Tagging on the Mac and OpenMeta (this time for real)
Tagging is one of the Web 2.0 buzzwords. Everyone is doing it, especially for content that lives on the web through services like Del.icio.us. But what about the myriads of files on your computer? For Macs, tagging has taken off in a sideways trajectory. There are a number of tagging applications for the Mac out there (Leap, Yep for PDFs and TagBot come to mind) but these use a less than perfect approach by embedding the tags (recognized as a tag by a special character along with the tag word) in the files Comments. Then Spotlight can index these for finding later. These are interpreted as tags by applications that recognize the special character and keyword typed in with the character. It works, but its not really an elegant solution. The tagging applications have done the best they can with this method. Recently, there has been several advancements in tagging for the Mac. A new application called Tags (appropriately enough) from GravityApps is a very elegant solution that does not embed the tagging data in the spotlight comments. I am not sure of what it is using, but I don't think it is OpenMeta. What is OpenMeta? This is an open source framework developed by Tom Anderson and designed to give Apple's Leopard OS the ability to tag literally any type of file and it does this by not necessarily using the Comments portion in a file (at least from what I understand). It truly writes the tagged information into the file where it travels with the file and stays safe and secure. Tom Anderson is one half of Ironic Software which makes the excellent Leap, Yep and Deep applications. Deep in particular is a very innovative application that does use the OpenMeta framework. Deep is essentially an image browser for your computer that can find and sort images on characteristics like color. It really is great even in its early incarnation. Leap is a wonderful complement to the Finder for finding and organizing lots of files quickly. And Yep is the same thing but particularly for PDFs. I could write a post about each of of these apps. But the focus here is on tagging and this new OpenMeta framework that has been unleashed. So far has been adopted into Deep (updates to Leap and Yep are forthcoming) and by HoudahSoft's fine search tool called HoudahSpot (it can search based on tags crated with OpenMeta). And its worth a careful look at Tags from GravityApps. I think that it probably will be implement OpenMeta if it doesn't already. Its a great start for a new tagging application.