Unify, Organize, Explore, and Innovate. Oh my! (Part 2)

Today we’ll talk about “Organize”. If you haven’t yet, you should check out Shishir’s WinFS PDC Presentation. He starts talking about Organize roughly 38 minutes into the talk. There is demo of the awesome “LifeJournal” app that shows the organization power of WinFS significantly better than my boring prose description will. :-)

Last time, we talked about contacts. This time, let’s talk about pictures. If you’re like me, you probably have tons of digital pictures on your computer. My photos are currently organized in a simple hierarchy. In “My Pictures”, I have a bunch of folders that are named something like, “2004-11 Thanksgiving”. Within this folder are all my photos from that holiday. I’m sure you can already see the limitations in this structure.

My latest challenge in actually using my pictures came the other day. My grandparents wanted me to send them some pictures of my fiancée and me. Wouldn’t it be really cool if I could just tell my computer, “Show me all the pictures that have Crissy and me in them”. Instead, I had to scan through my folders to see what events we were both at and copy all the pictures with both of us in them to a temp folder. Then I needed to go through the temp folder to pick which ones to send. Of course, I didn’t remember to delete the temp folder; so it’s eating up drive space. Good thing hard drives are so cheap nowadays. 

With WinFS, I can relate my contacts to my photos, so I can easily query for all the pictures that are related to a set a contacts. A photo app built on WinFS could display all the pictures with Crissy and me in them. Then, I could select the good ones to email or print. If you’ve been playing with the Beta 1 bits, you know how easy it is to write an app with this behavior.

Plus, I can now easily check to see what photos I’ve already sent, so I don’t send the same ones again. How? Tell the computer to “show me the photos with both of us that I’ve sent to my grandparents.” All these containment relationships and associations would already be in my store.

Again, this applies to much more than pictures. I can associate a document with a meeting, or music and contacts to a party invite. And these aren’t keywords added to a file, these are associations between real items. All of these organization constructs are just waiting to be exploited by a WinFS app.

Also, all these types are extensible. So for my wedding guest list, I can extend the Contact type to have properties for “Sent ‘Save the Date’ card”, “Sent invitation”, “RSVP Received”, “# of Guests”, “Vegetarian meal?” and so on. That could make things significantly easier. Good thing I can do this with the Beta bits. If we had to wait for WinFS RTM to plan the wedding, I think Crissy would make sure that I wouldn’t be able to blog anymore. :-)

So that’s all for now about Organize. Next time, we’ll explore “Explore”.

Author: Vijay Bangaru