you’ll find tools to order lists in alphabetical or numerical order, to measure the length of a string, to sort dates and times, or to randomize textual data. Coders and programmers will find the Conversion section especially appealing, as it offers one-click tools to convert from Hex to ASCII and vice versa, from Hex to Base10, from Base64 to ASCII, Decode/Encode tools for HTML and URI, etc. The Time tab includes only four utilities, one to transform a date or time into another format, another tool to find the time difference between two times, and two more to add and subtract a certain amount of time to or from a list of dates and times.
The last tab, Utils, is the most versatile one – a mixture of odds and ends that the program couldn’t fit in any of the previous tabs. There are functions to convert between IP and Arpa or between IP Range and CIDR, to unveil the issuing company of a given credit card number, to resolve ISPs and GeoIPs, to calculate the distance between locations, or to find out the GPS coordinates of a given address.
There are many reasons – at least one for every utility in XL-Tools – to keep this open-source application handy. You may not be using its tools every day or every week (just like with your hardware toolbox), but at least now you know where to find them.
- Gathers in one place small utilities that are hard to find otherwise
- Converts between computer codes
- Does not provide sufficient feedback to the user