I don’t know how those systems worked, but I’d bet they weren’t using tags for navigation. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the only means of identification back then was a file name. You seem to be the authority on this, maybe you could enlighten me. Regardless, I’m positive that the hierarchical file system is an outdated way to organize your files.
If you’ll recall, I suggested a non-hierarchical file system.
[quote=agmsmith]An initial experiment could be done with the current query window (use the Desktop’s Find command to open one) and a custom attribute, perhaps called “tags”, attached to the files. Add the tags you want to the attribute on the files you are marking, perhaps separating multiple tag words by commas. Then do the Find on the tags attribute with the word you want to look for. The resulting window will show all matching files, and is live (if you add new files or change tags, the window contents automatically update). You can also use the file types preference tool to make the tags attribute publicly visible (or even editable), so you can see the tags as a column in the file listing windows.
All that’s missing is a multi-select combo box to choose tags when editing or searching. And clicking on a tag in a file listing to start a new search window for it. Also missing is better support for array attributes, rather than storing tags as a comma separated string.[/quote]
This seems like a good starting point. Of course, moving over to a completely tag-based system would have much more far-reaching implications for the interface. Maybe I should sketch a mockup for how I think the Finder would look/work in such an environment.
There is a gripe I have with tags, and that is their relation to attributes. Every time I think up a metadata based file system, these things seem to conflict with each other. As far as I’m concerned, either of these could do the job of the other, but they each have their own benefits and flaws. Here are the respective syntaxes for a particular file:
[Unique pointer to the file itself]
A Night at the Opera
Pointer:[Unique pointer to the file itself]
Album:A Night at the Opera
So tags are essentially values without attributes… Clearly, the attribute:value pair is much more semantic.
The values from an attribute based file system could be used just like tags for browsing. Such a system would also allow arrangement by any attribute, just as always. On the other hand, a tag may be easier to just slap on a file for the typical user, especially in non-standard cases. I guess the question here is, should values always be tied to an attribute-value pair or be a bit more lenient?
If I’m going too fast here, just tell me, lol. I’m developing the idea in my mind as I go, here.