If one word can sum up the Mac community, for me that word would be passion. I’ve often observed that people tend to generally use PCs because they have to, while others use Macs because they get to. We seem to be a very passionate bunch, coming from a wide variety of creative fields and the product that I’m reviewing today comes from an individual who fits into that niche.
The product is called EagleFiler which was created by Michael Tsai over at C-Command. Now Michael is a certainly a busy guy and you’ve probably heard of him by way of his previous projects which include the wildly popular SpamSieve and DropDMG. For the developers in the crowd, he’s also gained notoriety from his infamous BBEdit plugin BBAutoComplete. If none of those ring a bell, you’ve perhaps heard of his long running Mac website About This Particular Macintosh (ATPM). Having said all that, I was most excited to take a look at his newest product Eaglefiler.
Eaglefiler joins the long line of applications that claim to help you to manage the information on your Mac. It lets you archive and search mail, Web pages, PDF files, word processing documents, images and several other applications and file types. As described on the website:
Use it to collect information from a variety of sources. Browse different types of files using a standard three-pane interface. Organize them into folders and annotate them with tags and notes, or leave everything in one folder and pin-point the information you need using the live search. Since EagleFiler stores its library in Finder format, you can use it in concert with the other tools in your Mac ecosystem.
So the application basically works like this: as you go about your daily business of working in the various applications, say for example reading a mail message in Mail.app or viewing a website. You come across something that you wish to keep a record of so you invoke EagleFiler (using the F1 key by default) which then takes an exact snapshot of the item you are currently viewing and puts it into it’s database (which for the geeks out there is Core Data SQL database). This isn’t the only method for getting your information into EagleFiler as you can also drag and drop items into the library as well.
Inside of EagelFilter, you can further break down and organize your information into folders and allows you to use tags and notes as well or you just leave everything in one giant folder which is easily searched using the applications live search.
When you actually go into the app to work with your imported information, you are greeted with a very familiar 3 panel interface that closely resembles Mail.app. The live search works extremely fast (especially when comparing it to the built in Spotlight search) but then again, its searching a very limited subset of information vs your entire hard drive.
Michael has done a lot of things the right way with regards to this application. He took a hard look at the kinds of things people really want when it comes to dealing with their important information and built them into EagleFile. For example, the library that holds all of your information is an open file which you can easily get to via the Finder for easy backup of your data. It allows factors in the concept that perhaps people might like to manage their information via separate libraries, for example one for work and another for personal information. This flexibility allows you to perhaps store your library on an encrypted disk image for the more sensitive information.
Obviously Eaglefiler isn’t the first product of its kind in this category but after using it for awhile, a few things become clear. The developer has done an excellent job of integrating it with the rest of the operating system. He’s also looked at the real world needs of people and how they interact with their information and then built a product around those needs. Despite being a 1.0 release (which is technically at version 1.0.2 at the time of this writing), it is a very mature 1.0 release and as long as he continues to listen to his users, Eaglefiler has a bright future ahead of it.
If you’ve ever thought about trying to work one of these information organizers into your workflow but just didn’t want to invest the time into learning some new software, this might just be the one that does it for you. I also encourage you to remember that being a small and well connected community, don’t forget that small developers like c-command are in a position where they really do rely on their users feedback and suggestions so if there is something that you wish the app was capable of doing, by all means, contact them and tell them about it. We live a privileged existence where we actually have the ability to help shape the future direction of the products we use on our Macs to some extent. Try that with your Microsoft software and let me know how that works out for you.