Tag-based indexing for local files?
September 14, 2004 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Tag-based indexing for local files?

Late last year I asked a question about good online bookmark utilities. I was introduced to del.icio.us, and it has been a revolution in the way I handle my links. Between del.icio.us and Flickr, I've become convinced that tags are the way to go for classifying certain kinds of data. For example, I've got a huge set of .doc files, each representing a federal securities case. Each case might deal with a range of causes of actions and the elements of those causes. Right now they're organized in a badly broken hierarchy, making it almost impossible to find the cases responsive to a given query. What I would love is a tag-based system for keeping track of these--and other--documents. Any ideas?
posted by monju_bosatsu to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
What OS monju? :)
posted by riffola at 5:37 PM on September 14, 2004

Sorry, it's Windows; XP at home and 2000 at work.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 5:38 PM on September 14, 2004

Well, you can disassociate the metadata from the file itself and just do what people have always been doing - keep a separate database or Excel file that organizes and "tags" all your files with any customizable field you want, including of course filename.

Then you just do your searches there and get the associated filename(s).
posted by vacapinta at 5:41 PM on September 14, 2004

Unless it's improved dramatically since I tried to run it, I can't really recommend Haystack, but I never really understood it either.
posted by yerfatma at 5:49 PM on September 14, 2004

It's not really tag based, but Lookout for Outlook is pretty good at searching local files too.
posted by riffola at 5:58 PM on September 14, 2004

As a low-tech solution, you could just stick the tags in the filenames, like so:

case 1 [cause1] [cause2].doc
case 2 [cause1] [cause3] [cause8].doc

Then use Windows' built in search thing to search for your tags. I've been doing this with text files for a while, and it beats complex folder hierarchies at least.
posted by reklaw at 5:59 PM on September 14, 2004

I don't believe that this uses tags, but it is apparently quite good.
posted by kenko at 6:36 PM on September 14, 2004

If you are most concerned about your .doc files, you can define custom properties in Word. These can then be picked up by Microsoft Index Server (you know, the crummy search engine they ship with IIS). So that's an angle.

But yeah, what vacapinta said. You could even write a template doc with a VBA macro to trap "save" events in Word, and pop up your database. I've seen document management systems that aren't much more than that.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:56 PM on September 14, 2004

You can assign keywords to doc files in Explorer. Just right-click, choose properties, and select the Summary tab. You can set keywords or categories there and standard Windows search will find them. Plus, if you use the Category, you can even choose it as a column in explorer (by right-clicking on the column names and selecting it from the More list.)

The downside to this method is that I assume a search will find the text in the documents too, so you would have to use a prefix for your keywords to make them unique.
posted by smackfu at 9:47 PM on September 14, 2004

Yeah, I saw the keyword field as I was playing around with this a little more, smackfu. As you said, there's the problem that you can't search just that field, and you end up search the full text of the documents. I wonder if there's a search tool that will let me do that? Hmm, I guess I could make the keywords CamelCase and turn on the case sensitive switch.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:37 AM on September 15, 2004

AtLast File Notes Explorer and JamWorks FileNotes will both do something like what you want. FileNotes has more useful integration withl explorer, right clicking etc, but it is otherwise less user-friendly, and not as transparent as the more expensive more polished AtLast.
posted by suleikacasilda at 2:44 PM on September 16, 2004

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