OpenMeta coming soon to Default Folder X

I’m very excited about Ironic Software’s establishment of OpenMeta, a new standard for storage of tag metadata on OS X.  Storing spotlight keywords in the Finder/Spotlight comments of files has always been problematic, but up until now, it was the best solution available if you wanted general-purpose access to the tags via Spotlight.

Now OpenMeta uses the metadata capabilities in HFS+ to uniformly store tag information – and provides open source code to make it easy for developers get on board.  Ironic’s Deep application uses it, and Gravity Applications’ new Tags app is doing it too – you can assign tags to files, email messages, photos – it’s very slick and oh-so-much-better on a technical level – we just have to get more people to adopt it!  As always, one of the missing pieces is being able to tag documents as you’re saving them – Default Folder X already supports this using the traditional Spotlight comments, so it makes all the sense in the world for DFX to support OpenMeta.

So in answer to all the emails I’ve been getting – YES, Default Folder X will adopt the OpenMeta standard (while still supporting Spotlight comments too, for those of you that aren’t ready to switch).

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11 Responses to “OpenMeta coming soon to Default Folder X”

  1. hmurchison says:

    That’s great news! I was going to buy DF anyways but knowing that tags will work across apps makes me excited for future Mailtags, Hazel and other upgrades.

  2. Rob Lewis says:

    Hooray for you and OpenMeta! (Q: why didn’t Apple start promoting something like this years ago?).

    There’s an interesting project called SpotMeta that attempted to do similar things, but it’s long inactive and only works with Tiger.

    With MailTags committed to supporting OpenMeta, we may have the beginnings of a movement here! Maybe the developer community can turn Spotlight into what it always should have been!

  3. BLUEFROG says:

    @Rob Lewis: That’s what we’ve all been wondering for a loong time… why didn’t Apple start this?!? 8^)

    SpotMeta was a great attempt at a similar thing but required some mechanics that we don’t need to use. It would be interesting to see whre the dev is and what he thinks of our project.

    We are really hoping to get more developers involved in the project and we are proud to see so many great apps looking at it, like Jon at St. Clair Software.

    Keep spreading the word! (Oh and if you want to buy some of our apps too – we won’t mind! LOL)

    Jim Neumann
    The Ironic Software Team

  4. Jon says:

    That’s what we’re hoping for, Rob. I’m working on it now 🙂

  5. loozer says:

    This is great news. You might want to visit the discussion thread linked to from Daring Fireball, discussing the wisdom or otherwise of using to save the OpenMeta tags. Many of us non-developers don’t really have much of a basis for judging the merits of the case, so we hope that more developers will weigh in so that whatever solution makes most sense is adopted:

  6. Jon says:

    Yes – I’ve been reading the discussion but haven’t had a chance to jump in (a family emergency has been consuming a lot of my time for the last week). I’ll try and sort things out today.

  7. Matthew says:


    I’ve been trying to decide whether to post another message in the Ironic Software discussion on OpenMeta’s use of the namespace (the thread referenced above in Ioozer’s post). There have been a few postings in the past week there expressing *hope* that back channel discussions are taking place between the developers concerned about the choice (such as yourself, your posting in the tread is very good in my opinion) and the Ironic Software developers. You are mentioned in particular in one posting (“Hopefully Jon and Tom will be having some discussion.”) So, I’m wondering, are there discussions taking place or, as it appears from the discussion thread, are the Ironic people ignoring this issue and hoping it just goes away? I really hope discussions of some sort are taking place. Can you shed any light on this?

    – Matthew

    • Jon says:

      Tom and I are talking about it, and Tom has also asked Apple for feedback. We’re both hoping Apple can shed some light on things. As it currently stands, none of the solutions are perfect, and we’d both like an approved, spotlight-searchable way to store tags that will last for years.

  8. Matthew says:

    Glad to hear the conversations are taking place! Thanks for the update. I hope an approved approach emerges soon as well. I’ll wait to hear here and/or in the Ironic Software forums.

  9. metaman says:

    I’m also very glad to hear conversations are going on. You might want to encourage Tom to put just a brief note to that effect in the now quite well-known “OpenMeta is a hack” thread. That’s where people are being directed from Daring Fireball and they may not think to look elsewhere; a quick bit of reassurance that Tom’s aware of issues and is actively thinking about them would go a long, long way.

  10. Jon says:

    I posted a summary to a new thread on the Ironic discussion boards at and we’ve got a bit more talk going on there. Basically, after looking over Tom’s data and discussing it more, I think what he’s got for OpenMeta is a good solution. It may require changes as time goes on, but I think that OpenMeta can evolve safely and usefully. It’s a good, practical solution to the problem at hand.

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