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'Type Manager' The File Manager of Tomorrow? 321

IceFox writes "In the past few years many of us have been introduced to a new type of application, the Type Manager. Most of us are familiar with iTunes, but there are many other Type Managers out there that are gaining market share and a rabid fan base of users such as digiKam and amaroK. Type Managers seem to have that magic combinations of features that makes users love them. I have been taken a closer look at the Type Manager, what makes them so usefull, what they really provide for the user and came to some surprising results. After creating a list of all the traits of a Type Manager I was able to define exactly what a file manager should be and discovered that there are in fact many partial Type Managers out there now that implemented only half of what makes up a full Type Manager."
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'Type Manager' The File Manager of Tomorrow?

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  • type manager ? WTF ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    its a file attribute manager. not a type manager. adobe type manager is a type manager.
    who the fuck gave this guy a license to make up new technical definitions on the fly ?
  • by City Jim 3000 ( 726294 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:46AM (#14044003)
    ...should learn to Type Type Manager Less.
    • ...should learn to Type Type Manager Less.

      $ TM=`grep this_article -ioe 'Type Manager'|wc -l`; WC=`cahis_article|wc -w `; echo print\ \(\($TM/$WC\)\*100\) |perl

      It wasn't that often. only 4.76% of his total words were Type Manager. Of course that is 7/12 of his lines.....

  • Move Along (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lord Byron II ( 671689 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:46AM (#14044004)
    Move along, nothing to see here. This is nothing but shameless self-promotion from a guy who can't even spell "useful" correctly.
    • Re:Move Along (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Enigma_Man ( 756516 )
      Has anybody tried a type-manager style file manager, and preferred the old, usual way of doing things? I certainly do. Maybe it's just because that's the way I've always done things, and I'm used to it, and have gotten good at it, but I like my files where I put them as files, not as metadata or anything else like that.

      • Re:Move Along (Score:4, Informative)

        by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <> on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:14PM (#14044284) Homepage Journal
        I couldn't use a "music type manager" for a chunk of my collection -- my music is mixed up with lyrics, performance notes and tablature for when I actually play it (as in pull out an instrument and use it). Amarok is great to kick back and listen to music with (Wikipedia and related song links are nifty), but the brutal truth is that 99% of the time I'm just listening it could just be any player that shuffles a playlist. When I'm actually *using* the files, I need more than just a single format app.

        Same goes for images and text: I organize by project, and most have real world notebooks and folders associated with them. Even the directories full of source code and purely computer related items usually have a physical logbook associated with them and have a dozen file types in a few to over a hundred directories.

        There are two major types of applications that handle multiple types of files and let you organize them by directory. They let you manipulate them with a wide variety of tools and other applications. They are called file managers and shells. I'm partial to Konqueror and bash, but YMMV.


        • Re:Move Along (Score:3, Informative)

          by Gulthek ( 12570 )
          Fun fact about iTunes is that it can store PDF files alongside tracks. Perfect for liner notes, tabs, etc. Also any quicktime file such as a music video. Both filetypes can be given the same metadata (artist, album, etc) that you give to the music files so everything stays very nicely organized and (and this is key for me) is easily re-organizable.

          Last ten tabs added?

          All tabs in such and such a genre?

          All tabs with this part, that part, that instrument, chords or melody?

          Good stuff.
        • Re:Move Along (Score:4, Insightful)

          by syukton ( 256348 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:07PM (#14044869)
          You couldn't use a music type manager? An application that ties together all of the different things related to music but which are unrelated to one another? wouldn't like it if your music player also displayed lyrics when a song came on? Or if it displayed the tablature as well? Or if you could search all your music for a particular chord or melody or lyric or date when you performed it with your band (or whatever)? You seem to misunderstand what a "type manager" could (or should?) be.

