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The Death of Folders?

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the croak dept.

OS X 607

saintlupus writes "There's an interesting article on Wired about the interface changes in Tiger being a precursor to the demise of the classic folder-browsing Finder." From the article: "Users type search queries more or less as they did pre-Tiger, but 'the quality, scope and presentation of the results are significantly better, so users get good benefits without having to change their behavior.'"

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Microsoft has planned this for quite awhile. (5, Informative)

Novanix (656269) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769346)

Microsoft purposed the death of folders back when they announced the WinFS system. The idea of an SQL or Database file system where queries are performed more often than direct references isn't new. While Microsoft is not releasing WinFS with longhorn, much of their search capabilities and ability to group files into multiple spots and 'death of folders' will still be occurring. Obviously apple is the first to give a solid attempt at implementing this, hopefully it will make organization far easier;)

Misread (4, Funny)

dsginter (104154) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769433)

I read this as the death of Folgers [] . I almost fained since Folgers is The Best Part of Wakin' Up(TM).

Re:Misread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769618)

Don't worry. I, too, misread it the same way. Must be a monday. err, wait, its thursday? w00t, TGI-Almost-F !!!

What's wrong with folders (2, Interesting)

tezbobobo (879983) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769563)

Or perhaps this is being read incorrectly (the trend, not the article). I personally quite like organising my stuff into folders. I'll often store many sources together, be they source files, or pdfs/word/htm files which are related. Folders provide a simple, heirarchical method of organising files. I don't want to have to edit metafiles and such when storing files.

Better yet, instead of the death of folders, why not something which sits alongside side, like som sort of brilliant search capability? But seriously, while its a good start - does it need to go any further than apple or google have taken it? Do we really want power to be hard to get at?

Re:Microsoft has planned this for quite awhile. (2, Interesting)

Punkrokkr (592052) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769688)

It sounds similar to how GMail groups messages together. There are no folders, but labels that help organize your mail. I found it interesting, yet odd at first; but it's grown on me and I think I like it better.

What's taking so long? (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769353)

There's an interesting article on Wired about the interface changes in Tiger being a precursor to the demise of the classic folder-browsing Finder.

Call me when Folders become saved queries, and then we'll talk about the semi-demise of Finder. Actually, Finder wouldn't leave us at all. In a properly designed database file system, folders/directories should be replaced with standard queries. An example of this is the Labelling system in GMail. You can add a meta-data label to any email, which will then cause that email to appear in a virtual folder of the same name as the label. But if you pay attention to the search bar, you find that the folder is nothing more than a stored search on a key piece of meta-data.

This concept has massive implications for File System Usability. Under the folders-as-search concept, the same files can be organized under multiple folder groupings. This labelling data not only assists users in doing future searches for their information (i.e. A real reason to fill out meta-data other than "It might be useful."), but it also provides the user with a way of organizing ALL data for a given project under one folder without forcing the user to make a copy. It may not seem all that revolutionary, but I think you'll find that a lot of GMail users have already grasped the real power of the concept.

That being said, WHAT'S TAKING SO DAMN LONG?! This stuff was figured out 10+ years ago, and pieces of it were even included in BeOS. NTFS has had many of the necessary features since its inception (just turned off for some bloody reason), and ReiserFS is bringing the same design to Linux. So what is everyone waiting for? The next guy to scoop you on it?

*sigh* Dear Mr. Jobs: Will you please demonstrate to everyone how you do this properly with a file system? Thanks. Kudos to your NeXT development team who's made this possible.

Re:What's taking so long? (4, Informative)

BShive (573771) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769409)

It's already here. It says right in the article that "[...] Tiger's Smart Folders feature, which lets the user save the results of a Spotlight search as a virtual folder that automatically updates as new items matching the search are added to the system." This sounds quite similar to the smart playlists in iTunes eh? I use the smart playlists in iTunes quite a lot, and I'll definitely be using this smart folder feature once I get Tiger.

Re:What's taking so long? (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769565)

Thanks. I misunderstood what Smart Folders were. This just further underscores that Apple is the only company willing to take risks to offer useful features to their customers. I'm not quite sure what makes Wired think that Finder and Smart Folders are somehow diametric. The two are actually perfectly matched. Finder allows you to browser all the folders on your system. It's good at that. If the folders just happen to be saved queries, who really cares? The interface still works. It's just boggles my mind that no other OS has latched onto this concept before now, despite the overwhelming evidence that it's A Good Idea(TM).

Now that Apple's shown everyone the way with database filesystems, I wonder if we could get them to replace the "Recent" menu with "Piles" of recent folders. Wait, they're already looking at that. [] God, I love this new Apple. (i.e. NeXT renamed.) And that's coming from a guy who's hated Apple his entire life!

Re:What's taking so long? (5, Informative)

platos_beard (213740) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769410)

Call me when Folders become saved queries...
Did you read the article? That's exactly what SmartFolders are. You save query results as a SmartFolder and it updates itself whenever new matches are found.

Re:What's taking so long? (4, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769491)

"WHAT'S TAKING SO DAMN LONG?! This stuff was figured out 10+ years ago"

Because you arn't just designing some cool thing here, this will effect how people organize *everything* on their computer. The reason the file/folder method worked so well is because it's a good abstraction from the real world model. If you switch to something more complex that can't be described easily in the real world, many people will reject it without trying it.

