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Does incorporating iOS features into Mac OS mean Mac OS won't have a Finder?

post #1 of 67
Thread Starter 
I am guessing that it won't happen for a while but I was curious what people thought given that Apple already has a computer without a Finder.
post #2 of 67
The Finder is the most poorly evolved component of the MacOS, having changed only superficially since 1984. If Apple replaced it with a more advanced concept, its absence certainly would not break my heart.
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post #3 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

its absence certainly would not break my heart.

I feel the same way. I hope Lion adds something like bringing tagging more to the fore front and de-emphasizes folder hierarchies.
post #4 of 67
Not the Mighty Finder:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mYejgqS3co
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wvSVYOlcM4

It can find anything.

The reason the iOS devices have no Finder is that their filesystem is application-centric and not file-centric. This causes a number of problems:

- if you delete an app, your files go with it
- if you want to open one document with multiple apps, it's much harder to do
- you can't group common files and projects from multiple apps in one place

If anything, the problem is the other way round. The Mac convention is more powerful and so it's iOS that needs a Finder not the Mac one that needs to be removed.

I do think that it's one of those apps that would need to be reworked to allow for touch input. The drag and drop idea just doesn't work well for touch.

I've always felt the Finder needed to be different than a standard app like a menu item e.g the following:



It needs to be more refined obviously but the idea is that there are no multiple windows. If you need to open a file, you hit the Finder icon - appropriate name for a magnifying glass. It also functions as Spotlight.

There would normally just be one column but you would be able to open multiple side by side. The active column would be highlighted with the parent drive partition visible at the top. On tapping or clicking the icon at the top, you'd choose the drive and there could be a list of recent folders.

There would be actions for touch screens. So you'd tap on icons and they would become selected then you'd choose an action from a menu or icon panel such as "open with", "move", "copy", "create archive" etc. If you chose move, the action would then wait for you to select a destination folder and if you were moving a lot of items could ask you to confirm the action. 'Open with' would bring up a full screen icon view with all apps on the machine or can show only recommended apps.

It would also have multi-level undo.

The maximise button expands to the full screen size to allow you to have multiple columns of icon views for example to compare picture folders or have two icon views and one list view.

It just means there's never a need to create or close a Finder window (just choose how many split views to show) and not something that clutters up exposé. If they'd develop it to use resources properly, it's also something that would never need to be restarted. They need to throttle the CPU and RAM it can use and timeout any previews. Although previews would move to quicklook.

No matter what app you were in, there would be no need to switch out to the Finder. So while in Photoshop, you hit the icon and drag files into your document. It also becomes iTunes and iPhoto. Instant access to all your media. You want to play an album, just hit the Finder/Spotlight icon, type in the artist or browse in the iTunes mode and hit play. You want to quickly edit pictures ready for print, click the icon, select your SD card in icon view and go to iPhoto mode with red-eye, cropping, brightness/contrast tools and do quick edits before you take them to the local photo shop for prints. It can backup originals without you even thinking about it and overwrite the original file in place. It would tag it with metadata to link it to the original so that it can be reverted regardless of where the file went.

iMovie should be part of Quicktime - iMovie is a more appropriate name for Quicktime anyway, iWeb can be integrated with Safari (testing and publishing in one app). All templates and themes come from online sources as and when required. Garageband is a bit harder to integrate but it's a bit of a specialist app anyway - Logic Express.
post #5 of 67
I could go on all day about problems with the Finder, as I imagine any experienced Mac users could -- especially experienced Mac users who've tried to teach the Finder to inexperienced Mac users. The very fact that I could go on all day about the most hatable part of the Mac experience tells me that it's beyond redesigning. After 25 years of tinkering, it's really no better than it was when it was invented, and a damn sight worse in some respects, due to feature-creep and increased reliance on it's worn-out conceptual basis.

It's worth remembering that Apple blew our minds with the Finder, way back when. I'd prefer to have my mind blown again with some fresh new concept, rather than redesign the old one so it's even more feature-packed and more complicated to use. I'm not sure if the iOS approach is the one, but we can see Apple thinking out loud about expanding those concepts beyond the touch interface. The logic behind starting from a touch-based interface is powerful.
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post #6 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

- if you delete an app, your files go with it
- if you want to open one document with multiple apps, it's much harder to do
- you can't group common files and projects from multiple apps in one place

If anything, the problem is the other way round. The Mac convention is more powerful and so it's iOS that needs a Finder not the Mac one that needs to be removed.

I didnt realize that if you delete an app then you delete the files that come with it. I think they could be able to change that. When it comes to grouping files you wouldnt have to rely on a folder hierarchy like the finder to group them. Adobe Bridge allows you to do collections of files that is independent of where the file is actually located on the hard drive. The Leopard beta allowed you to save a selection of files as a stack independent of what folder they were in. Apple could let you open a file in several different programs without folder hierarchies as well.

The Mac convention is more powerful and so it's iOS that needs a Finder
Well yes that is true but keep in mind that the finder has been advancing for about 25 years where the searching program in iOS has only been around for a little over one year now. iOSs spotlight search hasnt had the time to advance that the finder has. There may be some really interesting advancements over the next few years to iOS searching that are nothing like the Finder.

I definitely agree with you that many kinds of applications should be merged together. Given that programs like the finder, iphoto, and itunes keep looking more and more the same seeing them come together would make it convenient to not do as much app switching. However I would also point out that itunes and iphoto dont reply on folder hierarchies at all. This along with the lack of folder hierarchies in iOS make it seem like we are gradually moving away from the concept.
post #7 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

I could go on all day about problems with the Finder

I'd prefer to have my mind blown again with some fresh new concept
Yes I agree that it should be revolutionary rather then evolutionary. Spotlight in the finder was definitely a revolutionary step its just that it wasnt enough of a revolution to completely replace folder Hierarchies.

