Rummage review: tagging tool will ferret out all your files

In the days of SSSD floppies (ask your father), personal computer file systems were flat. As drive space expanded, the folder/file paradigm became dominant. With drives now holding hundreds of thousands of files, this model is showing a lot of signs of strain, but not much is evolving to replace it. Rummage is one such attempt.

It is important to remember when reading this review that I am covering software that is in an alpha state. Bugs, missing features, and poor performance are expected at this stage. I am highlighting them, when necessary, not to hold Rummage up to the standard of finished software, but because a downloader must know what they’re actually getting, not what might be coming down the pike in a few weeks or months.

rummage not ready yet

The curse of alpha software: Unimplemented features.

Tabbles, a program in the same niche, has been covered here before. Rummage does things a bit differently in most areas, but the concept is very similar: Rather than tracking files solely by location, files are tagged with descriptive metadata, which can include location and file type, but also contents, people associated with the file, and whatever additional information the user may wish to add.

The flaw of hierarchies is this: There’s usually multiple, equally valid, structures. A video game, for instance, will include code files, art, music, cut scene scripts, marketing material, and so on. Do you structure your directory as Game1/Art, Game2/Art or Art/Game1, Art/Game2? Both work. File tagging software, such as Rummage, lets you simply tag a given art piece with “Game1” and “Art”, then find all the files with those two tags, no matter where they are.

rummage seven hours to go

Best to install Rummage at the end of the day and see if it's done in the morning.

Rummage goes one better, though, in that it also peeks inside files of certain types, such as DOCX, and looks for possible keywords. For example, when I looked for files tagged “Everquest,” I didn’t find just my long-forgotten install directory for that game, I also found some old PCWorld reviews of other MMORPGs, where I’d mentioned Everquest as a comparison. How did Rummage find all this? By taking a long time to index my hard drives. Mostly. My first test took four days and ultimately didn’t complete. However, I found I was using an older alpha. With the newer alpha, it took about 10 hours, and I was able to restrict it to only a subset of my disk, one which still contained 100K files.

Using Rummage consists of entering tags which gradually restrict the result set. There is, at present, no way to exclude a tag: You can’t find all files tagged “Writing” and “Reviews” and then filter out “Completed.” The process of updating the index is still sluggish, an issue that is being actively addressed. Once your list is filtered down, you can click on a file to see more information, add custom tags to it, or launch it as if using Explorer.

rummage everquest search

This didn't just find files with "Everquest" in the name, but let me drill down to find old reviews.

Rummage indexes a subset of file types; you can’t tell it to index additional types. It presently lacks Explorer integration, so you can’t tag a file from your file manager of choice. The most crucial flaw in terms of using the alpha for real work is that it presently doesn’t re-index files. Using Rummage, I discovered a large number of files accidently duplicated in the wrong directory, and then deleted them. However, Rummage doesn’t know they’re deleted. Also, I want to add a directory to the index, but I can’t do that, either.

If you’re looking for a file-tagging solution, and are willing to experiment a bit, downloading the alpha and providing feedback on feature requests and bugs to the developers can help produce the kind of product Rummage could and should become. If you’re looking for a tool that works as-is, wait a bit and check their website regularly for news.

At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Though not yet functional enough for day-to-day use, Rummage is a file-tagging utility well worth trying out.

    Pros

    • Analyzes file content
    • Creates initial tags and structures
    • Integrates contact data

    Cons

    • Still in Alpha
    • Doesn't index some file types
    • Slow startup and responsiveness

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