tagfarm is an ultra-lightweight filesystem-based categorization system for arbitrary files.
The limitation of a hierarchical filesystem is that any one file can only reside in one
directory. But most files are best described by classifying them in more than one
category. So directories don't map very well to categories -- if you have a picture of
the Mona Lisa, should you put it in
Works by Leonardo da Vinci or
The solution on blogs and wikis is to use "tags" or "categories", to allow every page to be tagged with zero or more tags, and to allow all pages with a given tag to be listed in a "tag index" or "category page".
tagfarm implements the same idea on a local filesystem. Each tag is implemented as a directory containing symbolic links to the files that have that tag. And this is all it consists of.
There are several advantages to this. There's no metadata to go out of sync, no database
engine to install and maintain. When you move files around, you can just run
tagfarm repair to rewrite the tag links. You can treat the tag links as you would any
other file — for example, you can remove a tag from a file just by deleting the tag link.
There are also some disadvantages, of course. Primarily, any limitations that your filesystem has are also going to be imposed on the categorization system. So, for example, if your OS has performance problems listing 10,000 files in a single directory, the same would hold for a set of 10,000 files that are tagged with the same tag.
Make sure you have Python installed, clone this repository, and put its
bin directory on
your executable search path. You can then run
tagfarm from your terminal.
tagfarm operates on a part of your filesystem it calls the media tree. There may be
multiple media trees in your filesystem. The topmost directory of a media tree is called
the media root and it is identified by having a directory
by-tag in it. When
tagfarm is started, it finds the media root it will operate
on, by looking for the
by-tag directory, first in the current directory, then in every
successive parent directory thereof. If it reaches
/ without having found a
directory, it exits immediately with an error code.
One constraint that applies to the media tree is that every file in it should have a
unique name. This allows
tagfarm repair to recreate fix broken tag links when a file is
moved around inside the media tree.
You can add a tag to one or more files with the command
tagfarm tag <tagname> <filename> [<filename2>...]
You can then list the contents of
by-tag/<tagname> and see there are symlinks there.
You can remove a tag to one or more files with the command
tagfarm untag <tagname> <filename> [<filename2>...]
You can list the tags that have been applied to one or more files with
tagfarm showtags <filename> [<filename2>...]
If the source files are moved around, the symbolic links will break. Assuming the files, after having moved, have not changed names and are still found somewhere in the media tree, tagfarm can repair the broken links with the command
By default, tagfarm will only attempt to repair broken links if they are actually
symlinks (not, for example, regular files) and not broken. To have it replace all files
it happens to find in the tag link directory, pass
--force-relink. This is occasionally
handy for converting a directory full of copies of elsewhere-existing media files,
tagfarm repair will also replace any links it finds that have absolute target paths,
with ones with relative target paths, even when the link is not broken.
tagfarm repair will also, when processing a link whose name is like
Link to xyz,
rename it to simply
xyz. This is to handle the case where links are manually
created in a tag directory using a tools such as Nautilus (Gnome Desktop).
tagfarm rename <oldfilename> <newfilename>
Renames the file, like
mv, but also updates any tags that might be on it.
tagfarm collect <tagname> <destdir>
Convenience command to move all the files with a given tag into a destination directory.
If the destination directory does not yet exist, will be created. The tags of the files
are not changed. At the end,
tagfarm repair is called to update the tag links.
The advantage of tagfarm being ultra-lightweight is that if there is something that
it does not directly support, it's often easy to accomplish it by simply issuing
some conventional commands to alter the filesystem. For this reason, some
functionalities you might expect to exist, don't have specific
implemented for them.
For example, to rename a tag, one needs only to rename the directory that contains the tag links. For example:
mv by-tag/airplane by-tag/aeroplane
Better handling of cases where the target being linked is itself a link.
Set-theoretic queries on tags (e.g. tag all files with X or Y and not Z with a new tag T).