Re: Proposing Tracker for inclusion into GNOME 2.18
- From: Jamie McCracken <jamiemcc blueyonder co uk>
- To: Joe Shaw <joeshaw novell com>
- Cc: desktop-devel-list gnome org
- Subject: Re: Proposing Tracker for inclusion into GNOME 2.18
- Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 20:01:21 +0100
Joe Shaw wrote:
I realize that my opinion probably cannot be considered objective, but I
will try my best. I strongly feel that Tracker isn't ready to go into
GNOME in either the platform or the desktop. Note that I'm not arguing
for Beagle here, just against Tracker.
okay, I was holding back on criticising beagle by not comparing it to
tracker but I guess Im allowed to now... (I'll be nice dont worry!)
The reasons essentially are:
* Tracker hasn't gotten enough widespread use. It is not
shipped by default on any distribution, let alone enabled. For
something which by its nature has to touch *all your data*, this
is a larger negative for an indexer than, say, Tomboy or
possibly but a number of users have used it and they have not had
anything like the problems that beagle has. We have test suites and a
very vibrant community and mailing list where things have been very well
tested. Touching data is read only - we are not writing anything to
files so it wont eat your docs! (lets keep the FUD out!)
* The scope of Tracker isn't clear. Is the point to be fast
search for files, or for all the user's data? To what end has
Tracker achieved its goal?
It should be clear - to be the best
* If Tracker's aim is to index all of the user's personal
information (and not just files), the indexer is far too
immature and lacking in functionality at this point.
tracker is mature at indexing files and does a much better job than some
leading contenders including spotlight and other commercial indexers
which all seem to consume significant resources. Tracker is different
and arguably better in this area.
* The metadata storage APIs are not used by anything outside of
Tracker as far as I know, and a Google Code Search turns up
nothing. Proposing an unused API for inclusion is a bad idea to
Not yet but I will be doing the bookmark history stuff in Epiphany
using this so time will tell on this. I note there is no other metadata
server available to Gnome and its a huge missing part of the platform so
it should not be dismissed out of hand. Im also a database expert with
over 10 years of designing and optimising relational databases so Im
confident I can deliver here (especially as its a piece of cake for me!).
* There doesn't appear to be any API documentation. At least,
none in either the libtracker/tracker.[ch] files or generated as
part of the build process. To give an example, there is this
GPtrArray *tracker_search_query (
const char *search_text,
const char *keywords,
const char *query,
It is hardly clear to me what fields, search_text, keywords, and
query are or how they are different from one another. Nor is it
clear what type is encapsulated in the GPtrArray returned here.
this is the thin wrapper around the dbus method - see the introspect
file for details :
* It's hard to tell for certain because of the above point, but
the search APIs appear to have a major usability problem in that
you can't search for both text and metadata at the same time
using freeform text entered by the user. (Think Google here,
which searches both document content and metadata.) This will
be a problem when searching emails, for instance, because people
will type "Joe Shaw eggplant" and expect it to match from the
author field and the body of the message.
of course you can - have you tried it?
We index all indexable metadata in qdbm and its fully searchable - even
the tags from our keyword database is searching from the fulltext index
(they are also searchable from sqlite too in case a keyword happens to
be a stopword)
Also rdf query allows for easy and effortless mixing of data searched
from inverted word index and the sqlite database so there are no limits
* The graphical search tool is a C application that has been
written entirely within the last month. This isn't long enough
to test for stability or user experience.
Considering it uses the gnome-search-tool source which is very stable
and I have simply removed some code and added a little here and there
then its not as exaggerated as you make out. The application is pretty
stable but the only way to confirm this is to try it out.
* There doesn't appear to be any way to configure tracker short
of editing a config file in ~/.Tracker. This also means that
emails won't be indexed by default, and if that is turned on,
only "Inbox" and "Sent".
we only have preliminary indexing of emails which is disabled for this
release. The next release will have it on. trackerd --help will show the
command line options available as well.
While I don't want this to devolve into a Tracker vs. Beagle debate,
Beagle *is* worth mentioning because it is substantially ahead of
Tracker both in terms of functionality and maturity.
Tracker is much more stable though from what people have told me - we
dont hang or crash or get stuck on docs. We also dont leak much. We are
very viable on lower end machines. Combined with our KISS approach, it
is a fairly well designed piece of software with relatively few
Tracker is miles ahead on the database side (which is non-existant in
Beagle bar your backup for systems without EA's)- we have tags/keywords,
extensible metadata, first class object storage etc. Beagle is only
ahead on what it indexes and heres the big point - tracker's goal is not
to index everything under the sun but only the important stuff.
I haven't proposed
it for inclusion yet because I want it to be suitable for all GNOME
users, but I certainly don't feel that Tracker fits that criteria at
this point either.
Well Im proposing it to replace gnome-search-tool with
tracker-search-tool and nothing you said above has any bearing on this
(ignoring the FUD).
To sum up,
Tracker is the only desktop search that can run well on any system that
runs Gnome (especially 256 MB machines) and therefore makes a good
default. Desktop search is a vital part of the platform and every other
major platform has a competent system. Allowing tracker in allows
desktop search for everyone not just those who have the luxury of a
Tracker provides a faster, lighter and stabler alternative to Beagle for
indexing files + a whole load of other goodies thrown in for free!
It fills in vital holes in our platform (tagging, extensible metadata
and persistent storage)
However, as Beagle is not being proposed, cannot get into the platform (
C is only allowed in the platform) and is plagued by a significant no of
problems (all of which do not apply to tracker), I dont see how
comparing beagle to tracker is relevant to this discussion?
In any event, almost everyone who has used both have preferred tracker -
see the ubuntu forums :
Our mailing list is also quite busy and we have lots of *regular*
contributors - if tracker was not as good as I say it is then how do you
explain that? (and no I have not marketed tracker and these guys came to
FWIW though, if tracker and beagle can share a common dbus interface
then letting tracker in would benefit everyone - thats the way I see it!
So if you are interested then let me know...
Mr Jamie McCracken
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