          Much like the example in the article of Nero ripping CDs, burning CDs/DVDs, making ISOs and browsing ISOs, you seem to want to do a lot of stuff that is related to music, but which aren't directly related to one another. Displaying the tablature is related to the music, but is largely unrelated to displaying the lyrics and both of those are largely unrelated to the date when you last played the song live, but it's all information which is directly related to the music itself.

          As far as images and text, it sounds like the "type" you need to manage is "project" -- I've found myself in a similar boat, lately. Doing 3D renderings which go along with 2D Photoshopped documents which together go with a text document specifying which part goes where and which figure should be consulted for what part of the specification. All of this could be organized by project, and then I could search through my projects for everything using LEDs or everything that makes use of PIC microcontrollers or everything that required woodworking or all of the projects I did before 2004, or whatever. I've wanted, for a long time, such a "project manager" type of application.

          I don't think you understood the scope of what a "type manager" really is. The idea is like a database using the primary format as the key, but the database can store more than just the primary format. In the case of a "music type manager" the key would be a music file itself, but the associated data would be the lyrics, the musical notation, tablature, performance notes, and so on. The same way that a dictionary is indexed on single words but contains many words in the definition; or that an encyclopedia is indexed on ideas or concepts but contains more than just that in the article (ie, a wikipedia article contains images and audio in addition to ideas and concepts).

          Just because iTunes doesn't do what you want for your music doesn't mean that a type manager wouldn't satisfy your needs. It sounds like you may need something more akin to a "musical performance manager" or some other "type" but don't discount type managers out-of-hand because iTunes doesn't float your boat and is the primary example of the article.
      • Re:Move Along (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:25PM (#14044376)
        but I like my files where I put them as files, not as metadata or anything else like that.
        You do realize that the file path is metadata in and of itself, don't you? The only difference between a file path and, say, keywords is that the former is thinking in terms of the computer (sort of like C), whereas the latter is thinking in terms of the data (sort of like Java).
        • wrong (Score:3, Informative)

          by idlake ( 850372 )
          The only difference between a file path and, say, keywords is that the former is thinking in terms of the computer (sort of like C), whereas the latter is thinking in terms of the data (sort of like Java).

          That's wrong. Paths are not just metadata, they have specific semantics associated with them that, say, tags don't. Furthermore, paths have semantics that users grasp easily and that they rely on.

          Now, people have been attempting tag-based, non-hierarchical, database-based and other file management and na
          • Re:wrong (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Vizzie ( 310162 )
            Unless you are actually writing a filesystem, a path is just metadata. Suppose that I replace the fine filesystem you usually use with one single lookup table, and a relational database that maps the old file path to the entry in the lookup table. Now, the file path is just metadata. From the user's perspective, nothing has changed in how they use the system at all, but that path is now very clearly metadata.
          • Re:wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

            by NialScorva ( 213763 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:59PM (#14044796)
            A "path" is a digraph that has only one node without a parent. Directories are just a delimited list of the node labels. In Unix-like systems you can have multiple parents or labels for the same node via links.

            How is a file path different than "music/albums/Irresistable Bliss" or "C:\My Documents\Soul Coughing\Irresistable Bliss\"? They're both descriptions on how to locate a series of files, one being through information about the disk structure and one through information about the categorization. They're both aliases for a bunch of inodes on the filesystem, which is a bunch of clusters on the disk.
          • Re:wrong (Score:2, Interesting)

            MP3's ID tags provide a way for iTunes and all to generate a path-like and intuitive classification of files (/artist/album/piece/etc.) that everybody can share. I, for one would welcome a world where my downloaded files of all types would be automatically sorted because millions of people would have taken the few minutes needed to metatag them correctly at creation time. Why limit this to MP3?
          • Re:wrong forever? (Score:2, Insightful)

            by dwandy ( 907337 )
            Just because it hasn't worked doesn't mean it can't.
            I think everyone who has filed stuff in a hierarchy has lost a file at least once.
            The problem with a hierarchy is that only one "attribute" can be assigned to the file: that is the file path. Any other attributes the file may have are within the file, not the file system, and result in a click on the "find files" button which iteratively reads all files in the selected path looking for matches.
            If on the other hand, at file-save- / -creation-time, multip

      • Yeah, I can't see why I'd need metadata on my music files.

