As you know, I keep looking for simple solutions for organizing my digital pictures. Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Andrea D’Intino about his company’s product called Tabbles. Tabbles provides an innovative approach to organizing all the files on your computer, not only your pictures. I’m hoping to be able to provide a full review of this product, but for now you can read my interview with Andrea where he describes his own company’s product.
Question: Who is Andrea D’Intino and what is Tabbles?
Andrea D’Intino is one third of the Tabbles team and more precisely the marketing monkey. The rest of the team is: Maurizio: the man behind the technology and Irma: she takes care of all the administration and the legal stuff.
Tabbles is a one-of-a-kind software product and it’s therefore hard to define. It’s a relational file manager, a tagging tool and a virtual file system. It essentially allows you to organize your files based on multiple relations to concepts independently from their physical position.
Question: On your website you’re saying that while computer technology has become more and more advanced, file management has remained
30 years behind? What do you mean?
Since the first FAT-based file systems appeared in the late 70’s, not much has changed. Our point is that we’re surrounded by ultra-advanced relational databases, while our files are stuck into older hierarchical (non relational) databases which essentially represent data as boxes inside other boxes, and do not offer the possibility to combine several boxes to get their common files.
The FAT system was good enough until floppy disks could store 2-3 files each, but nowadays a knowledge worker produces thousands of files every year and each of them is inevitably cross-linked to many concepts: in order to represent this complexity a relational database is required. This is the purpose of Tabbles: building a relational layer on top of the existent FAT/NTFS file systems.
Question: If there is no strategy for creating keywords, keywords can become just like folders…very hard to find and navigate. What do you recommend to your customers regarding how they should create keywords, or as you call them, Tabbles? Is there a strategy for creating Tabbles?
Comparing the folders + keywords with the Tabbles workflow can be misleading – let’s see why.
A “tabble” is both a tag (a keyword) and a virtual folder – you create it once and then it sits there as a folder you can double click on – and indeed we put a lot of energy into making the tabbles very easy to sort and navigate. The beauty of Tabbles is the lack of limitation to how many tabbles you can put a file into, and indeed the more tabbles you use, the richer will be the information surrounding your files.
Another main difference with a folder structure is the “Combine” function: a query to the Tabbles’ database where the user asks for example “show me the files tagged to, “Wedding”, “Church” and “Year 2009” and a list of files will be generated on the fly – while the files can be very far away from each other (different folders or disks) but they’ll be shown in the same “combination” as they’re all related to the same concepts. Also keep in mind that Tabbles doesn’t limit the user to certain file-types: it is possible to group together the pictures, invoices and the expenses spreadsheets related to an assignment.
Tabbles allows you to narrow down your search by combining your keywords
We can anyway suggest 3 simple rule of thumbs when creating tabbles:
1) Do not create a tabble just for one file! Remember that you can search for filenames inside Tabbles, therefore it’s advisable to rename that file indeed.
2) As soon as the tabbles start growing you can assign them to a colour group and nest them into tabble-containers in order to create a hierarchy.
3) When you create a tabble-container name it after a common trait of the tabbles to be grouped together. E.g.: you may want to group the tabbles “Giraffe” and “Zebra” under the tabble-container “wild animals”. You can put the same tabble into more tabble-containers, meaning that you can put the tabbles “Giraffe” and “Zebra” inside the tabble “wild animals” as well as in the tabble “Large animals”.
Question: How do you organize your own pictures on your computer? How can Tabbles help with picture organization?
I have tabbles for places, people, event and years. Whenever it’s relevant I tag pics accordingly. Later on I browse my pics collection using the “Combine” function in order to get “all the pics where there is me and my dog, taken in 2009, excluding those taken on holidays” within 8 mouse clicks :-)