Does Spotlight == BFS?

by Michael Brewer

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At WWDC today, Steve Jobs mentioned one of the 150 new features in Tiger, the next version of Mac OS X. It's called Spotlight and it sounds a whole heck of a lot like Be File System to me. Has Apple's investment in Dominic Giampaolo finally paid off? Here's what Maccentral reports on Spotlight.
Also new is a search technology called "Spotlight" that Jobs said "is years ahead" of Microsoft's new operating system -- it works similarly to the song search technology in iTunes, and can find files and content in standard formats. What's more, it's extensible, and works with most current applications. It's integrated into the Finder, Address Book, Mail and System Preferences.
Unfortunately, I'm not at WWDC, but I know a lot of you are. Can anyone report back with more details?

UPDATE: Apple is providing a sneak peak at the new Tiger features including Spotlight.

Can anyone report back from WWDC with more details?


2004-06-28 12:24:38
Don't think it's BFS
Tiger Search Technologies:

"The metadata engine uses special importer technology to open and read heterogeneous file formats. Tiger includes importers for some of the most popular file formats. The metadata engine can be extended to any new file format, automatically adding an application’s information to your search results." ...

"The metadata engine is available for developers to enhance their applications with additional searching and organizing capabilities. Developers can build importers, so the metadata engine can understand their custom file formats and include those files in searches."

So I don't believe there is a new file system working in the background...'

2004-06-28 12:39:13
Don't think it's BFS
Apple has a chart on there site that seems to indicate that Spotlight isn't part of the a new FS as you say. But, I don't think the quotes you lifted would necessarily refute the title of this Web log. The system would need importers in order to work with file types that weren't designed with Spotlight in mind.
2004-06-28 12:47:15
Tiger Includes...
Tiger also includes Blojsom (from the Apple Press release):

Blojsom is a open sourced java based program developed in part by an O'Reilly author (

"Weblog Server is fully compatible with Safari RSS in Mac OS X Tiger and makes publishing a weblog as simple as checking a box in Server Admin preferences. Weblog Server is based on the popular open source project 'Blojsom' and is fully integrated into Tiger Server with an easy-to-use interface, Kerberos authentication support and LDAP integration. Weblog Server provides users with calendar-based navigation and customizable themes and users can post entries using the built in Web-based functionality or with weblog clients that support XML-RPC or the Atom API."

2004-07-01 17:57:32
richer, pseudo-file systems
You are asking the right questions, mbrewer. Here's a quote from The Register's interview with BeFS creator Dominic Giampaolo (now with Apple):

Reg: Would a hybrid make sense? Where they keep the system files on a conventional file system, and this raw, unformatted area which is a database?

Dominic: Another way to think of it is to separate out the notion of storage from naming. They're really separate policies. If you have something like a ZIP file, why shouldn't we be able to use a file system to navigate our way through it? So you let people take over part of the name space. So applications can see a path or a query, but it might be answered by someone else. Or there's something else that's interpreting that and trying to make it look like a file system. So yes, that makes sense - that's even richer, pseudo-file systems.

And take this quote from TidBits' interview with Bruce Horn (re)inventor of Finder.

Can users create their own "smart folders" (a bit like smart playlists in iTunes) that automatically show files that match a specific query?

Bruce: Absolutely. A collection is essentially a smart folder, with a query specification. For example, it is easy to create a collection that groups together all the images taken by a particular model camera by specifying " is '2500' and is 'Nikon'", since that data is available in the EXIF metadata for the image. Similarly, metadata such as ID3 tags for music; image data such as resolution, width, and height; file data such as filenames, creation and modification dates, and sizes; and so on are all stored in the database for object retrieval and organization.
This would help indexing of the contents of documents in real time, much as BeOS' BFS file system indexed metadata attributes in real time using a dedicated system thread.