Not to mention making meta data searchable on a hard disk is not an easy task without making the metadata you want to search a permanent part of the FS design. I think the idea here is to have any abount of metadata (within reason), of varying sizes, and searchable fast. That's not easy.

Re:What's taking so long? (2, Interesting)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769599)

The reason the file/folder method worked so well is because it's a good abstraction from the real world model.

Well no, not really. Back in the good old days, "folders" were called directories. Microsoft just stuck pretty icons on them and called them folders. Directories work because they're simple, for both users and programmers. Regardless of real-world metaphors, it's easy to understand a simple hierarchy.

Re:What's taking so long? (3, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769662)

sure it's easy for computer people...
for home users, it'll take a LOT longer to explain "directories" than just a file/folder comparison and a file cabinet. Easy simple stuff you take for granted will often confuse the begeezis out of regular people.

Re:What's taking so long? (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769629)

It's easier than you think, actually. When it comes down to it, the primary difference a user will see between a Folder and a Label is that Folders can only hold a file once, while Labels can hold the same file multiple times. i.e. The concept just pushes existing abstractions just a bit farther.

File links have always been a sort of "hack" to get around that fact that files can only be in one folder at any given time. With a database file system, you can keep the one folder per file metaphor, or you can grow into the folders as metadata concept. Your choice.

The greatest danger in Desktop metaphors has always been that the metaphor will be taken to its fully restrictive extreme, and that the powers added by the computer will be ignored. That's exactly what's happened in this case, and it's not a good thing.

Maybe I should blog something more complete about this...

Re:What's taking so long? (2, Informative)

Dorothy 86 (677356) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769683)

This is kinda how Quicksilver does this with pre-10.4 (Not having 10.4 I can't talk about how quicksilver interacts with spotlight et al). It didn't matter where anything was, particularly, you just type in the name of it, and hit enter. Voila, it opens up in the approptiate program. This idea does take some getting used to, you're quite right. But I think after people try it for a couple of days, then they'll realize that the database (or catalog as far as QS goes) model is vastly more efficient. Rather than having to remember where you put that file you use twice a quarter, you can just type it in, and there you have it. No hunting, no guessing, it's there when you need it and that's what's important.

Re:What's taking so long? (2, Insightful)

doublem (118724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769572)

Will you please demonstrate to everyone how you do this properly with a file system?

Great. Grand.

Now, let's take this into the work place, where you have 300 users and a central server. How do the users know they're working off the "official" version of the file from the server? How do they know they're not reading a version they accidentally saved on their own machine? You can legitimately ask how they know this now, and I'll respond that when dealing with stupid users, but a valid file path is very useful.

What happens when a user makes a typo when entering meta data for associating files with a project? Suddenly you have all but one of the files you need come up in your search, when you could have just saved all of them to the same folder.

This idea hasn't caught on because it would screw over corporate IT data management with no real gain. It would be confusing and far too complex for the average user. Forcing the "Directory" premise on users is a far better solution. While it does require users to * gasp * LEARN something, you have to have at least a baseline to accomplish anything.

This is just more of Apple introducing ideas that will make actual work more difficult in the interest of letting increasingly stupid users write letters, pirate MP3s and surf for porn.

Apple is doing to computing what Ford would be doing to the roads if they convinced the government to abolish the legal requirement for a Drivers' License, while making cars controlled by a single joystick.

Re:What's taking so long? (1)

pknoll (215959) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769585)

Call me when Folders become saved queries
This is possible right now, in Tiger. I've been working on setting up a few saved Spotlight Searches that appear as Smart Folders in Finder.
They do work pretty well, but it might be more interesting to have such folders create themselves automatically somehow, so that the first time you collect files based on certain metadata can be the last time you have to do so.

Re:What's taking so long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769637)

Call me when Folders become saved queries, and then we'll talk about the semi-demise of Finder.

Erm... Isn't that what smart folders in Mac OS X 10.4 is?

The Death of Folders? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769356)

Long live the directory!

Re:The Death of Folders? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769460)

LOL!!! I wish I had mod points, because that is FUNNY!

Hmm.... (2, Funny)

TechnoLust (528463) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769357)

That's funny, I thought Gmail's labels system was supposed to be the death of folders.

Re:Hmm.... (2, Informative)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769630)

I'm an avid and early Gmail user but I think it's only fair to point out that Gmail borrowed the folderless labelling system that it uses from Opera's M2 mail client.

As far as email is concerned, labels are an Opera innovation (unless, of course, someone can provide an earlier example), not a Gmail one.

Folders?!? (3, Funny)

coop0030 (263345) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769359)

I just put everything in the C:\ drive and know that I can find it using Windows XP's sweet search capabilities!


Re:Folders?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769470)

Windows has had an excellent search engine since Windows NT 4 Option Pack 3 (ish) but, absurdly, it's never had a good UI. It isn't that hard to create your own web-based UI for it though.

Re:Folders?!? (0)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769480)

Root folder storage makes the baby jesus [] cry.

Re:Folders?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769513)

I just put everything in the C:\ drive and know that I can find it using Windows XP's sweet search capabilities!

Actually, I know it's not p.c. here, but with this one [] it is really sweet.

won't happen (2)

krudler (836743) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769363)

It will become less prevalent, maybe. I worked for a company that made software that tried to do that. No one bought it. It's a nice idea, letting the computer manage things for you, you not being a file clerk, etc. A lot of users tend to want more control than that. It is difficult to do a lot of things in a purly search based environment, like archiving.

