Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tagging Software

I was searching around the web for a Tagging Application.

What are Tags?

Tags are essentially unstructured labels, so like using a folder system where you can add a file to many folders and those folders don't have to be related. Imaging looking in your filing cabinet for your business insurance receipts (for example!). Do you look in your insurance folder, your receipts folder or your business folder. If you've put a copy of this document in each of the folders "Insurance", "Receipts" AND "Business", you could look in any of them and find it. Although tagging doesn't create copies, you can search for the tags and see all documents relating to the tag and if you're luck you could search for multiple tags and see only documents that relate to all the tags you searched for. This is how gmail works...

What I was wanting the application to do?

To allow me to easily find any of my documents that I may or may not have filed in logical folders. So when I want to remember what that thing was that I bought for my house last year was, all I have to do is search for the tags, 2012, house, receipts and if I'm lucky, I'll have remembered a few more details that I can search on to narrow the results a little further!

The three that I tried...


This seemed like the most basic of the three applications. not very feature rich and no real interaction with the file system. To interact with any files, you have to import them into the Elyse database. Once in the database I'm sure you can do all sort with them, but how do you know what you haven't imported? You could be hyper organised and always import every file on creation, but in real life that's not going to happen and there is no margin for error. What happens if you keep all your files in one folder and you only add them to Elyse once a week... I have to be honest and say that as soon as I worked out this flaw, I uninstalled.


The Good:
  • right click to add tags to files in window explorer
  • progressive filtering
The Bad:
  • no in application file system integration
  • manual import of files into the application
My highlight for TaggedFrog was that I found that the search (internal database search) was good in that it was progressive, so you could select a tag, it would display all files with that tag and in the lower window pane show all tags from those documents. You could then select from one of those tags and it would reduce the number of documents filtering them out. So when I selected "2013" tag, it would show me all documents with that tag and all other tags that those selected documents had. I would then select one of those tags "Bank" and it would filter to only show me documents with both the "2013" and "Bank" tags. I could further filter. It's a quick and easy way to find what you want when you're not 100% sure where it is... So long as you tagged it right in the first place.
But, essentially TaggedFrog has the same problem as Elyse in that you don't know what you've not imported, but there is direct file system interaction as you can right click files in Explorer and add them to your TagFrog database. There is an AutoTagging feature, but it does nothing more than watch folders. So again, the not knowing what is in the database is a killer for me, uninstalled!


The Good:

  • in application file system integration
  • progressive filtering
The Bad:
  • $9.99
  • Immature interface

In the TagTool application, you can view your file system directory in a list format that will also show you what files have what tags. This is a quick and easy way to see what has not been tagged. For this reason alone TagTool comes out on top when comparing these three applications for me.
The interface is also quite nice and visual. As TaggedFrog, there is a similar system of progressive filtering, the only issue I have with this is that starting a new search should be down with the tags (as the search is tag driven) and it would be nice to always have a clear view or all tags in a left navigation bar and keep the filtered tags where they are. Also the recently used tags window should be expandable in height and lastly the file list window should have expandable columns. These are very little and minor things to make it more usable and easily forgivable if this was a free app, but at $9.99 and clauses against being entitled to major upgrades, it's not really very good. The interface is immature and at a guess I would say that the developers don't use this app themselves on a daily basis, which is a must for any application. But because of the file system integration, I will persist with the 30 day trial giving them opportunity to hook me in...

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