In a ways Apple already has a hierarchy free finder. iPhoto and iTunes is like a finder for photos and music because they look a lot like the finder except that they have dumped the hierarchies. So they have been moving in this direction for about the last decade. I wouldnt be too surprised if the finder got dumped in not too long.

I'm not sure if the iOS approach is the one
System wide iOS search is only about a year old. I dont think we will know how good this idea is until we see it advance over the coming years.
post #8 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

I am guessing that it won't happen for a while but I was curious what people thought given that Apple already has a computer without a Finder.

Well, I think it is certain that Lion will have a Finder and it is highly probable that this Finder will be almost the same as the one we know today.

I tried sometime ago to play with an iPad and the experience was very weird. I felt out of place, without ground under my feet. For novices and average users without computing experience it is probably more comfortable but for our dinosaur species, especially the ones who grew up in unix systems and command line, it just looks strange. Moereover, (r)evolution needs programming and this cannot be done effeciently without some kind of file hierarchy readily accessible by the developer.

Yes, the Finder needs refining, new ideas, eventually integration with applications etc. but I don't think it is going anywhere for many years yet. This is at least my view of things.
post #9 of 67
I don't think the difference between the conventional and the iOS experience is the difference between knowledgable and novice users. I am by no means a novice and I don't find using iOS, either on the iPhone or iPad, to be the least bit weird. It's has it's own logic, which is different, but not at all weird. Apple is right to begin rethinking the user interface, and they've got a head-start on everybody else with the development of iOS and their experience with touch interfaces. Whatever they do next, we can safely bet (I think) that it will integrate what they have learned about touch user interfaces. I'll also predict that, no matter what they do, within a few years, everybody else will be following Apple's lead.
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post #10 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PB View Post

Well, I think it is certain that Lion will have a Finder and it is highly probable that this Finder will be almost the same as the one we know today.

I guess I have a hard time thinking of what other features that they can include in Lion that is anywhere near as important as rethinking file searching. After 10 years of refining OS 10 I am not sure how much more really important evolutionary steps there are to take. I think they should keep evolving the interface and finally totally replace aqua but other then that I can't think of much else.

Now it is possible that they could have two file browsing systems for a while. Chances are they won't come out with a new file browser that is better then the finder in it's version 1.0 release. I liken this to what they did with iMovie HD and iMovie 7, automator and Apple Script, or carbon and Cocoa. They might have two products that are similar for a while as the finder gets phased out.
post #11 of 67
I don't see how the Finder gets phased out, as a practical matter. I think it either continues to evolve (meaning, accrete new features, as it has for 25 years) or it gets replaced entirely by something conceptually different. The UI of iOS may be the model for this new concept, or something different yet that we've never seen.
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post #12 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

I don't see how the Finder gets phased out.

There is a reason I think they may have to go with phasing it out over time. If they go with using tagging as a replacement for folders hierarchies (like you can already do in many file searching programs today like LittleSnapper or Paperless) they will need to use this new file navigating program to go through and tag the files they already have. This will take some time to do so people would probably still like to rely on the finder as they are in the process of tagging their files.

Frankly I think it would have been smart of Apple to include a (good) tagging solution in the OS a long time ago so that that tagging work could have already mostly been done but unfortunately they didn't happen.

I think what can be holding them off from bringing functions from other programs into the finder is that they are waiting for more iapps to become mature.
post #13 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

In a ways Apple already has a hierarchy free finder. iPhoto and iTunes is like a finder for photos and music because they look a lot like the finder except that they have dumped the hierarchies.

It's too complex to do this in a general sense though. Website URLs should make it clear that hierarchical systems cannot disappear easily. When you visit www.website.com/images/ the machine running the site translates the domain into a folder located on the server and there is an images folder inside that. If you dump the hierarchy, you will have to either rewrite 125 million websites or find a way to map a hierarchical request into a different filesystem.

The latter would be the necessary way IMO because not every other system will dump their hierarchy so there needs to be a translation.

But here's the thing, let's say that you rethink the way files are organised and go metadata only, how do you logically associate them? You group them as you do with everything in life - you put underpants in the underpants drawer and socks in the socks drawer and shirts in the closet. You don't have them strewn over the floor along with books, CDs, food, toiletries, rubbish, bedding, keys etc and then pick out what you want when you want.

You index items so that you can very quickly access a subgroup of data. This is where iTunes works well because you want to play music so you filter out anything that's not music by opening iTunes. Where this doesn't work so well is for mixed media like projects which may have audio, images, text, movies, application-specific documents etc.

Inevitably you get lots of projects so you group those too by archiving old ones or categorise them. Before you know it you have a hierarchy anyway. So you get rid of one form of hierarchy just to recreate it in a different form and break compatibility in the process while having to build converters to stay compatible with everyone else.

What Apple did with Spotlight was the best compromise - maintain hierarchy for compatibility but use metadata for advanced grouping.

The mini-Finder idea works ok like the photos and iPod apps on the iPhone whose data can be accessed by any app. The principal would be to group files by the main types: movies, images, audio, documents. Documents would be a catch-all. Application-specific files would remain app-centric. If you delete an app, there's no reason why those files couldn't go as no other app can use them and the media they referenced would exist in the mini-Finder.

You may have 100,000 images on your filesystem though so dumping them into a pile won't be very helpful but you can build tag clouds and instead of choosing images/pretty girls/short girls/ and getting one set of results, you could choose tags <images> <pretty> <girls> <short> <tall> and you can exclude mid-sized ones.

Here's where the system breaks down though: when you absolutely need to identify a file precisely, tags aren't enough to distinguish two files and if you make them that way (i.e prevent duplicate tags or tag groups), you restrict the flexibility of the metadata. Applications need to find data in a precise location all the time as do websites. Users don't have to as groupings update all the time.