        It's very simple. My file server has a samba shared folder called "audio". Everything in this folder is either an ogg, an mp3, or a wav file. Underneath the Music folder, there's a folder called "bands" and a folder called "standup", a folder called "classical" and a folder called "other" and a folder called "playlists". Under the bands folder, everything is organized via artist\album title\artist-albumtitle-##-tracktitle.

        I mean, I'm obsessive co
    • Re:Move Along (Score:2, Interesting)

      by xTantrum ( 919048 )

      When I buy a CD my goal is to put the music on my mp3 player. To do that I might have to go through a dozen different smaller tasks before I can achieve my goal. It is not unrealistic just a few years ago (or even today for some people) to first rip the wav file, then encode to a desired format, add id3 tags via cddb, store the files in some home grown system, and finally transfer the files to the mp3 player.

      seriously, not trolling, but this really isn't that big a deal to do. most jukeboxes do this for

  • by Agermain ( 255096 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:46AM (#14044008)
    I hope I'm not the only one that had to wonder what iTunes and amaroK had to do with Adobe Type Manager [] and Suitcase.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:48AM (#14044023)
    Adobe Type Manager Light []

    Next time, check prior art before appropriating a phrase and giving it whatever meaning you feel like.

    Not to mention, "Type Manager" is a terrible name for "application that manages files of some type".
  • I've been using Adobe's version for years...
  • there are many other Type Managers out there that are gaining market share and a rabid fan base of users such as digiKam and amaroK

    (especially KDE developers) For the love of God, it's not cute to insert arbitrary uppercase Ks into app names anymore. Yes, it's called KDE. Yes, there's that big K where the start button ought to be. You really love K. We get the idea. Now name your apps sanely instead of making them sound like they were named by 13-year olds trying to be cute.

    <grumble> ...and then the
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:50AM (#14044048) Journal
    A couple of pages of rambling is far from "news". This might be an interesting read for someone who has never thought of content or contextual organization before, but it's really old hat.

    Now, if this goober had coded up a new manager which integrated all the functions he talked about, or had an extensble base manager to replace the native file system, with a defined api for plugins that would allow you to customize the environment, that would be news.
    • Now, if this goober had coded up a new manager which integrated all the functions he talked about, or had an extensble base manager to replace the native file system, with a defined api for plugins that would allow you to customize the environment, that would be news.

      Hmmm...that sounds an awful lot like Nautilus [] with GnomeVFS [].

    • I think I'll swipe it! ;-)

      I bet 80% of the plugin API could be based around an XML ontology explaining to the manager what the 'types' and 'properties' of interest are. There would need to be some custom code for content display and editing but everything else can be pushed down to the filesystem/db.
  • STOP THE PRESS! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:51AM (#14044053)
    New must-have! metadata!

    Coming soon! The macintosh.
  • by hoggoth ( 414195 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:51AM (#14044062) Journal
    Could he come up with a more generic and confusion-prone buzzword than 'Type Manager'?!
    • How about:
      Content Interface
      Topic Manager
      Type Organizer
      Theme Manager ...

      There are no good choices, trust me I looked.

      -Benjamin Meyer
      • MIME Manager, perhaps? It'd be far easier than taking a phrase that's already well-associated with a product and trying to apply it to something else. The first thing I thought when I read the title and summary was: Wait, you're converting Adobe's Type Manager to be a file manager? How? Why? Followed by...wait...since when does iTunes manage fonts?
      • "No good choices" is pretty pessimistic. "Type Manager" is not just a well-known category of software, as many people have explained, it's most likely a trademark. Very poor choice.

        I'm not convinced by your argument that this class of interface is worth having but for the sake of argument, let me suggest some better names...

