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Re: Tag based dired?

From: Mathias Dahl
Subject: Re: Tag based dired?
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2006 16:58:56 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (windows-nt)

Xiao-Yong Jin <> writes:

> Hi all, I'm wondering if there is some kind of tag or label support in
> dired.
> Nowadays tagging or labeling is used widely on the Internet.  Blogs
> and wikis has various tag support.  And gmail has its flexible
> labeling support.  So does the f-spot.  I did some search on the web
> and there is no file manager that really supports tags well.  
> So far I use org-mode to organize my staff as well as my files.
> Because you can add various tags to a subject in org-mode, it's easy
> to manager all the files.  However, it's not easy to handle files
> using file links in org-mode.
> I think it would be much better if one could give various labels to
> files, and organize and search files using labels, especially in dired
> or even wdired.
> I want to ask if there are some easy way to implement this feature in
> emacs?  This file tagging idea is very rough now and I would like to
> do some research to make it more concrete.  And if it's possible, I
> want to implement it as a plugin to dired?

I just couldn't hold myself and created a small hack that might be
useful (hopefully I will find a use for it myself too so that I can
convince myself that the time was well spent.) :)

Here we go:

;;; file-props.el --- Add file properties to your files
;; Copyright (C) 2006 Mathias Dahl
;; Version: 0.1
;; Keywords: search, convenience, files
;; Author: Mathias Dahl <>

;; This file is not part of GNU Emacs.

;; GNU Emacs is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
;; it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
;; the Free Software Foundation; either version 2, or (at your option)
;; any later version.

;; GNU Emacs is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
;; but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
;; GNU General Public License for more details.

;; You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
;; along with GNU Emacs; see the file COPYING.  If not, write to the
;; Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor,
;; Boston, MA 02110-1301, USA.

;;; Commentary:
;; file-props.el provides a way to "tag" or "label" your files.
;; Actually, the functionality is generic and supports adding any type
;; of property to your files.  Right now "tags" and a "comment" can be
;; added.
;; After having added this meta data you can use it to find files in
;; different ways.  Provided is a command to list all files having a
;; certain tag in a dired buffer.
;; NOTE: This is not stable yet, it is a proof-of-concept, to see if
;; it could be useful.  Use at own your risk.
;;; Installation:
;; Place this file in your `load-path'.
;; Put this in your .emacs file:
;; (require 'file-props)
;; (file-props-load-properties)
;; NOTE: If you don't load the properties file it will be overwritten
;; with only the properties you define in this session.  I'm not sure
;; if this is the best approach though.  One could make file-props.el
;; automactially load all file properties when it is loaded.
;;; Usage:
;; - Adding tags:
;; In dired, mark a couple of files and type M-x
;; file-props-dired-add-tags RET.
;; On the prompt, enter one or more tags, separated with a comma and
;; type RET.
;; - Finding files:
;; Type M-x file-props-find-tags-dired RET.
;; Enter a tag and type RET.
;; You will be presented with a dired buffer containing the files
;; having the tag you searched for.
;; - Other uses:
;; Currently, the only other command is `file-props-dired-add-comment'
;; which will add a comment property to the file.  The idea is that
;; while tags are used to categorize or label your files, a comment is
;; more specific and can act as the description of the file.
;; As explained above, tags and comments are just examples of meta
;; data you might want to add to your files, other types of data
;; should be easy to add if you want.  Look at
;; `file-props-dired-add-tags' and `file-props-dired-add-comment' for
;; examples.
;;; History:
;; Version 0.1, 2006-06-27
;; * First release.

;;; Code:

(defgroup file-props nil
  "File properties lets you add different kinds of properties or
meta-data to files and have these properties saved to a central
data file.  This information can be used to mark file having a
certain meta-data in Dired."
  :group 'Convenience)

(defcustom file-props-data-file "~/.emacs.d/file-props"
  "File in which the file properties are saved."
  :type 'file
  :group 'file-props)

(defvar file-props-list nil
  "List containing the file properties.")

(defun file-props-add-property (file property value)
If the property does not exist, it will be created.  If it
exists, the value will be overwritten."
  (unless (assoc file file-props-list)
    (setq file-props-list (append file-props-list (list (list file nil)))))
  (setcdr (assoc file file-props-list)
          (plist-put (cdr (assoc file file-props-list)) property value)))

(defun file-props-save-properties ()
  "Save file properties.
Save file properties to file `file-props-data-file'."
  (with-temp-file (expand-file-name file-props-data-file)
    (prin1 file-props-list (current-buffer))))

(defun file-props-load-properties ()
  "Load all file properties.
Load all file properties from file `file-props-data-file'.  If
the files does not exist, no harm is done; it will be created
when file properties are added to files."
  (let ((file (expand-file-name file-props-data-file))
    (if (not (file-exists-p file))
        (message "File properties data file does not exist")
      (setq buf (find-file-noselect
      (setq file-props-list (read buf))
      (kill-buffer buf))))

(defun file-props-dired-add-tags ()
  "Add file tags to current or marked files."
  (let ((tags-string (read-string "Enter tags, separated by a comma: ")))
     (lambda (x)
       (file-props-add-property x 'tags (split-string tags-string ",")))
  ;; Don't save to file if there are no properties.  This works as a
  ;; kind of security measure, making sure that the data file is not
  ;; overwritten with no data if the user by mistake did not load the
  ;; old properties before adding new ones.  If anyone can come up
  ;; with a better approach than this, please don't hesitate to
  ;; contact me.
  (if file-props-list

(defun file-props-dired-add-comment ()
  "Add file comment to current or marked files."
  (let ((comment (read-string "Enter comment: ")))
     (lambda (x)
       (file-props-add-property x 'comment comment))

(defun file-props-list-all-tags ()
  "Return all unique tags for all files."
  (unless file-props-list
  (let (all-tags)
     (lambda (x)
       (let ((tags (plist-get (cdr x) 'tags)))
          (lambda (y)
            (unless (member y all-tags)
              (setq all-tags (append all-tags (list y)))))

(defun file-props-find-files-from-tag (tag)
  "Return a list of all files having file tag TAG."
  (let (files)
     (lambda (x)
       (when (member tag (plist-get (cdr x) 'tags))
         (setq files (append files (list (car x))))))

(defun file-props-find-tags-dired ()
  "Search for file tag TAG to find files and list them in dired.
It generates a result like `find-dired' does."
  (let ((dir (read-directory-name "Set current directory: "))
        (tag (read-string "Tag to search for: ")))
       (dired (cons dir (file-props-find-files-from-tag tag)))))

(provide 'file-props)

;;; file-props.el ends here

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