[Review] Tabbles Home

{rw_text}Software reviewed in this article:

Tabbles Home

Version reviewed:

v1.5.5 rev5

Supported OS:

Windows XP/Vista/Win7

Price:

$29.99 (USD) for Home edition, and varying prices for other editions.

NOTE: Depending on your geographical area (the country you live in), you may be able to get Tabbles Home for $7.49!

Software description as per the developer:

Tabbles lets you forget where your files are, and remember just what they are about. A tabble is a tag-bubble – The word tabble stands for “tag-bubble”, sometimes they behave like a tag, some other times like a container. With Tabbles you can categorize your files, folders or internet addresses by cross-linking them to one or more tabbles. Since Tabbles is a desktop application, it’s well integrated into the Microsoft Windows environment: categorization can be done using the usual explorer functions, such as copy-and-paste, drag-and-drop (keyboard shortcuts and right-button menu included) or using the buttons on the tabble’s. The categories are groups of tabbles sharing color and shape.

Ashraf’s note:

There are multiple versions of Tabbles available each at a different price:

{/rw_text} –>

{rw_good}

  • Terrific, aesthetically pleasing interface and animations.
  • Users can add multiple tags to one file/folder/URL.
  • Users can create rules for quick/auto-tagging.
  • Tags can be customized by color.
  • Powerful filtering/sorting capability.
  • Familiar Windows Explorer-like interface allows for easy browsing and tagging of files and folders.
  • Adds entry into right-click context menu for quick tagging capabilities.
  • Has a bookmarklet for easy tagging of websites.

{/rw_good} –>

{rw_bad}

  • Does not keep track of tags for files and folders if you move them via Windows Explorer (does keep track if you move them via Tabbles).
  • Home edition does not allow for export/import of tabbles.
  • Requires .NET Framework 4.
  • Is RAM intensive.

{/rw_bad} –>

{rw_score}
{for=”Ease of Use” value=”9″}With an aesthetically pleasing interface, full drag + drop support, and excellent integration with Windows Explorer, Tabbles is very easy to use. The only caveat is if you move files and folders via Windows Explorer, Tabbles does not keep track of the tags (if you move files via Tabbles, Tabbles does keep track of the tags).
{/for}
{for=”Performance” value=”8″}Is RAM intensive, but otherwise performs really well.
{/for}
{for=”Usefulness” value=”8″}I can see many people finding this program useful.
{/for}
{for=”Price” value=”9″}Although I feel $29.99 is $5-10 overpriced for this software, the developer provides huge discounts for students and people living in poor countries, so taking that into account, I feel Tabbles is well priced.
{/for}
{for=”Final Score” value=”9″}
{/for}
{/rw_score} –>

{rw_verdict}[tupr]
{/rw_verdict} –>

Tabbles is an innovative file/folder/website tagging software. It is innovative in the sense that instead allowing users to add traditional tags to files and folders, Tabbles provides users with the ability to create “virtual folders” – known as tabbles (plural) or tabble (singular) – in which files and folders are placed; and Tabbles allows users to tag websites also. These virtual folders act as tags allowing users to organize and manage their files and folders and websites. (NOTE: The program is called Tabbles, but the virtual folders are also known as tabbles; it is very confusing, I know.) Here is a short introduction video on Tabbles by the developer:

The developer of Tabbles designed the program around this idea of virtual folders; Tabbles has a Windows Explorer-like interface and the experience of using the program is similar to that of using Windows Explorer:

(The program interface is beautiful; it is professionally designed and programmed with nice aesthetically pleasing, smooth transitions and effects.)