Re:won't happen (2)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769587)

Exactly. Also, who has some real experience with rdbms has to know that there could be actions which are just as wierd to do on a db-based filesystem than easily finding something you lost on old school filesystems. After months of usage I found that using the same old dir-file hierarchy system with google's desktop search in the background is seemingly everything I need. I use the desktop search pretty rarely but on those occasions it really helps. Epecially when searching for months or years old files on multihundred gig storage or, in my case, when searching for a specific article among 9 gigs worth of electronic signal processing library pdf files.

I would say that database-like filesystem handling for search&query is a good idea, shall be done natively, mainly for speed considerations [i.e. I don't want no ms sql services on top of ntfs thankyouverymuch]. But it shouldn't be made cumpolsory, because there are other users out there besides clickety joe6packs who also forget where their dirty socks are hanging.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769364)



Figures. (4, Interesting)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769373)

The only shocking part is that there will be millions of people that have been using computers since the 1980s, who never noticed that there ever was such a thing as folders/directories.

I'm sorry, but I like to categorize things. I like to know where they are, in this logical space. If this loses a document, can you dig it out? Or did it just never exist?

Re:Figures. (1)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769539)

You just search for it. THats the point, and if the filesystem goes a bit further it could organize things in some kind of semi logical manner as well. Or you could organize them. The searching isnt tied to the file structure, it is tied to the content. So you could organize however you merry well feel like it from an actual logical filesystem point of view, but you could search for the content instead.

I think that is what this is trying to get at.

Re:Figures. (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769594)

Why do you think Spotlight/searches can't do everything you want?

With folders you are limited to categorization by location on the harddrive.

With search you can categorize by, in addition to location, names, values, dates, comments, etc.

Also, how can you lose a document you can find via search?

"Find all documents not contained in other searches" would be possible, for example.

Re:Figures. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769634)

I agree, 100%. Search tools are great and all, although I don't have any third party programs like that installed. Instead, I have a pretty decent filing system spread out over three HDDs that I couldn't imagine replacing. I know exactly where everything is.

Wouldn't an effective searching program (one that will kill folder structuring) require metadata? What are they proposing? That your average computer user who needs his/her system for Email/IMs/Browsing all of a sudden put in the extra effort of adding in all this data, manually or with an autotagging system?

I seriously doubt they'll utilize such a system. Most don't even know what metadata is. Try explaining it to them. "Its data about data... huh?"

A decent filing system will be very hard to replace by some random "all-in-one" searching program.

frog confirms it, Finder is dying! (0, Offtopic)

rylin (688457) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769375)

frog confirms it,
"The Finder has been dying for a long time," said frog creative director Cordell Ratzlaff.

Scared me for a bit. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769382)

At first I read this as "Death of Folgers"?

Need more coffee, methinks...

Re:Scared me for a bit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769508)

Ha! Wishful thinking.

Folgers is to coffee as aparagus is to chocolate.

Bull (5, Insightful)

thesupermikey (220055) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769384)

What a load of Bullshit

Spotlight is really good, but that hasnt stoped me from being anal about setting up files so i can find things.

What really pisses me off is out iTunes reognized all my music when it was inported into the libary. I spent years putting together music in such a way that i can find it. Now i have the seach for it b/c itunes had to mess things up.

Re:Bull (1)

eclectic4 (665330) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769571)

What really pisses me off is out iTunes reognized all my music when it was inported into the libary.

Um, you do know that you can tell iTunes to not do that, right? Check the prefs...

Re:Bull (2, Interesting)

SpeedyG5 (762403) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769574)

I am sure you prefer to organize your music by the weight of the lead singer(Like I do) instead of Artist and Album. Its a shame that you didn't notice the "don't organize my music" preference in iTunes.

Re:Bull (4, Informative)

hexix (9514) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769582)

This advice is probably too late for you, but you can actually tell iTunes not to reorganize your music folder in the preferences.

I agree this seems like a stupid thing to have turned on by default. I also find the behavior where it copies mp3s that you play to the music folder automatically strange. But I guess some people would get confused that deleting a file from their desktop makes it not playable in itunes anymore. *shrug*

Re:Bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769584)

Does it take you longer to find the music you're after. If it doesn't, or doesn't by much, then itunes is saving you a ton of work by not requiring you to maintain the elborate folder structure anymore.

Computers are good at organizing data. We should leave that stuff up to them.

Re:Bull (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769671)

Actually, I've had the exact opposite experience. iTunes is very good at organising my music - I used to do this all myself, but now I rely almost 100% on smart playlists. Spotlight, however, is a pain. I can usually find a file on my system faster using The Finder than using Spotlight. Why? Because:
  1. Typed queries are a pain in Spotlight. There is a lot of typed meta-data I could search, but the UI for creating a typed query is dire.
  2. It doesn't search most of my FS. Spotlight indexes little more than my home directory, and I know where everything is in there. When I want to find something outside there, it is useless.
  3. I can't construct simple boolean queries - they are all in CNF or DNF. How hard would it have been to create a UI that let me find all PDFs containing Apple but not AppleWorks, for example?
On the other hand, I do organise my mail, and still find it easier to search that using a find function than manually (although I can usually make the searches go faster by limiting them to the most probable folder - important when I have almost a 1GB mail spool.