You can add a unique identifier in metadata that lets an application access that file directly but that's what a hierarchical path is - it's just fixed for every app. Files on a hard drive are scattered everywhere. The filesystem is a logically grouped metadata index - the supported metadata is just limited. ZFS supposedly expanded on current systems to allow arbitrary metadata and this may solve the issue of speed when accessing arbitrary metadata.

I would assume that the people who write the filesystem drivers know the best way to work things so I have no doubt that what we think up now will be scribbled on a sheet of crumpled paper at the bottom of a wastebasket many revisions behind where they're at now.
post #14 of 67
I don't think the problem is with hierarchical organization so much as it is with the metaphor chosen to represent it. It may have been important 25 years ago to analogize the file system with a physical desktop, but that time is probably well past. Years ago a minimally computer literate friend of mine asked me why a document was called a file, when a folder is a file. I was stumped. He was right, the metaphor was broken, but hardly anyone noticed (or were too confused to ask).

The very fact that the Finder has been modified so many times, essentially to do no more than display the contents of the file system in a variety of ways, suggests that something has broken down conceptually. Having taught the Mac in a classroom, I can report from experience how difficult it can be to get people to grasp why the Finder represents files in so many different ways. It's a real problem, which adding more features only makes worse.

It seems significant that iOS is essentially free of metaphor. It doesn't rely on the user understanding one concept in order to grasp another. The future lay in this direction, I believe. Apple is in the process of showing this.
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post #15 of 67
Thread Starter 
This is where iTunes works well because you want to play music so you filter out anything that's not music by opening iTunes.

No! Actually this isnt true iTunes holds your music, TV shows, podcasts, books, applications, ringtones, radio channels, (and a store and a social networking site remotely.) Therefore this proves that this concept is possible.

you rethink the way files are organized and go metadata only, how do you logically associate them?

Adobe Bridge allows you to group files without being in a hierarchy. Adobe calls them collections. The same can be said about a playlist in iTunes. You can also rely on smart groupings or tag clouds. The way that you group clothes in draws doesnt really translate to this because you cant search for clothes by tags or smart folders or what not but on a computer you can.

What Apple did with Spotlight was the best compromise - maintain hierarchy for compatibility but use metadata for advanced grouping.

From my point of view I think they are just gradually moving towards a hierarchy free system but they are just in the in between area. Now I understand what you say about the developers needing to rely on hierarchies but I cant see a reason why they cant be invisible to the end users.

The interesting thing I have found from relying on tags is that I am always coming across files that I had forgotten about before I relied on tags. When files are stored in a hierarchy I forget about them and often cant find them even when I am looking for them. That is why I believe in the urgency of Apple coming up with a better solution. The hierarchy concept worked when computing started off simple but computing has become to advanced for this old idea to work anymore I think.
post #16 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

I don't think the difference between the conventional and the iOS experience is the difference between knowledgable and novice users. I am by no means a novice and I don't find using iOS, either on the iPhone or iPad, to be the least bit weird. It's has it's own logic, which is different, but not at all weird. Apple is right to begin rethinking the user interface, and they've got a head-start on everybody else with the development of iOS and their experience with touch interfaces. Whatever they do next, we can safely bet (I think) that it will integrate what they have learned about touch user interfaces. I'll also predict that, no matter what they do, within a few years, everybody else will be following Apple's lead.

Could you at least briefly tell me whats wrong with Finder? I have been a Mac user since 2006, and I don't really NOT like the finder. To me, it's exactly the same as Explorer in Windows. It shows me my files and applications. I don't need anything else from it, and in fact I like the cover flow feature as it's easer to scroll through my applications. And with spotlight, I hardly even use Finder, so maybe thats why I don't see a problem with it. I use Finder maybe 100 times a year. And thats assuming I am in school. When I wasn't in school, I didn't actually use Finder at all. When I am, I use it sometimes (trying to drag files into a file for school, and now dropping them into my drop box). So whats wrong with it, a brief list? Or you can PM me if you'd like. Thanks in advanced.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Not the Mighty Finder:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mYejgqS3co
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wvSVYOlcM4

It can find anything.

I just wanted to say, I like your ideas!
post #17 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macintosh_Next View Post

.... I use Finder maybe 100 times a year. And thats assuming I am in school. ...

That's difficult to believe. My bet is that you use the Finder multiple times each time that you are one your Mac. The fact that you don't know that you are using it is testimony to its strengths.
post #18 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

Years ago a minimally computer literate friend of mine asked me why a document was called a file, when a folder is a file. I was stumped. He was right

He wasn't really right. Folders are generally regarded as distinct from files. Programming languages often has isFile() functions that return false if you give them folder paths. Even if you do command line listings, they have a marking that distinguishes directories from files.

Perhaps he meant they can be moved around similar to files but you can't open a folder in an application.

iOS has folders too btw, to group applications together. They are easier to grasp as they are just one level deep but this is limited if you have 100,000+ files.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80

No! Actually this isnt true iTunes holds your music, TV shows, podcasts, books, applications, ringtones, radio channels, (and a store and a social networking site remotely.) Therefore this proves that this concept is possible.

They don't show together in groupings though. You click on the left to filter by type and narrow it down. You don't for example get an area where a music track, a book, a podcast etc are all grouped together if they are from the same people.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80

Adobe Bridge allows you to group files without being in a hierarchy. Adobe calls them collections.

Ok but you've created another Finder application, it just behaves differently and in fact you can create collections in the Finder too. They have smart folders and you can attach spotlight tags to files and have the smart folder group them. Nobody uses them though because they are more complex. They give you many to many relationships so more than one group can reference the same files and if you modify a file in one group or project, it changes it in another group when you may not want to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80

I cant see a reason why they cant be invisible to the end users.

For the most part, users don't need to access any folders except for their home folder so the rest of the system can disappear. Apple could include the Finder but just leave it hidden in CoreServices and developers have to add it manually. Other users could access files using something like the pop-over I mentioned above - a Mini-Finder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80

The interesting thing I have found from relying on tags is that I am always coming across files that I had forgotten about before I relied on tags.