        - Content agent, content browser, content viewer, content app, etc.
        - File manager skin, plugin, addon, etc.
        - Minibrowser, microbrowser, etc.
        - Smart expl
  • A "type manager" is already a piece of software that manages fonts and such... shouldn't the category that software like iTunes, etc. (including traditional font-managing type managers) be called something like a "File Type Manager" to avoid confusion?
  • by grazzy ( 56382 ) <grazzy&quake,swe,net> on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:54AM (#14044089) Homepage Journal
    .. but I really dislike all the "managers", picasa [], nero [], hell, I _stopped_ using ACDSee [] when it became to cluttered (in favor of irfanview [] ofcourse).

    Frankly I just dont see the advantage of having one heavyloading utility for each aspect of your work. Explorer does it's work, if I wanted more power on my workstations I'd be slapping Linux on them where I have amazing powers at my tooltip with some help by perl and bash.

    And for the shameless plugging of his own article I can only say: tsk tsk.

    • Explorer does it's work, if I wanted more power on my workstations I'd be slapping Linux on them where I have amazing powers at my tooltip with some help by perl and bash.

      Agreed that Perl and shell are generally preferrable when you know WTF you want/are doing, but Windows Explorer? Single threaded featureless toy with next-to-zero customisability, problematic relationship to the desktop shell and progress dialogs that range from the "very rough" to "braindead" to "absurd" are just a few characterisations
      • 90% of the time I only use ctrl-c and ctrl-v. Thats what I use explorer for. Filtering? Sure that's nice, but I dont keep that many files in my directories.

        For my pictures I simple use camera\-\*. I end up with a sortable list of directories by date that I can also quickly use to localize a certain happening.

        Most of my stuff is organised in this way, my project-folder is simply sitting on my desktop with subdirectories for every project I have or currently is working on.

        Sure, I sometimes use filtering with
        • Slash ate my formatting..
          For my pictures I simple use camera\-\*. I end up with a sortable list of directories by date that I can also quickly use to localize a certain happening.

          For example:

    • On one hand I agree that having a heavy program for each data type is bad, but I also see the advantages things like iTunes have over regular file managers. I think the best idea would be a generic file manager with plugins for extended metadata of different file types.
  • Type Manager (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FooGoo ( 98336 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:57AM (#14044117)
    This is article is idiotic and totally misses the reason why these types of applications are a success. It's not about the type of data being managed it's about ease of which you can share that data with other people who have the same interests. It's about building a community of simiar interests.Microsoft Word is the "type manager" of doc files but I don't know that many people who sit around trading doc files and discussing the differences between how Word 6 rendered text versus Word 95.

    The author should dig a little's not about the data stupid.
    • Re:Type Manager (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kurtmckee ( 870398 ) <> on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:25PM (#14045090) Homepage
      Microsoft Word is the "type manager" of doc files

      No, Word is the "editor" of doc files, you see the difference? Windows Explorer is the current "type manager" of .doc files.

      It's not about the type of data being managed it's about ease of which you can share that data with other people

      Good job, you saw the word "iTunes" and thought he was talking about music. In the article, the author concludes with further examples of what he's talking about, such as Valve's Steam (game manager), many MAME frontends (ROM manager), as well as others.

      Yes, people love to share, but that's not the same thing as managing. I want to have all of my music categorized and tagged. I want all of my photos organized with captions and tags. I want all of my email properly filed and readily accessible. There is no way a file manager can properly manage all of those different file types (not even you, Emacs). Thus, the author seems to be suggesting that specialized file managers, each appropriate to the types of data it's designed for, are a better management interface than a simple file manager with applications to edit individual files.

      As for your statements about sharing, I would argue that sharing is an example of exporting. Exporting, meanwhile, is something that happens in a management interface. I can export my songs to an audio, MP3, or data CD; my photos can be exported to CD, to Gallery [], to Flickr, etc. I wouldn't want my file manager to handle all of those possible export options; it would be a mess (I'm looking at you, Konqueror).