Only faster if you don't know... (4, Insightful)

toupsie (88295) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769385)

If you have your work organized in a defined folder structure, your memory will be faster than any Spotlight search -- especially given Spotlight's annoying habit of searching before you complete the search term.

Re:Only faster if you don't know... (1)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769531)

Good call.

It's very easy for me to find files on my system, without search.

The only time I search for stuff, is when I misplace a file. Which doesn't happen very often.

Re:Only faster if you don't know... (1)

jwthompson2 (749521) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769703)

But the more finely you organize things the deeper the structure can get and the more useful a fast search system can become. It's mostly a matter of preference though...

This on it's face looks pretty good. (5, Insightful)

cmefford (810011) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769387)

But the very concept of having millions of files just scattered about in a completely flat heirarchy, well, doesn't seem like a really good way to handle your company's data.

Re:This on it's face looks pretty good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769690)

flat heirarchy eh? Interesting oxymoron.

I don't think so... (4, Funny)

Saganaga (167162) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769389)

In other news, it was recently announced that due to the widespread use of email, street addresses would soon become obsolete. Out with the antiquated, in with the new!

Re:I don't think so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769639)

With 9 digit zip codes, we really don't need descriptive street addresses. There's plenty that we can just number every single US mailbox.

Real Men Use ls (0)

thedogcow (694111) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769390)

I've always find that folders are big and in the way. ls works for me. If I use the Finder, then I have it in "list view" which is pretty darn handy and similar to ls.

Re:Real Men Use ls (-1, Offtopic)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769567)

ls -lahF


Good revolution (1)

Thijs van As (826224) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769395)

I think it's a good thing. I mean, originally folders/directories were designed to have an order in your files. With the advanced searching technics this whole issue is solved.

Of course there are more things folders are handy with, but they've not disappeared, have they?

MyFolders died a few days go (1, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769402)

You insensitive clod!

Not quite yet (4, Insightful)

turg (19864) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769408)

From the article: "The way Searchlight transforms the computing experience is akin to Google's effect on the web"

And Google has made bookmarks obsolete, right? So Searchlight will make folders obsolete.

Better search is always very cool. But proper organization and categorization is better yet. The problem is not that the latter is a bad system but that people don't do it very well. I think a system that helps people organize their stuff will be even better than a better search. The "labels" which are used instead of folders in gmail seem like a step in that direction.

Re:Not quite yet (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769613)

For me, it has made bookmarks obsolete. The only ones I use are the quick toolbar bookmarks -- gone are the days where i maintained a massive heirarchy of bookmarks in my browser.

My File Search (5, Funny)

LegendOfLink (574790) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769414)

I'm still waiting for the time when I can "see" the computer code, via a green monitor that displays a shower of code. Then, I will have a plug that connects to my spinal column and allows me to "enter" the computer and manipulate the code using my brainwaves.

It'd be very efficient, I could then just think of finding a file, and there it would be. Or better yet, I could imagine a beowul...NO CARRIER

Re:My File Search (0, Offtopic)

Thijs van As (826224) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769472)

You'd better took the red pill!

Re:My File Search (1)

jwdb (526327) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769695)

Apparently he ran into a virtual Grendel...

Folders good for backups (5, Insightful)

rice0067 (220981) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769423)

While I love the idea of a decent search system, the time honored forlder hierarchy works because thats how people think. For instance, pictures. For these meta based search systems each picture needs to have a comment attatched (if not searching by date).. and who really does that? I tried adding notes to my pics in iphoto but after a while it gets tiresome.

And backups.. in a workflow.. every project has its own file and subfolders, makes it easy for backup and finding files.

Anywho... folder hierarchy works great and is here to stay for most people. (except for those people who just save everything to the desktop.)

Re:Folders good for backups (2, Informative)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769706)

The folder heirarchy is *one way* that people think.

We had this problem at an office I worked at a while back. We were a manufacutring borker broker, and we would get an invoice from a manufacturer that was to go a client in turn. Physically, we would put the original in the manufacturer's file, and put a photocopy in the client's folder. When we were computerizing, my manager thought that we should have copies of the scanned invoice in both the manufacturer's *and* client's folder.

I explained how much extra space this would take, and there were other documents that belonged in *several* folders. This was easily going to chew up all of our available disk space and backup in a few months. I tried to get them on a **relational database**, which stores the invoice *only once*, and cross-lists it under both the client and the manufacturer. When you do a query, either for client or manufacturer, you get the files that apply to the query arguments.

Anyway, my ideas never got traction, and AFAIK, the office is still using paper.

Folders may die, but what about directories? (4, Insightful)

Jay Maynard (54798) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769424)

The idea of a folder as a visual reference for a directory may well be on the way out. There's still plenty of need for directories and hierarchical organization, though, for managing the contents of a system from the standpoint of software. OS X's Unix base is pretty heavily dependent on the basic Unix filesystem structure, and lots of software is built with a deeply ingrained assumption that it's there and the way files are organized.

Spotlight is great for users, but there will be a need for something like the Finder indefinitely.

Good Stuff! (1)

Shrapn3l (888384) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769426)

I applaud this effort. I think it's about time an OS implemented techniques similar to what Google has been using. Actually, it reminds me of Google's Desktop Search tool.

The age of linearity within computers is coming to a close.

Re:Good Stuff! (1)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769610)

If or one, WELCOME our evil google overlords.

Removable media (5, Interesting)

MacFury (659201) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769432)

I must admit, I really like Tiger's Spotlight. It has improved file management on my machine considerably.