Do you browse by tags or search for tags? Do you use a 3rd party app for this? Also do you group project files this way?
post #19 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macintosh_Next View Post

Could you at least briefly tell me whats wrong with Finder? I have been a Mac user since 2006, and I don't really NOT like the finder. To me, it's exactly the same as Explorer in Windows. It shows me my files and applications. I don't need anything else from it, and in fact I like the cover flow feature as it's easer to scroll through my applications. And with spotlight, I hardly even use Finder, so maybe thats why I don't see a problem with it. I use Finder maybe 100 times a year. And thats assuming I am in school. When I wasn't in school, I didn't actually use Finder at all. When I am, I use it sometimes (trying to drag files into a file for school, and now dropping them into my drop box). So whats wrong with it, a brief list? Or you can PM me if you'd like. Thanks in advanced.

The main issue is the complexity, particularly in the variety of very different ways it represents the same thing. One clear way is better than five weak (or dissonant) ways. I think I explained this in another post, but I believe you've helped me make my point on this. Most users from my experience don't even know that Cover Flow even exists, and really the only reason it does exist is that it was borrowed from iTunes, where it served a very different purpose. As useful as it can be in the Finder, it's really a kludge, made necessary by the fundamental lack of clarity of the Finder itself. Comparisons to Windows Explorer don't give me any comfort. I expect Apple to be better at solving these human interface issues than Microsoft.

The second issue is the desktop metaphor, which as I also mentioned above, has been worn thin by over-extension. The iOS does not rely on metaphor, which I think is a step in the right direction.

As I said, the single largest challenge I have found teaching the Mac is teaching the Finder. Just try mentioning the Finder to an average unsophisticated Mac user and see how many even know that it exists, let alone its functions, or why it's an application. Just look at how many people throw everything on the Desktop because the file system is difficult to comprehend. I know this will bring out the condescending comments, but this is reality. It can be done better so it should be done better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

He wasn't really right. Folders are generally regarded as distinct from files. Programming languages often has isFile() functions that return false if you give them folder paths. Even if you do command line listings, they have a marking that distinguishes directories from files.

Perhaps he meant they can be moved around similar to files but you can't open a folder in an application.

iOS has folders too btw, to group applications together. They are easier to grasp as they are just one level deep but this is limited if you have 100,000+ files.

So what if he isn't a programmer? No, what he meant is that a document is typically called a "file" but the metaphor for where you store one is a file folder. So you put your file in a file. It's dissonant, and consequently, not as clear as it should be.
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post #20 of 67
Dr Millmoss, your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
post #21 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

The main issue is the complexity, particularly in the variety of very different ways it represents the same thing.

I agree that a single window view would be better than what they have. IMO they should use the iTunes setup where the browser part would become column view and the bottom part can be switched between list view and icon view, like this:



Note, there is no horizontal scrolling anywhere. The blocks at the top show the available columns and clicking them moves the column view. The column widths would be fixed too but could be set between 2-5 at a time.

Some parts there could be simplified further when not in use. For example, the tab bar could disappear and the middle toolbar doesn't need to exist or the functions can be incorporated into the sidebar. The trash icon can go in the sidebar too and allow you to empty it from there. To compare windows, you just drag a tab out. To move items from one area to another, you can drag onto a tab.

If you wanted, you could exclude files from the top view and folders from the bottom view to avoid the mingling of files/folders but I personally think that would cause more confusion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

Just look at how many people throw everything on the Desktop because the file system is difficult to comprehend.

I see that most on Windows because the filesystem structure makes no sense. Desktops used to be cluttered when files were downloaded there by default but the downloads folder has helped here.

Using the desktop for files isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's an area where people can visually map out areas for quick access to important files. The desktop is really just another folder that has been set fullscreen in icon-view.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

So what if he isn't a programmer? No, what he meant is that a document is typically called a "file" but the metaphor for where you store one is a file folder. So you put your file in a file. It's dissonant, and consequently, not as clear as it should be.

You put applications in folders too though and don't call those files and they are in fact folders in Apple's implementation. Whatever name you assign (stacks, collections, boxes, piles), you are going to need nested groups or you end up with one-level deep folders or a tag system. One-level isn't enough for 1/2 million files and tags-only adds complexity because your current filesystem would require about 250,000 tags, which you simply can't display all at once otherwise you are going to have to nest tags, which again is a fixed hierarchy even though you can address them non-linearly but that's how the current filesystem is.
post #22 of 67
I can't really comment on your suggestions. I don't know what solution is in the offing, but I suspect it has more to do with the iOS approach than the metaphor-driven UI that we've now been using for over 25 years, and over that time, making steadily more complicated and incomprehensible.

Sure, the Windows Desktop is even more abused since its purpose is even more enigmatic than on the Mac. In my teaching I've found that the Desktop is grasped relatively easily (which is why it's abused) but the Finder and its multiple representations of files and paths are very poorly understood, and difficult to explain. I alway try, but it quickly turns into eyes-glaze-over time. You can tell when your students aren't getting why they need to know something.

I suspect you're right in that some sort of hierarchies will probably always be needed and fortunately hierarchies are conceptually familiar to human beings (we tend to organize information in our brains this way). The trick for the UI designer is to tap more directly into a heuristic method of organization that doesn't depend on adapting a metaphor.

I hope Apple has a room in a basement somewhere on their campus where their human engineers get to experiment with all sorts of crazy UI ideas. Like I said at the top of this thread, I want to get blown away again -- not just see the next iteration of the same old, flawed ideas.
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post #23 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post

That's difficult to believe. My bet is that you use the Finder multiple times each time that you are one your Mac. The fact that you don't know that you are using it is testimony to its strengths.

