When Tags and OpenMeta were released within a day of one another a few weeks ago, I was ecstatic. Using Tags felt like magic (assign a tag, and it’s instantly shows up in Spotlight! Wow!), and OpenMeta’s open source release promised to lower the threshold for other developers to implement this fantastic tagging solution in their own apps. I wondered what the catch was, but Ironic Software advertises that OpenMeta uses no secret APIs, and Gravity Apps when I asked merely said that they were using extended attributes.
This turns out to be only half the story, however, and should you be a developer or user considering OpenMeta (or Tags) as a solution for your tagging needs you need to use it with eyes open. Although the technology OpenMeta uses is completely on the level, the way in which it achieves instant Spotlight availability is based on exploiting Spotlight’s preferential treatment of metadata that is identified as coming from Apple. This doesn’t mean that you should swear off OpenMeta and Tags (I’m still using them), but before you go tag-crazy you definitely need to consider the risks. [read more...]