Apple's Spotlight spells the end of the file system

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacBytes, Aug 1, 2005.

  1. MacBytes macrumors bot

    Jul 5, 2003
  2. Passante macrumors 6502a


    Apr 16, 2004
    on the sofa
    From the article:

    Microsoft Corp. will soon follow suit with its Windows Vista release, which will have its own indexing tool imbedded into the operating system.

  3. ppc_michael Guest


    Apr 26, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Hrmm. Hooray for Spotlight and all, but I don't think it's going to radically disassemble the filesystem. It's much more convenient to keep related files in separate directories than to just throw them all together. Every time you want to launch an application do you want to have to remember the filename and type it in? No.
  4. Lacero macrumors 604


    Jan 20, 2005
    Obviously Spotlight is a natural extension to the file system when you need to manage millions upon millions, if not bilions upon billions, or even trillions upon trillions, of files inside any new 64-bit capable computing system. Think of modern computers as nodes of the internet. Who else does not search across the internet for the information that they need access to?
  5. mkubal macrumors 6502a

    Jul 22, 2002
    I know people love this idea of having to search for a file every time you want to use it, but I think it's a waste of time as compared to knowing where your files are. Sure there are some times when I forget where I put a file, and spotlight is great for that. But I'm not going to type in a search to look for a file when I know exactly where it is. And I will never use a computer where there is no file system and I just drop everything I put onto a computer into a giant heap. That's not progress, that's a freaking mess. I don't need smart folders because I have regular folders that hold the things I want them to. I work in an office where I have organized my computer into projects and years within said project. To say that throwing them all together into a giant jumble and search for them whenever I need them is unbelievably dumb.

    I like spotlight for it ability to find things that I've lost. But for example, I have a streaming .asf file for a radio station whose morning show I like to listen to on my desktop. I don't want to have to search for the file every morning when I start up the computer. I just double click it, which is a huge time saver over searching for and then double clicking it.

    I know I'm gonna get reamed by people who think a searchable file jumble is the next coming of Jesus Christ, but I hate the idea.

    I'm gonna go calm down now... :cool:
  6. feakbeak macrumors 6502a


    Oct 16, 2003
    FWIW, Microsoft was publicly talking about integrating indexed search capabilities in the OS long before Apple broached the topic. Beyond that, indexed searching is a concept that has existed long before either company was talking about providing these services within the OS.

    I think this was a good article and that file systems will change due to indexed searching, but I don't think the traditional folder structure file system will be going away any time soon. Still, this type of searching and indexing technology is changing the way we use file systems, operating systems and services (i.e. Gmail).
  7. Lacero macrumors 604


    Jan 20, 2005
    Even when I know where my files are, I'll use Spotlight to find it for me. Using Spotlight, especially when I know the file I'm looking for, is simply the fastest way to find a particular file buried in mountains of folders.
  8. LaMerVipere macrumors 6502a


    Jan 19, 2004
    Screw that.

    Spotlight is fun and all but it's no substitute for folders, I tell ya what.
  9. mkubal macrumors 6502a

    Jul 22, 2002
    To each his own I guess. My file system doesn't go that deep. At most seven folders. I don't doubt that some people have good use for it, but I'd say that most people don't have deeply nested folders.
  10. atszyman macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2003
    The Dallas 'burbs
    I think Spotlight is less the end of the folder system of browsing than is is an introduction to database file systems. With the right setup a DBFS can be completely transparent to the user and yet eliminate the folder system. Anyone who has used the Opera web browser's built in email client should have a fairly good idea of how this works.

    In reality all of your files are stored in one place. Folders still exist graphically but really are no longer folders but database queries. You could navigate your folders just like normal but the added benefit is that files can exist in multiple folders simultaneously without being copied, aliased or shortcuts. This is great for situations where a file really needs to exist in different folders and you don't want to copy it there. I know aliases/shortcuts can accomplish this but if you need to email the contents of the folder you may end up sending a link rather than the file. In a DBFS the file is there and when you edit in one folder it changes everywhere. I know of at least a few places that I would really like to have this functionality and SmartFolders are a good start.
  11. tobefirst macrumors 68040


    Jan 24, 2005
    St. Louis, MO
    ^^^ that was one of the best explanations of the uses that I've heard of.