The Finder is the tool to allow you to go through your files and mut ove them from one location to another? Yea, I hardly use it unless I am in school. Unless your talking about telling my files to go into my download folder (or now my school folder), then yea I use it quite a bit. But why would I look for something when I can use spotlight to search for what I download, and now I don't even have to do that -- I have my download folder right there in the stacks (and I NEVER delete those files ... unless i have to). And again, if you consider using Stacks as part of Finder -- then I do use Finder when I download something. Because, to be honest, I use my computer for internet. Thats it. I don't play games, I don't use photshop. So I would say I don't use Finder very often. But when I am in school, I do move things around, put them/copy them into my Drop box. So in those cases, I use my Finder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

The main issue is the complexity, particularly in the variety of very different ways it represents the same thing. One clear way is better than five weak (or dissonant) ways. I think I explained this in another post, but I believe you've helped me make my point on this. Most users from my experience don't even know that Cover Flow even exists, and really the only reason it does exist is that it was borrowed from iTunes, where it served a very different purpose. As useful as it can be in the Finder, it's really a kludge, made necessary by the fundamental lack of clarity of the Finder itself. Comparisons to Windows Explorer don't give me any comfort. I expect Apple to be better at solving these human interface issues than Microsoft.

The second issue is the desktop metaphor, which as I also mentioned above, has been worn thin by over-extension. The iOS does not rely on metaphor, which I think is a step in the right direction.

As I said, the single largest challenge I have found teaching the Mac is teaching the Finder. Just try mentioning the Finder to an average unsophisticated Mac user and see how many even know that it exists, let alone its functions, or why it's an application. Just look at how many people throw everything on the Desktop because the file system is difficult to comprehend. I know this will bring out the condescending comments, but this is reality. It can be done better so it should be done better.

I see. I guess I didn't know/think of that. Thanks!
post #24 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

You don't for example get an area where a music track, a book, a podcast etc are all grouped together if they are from the same people.

Yes you do, you can use smart playlist. I entered in everybody under the name criteria and got the TV show Everybody Hates Chris as well as a song called everybody wake up. Adding everybody to album titles (of the same smart playlist) gave me the album everybody else is doing it so why cant we.

you can create collections in the Finder too. They have smart folders and you can attach spotlight tags to files and have the smart folder group them.

Well no collections are totally different then smart folders. Collections are like regular folders. The only difference between collections and regular folders is that collects are free of a hierarchy. It is important to point out that Apple also played around with this idea as well. When demoing the Leopard beta Steve showed how you could randomly grab files from the Finder and group them into a stack (This feature was taken out before the Leopard gold master shipped.) If I remember correctly he grabbed files from different folders and put them into a single grouping as a stack. Another example of a hierarchy free grouping. Bento also uses collections.

Nobody uses them (smart folders) though because they are more complex.
I use them every single day. They are much simpler way of finding files. For an example I can say show InDesign files from the last month and it will give me nearly all the files I am currently working on. Using regular folders is more complex because I would have to navigate through some 10 or 20 folders to find the files that are all grouped together with in that one smart folder. Because I have filtered it by InDesign files only the search results dont end up with too many different results.

Do you browse by tags or search for tags?
Both, in programs like Leap or Yep I browse by using tag clouds. I use searching by tags in every tag based program.

Do you use a 3rd party app for this?
Leap, Yep, Paperless, LittleSnapper, MacJournal, Lightroom, and probably several others that I am not thinking of right now.

Also do you group project files this way?
All the time.
post #25 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macintosh_Next View Post

Could you at least briefly tell me whats wrong with Finder?

If you spend any amount of time tagging files in different programs you begin to realize how much more efficient tagging and smart folders are then folder hierarchies like the finder. Many files just end up getting lost in a folder hierarchy that wouldn't have gotten lost if someone did a good job tagging them.
post #26 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I agree that a single window view would be better than what they have. IMO they should use the iTunes setup where the browser part would become column view and the bottom part can be switched between list view and icon view

This is what I think they should do to incorporate the iPhoto, iTunes into a finder like program. Right now in the finder when you hold down option-command-spacebar and click the plus icon on the search bar you get a drop down menu that lets you switch between viewing different kinds of files (Images, movies, presentations etc.) When you selection an option such as photos it shows you all your photos.

I think it would be really handy if when you selected photos the interface would switch over to the iphoto interface with all the photo specific features. Since the finder and iPhoto share the same basic interface this wouldn't be a difficult thing to pull off. You know how in Windows XP you would click on a photo and the sidebar would give you one or two photo specific options? Imagine if you could have all your your basic photo tasks available to you right there without leaving the general file searching program! When you would change the filter bar to music you wouldnt just see the music files but you would have access to your music features. Choosing the fonts filter would bring up fontbooks interface etc.

When you want to go back to search for all files click the minus button to clear the images filter and go back to the general file searching interface. Perhaps there could be a hide button for the filter bar so that it wouldnt be taking up space if you wanted to use that space for something else.
post #27 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

If you spend any amount of time tagging files in different programs you begin to realize how much more efficient tagging and smart folders are then folder hierarchies like the finder. Many files just end up getting lost in a folder hierarchy that wouldn't have gotten lost if someone did a good job tagging them.

It appears that you and your friend Macintosh_Next like to spend a lot of time typing information about your files. One of the things that I notice about Windows refugees is that they have poor organization skills. No matter which OS you use, you need to develop a filing system that you understand and then use it.
post #28 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

Yes you do, you can use smart playlist.

Collections are like regular folders. The only difference between collections and regular folders is that collects are free of a hierarchy.

When you say "free of a hierarchy" it sound like it's a burden but the alternative is a flat list of one-level deep collections. At some point in time, that structure won't work the more collections you make and the non-linearity is going to cause problems with files common to multiple collections. Inevitably you will have duplicate files for separate projects but name them the same so when you browse tags, you get hundreds if not thousands of files with the same name.

