2 August 2007

Seek, And Ye Shall Find... What?

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Re: Can a saved search be indistinguishable from real folders?

On Sat, 28 Jul 2007 05:34:00 -0700, Baffin

>To my mind, it would be elegant and correct for the operating system to
>present a 'saved search' folder to all appolications exactly as a real folder
>is presented.  Thus no changes should be required to any applications -- they
>should all just work as usual -- instant access to saved-search collections
>-- great!

Think through the safety and security implications of that.

>But as mentioned originally, I'm having problems getting many applications
>to work with saved-search folders -- am I doing something wrong?  Or, could
>Microsoft have implemented 'virtual folders' (saved searches)
>non-transparently?  If so, why?  What's the advantage worth all the
>disruption that would cause to applications?

I think there was a change in design intention on this. 

Originally, when Vista was to embed SQL within the WinFS file system, these "virtual folders" were to function more transparently as folders, as you expect.

When WinFS was dropped, functionalities of "virtual folders" were scaled  back - I'd thought they had been dropped alltogether.

Just as web mania drove MS to embed IE4 in Win98, with "View As Web Page" on your local file system, so search mania has driven MS to embed search into Vista. 

Just as there were safety downsides to blurring the edge between Internet and local PC (as well as HTML-everywhere also dropping scriptability everywhere), so may there be safety downsides to searching for rather than specifying the files etc. you "open".

>Why can't it be 'invisible' to all existing applications whether or not a
>folder is real or 'virtual' (ie., a saved search)?

The original intention of file names was to ensure that every file was uniquely named.  When this hit scalability issues, the concept of directories and paths was added.

The need to uniquely identify files is as strong as ever, in an age of pervasive malware, phishing, etc. but is also necessary to avoid "version soup" problems, reversion to pre-patch code, and confusion between old and new versions of data files that may be scattered across "live", backup, and off-PC storage locations.

When you throw away that specificity and just "search" for things, you need to be very sure about what you are looking at.  Not easy, through a shell that hides file name extensions, allows dangerous file types to define their own icons, etc.

So yes; I *definately* want it to be very obvious as to whether I am looking at a directory, or some virtual collection of found items.

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