    I have Tiger at home, but I particularly can't wait to get Tiger installed on my work machine. At home I manage all my files, but at work in a small design department, there are 4 of us managing files, each with our own file structure. The ability to find files across a network of millions of files is where Spotlight will become real for me.
  12. michaelrjohnson macrumors 68020

    Aug 9, 2000
    I honestly believe that we will someday be using a much higher level of meta-data driven filesystems. Anyone who routinely uses Smart Folders, or even a blog/flickr that supports "tags" knows that it can be a very powerful file organization system. However, I don't think it's ready for prime-time yet. As in, I don't think that the current options will replace the existing file organization conventions.

    Case in point: I have been using a digital camera for years. Every time I download photos, I use Image Capture (not iPhoto) and save the files in a "temp" folder. From there, I manaully break down the events and give each a named folder by date (EX: 08.01.2005 MacRumors Pics, 08.01.2005 Car Photos). This is a very efficient method, as I am able to find every photo I have ever taken. Providing I know the date it was taken. I never search, I always just scroll through my folders. I've been looking for a less time-consuming process. I decided to give iPhoto a try. So I imported a few months worth of photos, applied tags, and let them all sit in my library. The problem is, those photos that aren't "Album-worthy" remain hidden... among a mass of photos, not carefully subdivided by topic. Unless I tag each photo, it's tough to find those little-known photos of mine.

    Long story short, I'm not really satisfied with iPhoto and it's tagging/searching for photos. I'd much rather have instant access to my picture files (the JPEG files themselves), and worry about organizing them on my own.
  13. AlmostThere macrumors 6502a

    I find almost exactly the opposite. Spotlight is so full results trying to give me the right one that it buries what I want. I have had top results for text / pdf / doc which don't even contain the search term! Equally annoyingly, the desired file sometimes appears ... and is then shuffled off the top list, even if the difference in name is an underscore or hyphen. Why? Why? Why?

    Thing is, I tolerate a much higher level of inaccuracy in a web search. Where I have a specific file in mind I want that and importantly nothing else. Generally, I search my files to find something, I search the web to find out about something. A specific or common reference is likely already in my favourites and I will go directly there, without a search.

    Spotlight just has way too high a signal to noise ratio to be useful (for me).

    Smart folders seem equally problematic : is there any way I can remove items from them and drag in items that should have turned up? I played with them briefly, trying to get the stuff I wanted but it ended up being quicker to do it the old fashioned way. I think spotlight needs someway to be told that things are plain wrong (I don't know if there is one)

    I this this the crux of any database or database-like file system. The data has to be well described. 'Proper' databases have well designed fields and entry is generally an automatic process with well defined criteria. Doing the same for every file you create is both time consuming and likely to be inaccurate (was it tagged work, office, project name, company name or all of these, or some or have I made a typo there and ... why I am spending so much time categorising my data?) as the structure is far less formal.

    Any system is only ever going to be as good as the indexing that supports it. Commercial databases are purposefully designed to be reliable and accurate within the specified context. I can certainly see the appeal and intention - Spotlight is not that bad as a first stab (think web searching in he early 90's) but until file systems offer the same level of quality (and it is the qualification of the data that is important) I am not sure how practical their future is beyond being the latest trendy gizmo.
  14. toothpaste macrumors 6502

    May 8, 2005
    Think of all computers as nodes since the beginning of the internet.
  15. ham_man macrumors 68020


    Jan 21, 2005
    Interesting idea, but until Spotlight is faster than me quickly clicking through a few files to find it, I will stick with my folders. The company wide search seems like it could be a good idea, assuming you could hide files...
  16. amin macrumors 6502a