      It is about the data, stupid.
  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:58AM (#14044128)
    I always organize my files by project. I remember seeing the file system of a friend at work. He had carefully segregated all his files by type. He had a folder full of word processing files (separate folders for each word processors that the company routinely used at the time), another for spreadsheets, another for MATLAB files, another for graphics, etc.

    My friend had basically created a Type Manager-like approach. I thought it was crazy because the engineering projects that we did used multiple files of multiple types. On his system the files of any given project were scattered across all these type-based of folders.

    My point is that Type Managers can be very useful if a given activity only uses one application or type of file (e.g., rip/mix/burn/listen with music). But when the activity spans multiple types it drives the user back to using a general file manager. In such situations, existing Type Managers fragment the user's access to files and become a hinderance if the project's files are scattered across an email client, a photo manager, a sound file manager, etc.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Some of these applications aren't actually "type-based".

      Music applications use multiple file types: music file types, image file types (album art), playlist file types, and probably more (I don't listen to music on my computer so I'm not up-to-date).

      I like organization by project. I use R ( for statistics, and its package organization lets you keep all relevant file types in a single directory, keeping your data, description and help files, scripts, and analysis histories in predictable p
    • My point is that Type Managers can be very useful if a given activity only uses one application or type of file (e.g., rip/mix/burn/listen with music). But when the activity spans multiple types it drives the user back to using a general file manager. In such situations, existing Type Managers fragment the user's access to files and become a hinderance if the project's files are scattered across an email client, a photo manager, a sound file manager, etc.

      A great point, although the article does discuss on

    • The nice solution to this is to organize your folder structure by project, but use the various types of file managers to access your data (when appropriate; sometimes a general file manager will work better). I for instance will use ThumbsPlus quite heavily for keeping up with my website graphics & other things, but I still select folders from the sidebar so I still have the HTML files (and others) there, it's just that this particular app doesn't bother displaying non-images (some of them I had to spe
    • I always organize my files by project.

      It sounds like the "type" for you, then, is "project" -- The keyfield of the database would be the project name, and the data would be everything associated with the project.

      Type managers don't only store/organize data of a particular type, but rather are keyed on that type. Using iTunes as an example, additional information about the song such as Artist, Title, Album, Comments, etc...they're all non-musical data which are associated with a piece of musical data (which

    • Perhaps what you want to use is his File Type Manager with a few tags for your projects, so you could both tag a file as coming from a certain person, apart of a certain project and when It was created/saved.

      No this guy who wrote this article is not stupid or talking about old news, he's setting down exactly what everyone knows but placing it all under an 'idea' this is a very powerful brain tool that allows developers to move their projects towards such goals because they can quickly adapt the projects aim
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @11:59AM (#14044135)
    ...another name for a keyboard designer.

    Adobe Type Manager 3.0 Easter Egg:

    Open Help/About, double right-click on it and will see the designer's photograph. FUN!!!
  • KimDaBa (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Good article. I think that's the way to go. People shouldn't have to bother with file management if they don't want to, but it should still work if they want to. As an example, I use KimDaBa (KDE Image Database) to manage my 10 000 pictures, and with this lovel tool, I can very quickly search every set of pictures I want to just by clicking on a name, a location, a keyword, or a combinaison of it, and (very lovely !) an incremental search. I also use not very often my file hierarchy *BUT* I can rename the f
  • People on Slashdot really like iTunes? That same software that is bloated, sneaks quicktime into unsuspecting installations, rips to vendor locked-in AAC, etc. etc?

    I for one really hate iTunes for various reasons. I can manage my own mp3 collection in a sensible manner, and i don't want to have to navigate your braindead library. Call me old & grumpy again, but sheesh. Not to mention iTunes is an evil kludge gui-wise on both OSX and Windows.

