File Systems and Usability – the Missing Link
Usability has never been a priority in file system design. Instead, developers focus mainly on technical aspects, such as speed, reliability, and security. But in recent decades, technological innovations have created a modern information crisis. This is characterized by an ever-growing abundance of easily accessible information. Additionally, the user is able to create and store continuously increasing amounts of digital data. This data is usually managed on the user’s personal computer. Conventional file systems, however, which constitute the most important systems for document management tasks, impose a strict monohierarchy onto the user’s document collection. The user is constrained by the file system’s inability to represent multiple categorizations of documents without utilizing band-aid solutions such as shortcuts. As a possible approach to these issues, a file system prototype is portrayed that permits a nonhierarchical directory structure and polyhierarchical file categorizations while maintaining backward compatibility with existing applications. Furthermore, suggestions are made for carrying out a usability evaluation which could be used to measure the achieved improvement compared to conventional file systems.