You also lose out on spatial referencing - very often I will have a collection of say 200 folders and I can't remember any of the names that get me to the content but I can remember that the content was near the middle of the group of 200 folders so I can narrow it down quickly. You can certainly get close to this with tags but you still need to rely on remembering how you tagged files to get to the right ones because different groups of tags give different result sets.

It's like if you have a bunch of keys and you colour code them. Ideally you'd remember which key is which but when you get 30 or more keys on a chain, you use spatial referencing to help you figure out which key works in a given situation. I think both a hierarchy and a non-linear tag system have advantages and one should supplement the other. The question is do you use a fixed hierarchy as your primary system and supplement it with non-linear tags or use a tag system and supplement it with hierarchical tags (either nested tags or specific tags that list the hierarchy to which they belong)?

Say you use the latter and you try to add a unique tag identifier to a file based on a hierarchy, you'd have to prevent another file having that same tag so you are no better off than using the former system (the one we have now) where tags supplement hierarchy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

When demoing the Leopard beta Steve showed how you could randomly grab files from the Finder and group them into a stack (This feature was taken out before the Leopard gold master shipped.) If I remember correctly he grabbed files from different folders and put them into a single grouping as a stack.

I prefer this implementation of stacks but I guess they thought it would be confusing mixing the downloads folder stack with draggable stacks or something. I would prefer if they made stacks like this though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

For an example I can say show InDesign files from the last month and it will give me nearly all the files I am currently working on.

But how many people would need access to a certain type of file from multiple projects at the same time as part of the daily routine? Mostly people choose a single project to work on because often programs will only allow you to open one project file at a time. Nobody seems to have a problem using a hierarchy and haven't for 3 decades until the sheer amount of files required advanced groupings but I don't think it should be the default system. I think people will be confused by the duplication simply because it doesn't happen in real-life.

The duplication I mean is that collection A can contain file X and so can collection B. Computer illiterate people will assume that if a file is both in A and B that the one in B is a duplicate and should be deleted if they don't want it to be in there not knowing that it will also be deleted from collection A. They would then have to distinguish between removing a tag and deleting a file.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

Also do you group project files this way?
All the time.

How do you arrange the files in your filesystem? They won't be in a pile presumably but in some form of hierarchy as well as tagged. Does this hierarchy limit you to the point where you'd have to throw it out and use tags as your main system or do you get by ok with supplementing the hierarchy with tags?
post #29 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post

It appears that you and your friend Macintosh_Next like to spend a lot of time typing information about your files. One of the things that I notice about Windows refugees is that they have poor organization skills. No matter which OS you use, you need to develop a filing system that you understand and then use it.

You would only have to create a filing system if you have many files to file. My point is, when I am not in school, I don't NEED to file anything. Why would I? I might download something, but that automatically goes to my download folder. I didn't have to choose that, at least not in Snow Leopard. This is why I hardly use Finder. Of course, now that I am in school again, I do move files around, I do save things (I have a "School" folder for all my e-books, and created a stack so I can access those quickly). As you can see, I do use the Finder now. But when I wasn't in school, why would I use it if all I do is go to web sites like AppleInsider.com?
post #30 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macintosh_Next View Post

You would only have to create a filing system if you have many files to file. My point is, when I am not in school, I don't NEED to file anything. Why would I? I might download something, but that automatically goes to my download folder. I didn't have to choose that, at least not in Snow Leopard. This is why I hardly use Finder. Of course, now that I am in school again, I do move files around, I do save things (I have a "School" folder for all my e-books, and created a stack so I can access those quickly). As you can see, I do use the Finder now. But when I wasn't in school, why would I use it if all I do is go to web sites like AppleInsider.com?

What is this fixation with you and school? Since joining this forum, I have read some silly complaints. However, "being forced" to use your Mac at home the same way that you use it at school is unique among the complaints posted here.
post #31 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

. Inevitably you will have duplicate files for separate projects but name them the same so when you browse tags, you get hundreds if not thousands of files with the same name.

Marvin from the how you talk it sounds like you havent spent any time using tags. There is nothing wrong with having several different files with the same tag, that is how tags work. The more files that have a particular name the bigger the tag name gets in the tag cloud. I would advise that you spend some time with the software I mentioned previously so that you can understand the tagging concept.

While it is certainly true that a particular tag can give you hundreds or even thousands of results applying multiple tags would reduce the number of results greatly. For an example I live around the general Seattle Area so I have a lot of files tagged Seattle but I can also select a tag summer time and would then get about a fourth as many results. Then I could apply another tag like nephew and parents to dramatically hone in on exactly what I am searching for. I guess that is why when I hear you say things like I can easily search through 200 folders I am scratching my head.

It's like if you have a bunch of keys and you colour code them
You dont have to search by colour coding though I think that is an option in the finder and Lightroom but it is not a requirement.

But how many people would need access to a certain type of file from multiple projects at the same time as part of the daily routine
Maybe you dont but a lot of people need this. At a given point in time I have maybe 15-30 documents open at a time.

I want to go back and talk about webpages that you mentioned a while back. Webpages dont require the people browsing to search though folder hierarchies at all yet it doesnt seem to cause any of the problems that you are talking about. If I can search the web without folder hierarchies why cant I search my own hard drive that way? Earlier on you talked about searching through your clothing drawer to find things. However your drawers dont have drawers within drawers within drawers. Your drawers only go one drawer deep. Therefore you can have folders that only go one level deep.
Also you talked about that you would have to make tag hierarchies, this isnt really true. You can if you want to put it is not required.