    • What is there to hate? I put the CD in and come back in five minutes and I can put the music on my iPod in about three clicks. Omnipresent search, drag-and-drop and type-ahead find, easy-to-access auto-playlists (recently added etc) and file sources/sinks on the left. I don't want to have to care how my music is stored on my hard disk, although itunes stores it in a fairly logical manner when I've looked. It will rip to MP3 (or Ogg, with a plugin IIRC). I can play my non-DRMd AACs on my linux machine with f
  • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:05PM (#14044205)
    What's needed is a class library which speeds the creation of Type Managers. It should have a Document base class which applications could extend to contain document info, and a View base class which would abstract the user interface. Both would have base methods for all the common stuff, and you'd extend them with the specifics of what you're trying to do. There'd be Views derived classes based on common widgets, like dialogs and lists.

    Additionally, there'd be a way for software components to register as viewers of file types in some global database, so that they could integrate with the default shell and display previews. They should also be able to open the type manager or print, perhaps integrating into shell's context menus.

    Yup, welcome to Windows 95 with a bunch of MFC applications, COM components and the registry.

  • by ahem ( 174666 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:07PM (#14044216) Homepage Journal
    Maybe I'm the only one who sees some irony in people using the Comic Book Guy style of response to mock and belittle an interesting work. The small minds living in Mom's basement can only denigrate a reasonably well organized treatise on an interesting subject. Commenters have pointed out that "there's nothing new here", "this guy chose a bad name", "this is only novel to someone who hasn't thought of this before."

    So what, people? A refinement is a refinement. It's stepwise by nature. This is news because someone's aggregated their perceptions of the world and the ideas they sparked into one place. One of you complained about, "why didn't he publish an actual piece of code with an api for plugins?", and I suggest that maybe someone who reads this, who hadn't thought of all this before, might take this as a launching point and actually write something useful.

    Let's enjoy the journey. If we happen to visit a few points along the road more than once, it's no big deal. Seeing the same vista from a different viewpoint can be refreshing.
    • Wish I had mod points. Well spoken, ahem!
    • Just kidding.
      I agree....instead of criticizing the guy, maybe people could add some insight on to how to quickly and easily manage their own files besides using iTunes?
      C:/DOS/RUN []
    • People might be more accepting if the idea had not been repeated a million times in the past twenty years.

      The real problem is that to many, it looks nothing like refinement and instead rather like a reshuffling of old ideas.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I think you have this the wrong way around. It's experienced people denigrating a basement-type's self-agrandising treatise. Just read the first line again. Refinement is OK, just don't present it as the Next Big Thing you just worked out.
    • by electroniceric ( 468976 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:53PM (#14045350)
      Couldn't agree more. I thought this was a thoughtful, well-organized essay, and definitely merits a discussion on Slashdot (which discussion, of course, is shaping up to be neither thoughtful nor well-organized). I also think a base "Data Type Manager" is an interesting idea that merits some thought and experimentation, and to the extent that this treatise and discussion encourage that, it's a great thing.

      One of the subtle ideas this (Activity) Type Manager approach brings up is the difference between task-based and activity-based software. Back when I was on the KDE usability list, we did a lot of talking (and a lot less acting) on the subject of task-based start menus, control panels, and applications, in an attempt to get away from content-based ones. You very quickly run into the problem that there are a lot of tasks, and some of them are used in a variety of ways. But an activity ("deal with music using your computer") is big enough and happily amorphous enough that it just might bridge that gap. Another nice idea about the Activity Type Manager is that it can take on the job of figuring what metadata is important for that activity (and associated tasks) and deal with capturing and organizing that metadata.

      There are some big drawbacks to this approach, namely that it requires grouping things into categories again ("activities"), and that produces a whole new set of cross-activity aspects that people have to work with, which vastly increases the complexity of the software.

      Nonetheless, it's an interesting idea and worthy of discussion.
  • by AyeRoxor! ( 471669 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:09PM (#14044236) Journal
    I have been taken a closer look at the Type Manager, what makes them so usefull, what they really provide for the user and came to some surprising results.

