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I'm looking for software projects that give more useful features than the traditional experience in current Windows / Mac OS / Linux file browsers. Especially features that help you integrate the local filesystem with remote or offline media (external hard drives, optical media) and the Web.

There are some problems I repeatedly encounter on many projects:

  • Want to keep project in sync on Dropbox but don't want to waste space on certain large files that aren't essential. Don't want to fragment the project, I still want everything in the same location, but I want to deem certain files less important... and the system to reflect this ranking in syncing and backup priority
  • Need local copies of files I got from the web, but don't want to lose their URL and other context around how I got to them.
  • Certain files fit in multiple locations but I don't want duplicates (waste storage space, and even links cause problems with Search). So tags of some sort, for all files not just JPEGs 😒.
  • Need to make some changes that don't affect timestamps. Administrative cleanup stuff like renaming, moving files around, correcting a stray typo, changing tags. I don't want my 2009 project to appear Last modified: now. It's still an old project, it's just been filed better.
  • Want to search offline files, possibly casting the net wider in progressive tiers
  • Would like semantic desktop features, semantic searching and data represented as entities
  • Need an interface to define and enforce file naming conventions
  • Maybe define special actions for certain locations?

There's probably not any one thing that does everything, or even several things. What I'd like to find is simply projects pursuing this vision.

I spend quite a lot of time fiddling around with file management, more than I would like. I've recently made a modest dent in it but I want to find out more.

Bonus points for revealing comprehensive resource for UI features available on other OSes. I might simply be stuck on one OS and not know about what updates bring, or what's happening in the other ecosystems.

  • Are you asking for a list – or a specific piece of software? In the latter case, what OS must be supported, and what's your price margin? – Izzy Dec 30 '16 at 21:04
  • @Izzy I'm looking for software or workflows that address those problems. It's unlikely any one program (or even OS) does that. I've accepted that answer because it provides a good starting point - that's what I want, a research starting point. – Leeroy Dec 30 '16 at 23:29
  • Tangential find related to metadata for every file MetaDescription for Windows Explorer leverages NTFS alternate data streams (Windows) to allow users to save and display HTML descriptions for files or folders. The OS is oblivious to that metadata though, it can't show up in search. – Leeroy Dec 30 '16 at 23:32
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It's a tall order, but here are some suggestions.

Need local copies of files I got from the web, but don't want to lose their URL and other context around how I got to them.

It sounds like you might find IPFS interesting:

https://ipfs.io/

Don't want to fragment the project, I still want everything in the same location, but I want to deem certain files less important... and the system to reflect this ranking in syncing and backup priority

Certain files fit in multiple locations but I don't want duplicates (waste storage space, and even links cause problems with Search). So tags of some sort, for all files not just JPEGs 😒

Camlistore has some applications in this area:

https://camlistore.org/

Would like semantic desktop features, semantic searching and data represented as entities

There are many desktop search engines, thought none are perfect. I use recoll:

https://www.lesbonscomptes.com/recoll/

Need to make some changes that don't affect timestamps. Administrative cleanup stuff like renaming, moving files around, correcting a stray typo, changing tags. I don't want my 2009 project to appear Last modified: now. It's still an old project, it's just been filed better.

Timestamps seldom survive syncing, copying, and backup. Filesystems are built to preserve the file content, not the metadata.

Instead of storing files by category, consider using the year the project was started as top-level directories.

For example, right now I'm putting new projects under Dropbox/archive/2016. Next year I'll put new projects I start under Dropbox/archive/2017.

This way, file paths don't change as much and it keeps some chronological context without timestamps. By a combination of symbolic links, bookmarks, wikis, and desktop search, I can still find the older projects that I'm still working on.

The only exception is if an application already imposes its own structure, like a music library program or an e-book library program.

At first I thought this would be constricting, but it's nice not having to re-organize old files to fit my new categories.

You can also keep projects under version control if you want a more permanent "timestamp" capability.

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