Unfortunately I have to rely on folder hierarchies today because Apple doesnt provide hardly any tagged solutions in the finder at all. That goes for applying tags as well as searching tags. However I do apply tags with in Leap/Yep that show up in the finder with a spotlight search. I generally think Apples efforts at incorporating tagging into their software as been incredibly weak. I dont know why that is. I happen to be typing this on someone elses Windows 7 computer and even Microsoft has tagging built into the Explorer. Its not my favorite implementation but at least they have something.
post #32 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

While it is certainly true that a particular tag can give you hundreds or even thousands of results applying multiple tags would reduce the number of results greatly.

I have experimented with the tag system with one of the apps you mentioned a while ago and it works well for image collections. The issue is not the number of results but the uniqueness of the results. It would for example be acceptable to give two different files an identical set of tags so how do you tell them apart without opening each one of them? Images have thumbnails of course but files are trickier.

I like the tag system and would like to see Apple implement one, I just think it should supplement hierarchical systems and not replace them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

I guess that is why when I hear you say things like I can easily search through 200 folders I am scratching my head.

No, what I was referring to there was not remembering the tag names you'd used to get to a particular result set. Spatial referencing = knowing where something is vs how it is described. In a non-linear tag system objects have no location, only a description. There's no column view with a tag system for example.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

Maybe you dont but a lot of people need this. At a given point in time I have maybe 15-30 documents open at a time.

Do you have 15-30 separate projects open at a given time though? I often have a number of documents open in different apps but generally only 2-3 projects at a given time, which I can manage with a hierarchy.

You can't replace the current system with tags because every app written today relies on hierarchy so if they break it at a fundamental level, everybody has to change their apps or they have to map the system calls into a tag system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

Webpages dont require the people browsing to search though folder hierarchies at all

You search by tags and browse by hierarchy, which is what we do on the desktop already. Google is an index like the Spotlight index but websites themselves are on standard filesystems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

Your drawers only go one drawer deep. Therefore you can have folders that only go one level deep.

I don't have 100,000 pairs of socks though and they're all black so it's not difficult to manage in one drawer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

Unfortunately I have to rely on folder hierarchies today because Apple doesnt provide hardly any tagged solutions in the finder at all..

The Spotlight comments implementation is quite weak and a tag system certainly would work much better. I think for it to be effective though, they need to take it out of the info panel because it's not a heavily used panel. It needs to go somewhere in the Finder window that can be made always visible.

I agree with you entirely that their metadata system needs an overhaul. I just don't think it should replace a fixed hierarchy.
post #33 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post

What is this fixation with you and school? Since joining this forum, I have read some silly complaints. However, "being forced" to use your Mac at home the same way that you use it at school is unique among the complaints posted here.

If I worked at a job that made it where I had to read PDF's and write word doc's and make presentations, I would be using that as an example. My fixation on school is the fact I AM in college (University of Phoenix Online) where I download my e books and have to upload files. And all I am trying to do is tell you why I don't use the Finder, unless I am in school, because I use my Mac most of the time for internet. So, it might be unique because maybe I am the only one here who only uses the internet on their Mac and when in school then use it to, of course, do their homework. Then I would be the only one here with this situation.

Or would you rather me make up a reason that I don't use the Finder when I am not in school? OK, here it goes. I don't use the Finder because the Finder doesn't exist on my Mac. There ya go! New made up reason
post #34 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I have experimented with the tag system with one of the apps you mentioned a while ago and it works well for image collections.

Can you tell me what the app was? If I know what you are familiar with I can do a better job explaining things.

It would for example be acceptable to give two different files an identical set of tags so how do you tell them apart without opening each one of them?

You would do the same thing you do know which is use cover flow with its 500 pixels plus icons to see them. If that still isnt large enough (which I think about 80% of the time it would be) you also have the option of using quick look which you can bring up right away with a quick stroke of the keyboard.

Images have thumbnails of course but files are trickier.
I browse text files like this all the time. It isnt tricky at all. I use Mariner Softwares Paperless to store receipts, tax forms, medical information etc. that are all text files. Paperless uses tags in replace of folder hierarchy.

I was referring to there was not remembering the tag names you'd used to get to a particular result set

You dont have to remember them as they are all listed for you with in the application. For an example Lightroom lists them at the sidebar on the right when you are in library mode. Just scroll though the list and start typing in keywords that pertain to what you are looking for. If you cant remember what you are looking for I would recommend that you launch Apples Thesaurus to help you find words that you might have saved the tag as or just scroll through the tag list like I mentioned above.

Do you have 15-30 separate projects open at a given time though?

Yes I would say that I have at least 15 projects open a lot of the time. Sometimes I client will come in my office and want to run through all the current projects that I am working on which is a lot.

You can't replace the current system with tags because every app written today relies on hierarchy so if they break it at a fundamental level, everybody has to change their apps or they have to map the system calls into a tag system.

But by that logic (dont change anything because developers would have to rewrite their software) Apple would never put out another operating system upgrade again! Every operating system upgrade requires developers to update their software for the new system.

websites themselves are on standard filesystems.
Right, not quite to the same extent as on the desktop but yes sometimes they function similarly to a standard filesystem. About a year ago AppleInsider had an article talking about how they were think of rethinking the way Safari worked so that you wouldnt browse by these back and forward buttons but rather by the different subject matter that you were browsing. Check out the article Apple patent hints at future Safari navigational interface

I don't have 100,000 pairs of socks though and they're all black so it's not difficult to manage in one drawer.
There is no need to exaggerate. How many completely identical files do you really have? I might have two versions of the same image. Say an image at high resolution that I use for print and an image an low resolution that I use on the web. In this case I would tag one high res and the other low res. This way I wouldnt even have to open the images up to see which is higher resolution.

I think for it to be effective though, they need to take it out of the info panel because it's not a heavily used panel.