    When it manages basic spelling and grammar, count me in.
  • Implied metadata (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MaestroSartori ( 146297 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:19PM (#14044341) Homepage
    Maybe it's because I'm just weird, but many of my files have implied metadata based on how I organise the filesystem they're in.

    MP3s are in directories of the form Artist - Album, file names are TrackNumber - Title. I've been doing this ever since an early version of iTunes for windows screwed my id3 tags, but since my MP3s are all tagged as a matter of course when I rip them, it means there's a level of redundancy in there. However, should something else wipe the metadata again, I still have the filesystem-level organisation to fall back on. I even have a tool which can strip this information out and refill the id3 tags with it, so it'd take me less time.

    I'd be concerned that letting a manager program handle all of this might result in a hodge-podge of files outwith my control, then if something should happen to the organisational data, I'd have a pile of files with little, no or maybe even unintellgible organisation... :(
    • Great comment

      A further point in favour of your "implied metadata" is that in the even of an operating system crash, most of us would have no difficulty recovering our "home" directories / partitions intact with files still as they are stored.

      If filing is handled by an application, it only takes one prefs file to be damaged and all your sorting may be gone.
  • We currently have applications like iTunes and MusicMatch that enable us to hide the details of where our files are in the file system, and present them in a means other than sorting by name/date/size. And that in the future we will have more. These applications no longer require the user to be intimate with the hierarchical structure of a file system;

    Wow ... thanks ... really appreciate the heads up.

    It's funny that these same apps usually use a hierarchical approach to display the data back. The two
  • by totro2 ( 758083 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:27PM (#14044413)
    Hi all,

    No doubt Slashdot geeks will scoff at this article. Geeks want to discover for themselves the best way to do anything and everything on their computer. They shun having all related functionality served up to them on a silver platter as a coherent piece of software, which geeks been trained to distrust because slimy corporations usually make them (and contain slimy commercial intrerests over user interests).

    The author is suggesting "hey geeks, why don't you be the ones to make the pan-functionally coherent software"? Then there will actually be alternatives (from a novice user, non-geek perspective) to, say, Windows Media Player, which does not expose your ripped files to the filesystem at all (a slimy corporate tactic)!

    The author is suggesting that all the little tools laying around like "grep" or "awk" (that novice users will never learn) be combined into larger software that is easy to use by novice users. A few nice Open Source programs are pioneering this effort, like K3B, and the author is suggesting, "hey, now do that everywhere, for everything, and Open Source will win the day." Which I agree with.

    Yes, it is far more fun to nitpick his choice of the term "Type Manager", but there is a big lesson here for geeks, who often times have a hard time understanding what novice users want. Novice users (ie. the other 98% of computer users who are not geeks) want software that beautifully presents them all the best choices in a coherent application for a given activity. Open Source Geeks have the opportunity to do this and win, by doing it and leaving out the corporate slime that nobody wants.
    • Here, here. Mod that post up. The fact that we're still using the folder metaphor on computers is insane. Having to organize your stuff by putting each thing in only one container is a limitation of the real world. It's like a word processor that makes you paint your screen with Wite-Out to undo a typing error.
  • Wether we're browsing HTML webpages, PDF documents, etc.. the needs are the same and IMHO, the browser for readonly should appear mostly identical.
    To browse you need to:
    - navigate the document (back, forward), activate link to open a new document
    - zoom in, out.
    - register specific location. ...

    Unfortunately some of these feature are not universal: you cannot bookmark a location in a PDF usually, which is annoying..
    And those feature are usually incoherent: you do not use the same method to zoom in/out for a P
  • The OS should have registered actions for transports and datatypes. So each "scheme" (protocol) in a URL, like "http:", "ftp:", "mailto:", "rtsp:" (omitting the ":", to be exact) has a registered app or process for transporting in that protocol. And each datatype in a URL, like ".html", ".mp3", ".xml" (omitting the "."), or its overriding Content-Type header from the server in protocols like HTTP has a registered app or process for rendering the transported data according to its MIME type. Disambiguation am
  • Type Managers can include basic manipulation, but should not be a full blown editor.

