Yenya's World

Mon, 11 Mar 2013

Are the Directories Evil?

Jimmac has an interesting blog post about how GNOME users are not satisfied with the current look of GNOME folder icon, explaining the reasons behind its current state. The blog post contains an interesting reasoning, but I wonder whether the fact that an explanation was actually necessary does not invalidate it. For me, however, the most enlightening part of his blog post is this:

Exposing the directory structure is the pre-GNOME 3 world. What we focus on now are the applications.

This is exactly the kind of mentality which leads us to the world of systems with severe usability problems like Android, GNOME 3, or most current MP3 players. Maybe this is a news for some of you, but the concept of directories actually is useful!

I hate it when the audio player Android app cannot present the albums that I have on my SD card neatly sorted into directories (also) as those directories. I hate it when my car stereo cannot use subdirectories with depth greater than 1, and does not have a "shuffle subtree" function, making the whole "shuffle" thing unusable: I have songs, tales for kids, audiobooks, and language courses stored there, and I obviously don't want to shuffle through all of these, intermixing random language lessons with songs and audiobook chapters.

Why do I have to use a domain-specific "directory sorter" (e.g. MP3 or photo tagging application), when the system already has a general purpose means of grouping various files together: the directory tree?

Section: /computers (RSS feed) | Permanent link | 5 writebacks

5 replies for this story:

Vašek Stodůlka wrote:

I have mixed impressins on this topic. I really liked Palm way of doing this - you pressed "Documents to Go" and the documents was there (!), without folders and anything, and only documents were listed, the same with other files. It was like a magic. :-) I like Google's "folderless" email, I configured Thunderbird same way. But on the other hand - current audio players are stupid for not having the tree structure, which I sometimes want and sometimes not.

Yenya wrote: Re: Vašek Stodůlka

I am not against tags per se, but I would like my apps to use _also_ the directory tree, because it is possible to put the files into directories by almost any tool, be it command-line or GUI. The problem is that not all albums on my disk have consistent tags (or have tags at all), and I don't want to spend time looking up and possibly retyping the names of tracks.

Gris wrote:

I couldn't care less about stupid eye candy, but I, too, absolutely loathe all the 'music library' shit. Just because all the various content sellers don't have to care about directory structure doesn't mean that the approach is cool and everyone should use it. Fortunately, there are still alternative applications that allow the user to choose the approach that suits them best. As for Jimmac, I suggest we start a relief fund so that he can go buy a clue.

thingie wrote:

When I think about all that time lost in pointless and retarded sorting of stuff into some directories, which I could, finally, stop doing some short time ago... And everything is much better now. So much better.

Yenya wrote: Re: thingie

Well, if it works for you, it's great, more power to you! But for me it is simply not possible to throw all the tracks newly downloaded from my favourite artist's website, or converted from CD to one heap, because everybody uses different tagging styles, genre name variants, and so on. It would be a bigger mess than creating a new directory with the name and location conforming to my own style, and downloading/converting directly there.

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