Having said that, how can this apply to removable media? I would like to see a feature on the next MacOS that automatically indexes removable storage.

Let's say I burn a CD of some data. The finder should keep track of which files I burned to that CD, long after I erased the actual files from my hard drive. That way, I can perform spotlight searchs on my data, even if it really isn't present on my local drive.

Find the file that you want and the machine prompts you to insert the proper CD.

Re:Removable media (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769636)

I must admit, I really like Tiger's Spotlight. It has improved file management on my machine considerably.

Can I pipe up and say I hate Spotlight? It slowed my machine down to a crawl so I tried disabling it only to find I couldn't search my mail with Apple's Mail anymore. I eventually turned it back on and it seems to have settled down, but for a while there it was seriously bogging down my dual 2GHz G5 box.

Re:Removable media (1)

kayak334 (798077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769641)

Find the file that you want and the machine prompts you to insert the proper CD.

I really liked what you were saying, until you got to this part and i thought, "hmm, how is the computer going to know how I labeled my CD?" The logical conclusion is that when the CD is burned the computer asks what the label will be and you type it in, then write it on the CD with a sharpie. I suppose this would work, if one kept up with their labeling.

Re:Removable media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769689)

We used SLS Linux from November 1992 until late 1993 when we switched to Novell just for this feature. These products were typically called Hierarchical File Systems (HFS), not to be confused with something Apple called HFS, but wasn't. The least used files were automatically migrated to tape, but they were still listed when you did a dir. When you deleted a file, the meta info would still be accessable. For example, a manager could do use Norton Utilities to search for "income statement 1985," and still find it even though it didn't really exist on the drive and had long been moved to tape. With a pair of robotic DAT changers, we had almost 400Gbytes of near-online storage in 1993. While slow, it worked very well.

We're still waiting for a good HFS system for Linux so we can switch back to Linux.

PS: Why the new system to keep out the disabled? I had to have someone with better eyesite type-in the damn code so I could post.

Re:Removable media (2, Funny)

hexix (9514) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769693)

So it can tell you that you burned the thing your searching for to a CD at some point in your life? How exactly do you expect it to prompt you for the proper CD?

"Please insert the CD on which you wrote "MY NUDIE PICS' in blue marker."

Can I just ask... (1) (782137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769448)

What's the point? Folders and subfolders work for of GMail's sorest problems for me is that you can't have sub-labels (something solved by me using Thunderbird to do my gmail...yay POP access). I assume this would have similar problems.

Re:Can I just ask... (1)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769647)

"one of GMail's sorest problems for me is that you can't have sub-labels"

I solved this issue by just applying multiple labels.

Not broken (4, Interesting)

DogDude (805747) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769454)

What I'm wondering is what is broken with the whole directory/folder design? I wasn't aware that there was a problem. And what's the alternative... every file is stored on the hard drive in some arbitrary location, and a query is needed for each and every file access? That seems like a *ton* of overhead to fix a problem that just doesn't exist.

And what about file systems? I know that modern file systems like NTFS are much better at optimizing file storage for large drives with millions of discrete files, but are all of the modern ones ready to handle a drive with millions of files all at root?

Re:Not broken (1)

jwthompson2 (749521) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769674)

I doubt that folders/files will go away...but powerful search allows the tree to get deeper while still being easy to work with. Thanks to Spotlight I have more finely categorized my folder structure to produce a more organized hard drive but that caused the tree to grow immensely so I end up using Spotlight to help me find stuff quickly while still having a very well organized collection of stuff.

Re:Not broken (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769694)

What's broken is the users. They can't understand folders. Its soo hard to make a folder called c:\My Pictures\2005\vacation. I say make the OS's GUI force people to use folder better!

f-spot and pictures and tags (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769484)

I installed f-spot (a mono photography application for Linux -- it's in Debian unstable) on my wife's Thinkpad and it went out and thumbnailed over a 1000 pix on her system.

With the tagging system (you highlight and tag photos with tags like family, favorites, Mexico Trip etc) it was so easy to navigate through the huge collection without knowing where any of the pictures lived within the file hierarchy.

Something similar for navigating the whole system would be amazing: thumbnails of documents, meta information... the sample really made the possibilities come alive.

How about it? Can we take the f-spot engine and create a file browser with tags?

Google Desktop Search + GDSuite (2, Informative)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769501)

All I can say is the linking of Google Desktop Search and the program called GDSuite which makes GDS work like the "search" function from windows has already changed how I get to things on my machine. If I know a chunk of code from a certain filetype is what I am looking for, it is extremely straightforward to just type that information in and get a response immediately.

The only thing I can hope to see is for Google Desktop Search to add a "label" functionality to GDS so that I can label things that are "games" and "code" etc, to help narrow down searches or even use virtual directories where it brings up a windows like link to all executables labled for games on the hard drive without having to individually organize.

This way you could make folders that consist of multiple labels and or focus them down to less labels etc at a click of a button.

Hierarchical Folders Are Still Useful (3, Insightful)

henrywood (879946) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769505)

It's all very well to talk about the death of folders because of intelligent indexing and searching of file systems, but this is in the context of retrieving data. Where a hierarchical structure is so useful is when you are saving information in the first place. It's important to remember that a hierarchy divides the file system into a number of logical namespaces.

A completely flat filesystem sounds all very well in principle, but how do you find names for all of those files? I have loads of files on my computers with the same names but in different namespaces. Or are we going to throw away filenames as well?