    A type manager is a browser interface optimised for a specific type of object.

    There's no reason it can't conceptually allow arbitrarily complex operations on those objects, just because the basic interface is a browser. That's just a silly restriction.
  • Thankfully, the best part of it (Live queries) are being reborn in OSX's Sherlock.
    It's like iTunes for all your files.
  • The author's "Type Manager" is nothing more than a manager utilizing more metadata than normally.

    Your classic file manager *IS* a type manager because the file name is a metadatum and the parent directory is a metadatum: neither are direct data (such as what I'm typing now). So organizing, say, a code base on a directory hierarchy that may include module names or library names or file types (docs go here, man files there, source files over there, etc.) *IS* feeding metadata to your filesystem to organize your files.

    The "Type Manager" has existed from Day 1 when files were given names. (Punch cards are before my time but I suspect the punch cards that represented a program were stored together and each program was stored separately. At this point, *you* are the metadata organizer.) Since then, it has only progressed from a flat file system (the likes of Apple IIc) to a one-level deep filesystem to a multi-level filesystem (no linking) to a multi-level graph filesystem (includes linking). Now apps are taking it to the next step by merely using more metadata. That's it, nothing new.

    In the end, the bits that represent your actual data is a long string of bits (losely stated) and your filesystem is just a type manager organizing your bits by file names and parent directories. bash, Windows Explorer, Finder, etc. are all just wrapping your metadata organizer (your fs) and some (previously and now) are using file-specific metadata for further organization.

    Big whoop.

    From the article:
    Type Manager applications are not new, in fact you probably have been using one since you got an internet connection.

    It appears the author doesn't even fully understand the concept of metadata (*ahem* "Type") and it's usage has long existed before your email client and long before your internet.

    Seriously, nothing to see here! In fact, I want my time back for reading it...
  • Hitler used to manage types... of people! D'oh! Godwin!
  • by MCRocker ( 461060 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:52PM (#14045334) Homepage
    OS/2's folders were highly configurable and extendable far beyond anything you see in Windows or even the Mac OS X 10.4 finder.

    One extreme example of exactly what this article is talking about was RexxMail []. From what I understand, instead of having a mail program with a dedicated custom interface, the developers of RexxMail simply extended the standard folder to list files of type email so that you can see the To: From: Subject and so-on in the view. When double clicking the file, it would open it in an appropriate editor and provide different options. This way you could use all the power of the Operating System's file system and folders to manage your email without having to learn some completely different interface that insisted that your email go in some specific place. Very cool.
  • by trollable ( 928694 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:55PM (#14045369) Homepage
    There are many ways to organise your data. Some that come to my mind are location (hierarchical file system), content type, properties, tags, computed values, full indexing, recommandations. IMHO, all are interested and will be used in the future.
    • Location has been used for decades (flat filesystems are not that common today)
    • Content type is used to associate actions but BeOS live queries shows the way to spread its use. Nautilus specific views is another form
    • Properties is the ability to query based on some properties included in the data (Exif, MP3 tags, ...) Already available but only for certain data. There is not yet a general way to deal with properties.
    • Tags have prove themselves usefull for links ( but could be used for any file
    • Computed values are special values that are maintained from the data (thumbnails, ...). They are similar to properties but are computed instead
    • Full indexing (Google desktop, Beagle, ...). Also include the transformation of data to text (Google images)
    • Recommandations is the way to ask other people their opinion about a specific chunk of data
    There is no single way. All of them seem interesting and I try to implement them in JDistro []. However, support from the filestystems (inotify and al.) or from the databases (triggers) are required to make them viable. In summary: I don't think Type Managers are the future, Data Managers are.

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10