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3. Focus > Search Trumps Navigation

Search Trumps Navigation


The bigger the haystack, the harder it is to find the needle.

Projects have gotten bigger and bigger, along with the packages and namespaces that go along with them. Hierarchies are hard to navigate when they get big: they’re too deep. Filesystems that work well with 200 MB of storage suffer when they reach 200 GB. Filesystems have become massive haystacks, and we constantly do hard target searches for needles. Taking time out to dig around for files pulls you away from the problem upon which you should be focusing. Fortunately, new search tools help you dispense with cumbersome filesystem navigation almost entirely.

Recently, powerful search applications appeared at the operating system–level: Spotlight in Mac OS X and Windows Search in Vista. These searching applications are different from the quaint search features in previous versions of Windows (whose only real use was to show an animation of a dog). This new breed of search tools indexes the interesting parts of your entire hard drive, making searches blazingly fast. They don’t just look at filenames: they index the contents of files.


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