Yes, tagging the filename currently seems to be the only easy and practicable/feasible approach for meeting all one's tag/search requirements, and for a whole bunch of reasons. Essentially, the problem is solved by putting meta-data codes/keys (strings of A-N text) into the filename.The main advantages of this approach would seem to be:
- Tagging can more easily be made reliable, available, consistent and visible at the lowest common denominator (the filename, visible in any file browser and not locked-in to a separate/proprietary viewer; no use is made of the ADS, Registry, or a proprietary indexing system).
- The file tags are persistent and easily changed if required - individually, or in batches (any filename editing utility, or mass filename editor will do; no proprietary tool is required and no use is made of the ADS).
- The index database for the tags can be a common and non-proprietary utility already on the Desktop - e.g., the index database of (say) WDS (Windows Desktop Search), or other file indexing/search system of choice - e.g., I often use Everything.
- If required, the tags searched can be treated as being in a structured notional/virtual hierarchy (regardless of their location on disk) - which can enable very powerful/useful filtered searches.
- The structure of a notional/virtual hierarchy can be easily changed at any time, as required and without necessarily invalidating the tags already in use.
Aside from the perhaps visibly sometimes odd-looking filenames, the main disadvantage
would probably be that tags make file names longer, potentially causing the LFN
(Long File Name) or "path/file name too long" problem at some stage - where (say) nesting of files/folders occurs where longish file names have been employed. This PITA can especially occur in backup/archive directories/subdirectories, even though the original file paths may have no LFN problem.
However, the LFN hack in Windows 10
(only) apparently overcomes this problem in NTFS systems, though I am unsure whether it applies also to FAT file systems under all conditions, and certainly it apparently
only works for Windows 10, and not
the earlier Windows OS versions.
I recall there was a freeware app
("Tag-something" - maybe
it was Tagspaces
, but I forget the name
) that ran as a Firefox extension, or something, enabling a tagging system in
the file names. Out of interest, I tried it out and found it quite good, but it felt a bit clunky and was kinda superfluous, given that the filename tagging tool can be whatever tool one uses to edit file names - singly or en masse
It used delimiters to identify the tags (thus potentially making the filename even longer), and I could never quite see a solid reason as to why delimiters might be mandatory, never mind desirable. So, I use tags in the filename, but not delimiters.
I am therefore curious to know your reasoning on this, as you write that you use delimiters. Could you please describe that?
By the way, I, like you, have used tags embedded in the filename for years - starting in 1998, whilst needing a tagging capability on a large document management exercise. The users had differently (non-standard) configured PCs and we badly needed an LCD (lowest common denominator) approach, so that any user could use the tagging system, regardless of PC configuration or Win0S. Using filename tags was simple/easy for the users to understand as well.