The “Workspace” you see in the above screenshot is where all your tags (or virtual folders or tabbles, whatever you want to call them) appear. Double clicking a tabble reveals the files/folders/websites which are tagged with that tabble:

Double clicking on a file will open it; or if you right-click the file you can access other commands such as edit and print, access Windows Explorer’s right-click context menu, cut, copy, paste, etc.:

Via this same right-click menu you can tag or untag  the file:

  • Selecting “Tag this file” will open up a window where you can either select existing tabbles to tag the file with, or create new tabbles:

Clicking on a tabble selects it; if you can’t find the tabble you want to use, you can search your tabbles list by typing in the text box. When you have selected the tabble(s) you want to use, just click in “Tag” and the file will be tagged with the tabble(s) you have selected.

If you want to create a new tabble, click on “New tabble”, type in the name of the tabble and – if you want – customize the color of the tabble and create an auto-tagging rule for it (the auto-tagging rule works in the way that any new file that contains the words you type in the auto-tagging rule box is automatically tagged with the tabble you are creating; you may type multiple words and file extensions if you wish):

Once you have created a new tabble, it will appear in the tabbles list and you can select it and add it to files/folders.

  • Selecting “Untag this file” works the exact same as “Tag this file” except you are removing tabbles from file/folder/website instead of adding:

Since a file or folder can be tagged with multiple different tabbles, Tabbles allows you to filter files by “combining” tabbles and only showing the files/folders/websites which are tagged with all the tabbles you “combined”:

There are multiple different ways to combine tabbles, such as right-clicking on a tabble underneath “Workspace” and clicking “Combine tabble”:

However, probably the most easy way to combine tabbles is via “Tools” -> “Quick-open tabbles”:

From this window you simply click on the tabbles which you want to view (you may select a single tabble, or select multiple tabbles to combine them), and click “Open”; all the files/folders/websites placed under the tabble(s) you select will then be shown to you and you can interact with them like normal.

As already mentioned, you can create a new tabble whenever you go to tag a file/folder/website. In addition to that, you can also create new tabbles by clicking on the “New” button:

As you can see from the screenshot not only can you create new tabbles, but you can create new folder shortcuts…

…and new “extension” tabbles:

A folder shortcut is literally a shortcut to any folder on your computer. The shortcut is placed in the “Workspace”. An extension tabble is a tabble that automatically tags any file with the file extension that you enter.

Other key aspects of Tabbles Home to note:

  • As already mentioned, Tabbles allows you to tag websites in addition to files and folders. You can tag websites by either going to “Tools” -> “Add Internet address”…

…or use a bookmarklet provided by the developer. This video shows how to use the bookmarklet:

Once you have tagged a website, simply double clicking them in Tabbles will open the website in your default browser.

  • Tabbles has the ability to auto-tag/quick tag files and folder. By default Tabbles already comes with a handful of rules (go to “Tools” -> “Auto-tagging rules” to access these rules):

Auto-tag rules can be setup in two ways. You can set it up so a message pops up when a rule is triggered…

…or you can make it so the file or folder is automatically tagged with a tabble (without a message popup). You may also make it so a message pops up and the file or folder is automatically tagged.

The rules that come with Tabbles are setup so a message will popup when the rule is triggered. You can, of course, edit/delete the already existing rules or create new ones:

  • Tabbles adds entries into the right-click context menu of Windows Explorer allowing you to easily tag files/folders:

You can tag multiple files at once by selecting them all and right-clicking -> tag files.

  • Tabbles’ interface fully supports drag + drop. In other words, you can drag + drop files from Windows Explorer into tabbles to tag them, drag + drop tabbles around, etc.
  • Tabbles can double as a Windows Explorer replacement in the sense that anything you can do via Windows Explorer (i.e. cut files, copy files, paste files, delete files, rename files, create folders, etc.). However, make sure you differentiate between modifying files and modifying tags; you don’t want to make a mistake, for example deleting a file when you meant to delete a tag.
  • You can backup/restore Tabbles’ database via “File” -> “Tabbles’ database”.

