Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Jul 2012 22:18 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes The article I'm about to link to, by Oliver Reichenstein, is pretty terrible, but it's a good way for me to bring up something I've been meaning to talk about. First, the article: "Apple has been working on its file system and with iOS it had almost killed the concept of folders - before reintroducing them with a peculiar restriction: only one level! With Mountain Lion it brings its one folder level logic to OSX. What could be the reason for such a restrictive measure?" So, where does this crusade against directory structures (not file systems, as the article aggravatingly keeps stating) come from?
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galvanash
Member since:
2006-01-25

I think you missed Thom's point entirely. He wasn't criticising email, he was criticising that users had to use email to work around limitations of the device.


I think you missed my point...

Yes, in his particular example that is what they are doing, but I'm not talking about users using email to get around device limitations - many of them do this (and have for years) as a way to get around having to remember where they put things... In fact as a way to avoid the complexities of file systems. And they like it.

iCloud (and the Document Library thing) are modeled after email because people do this - it is in fact largely emulating the way email works.

I'm not saying that hierarchical directories are not useful at all. I'm saying that they are not terribly useful when what you are building is file storage that:

1. Only serves the purpose of storing user generated data files.
2. Is meant to be directly accessible remotely by the applications generating those files.
3. There is only one root... You cannot nest file systems. By design.

What purpose do directories serve in this scenerio? They are for categorization, nothing more. And primarily it is exclusive categorization, i.e. the way most peoples minds work.

In a conventional file system, directories are indexes - they are critical for system operation. Their primary purpose is not to assist users in organizing their things - it is to reduce scope (make things easier to find to organizing them into smaller subsets so that it is not necessary to search through everything to find something). But they are user visible indexes. They create vast trees of information that the user must navigate through to get to things... We all got used to them - but lets not forget that they were not created for us. They are first and foremost a performance optimization...

Email does not work like this. It is indexed, but the indexes are not user visible. You don't get to things by remembering locations, you just search for them (by whatever metadata you choose) in a completely flat storage space. It does not attempt to subdivide the problem space, a complexity introduced to assist performance that is not really needed anymore.

Many users like this, actually prefer it. Not geeks, but your average joe computer user. Again, I'm not saying this is the "right way" to do things - but it is a perfectly valid and sane approach to file management, and it has tangible advantages.

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