C-Command Software Forum

customizable metadata fields, and/or searching through such fields

I’m sure this isn’t easy pickin’s, but it would be nice to have customizable metadata fields. The program that currently does this best, from my experience, is Tinderbox. You can define just about any type of metadata field you’d like: one field for (submitted/not submitted), one for (published/unpublished), one for (reviewer:), etc.

So why don’t I just use TB? Because it’s not intended as a filing system, as a front-end library to the Finder. It can’t take and search through PDFs or many other types of files. You can import pictures, but in so far as they are places within a text file, so that you have a text file with a picture in it as a result. This doesn’t diminish its brilliance – its wonderful for a myriad of other usages – but its not meant to file things.

There is a shareware program out there called Spotmeta, which allows one to add any type of custom metadata fields to your documents and files. After doing this, you can then use spotlight to search for them. The problem there, however, is that spotlight cannot easily be used to specify what folder to look in, i.e. to ONLY look through that field of metadata that you’ve created (i.e. only look in my “reviewer” field.) The Finder’s search (as opposed to spotlight) can kind of do that, but its boolean operations are way too limited to be of much use (i.e. you can tell it to look in your custom made fields – it does recognize them – but its virtually useless when you want to, say, find all files that have “Reviewer = John” OR “Modified = Yesterday” but NOT html documents. (There is a shareware program called Meta which can search through them, but you have to type in the looooong strings of your custom fields; and another called MoRU, but its boolean is also limited).

I think this is a feature that would put EagleFiler far above the competition. Either (a) built in metadata field additions + the ability to search through them from within EF, or (b) at least a way for EF to also be able to run its boolean searches on metadata placed by spotmeta or other such programs in the file’s metadata section.

As such, EF would become at once a brilliant database, filing scheme, and – to some degree (without going overboard) – a solid replacement to the weaker features of the Finder and spotlight.

I agree that customizable metadata would be nice and that EagleFiler should be able to read and write the extended attribute fields. Hopefully, future versions of the OS will have better support for xattrs.

I’ll never rely on or recommend Finder (Spotlight) comments for anything important as long as they’re stored in overly volatile .DS_Store files. Might xattrs eventually be used for, or even supersede, them? I don’t have much pre-X Mac OS experience but Finder comments seem like a legacy begging for deprecation and a more robust modern replacement, even with Apple renaming them Spotlight comments.

I’m fairly certain that .DS_Store files are used to contain window view information (like for arranging icons in a disk image), not Finder Comments.

I’ve just checked, and I think .DS_Store is used to store the comments. (Before OS X they were stored in the desktop database.) This also explains why even utilities that preserve the xattrs don’t preserve the comments. I think they should be stored in the xattr section, along with the rest of the stuff that’s currently in .DS_Store.

Hunh. That is kinda fucked, actually.

I can confirm this is the case. I use a file synchronizer tool to keep both of my machines in sync, and I have to copy over the .DS_Store if I want to keep the comments.

The bad thing is that spotlight will only reindex the comments when the file is touched, so if I copy a .DS_Store with extra comments, they are not taken into account. (I have a daily script that mdimport all files whose directory has a .DS_Store that was modified in the last 24 h to make sure I keep the comments after synchronizing.)

Just wanted to say thanks for presenting some evidence to support my earlier remark:

“I’ll never rely on or recommend Finder (Spotlight) comments for anything important as long as they’re stored in overly volatile .DS_Store files.”

… which spared me from the task of further explanation. :slight_smile: