Leave my hierarchies alone – integrating desktop search engine and file manager

The below demo video shows how a real time search engine and faceted search would help users use their file system hierarchy, find their information items and better understand their personal information space. It doesn’t address fragmentation of information across different software and formats or even devices. But it addresses some of the problems we are facing while searching for our files. It supports orienteering around the hierarchy as the often used technique for searching with the support of today’s desktop search engines.


Key features:

  • typing a text in a search box highlights folders that contain matching
    items, helping us remembering where a searched file might located in a hierarchy
  • clicking on an item in a list of matching items shows this item in its folder – its semantically related environment and the path to it (all parent folders) can be seen
  • items in the hierarchy that do not match faceted search criteria fade away but are still seen in the hierarchy (they are not removed)

PS: Windows explorer was used as the base for a file manager. Some parts of OS X Spotlight and Mozilla Thunderbird were also used.

Edit 07/06/2010:
Bergman (The user-subjective approach to personal information management systems design, 2003) had the idea that information which wasn’t accessed in a log time (according to the time threshold defined by user) can be manipulated graphically by becoming smaller or faded in color. Faceted search over the personal information was used in SIS (Dumains, Stuff I’ve Seen: a system for personal information retrieval and re-use, 2003). It is important that information not matching faceted search criteria remains there as well (being faded) as we remember also location of items (folders or files) in a list and expect them being in their place (Jones, Keeping Found Things Found, p.106, 2008).