Rob Foster’s recent post /the/path/of/most/resistance is a brilliant write up on the inherent lacking of the visual file system. as he says:
…for the average person, the file system is so complex that everything outside of the desktop and the documents folder appears to be a vast labyrinth which most likely hides booby traps and minotaurs.
I think this is even true for many advanced users—even if they refuse to admit it. Even I have come to realize the more I have begun to use my iPhone, the more I see that I don’t need a file system for most of my tasks. I consider myself an experienced user and even I would love for the file system on my main computer to if not disappear at least further hide itself. Do I need to always have the system folder visible? No. Nor do I really need to see the applications folder as long as I can search and see a list. Actually come to think of it nor do I need the music folder or photos folder. A dedicated music/photo app does a better job sorting those file types then the I would manually creating folders.
The last point says it best. The visual file system is a generalist tool (like the CLI). We’ve moved away from the concept of sitting down to use a computer; instead now, we are sitting down to do a specific task: i.e., write a report, listen to music, post a tweet, check out facebook, watch a show, build a website, etc. The computer itself needs to get out of the stinking way so we can just do what we sit down to do. Having a global visual file system is just more clutter and doesn’t really help any of those tasks—not even webdev.
Yes you heard me: I do not need access to my computer’s file system to do web development. All I need is access to the project’s files on the server and a local store of the same, both of which I really only need to see when I’m in my IDE. I don’t really need to even know where this local store is as long as I can just click on the name of the project and it loads (like Coda and other IDEs). The local store could for all intents just be archive that opens when I open my IDE. Well there is the photoshop graphic editor issue but that could be easily solved by having a list of web projects show up when I “save to web.” You know how much time I’d save if I could just select from a project list whenever I “save to web” rather than have to dig around in my folders for where ever the images folder is for a certain website?
Speaking of, Panic please make an iPad version of Coda!
p.s. this brings to mind one of my gripes about Windows—fonts. To install fonts on OS X you click on it and then click install font. On Windows, even the new Windows 7, you have to copy it in the font folder (usually C:\Windows\Fonts), which is a granted not too hard but it’s still annoying to have to manually dig into the system folder to install a font.