Putting it in the save as dialog would make a huge amount of sense. The collapsed Save as dialog is so minimal, only a naming field entry and a drop down menu as to where you would save your file. There is plenty of room to use for tagging there.
post #35 of 67
I can't work out why there is all this hate about the Finder; I haven't had any problems with it when I've used it - sure it is simple but why would you want something needlessly more complex than that? you'd end up having the mess that is Explorer which is a nightmare for anyone other than those of us who know what we're doing. Can some things be tweaked? sure but I don't think there needs to be the bath thrown out with the bath water as some here are demanding.
post #36 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by macintoshtoffy View Post

I can't work out why there is all this hate about the Finder.

It can be very difficult to find files in the finder. Using tags and smart folders is very easy. If one solution works a lot better than another the difficult solution should go I believe.
post #37 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

It can be very difficult to find files in the finder. ....

This is true if you choose non-descriptive file names and if you organize your files poorly or not at all. I am at a loss to see how tags can be of much help in either event. If you lack the skills to properly name your files, then where do you get the skills to type in useful tags?
post #38 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post

This is true if you choose non-descriptive file names and if you organize your files poorly or not at all. I am at a loss to see how tags can be of much help in either event. If you lack the skills to properly name your files, then where do you get the skills to type in useful tags?

When you name a file you have only one name to give it and you better memorize that name because that is the only way to find it. With tags you can have as many names as you want to help you find the file, 10, 15, 20 doesn't matter. The more tags the greater your chances of finding it. With only one file the smaller your chances. Using just file naming requires you to remember thousands of files. This is not about being disorganized it's about not having powerful enough tools to name and search for files, power that the finder lacks.
post #39 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

You also lose out on spatial referencing - very often I will have a collection of say 200 folders and I can't remember any of the names that get me to the content but I can remember that the content was near the middle of the group of 200 folders so I can narrow it down quickly.

I was thinking about this quote that you said earlier and something occurred to me. If you can't remember the name of the different folders then how to you know that a folder is located somewhere in the middle of a group of folders? To me it seems that if you know something is in the middle you know that by where the first letter of the word is located in the alphabet. If you forgot what the title of the project is how would you know where the folder is alphabetically? And also what about folders that are inside of those 200 folders? Alphabetical order won't help you there. In this case you would not only have to know the the alphabetical order but also the folder path inside of every single one of those 200 folders. I am confused by this logic. To me this seems difficult to do it this way no matter how well you organize your folders.
post #40 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

Can you tell me what the app was? If I know what you are familiar with I can do a better job explaining things.

I'm sure it was Leap I used. Like I say, it worked well and I could see it being useful integrated into the Finder and the core services but not a hierarchy replacement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

You would do the same thing you do know which is use cover flow with its 500 pixels plus icons to see them. If that still isnt large enough (which I think about 80% of the time it would be) you also have the option of using quick look which you can bring up right away with a quick stroke of the keyboard.

Right but a fixed location means you don't have to look at the contents as the file has a unique location.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

You dont have to remember them as they are all listed for you with in the application.

What happens when you get too many tags? Right now, the tag system works fine because it's new but consider the idea of replacing your entire filesystem hierarchy. Think how many tags you'd need to recreate that structure and they'd all be in one big list.

If it was applied to just user's content it might work but it really just works well for media. I reckon it would be a bit of nightmare for a software developer as computer programs generally rely very heavily on a rigid hierarchy and it's impossible to tell the program what the hierarchy is if either it doesn't exist or you have no way of seeing it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

Every operating system upgrade requires developers to update their software for the new system.

Not really - the proposal would be worse than the Intel switch because developers would have to rewrite code, which mostly wasn't necessary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

Right, not quite to the same extent as on the desktop but yes sometimes they function similarly to a standard filesystem. About a year ago AppleInsider had an article talking about how they were think of rethinking the way Safari worked so that you wouldnt browse by these back and forward buttons but rather by the different subject matter that you were browsing. Check out the article Apple patent hints at future Safari navigational interface

Again though, that's adding tag functionality while leaving the hierarchy in place. The filesystem on a server is identical to a desktop so a website structure is rigid. Whatever Safari would do is a supplement to it.

What could happen is that the hierarchy remains but is never visible to the end user. That system would work as that's how iPhoto works although you can access the structure it creates internally by opening the iPhoto library.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80 View Post

How many completely identical files do you really have? I might have two versions of the same image. Say an image at high resolution that I use for print and an image an low resolution that I use on the web. In this case I would tag one high res and the other low res. This way I wouldnt even have to open the images up to see which is higher resolution.

This wasn't referring to the identical filename issue but the idea of having one-level deep folders. A filesystem can have in the order of 1 million files. A user can easily have 100,000 non-sytem files - I have more than that myself. If the groups you make are of 100 files each, it's only 1000 tags to deal with which is probably manageable but if they average 20 files per folder/groups then you are talking about 5000 tags that would all show in a flat list.

These wouldn't be user-created after the tag system was in place as it would take too long to do that all over again but over the years, people have built up huge collections of files and folders. I did a quick count of mine and I get nearly 4000 folders without system folders. It's true that a tag system can translate these but I don't want to see a list of 4000 tags every time I want to find one of those groups.

The way the list would work of course is that the tags with the highest file count appear first so you don't have to go through all of them but it would essentially flatten an images directory to one level with all child folder tags shown at once, which can still be thousands of tags. It's not a problem narrowing it down to what you want as long as you know what you called it, otherwise you are sifting through the huge numbers of tags.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pik80

If you can't remember the name of the different folders then how to you know that a folder is located somewhere in the middle of a group of folders?

If I'm looking for an image and I remember what the image looked like but I have no idea at all what I named it because I haven't gotten round to tagging it properly, how do I find it? What I do is the same thing I do when I lose my keys - check where the last place I visited that I knew where it was. If I use a tag system, the only way I can go back to where I was is to remember the tags (out of 4000 tags) that I selected to get to that result set e.g did I pick vacations + 2008 + beaches and browse near the middle or did I pick voyeur + nudist + teen. With a fixed hierarchy, I can figure out where I was much more readily.
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