In this post, I’ll discuss how Blob search integrates with other tools you might use to handle your files, emails, social media posts, appointments etc. I’ll also discuss some planned next steps for Blob Search. This is the 5th and final part of my blog series related to finding your personal digital content. Other posts in this series include:
Part 5: this post – Integration with other tools & next steps.
Integration With Other Tools
Blob’s objective is to simplify your digital life, not to lock you into this app! It assumes that you will continue to access your digital content using other apps & methods – and plays nice with them. Here are some examples of how Blob makes it really easy to inter-operate with other tools and methods:
Saving files, emails, contacts, appointments etc. – no proprietary formats. Blob saves all content in standard formats supported by many other apps. For example, it saves emails to disk as standard .eml files supported by dozens of free apps (Microsoft Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird & even Notepad). Similarly, Blob saves contacts as .vcf files and appointments as .ical files – dozens of apps support these file formats. Even incremental and compressed/encrypted backups work this way – you don’t need Blob to view or restore backups. For search, this means that your content remains searchable with Blob as well as any other tools you use.
“Read”, “Forwarded” & “Replied” email attributes. When Blob indexes an email, it does not remove it from the server. You will continue to see it from your phone or other apps till you explicitly move or delete it. It will not copy or otherwise affect an email when you add it to a Virtual Folder. Blob synchronizes “Read”, “Forwarded” and “Replied” attributes with the email server (but note that POP3 email servers don’t support this). Thus, an email you read/forward using your phone will show up as Read/Forwarded in Blob and vice-versa. This means you can search using “Read”, “Forwarded” etc. attributes without worrying about any negative side effects from Blob.
User comments. Many web based cloud storage accounts like Picasa Web Albums, Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive allow users to add comments to photos or files. Blob picks them up automatically and displays them in the “Comments” property of the photo/file. You can search based on their values, even if Blob wasn’t used to add the comment.
Google GMail tags. Google GMail allows you to assign multiple tags to an email, and Blob automatically maps them to email folders. Thus, an email with multiple tags will show up in each corresponding folder, even though Blob indexes it just once. If you move a GMail message from one folder to another, Blob simply changes the tags associated with it. If you remove all tags associated with an email Blob will report it in a special “[No Folder]” mail folder. Thus, Blob does not interfere with GMail tags and you can continue to use them as you normally would.
“Starred” emails. Many web based email accounts allow you to “Star” an email to mark it as important. Blob adds an “Important” attribute to such messages – so they show up in a search for important emails. This works in the other direction too – an email you mark “Important” using Blob is shown “Starred” in a browser.
Photo, music, video metadata. You may have used a 3rd party app to add or change metadata in your photos, music files videos etc. Often, such information is automatically added by the camera or app you used to create it in the first place. Blob automatically picks this up if the app you used embeds it in a standard format (e.g. EXIF format).
Blob’s integration with 3rd party tools is an ongoing endeavor. For example, some photo storage vendors (Google, Facebook…) are working on facial recognition technologies that will auto-tag faces. Blob will index and include this information as vendors make it available as part of photo metadata.
Next Steps for Blob Search
Here’s what we’re hoping to do to make Blob even more useful for finding your digital content.
Support more storage locations. There are literally thousands of potential storage locations and we cannot possibly support all of them in one app. However, we’re planning to add support for more cloud storage providers (Dropbox, Amazon Drive…), productivity tools (Evernote…) and messaging & social media accounts (Google Hangouts, Linked In, You Tube…).
Support more content formats. While it supports most standard and many proprietary content formats, Blob could benefit from being able to parse Microsoft OneNote, Virtual Machine Disk and other such major content formats.
Support more business oriented use cases. This includes support for work oriented storage locations like Slack, Office 365, FTP, SharePoint etc. It also includes feature like centralized settings & control, locked down operating modes etc. that are more meaningful for work environments.
I welcome your feedback about this blog series and would love to hear your thoughts on making Blob more useful. There’s always more work than we can do, so your input will help us prioritize our task list and ensure a more useful tool for you. You can share your thoughts via the comments section below, or directly by contacting us.