okay, let me discuss some ideas mouser and i have been throwing around. f&rr is great at what it does and it approaches the situation in a unique way that would be applicable to other situations. currently, it's primary use is to search through shortcuts and provide intelligent results based on a keyword. in actuality, there is nothing that restricts this usage to program shortcuts. f&r could also be used to find other types of files as well with virtually no impact on its current use. imagine wanting to play all music in your collection by Gomez. or finding your thesis from 2 years ago about all those smoking monkeys. or digging up your CV/resume on the spot when you need it. or quickly starting a movie from your collection just by typing in a few letters. or pulling up all your pictures that you took in germany. you get the idea. essentially anything can be found within f&r. the best way to do this would be to be able to load different configuration files for each type of search. for example, the mp3 config file would specify:
- the location of your mp3 folders,
- how you want those files rated,
- and how you want those results displayed.
there has been a great deal of discussion as to how would be the best way to switch between these different configurations. possibilities include:
- a button bar
- a drop down list
obviously, the commandline would be the most non-impact way to accomplish this. it has the advantage of being accessible from a number of different methods (scripting, shortcuts, 3rd party programs, etc.). the best use of the commandline is that users could setup an alias with all available configurations. hence, no additional gui is even necessary. i think the commandline option currently gets my vote because it is the easiest to implement and would leave more time for "serious" coding. down the line, alternate methods of switching configurations could be implemented if users request it.
if users use f&r to find files like shortcuts, documents, music, images, videos, etc. then it would be nice to be able to do more than simply launching a single result. in an example above, i mentioned searching for all music by "Gomez". f&r can find files quite well but once they are found, your options are limited. the best way around this is to implement the explorer right-click context menu. this will allow you to:
- select all of the results and queue them up in winamp
- adjust their id3 tags
- delete that song you just heard
- open a file in a non-default program
- rotate an image 90 degrees
honestly, you can do pretty much anything to the file. it is limited only by the shell extensions you have installed. this is a confirmed feature so it will be implemented. this ability to manipulate search results will make f&r very powerful.
what has already been discussed above should be top priority before worrying about the rest of what i am going to say.
okay, as we've already mentioned, the configuration files specify what to display in the f&r window. imagine being able to specify things other than a traditional search. in my opinion, it would be terribly useful to be able to display a mini file browser in f&r (displaying the contents of a folder). i am sure everyone who reads this uses directory structure to organize some file collections, whether that be music, documents, images, shortcuts, etc. sometimes, folder organization is the best way to organize files. for example, what if i wanted to:
- see all new files in my "incoming" folder
- see what was in my "recent documents"
- access to the control panel
- show the contents of my mp3 player
- display my quicklaunch folder
- organize and delete obsolete shortcuts in my start menu
- see some photos i placed in my "2004" folder
- or... well, you get the idea
the mini file browser would be a great complement to f&r. it is useful for quick file operations and to have quick access to any type of file that you have organized into folders (traditional searching by keyword would not be adequate). it would allow users to easily and efficiently delete, rearrange, and drag files into and out
of the minibrowser (like a regular instance of explorer). this is useful for quick and dirty management of documents, music, and shortcuts. luckily, this mini file browser is not as difficult to implement as one might imagine because it is possible to tie into the explorer engine for file display and file operations. the only thing that is needed is a small toolbar for back/forward, parent, and favorites. since, the minibrowser would only be loaded if specified in a config file, then this again would not impact the traditional user interface of f&r at all. if you do not use this feature then you will never see it. please note that this idea is slightly different than the idea of an attached file browser panel... and in my opinion, preferrable
as an added bonus of using the explorer engine, it would be possible for users to display web pages in f&r as well. some of you may be shaking your heads as this being unnecessary but i only mention it because the ability would be added automatically simply by virtue of using explorer. but, if a user wanted, they could create a favorite to their webmail for quick checking. users could check the local weather or movie listings. you could even play a quick flash game when the boss isn't looking. i would be most likely to use a tool like "amazing portal generator" to create a small launch portal to my most frequent sites. the program is found here:http://www.rtgsoftware.com/apg/
users could create their own html page which could accomplish virtually anything limited only by their skill. we could even start a repository of useful html pages created and submitted by users. even if you don't like the idea, at least it is an added bonus of using explorer to make the minibrowser.
so although this sounds like a big feature, it should not be all that difficult or time consuming to implement.
so, in short, the ideas we have been talking about will have *no* affect on the f&r user interface (except the right-click menu but i think everyone likes that idea). so for people who like things the way they are, nothing will change but for the more adventuresome power users, there is an *incredible* increase in what you can do with f&r. so f&r is not being torn between two purposes, it can embrace both. you would simply be using the searching capabilities that already exist for broader purposes.
i am *king* of long posts!
p.s. mouser, please disregard some of the advanced configuration features i explained in the email. they are unnecessary if a minibrowser is implemented and would probably just over-complicate things. if you want, when i have time i will re-edit it a bit to be more clear.