After much background thought, I believe I know how to best add file management to frassle. (This is a long-term goal, but has been getting some attention recently.) It's simple.
Each file is a blog post, just like any other content fragment in frassle.
The note body, when viewing the blog on a web page or RSS feed, shows an HTML representation of that content fragment. There is also a link to the original file. So if you uploaded a PDF, it would get converted to HTML for the note body. A photo would be represented as a thumbnail. An XML document would apply any appropriate XSLT transformations and display as XHTML or just a document tree. A text file would become preformatted HTML. An unknown format would just give you file name and size.
This approach has some significant advantages over email-style attachments. In no particular order:
- you can categorize individual files
- you automatically get the same renaming, editing, deleting, and sharing/privacy options as anything else in your blog
- you can easily browse by timestamp or category
- you can subscribe to updates
- you can use the regular search to search the HTML representations of files; i.e. you get to do text searches of PDFs and MS Word documents.
On the other hand, if you're used to handling files as attachments, this seems a little weird. Some files just don't stand on their own: photos are part of an album; PDFs are final print-ready renderings of a long-term effort; source code files are parts of complicated projects. If we just treat them all like time-ordered blog posts, won't it just be chaos?
Yes. And that's a good thing.
See, this problem is orthogonal to file uploading. Any piece of content has a context that is more or less important to properly understanding what it means. Showing you that context is one of frassle's most fundamental goals. Time, categorizations, and inter-feed threading of conversations are the basic tools we use to accomplish that goal. Why not expand the challenge? Detecting and expressing more meaningful relationships between content will make all of frassle more powerful.
And hey, I have the feeling categories and timestamps will prevent a lot of chaos by themselves.
Example: One of the first applications of the multimedia post framework can be a tool to help you show posts in context. The scrapbook is a simple list of blog posts (notes in frassle parlance), chosen from any blog. Each note is identified by permalink, and can be included in whole, selectively excerpted, or simply referenced. You can also add text anywhere in the scrapbook. As you browse through frassle, each note has an "add to scrapbook" button.
I like the way this sounds. You could not only use the scrapbook to, say, collect a number of related discussions from around the web—you could actually build photo albums with it! The same concept—a binder with pages covered in taped-on papers in real life, a list of permalinks online—works to gather and share related pieces of content.
Still better, the scrapbook itself can be a piece of content. Under the multimedia post framework, we could represent the scrapbook as an XML document, probably in OPML. Then you can share scrapbooks easily, rename/delete/edit them in the standard way, and even incorporate one scrapbook into another!