Newton soup file system anyone? (1)

dayeight (21335) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769515)

Actually....can someone give me a more concrete idea of how a soup file system works?

Death to folders/directories death to discovery. (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769523)

While searching has it benefits over folder there is the time that you don't know what your are looking for, but you will know once you find it. How many of you when you were fairly new to Linux
cd /usr/bin
and tried to run all the files to see what they did?

Or on MacOS take a look at all the pfiles and see what they can control and what they can't.

Or say you want to find a way to make the dock transperent and you search for Dock Transperance. While the real term that the search will find is Dock Clearness. Or that file you saved way back when you don't know the date you did it or what it is about but once you see it you know that is the one you need.

Sure I like spotlight but there are some cases where it just fails me mostly because I am absent minded.

No Folders? No thanks? (4, Interesting)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769528)

Maybe dumping everything into a single area makes sense for some folks, but I shudder to think about it. I work in the legal field and every attorney and paralegal in the office saves documents in case specific folders. This becomes especially helpful when, two years after the fact, you're asked to track down some obscure brief, correspondence, or the like.

That plus there is still a large group of folks in the business world for whom computers are still fairly recent (the managers and partners who have been working since the 70's and 80's). Granted their numbers are starting to thin, but there are still a great many folks, in relatively high positions, who like the folder system because it replicates a filing cabinet- they get it. Trying to educate the entire generation on a "whole new way" of doing something "easier and faster" will frighten them off.

Re:No Folders? No thanks? (1)

Snowmit (704081) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769684)

Yes, but in a system that uses meta-data and saved searches, you have an interface that acts like a file and folder system where there is a folder for each case, a folder for each of your attorney and paralegal's work (useful if you have to check over the work of that incompetent fool you just fired), a folder for all of your tort works, a folder for all files involving certain clients, a folder for all files involving certain kinds of filings, a file for all of your official correspondance, a folder for all of your billing etc etc etc.

And rather than having to make a duplicate copy of each file, one file can appearin multiple folders.

So it's like the current system but better.

I don't get it! (1)

HeavyMS (820705) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769535)

What up whit this search you hard drive crap? i have NO problem finding anyting on my drive. And guess how. yea thats right i USE folders! duuuuuu i don't c the problem they are trying to invent! .... on the other hand i use total commander instead of explorer crap so that may be a helping factor in the organation. (think Norton/Midnight commander but for windows).

How about a search for... (1, Offtopic)

payndz (589033) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769556)

...frog's shift key.

"Ooh, we're so cutting edge we're not going to use a capital letter at the start of our company's name." Pretentious twats. I bet they all have poncy rectangular tinted glasses and soul patches and ride around their offices on scooters as well.

booo. I like folders (1)

ostiguy (63618) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769560)

I have a gmail account for a variety of mailing lists. I am getting a bit fatigued with its interface. Yes, I can label all the mailing list stuff, but the oddball stuff is a pain to deal with. I wish I could route to folders instead of labeling the mailing list stuff, so the regular view is strictly stuff that is unlabeled.


Folder suck. (1)

nearlygod (641860) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769566)

Finally... I've been waiting for the end of folders to come. I just hope that they are replaced by directories instead of libraries.

Assumptions & interactions (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769579)

A search-based approach assumes
  1. The category(s) of the object are encoded in the metadata of the object
  2. The search is sufficiently broad enough to collect all items that belong in a search (false negatives)
  3. The search is sufficiently narrow enough to exclude items that do not belong in the set (false positives)
Some simple examples of hard-to-define-by-search collections of documents include:
  1. All the documents for a given client (stock photos used for that client, invoices, emails) -- not ever document will have the name of the client in it.
  2. The set of "final" versions of files for given client (with no intermediate or working versions) -- might be doable if EVERY office file in the system were in version control system.
  3. "good" documents from a web search for further workflow processes (requires subjective evaluation)
  4. the set of spams (the imperfection of spam filters is a microcosm of the problem of the inaccuracy of search)
I have used (and created) system that do continuous/recurring searches to create collections. Its a great idea, but it can be awkward to form the right search and even the best search has exceptions (falsely excluded documents and false included documents). Direct manipulation (i.e., putting a file in a folder or removing a file from a folder) is far simpler and faster than typing metadata or refining a search.

Folders are still useful.

this is natural selection at its best (2, Interesting)

yagu (721525) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769581)

I don't think the directory as we know it is dead, it is a nice way to hierarchically (word?) organize our data (but wait, Documents and Settings???). Seriously, directories are intuitive enough and most people get comfortable with them quickly.

But, there are some problems with directories:

  • they get messy when too deep (where the heck is that directory I put those files in?)
  • in a GUI, they're really really really annoying, and potentially very dangerous. On many occasion I've had people come to me to help them recover a file that "disappeared". Mysterious at first, I came to recognize the dreaded "mouse button accidentally released" during a drag and drop as the common cause for "lost" files in a gui universe. But it gets really dangerous when the lost file from "drag and drop" does something to a system directory, something I've encountered at least twice! (It can almost literally render a system unusable.)
  • they become useless when not deep enough (hmmmmmm, I know I have that photo in this directory, but among the 4000 others I can't find it!)
  • they're too specific... How many times have you thought, "I'll put it here, no wait, it's more appropriate over there, hmmm...."? And then just give in and put copies of the file in multiple directories (which introduces a whole 'nother slew of issues).
  • they're confusing in the quasi-standards community... (This new executable I'm contributing, does it belong in "/usr/bin", "/usr/sbin", "/usr/local/bin"?)

