Tag Archives: Virtual folder

TaskTracker’s Virtual Folders

Interesting how different people get different things from the same software. I love TaskTracker (and listed it in my top 10 programs) because it remembers what files I’ve been using, even if I don’t. Makes finding something real easy. But one reader gets something quite different from its latest incarnation:

…much more useful on a daily basis is TaskTracker because of its Virtual Folder feature. I work on numerous projects simultaneously, drawing files from my long-standing Windows Explorer hierarchial folder arrangement. TT’s file lists enables me to drag shortcuts to those files into Virtual Folders. The Virtual Folders can be converted to permanent folders thereby maintaining all the project references in one file. If the project is a bust, just delete the Virtual Folder. None of the ‘original’ files are disturbed.

I must confess I don’t use that feature very much, but maybe I should.

TaskTracker Branches Out

Just been chatting with Michael M Ross, the man behind TaskTracker, software I’ve recommended several times here (it’s on the list to the left of this post) and in the column. It’s Real Useful Software in that you save time, you don’t waste time trying to figure it out, and in the end it all seems really, really logical. Oh and it’s free.

Well, not quite free anymore. Michael has just released version 1.1 and is now charging $25 for it after offering it as freeware and then donationware. Which is cheap, and you should buy if you can afford it, but Michael tells me that if you don’t the program won’t actually stop working, it will just nag you a bit more than it would otherwise.

Version 1.1 includes some nifty new features which are worth checking out. One allows you to automatically review images within TaskTracker; another ensures that loading the program doesn’t take too long (by only adding newer files and validating older ones) and, most intriguingly, ‘virtual folders’ which Michael says is in its early stages, but which I think could really go places.

Virtual Folders are collections of files you want to keep in one place. A small window appears — which then allows you to add a folder, and to drag files of any type from the TaskTracker list into it. The files themselves aren’t moved, but as long as those files exist on your computer, the virtual folders will keep them in their list, making it easy to get to stuff, irrespective of what kind of file they are. So if you’re working on a project, for example, you could keep all the bits and pieces in one virtual folder without ever having to root around in subfolders or Windows Explorer. Sort of WinFS without the Long (horn) wait.

The New Windows And Organising Your Stuff

This month’s PCWorld gets hold of an early prototype of the next Windows, which, apart from the usual ‘interface enhancements’ illustrates what I think is going to be the most important change in how we store and retrieve files.

The magazine says that the new ‘Longhorn’ version Windows Explorer — the program which lists what files you have, and which folder there are in — “routinely displayed much more information about files and computer resources than it does in Windows XP”. There’s a panel in the program that “let users and/or applications associate search keywords, comments, and categories with files, data within files, or objects stored on other devices, computers, or networks.”

This basically means that, instead of lumping all your files in a specific directory, or folder, where they languish, you can give your files dynamic order depending on what keywords you assign them. Say you assign the keywords ‘home’ and ‘flubber’ to a file: you can then create ‘virtual folders’ using either, or both, those keywords which will turn up all files of whatever kind which contain those same keywords. This is called WinFS and in theory will allow you to find related resources regardless of their physical location or object type. If you’re interested, there’s more here on the Microsoft website.

I think this is a great innovation and one that is long overdue. The whole folder metaphor is tired and irrelevant to how we use data these days. However I have some worries: Given that most folk today still give their files less than helpful file names, and have yet to discover the joys of creating subfolders to give order to their hard drive, isn’t the ‘dynamic approach’ going to just make things messier? It will largely hinge, as far as I can see, on folk spending an extra few minutes entering keywords into each file’s properties box. Given we’re able to do that now in programs like Microsoft Word, but rarely actually do, what are the chances of that happening? Great in theory, I just worry about the implementation.

In the meantime, I use dtSearch to find stuff, and it works like a charm. It ain’t pretty but it’s sturdy and very configurable. Otherwise, check out X1, which is on the cusp of releasing a new version. Other good search programs: 80-20 Retriever and Enfish Find. Personally I couldn’t live without one of ’em.