    Aug 17, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I agree with most in this thread. Spotlight complements the file system. I can't imagine it replacing the file system. Even the mind has a file system.
  17. zelmo macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2004
    Mac since 7.5
    I like having all of these tools available to me. The standard folder structure works well most of the time, but sometimes I find it is simply faster to use Spotlight to get to a file than it is to go through 5 or 6 nested folders to find it, even when I know exactly where the file is located. Smart folders are cool, too. Beats making an alias or duping a file to have it in more than one spot.
    At the end of the day, Spotlight and smart folders won't replace my folder structure, but they definitely make me more efficent.
  18. Jedi128 macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2005
    New York, NY
    I really like the folder system, but I think that spotlight is just better. In like 2 sec I can find anything, but it can take a lot longer if I have to dig through a lot of folders. I think that it will someday take over the file system, not that I want it to happen..............
  19. njmac macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2004
    I need to look in a folder sometimes for items that are related, but don't share the same key words. There is really no way around that with spotlight.

    I like having both. I don't see any good reason why spotlight needs to replace the file system.
  20. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002

    Great, fast, deep search IS revolutionary, but it's a COMPANION to being organized (which OS X also is very helpful with)... not a replacement.
  21. tek macrumors regular

    Aug 23, 2003
    I almost never use spotlight. Why? Because I need file folders.

    I work with a lot of similarly (or identically) named files, associated with various coding projects.

    Now tell me, which of the 1000 results for readme are for the project i'm working on?

    Typing project name + filename seems a bit hit-and-miss. Indeed, I have a folder on my desktop called 'newproject' and inside it there is file.txt. Typing 'newproject file.txt' into spotlight returns no results.

  22. atszyman macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2003
    The Dallas 'burbs
    But if properly done a DBFS can be implemented so you have the appearance of folders, and an automated tagging system. You would create a file and save it to a folder*, the file would be saved to the base location and tagged with a flag for the folder you saved it to and thus appear in that folder whenever you open it. From there you can drag and drop and/or copy to any other folder and the tags will be modified so that the file will appear in the folders it is supposed to be in. The major benefit is that there are no shortcuts or aliases to be broken and any folder you use to open and edit the file will cause the file to be updated globally since in reality there is only one copy that shows up in every folder you would like. You can have nested folders if you would like and you would have the option in any folder to show only the files at that "level" or all of the sub-folder files as well. It can be done so that it is completely transparent to those who are used to the nested folder systems but be much more for those that would like it. I think Spotlight and SmartFolders are a good first step for getting people used to the idea. I'm fairly certain that DBFS will be implemented in most OS's within the next 5 years and I think Apple is setting themselves up to lead the way.

    * From here on folders will refer to the database queries organized into the familiar GUI structure
  23. Cooknn macrumors 68020


    Aug 23, 2003
    Fort Myers, FL
    I forced myself to use Spotlight tonight as I worked on updating my website from a dozen different locations on my hard drive. It works well, albeit a bit slowly sometimes - even on my Dual 2. I fought with it a couple of times where I swore it was wrong when it couldn't find something I knew was there - then I would realize that I typed my search string incorrectly :eek: I guess it was faster than traversing the folders in Finder. I could get used to it :cool:
  24. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    I agree with amin and powermac and all the others with similar opinions... Folders and the traditional file system are going to be around for a while to come. Why? Because what happens in the computer is very much modeled after the real world. Very few of us just have large stacks of documents sitting on our desks (and I mean everything). The logical approach is to separate documents into some ordered manner, be it by project or whatever. We use binders and folders to keep all of our documents together. I don't see that changing anytime soon in either the real world or in the digital world. Spotlight, smart folders and other search/organization tools are just that... tools. They assist us in finding the proper file/folder and should be used almost entirely as a complement to the traditional file system... they weren't designed to replace it.

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