However, this article I think shows the way technology will take us and I like the abstraction and "flattening" of the storage universe. I've already become less neurotic about how to organize and store photos, etc., especially now with photo organizers and desktop search software like Google desktop. For me it makes more sense to "ask" my computer where something is and have it return the top twenty most likely responses (with the ability to drill deeper if necessary).

Directories served a good purpose, but weren't they mostly artifacts anyway? Aren't they kind of an opaqueness of underlying technology? Directories as far as I remember were a way of implementing pointers and references to blocks of data on a drive, albeit a nicely abstracted implementation at the time (except for DOS, ick... (why no ".xxx" extensions allowed for DOS directories, huh?)).

Spotlight not the be-all end-all of search (4, Informative)

mccalli (323026) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769595)

I use Tiger. I upgraded from Panther. And whilst I can search meta-data to my heart's content, for finding actual files the Finder in Tiger is less powerful than Panthers, not more.

Reasons? Well, first of all Spotlight won't search the whole of your drive. Can't remember if it was in /usr/local/bin or /usr/bin? Tough. Spotlight won't help you, it doesn't look in those hierarchies.

Made a mistake typing your search term into Spotlight and on an older machine? Don't even think of hitting that backspace key, or the Finder may go into a spinning beachball hell whilst it tries to live search everything for you.

Want to find just files and nothing else (ie. no meta-data or content-related stuff, just filenames)? Well, you can use the undocumented start-your-search-with-a-double-quote feature, but that doesn't work well because it doesn't understand wildcards (so "*.java won't work, for example, whereas ".java will but would include *.java.backup).Also it seems to lose its idea of filename-only as soon as you hit backspace and try to re-edit it. In other words, typing ".java will find me *.java*, but typing that, then hitting backspace, then typing hte final 'a' character again will start finding me things with java in the content instead of just the name.

It also has poor resource usage - some seem to be lucky, but search the forms and you'll see many people complaining about processes called mdimport or similar hogging large amounts of CPU. Then there's the indexing it does every time you connect a firewire drive - if I reboot my Powerbook in target mode and hook it up to the Power Mac, a large amount of indexing is initiated which slows down my performance on that drive. I can set it to not index, but then it slows down search on that drive. What's needed is for the indexing stuff to be really low priority or user-ppausable perhaps.

Sorry, Spotlight is ok but in the Finder it's a pain more than a help for me. I wouldn't have minded it in addition to Panther's more straightforward 'find a file' bit, but as a total replacement for that it's rather lacking. I'm not even contemplating using it as a complete replacement for a normal directory structure.


They haven't used Spotlight, have they? (5, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769621)

Pie-in-the-sky. Please spare me the deep-think prognostications of people who obviously are unfamiliar with how the facility actually works (or doesn't) in the real world.

When it is good, Spotlight is very, very good. And when it is bad, it is horrid. So far, in my experience, Spotlight has been very, very good about 50% of the time I've really used it (i.e. to find something I wanted to find, as opposed to playing around with it). And horrid the other 50%.

Spotlight has several big problems.

a) It doesn't find things reliably. This isn't like using Google on the Web, where you're happy with the results you find, and mostly don't know about what relevant hits Google missed. You have a very good idea what's on your hard drive, and it is incredibly annoying when Spotlight does NOT find a file you know is there.

There is ongoing discussion of why Spotlight doesn't find things reliably, and, of course, many people who say "It works for me," but the number of users reporting that Spotlight is not finding files they know are there is very significant.

There are various reasons for this. One is that Spotlight has a fairly long built-in exclusion list of directories it doesn't think you really want to search, but, unfortunately, it does not explicitly show you what they are. This is not, however, the only issue.

b) It doesn't find things quickly. Wags are starting to call it "stoplight." Frankly, I'm scared to type anything directly into the search field. I've gotten to the point where I type the search target into a text editor and paste it into the edit field.

The problem is that Spotlight oh-so-cleverly gives real-time live updating of the partial query as you type it in. So if you type in "Slashdot", for example, by the time you have typed in two characters it is trying to display every file on your computer that begins with "sl". For reasons that aren't clear to me, this frequently locks up the Finder's UI with a spinning pizza wheel. The entire Finder becomes unusable--you can't even activate another window and search for the file manually--for big fractions of a minute.

c) A signficant number of users are reporting frequent occasions when Spotlight causes their whole system to slow down. And, in at least one case, I've pinned down a situation in which Spotlight, for some reason, actually causes another program to fail with file I/O errors unless it is prevented from accessing the directories that program is using.

So, Spotlight is sometimes wonderful... but other times is unreliable, slow itself, slows down the rest of the system, and makes other programs unstable.

But aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

No (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769627)


This is going to suck. How will the system account for spelling errors? Poorly, I'll bet. Also, what do you want to bet that this will lead to a completely guided view of the contents of your hard drive, in which OEMs now decide what we can search for and what we can't. It will be like that "These are the system files! Don't f*ck with these!" warning page on windows only much, much angrier.

I say, screw these guys. If you want to get that restrictive with my machine, I shouldn't have to pay for it. I guess it will be "Linux, here I come" time.

Folders and Benefits (1)

Proteus (1926) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769643)

Users get "good benefits", eh? Since when are benefits bad?

