extended attribute standardization
joeshaw at novell.com
Thu Nov 16 18:22:12 EET 2006
On Thu, 2006-11-16 at 02:31 +0100, Vegard Nossum wrote:
> I would like to propose a more formal discussion around the standarization
> of attribute names and usage, which could eventually lead to a draft or
> memo of sorts (freedesktop standard, RFC, etc). Is anybody interested in
> participating in such a project? If so, I believe that we should set up a
> project webside, a dedicated mailing list, and a version-controlled
> document containing the current work. It would probably also be useful to
> have an index of programs utilizing extended attributes, plus any patches
> for existing programs.
I think the idea is a good one, but I feel that it's somewhat premature
to create a big deal around something that virtually nobody uses at this
point. It's up for application developers to decide how they want to
use extended attributes, and it's been my experience that trying to
define standards before there are any real users or use-cases ultimately
leads to an incomplete and ineffectual document.
Beagle's uses of extended attributes are largely for its own internal
accounting. They tell us whether the file has been indexed and if the
index representation is up to date.
More interesting uses for xattrs in my mind would be for mail programs
to associate attachments saved to disk back to the original email; for
browsers to associated saved documents to the web page they were
downloaded from; tagging of files seems to make sense to me in xattrs;
and things of that nature. Essentially external metadata on a document
which doesn't natively support that kind of metadata.
If http://www.freedesktop.org/wiki/CommonExtendedAttributes is accurate
in the coverage of xattr use out there, there are *three* applications
using them today: Beagle, ROX contact manager, and an Apache module.
Deciding how best to use xattrs and advocating their use with other
developers seems like a more important first step than setting up wikis
and mailing lists.
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