Anyhow, the Volume->Folder->File metaphor has always been a bit strained, and I'm glad to see that quality search tools and filesystem metadata are chipping away at the average user's need to use such a metaphor as a crutch. Hopefully, this the first step toward establishing a new filesystem metaphor: one where the data can be somewhat independent of the logical location on a disk, and that doesn't treat the user like a cripple hobbling toward his/her data.

The addition of metadata especially interests me, as it opens the door to having the filesystem exposed as several different metaphors at once -- the logical layout of the filesystem need have nothing to do with its navigation metaphor.

Slashdot... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769644)

News that's crap. Shit that splatters...

Death of folders is greatly exaggerated... (3, Interesting) (601843) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769653)

Tiger's Spotlight is good, and certainly better than anything else I have used so far. However, the way it presents the search results is always a bit useless as the top ten seearches are top necessary the way to show me what I need. Additionally the lack of a boolean search is a big mistake as you can't narrow the search down. It is still much much faster for me to remember the folder and go straight to it. When that is no longer the case I'll believe in the death of folders.

We need something to help that is clear from the number of digital objects we have lying round on our computers these days. Some method of collecting these objects into conceptual sets or classifications (apart from file extensions which is not always the most useful) could be really useful - I have read some interesting stuff by people who are Metadata crazy (seem to have lost the links though - the tiger review of metadata writer was really interesting [] ...) Maybe the answers are somewhere there.

But for most people, some method of grouping data, adding categorical schemes, visually and texturally organising and generally making files/objects more plastic in the way that we store them would be a great step forward.

But in any case, nested folders *do* still have uses. And I think we need --in addition to-- rather than --instead of--.

---- Posted anonymous as bloody slashdot is banning IP

Question for OS Design Experts (not UI) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769667)

Will this model be limited to userland? Or will it also change the way the OS itself is organized? eg, instead of having config files scattered all over the place, could an attribute be added to those files called "conf" or what have you? Maybe these are stupid questions, but could someone here enlighten me?

Not an A/C, just too freakin lazy to create an account. CS

hiding (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769675)

How can I hide things from my kids or wife?
Ten levels of folders with scary names like "SYSX.dat" keeps them
the hell outta my pr0n.

All the evidence you need: (1)

Sloppyjoes7 (556803) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769677)

Search engines become massively popular. Google now biggest media company

Computer storage capacity nearing 1 TB; people stop worrying about running out of space, and save all files.

Microsoft announces the WinFS file structure; which will do away with folders.

Google releases a PC search tool, which is widely used.

Other companies have also release PC search programs. People debate which is the best

Apple follows suit. Anyone surprised?

Vagueness (1, Offtopic)

PeteDotNu (689884) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769680)

I don't know about you, but when I am looking for a specific website, I am more likely to type in the URL than to search for it in Google.

My point is that Spotlight/Google is fine when it comes to vague requests (I want teh funny Star Wars spoof!), but when you know exactly what you are looking for and exactly where it is, you don't want a big pile of options to choose from.

I agree (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12769681)

I've been using Copernic Desktop search and it has largely changed the way I interact with my laptop.

My 'My documents' folder is a mess. I am too disorganized to keep it straight as projects/information evolve over time, since my classification scheme will necessarily also, and it is a royal pain in the ass to go through and create new directories, transfer files etc... Nobody but the most anal retentive among us with loads of free time bothers with it.

But with the destop search, I just type in a few words and the info I'm interested in pops right up. I've found all sorts of information I thought I had lost, only to have the desktop search find it buried in some deeply nested folder, a victim of a previous noble effort I had made to classify things into neatly labeled folders.

Here's an example. I am a researcher and I have probably downloaded about a 1000 different pdf research papers over the years. It was becoming so difficult to keep track of these papers on my hard drive, that I would just re-download the paper again instead of trying to figure out which damn directory I had stuck it in two years ago, when the way I thought about my research was different than the way I think about it now. Now I've given up on the directories - I've stuck all the pdf papers in a single directory and just do a Copernic pdf search with a couple of the keywords I'm interested in and the paper pops right up. It's great and it's the way of the future.

This is a bad idea... (1)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769691)

While I'm all for the idea of a more database-esque file system, I see this as bad for consumers.

If only applications manage particular files than you become "locked" to that application for managing those files.

Think of it, it makes it far easier to force DRM (I'm sorry, you can't even SEE your files unless you use the approved application, citizen). Plus you're condemned to THAT application because it doesn't necessarily have to release its data store to other applications.

Sometimes I know what's best for me (3, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769692)

Whenever I create a project-specific folder and put a bunch of files in it, I know that those files are directly related to each other. I don't want to search for "files you think might be related to Project Foo" - I want "files I've explicitly said are related to Project Foo".

There are times when searches are ideal for grouping disjoint sets of information. There are many, many more times when a best guess is completely insufficient. Searches to augment folders? Sure. Searches to replace them? No way.

I don't mind the folders... (1)

pastpolls (585509) | more than 9 years ago | (#12769701)

I hate managing drive space. I just want to connect a drive and label it as removable or not. If it is not removable it becomes part of the storage pool, and the FS handles where to put my file. I don't want to have to remember what drive that big file is on. I should not need to know that there are 4 drives inside my computer. Just space, no matter what form it is in.

FYI. Folders should be part of the storage pool, and hold files that reside anywhere in the pool.
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