Last but not least, for all the good it has, Tabbles does have a few negative aspects:

  • By far the biggest con of Tabbles, in my opinion, is the fact that Tabbles does not keep track of tags for files and folders if you move them via Windows Explorer. Tabbles does keep track of tags, however, if you move them via Tabbles. As the developer mentions in the comments below, the reason for this is a technical limitation, but I still dislike this fact.
  • Tabbles Home edition does not come with the ability to import/export tabbles and files; Business edition (and Student edition) has this feature. I realize the developer wants to entice people to purchase the Business edition, but the Business edition costs $40 (USD) more. I feel this feature is an important one and should be added in the Home edition and ask the developer to seriously consider my suggestion.
  • Tabbles is RAM intensive. Just after starting the program Tabbles was using ~55 MB of RAM; and the RAM usage only increased over time, and is currently at 325 MB for me (I have been running the program for a few hours). For a program that is potentially on all the time, this amount of RAM usage is unacceptable.
  • Tabbles requires .NET Framework 4. Now don’t get me wrong – I am not against .NET Framework programs. In fact I believe everyone should have the latest version of .NET Framework installed because .NET is a great tool for developers. However, I know that while I may have .NET Framework, many other people don’t have it, don’t want it, or can’t get it… especially v4 which is the latest one. So requiring .NET Framework 4 is a con.

This review was conducted on a laptop running Windows 7 Professional 32-bit. The specs of the laptop are as follows: 3GB of RAM, a Radeon HD 2600 512MB graphics card, and an Intel T8300 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

{rw_freea}

Tabbles Free

Is fully features (has all the features of Tabbles Home) but is limited to tagging 1,000 files/folders.

Tag2Find

tag2find  helps you to find everything on your desktop by simply using tags. Directories & folders were the structure of the 20th century. Now it’s time for something new – TAG IT!

-Developer

Note: Tag2Find requires .NET Framework 2.0

{/rw_freea} –>

{rw_verdict2}Tabbles is user friendly, feature filled, and has a great interface. Sure Tabbles has its fair share of caveats (which I hope the developer will work out in future versions) but, this is my second time reviewing Tabbles and I can say with confidence the developer has turned Tabbles into one of the best tagging/file management software out on the market. I give it two thumbs up and highly recommend it to anyone that wants or needs it.
{/rw_verdict2} –>

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25 comments

  1. RobCr

    For those that do not wish to reorganize how they store things (As per my suggestion in Post 4), there is another Free alternative that Ashraf could add to the list.
    Actually there are two programs, but they complement each other.
    A couple of astute members, have pointed out that they use Everything to instantly locate files. It only ‘searches’ File names, but as long as you can remember part of the File name, it will list it. Great program.
    The complement program to that, is XYPlorerFree. It has many great features, and also has a great Search Panel (File contents, etc, etc, etc).
    You just get the focus on the folder you wish to Search (even C:\), and press F12.
    A panel appears bottom right, where you can set your Filter Criteria.
    It offers more filtering options than Windows Search, and is 10 times more ‘idiot proof’.
    And you do not have to have your PC ‘constantly’ indexing in the background.
    The free version is hard to find, but . . . .
    I decided to search DotTech to see if I had previously given the links, and I found one hit.
    It is on an article the Ashraf wrote about ‘Everything’ (Apparently Ashraf was astute, before I was)  –
    http://dottech.org/freeware-reviews/4647
    My post number 10 gives the links, and sings the praises of XYPlorerFree
     

  2. Lascannon

    Lascannon here! I have 4GB or ram… but I do get a few bluescreens at times if I have too many programs opened at the same time. I’m going to test this “new software” later on. For now, Tabbles is completely useless.


    In September, I will put Tabbles to the test and see if it’s any good; schools’ out so I don’t have anything to organize…

  3. Mr.Dave

    @RobCr: I’ve always had a hard time with the MS concept of “My Documents”.  99% of what gets put in those folders is settings and other things an application tracks, very little is really a “document” (text, music, picture, etc.) that -I- created or care about.  I have 48 folders in “My Documents” and not one of them did I create.  Microsoft no longer allows programs to write to “Program Files” (tries its best to keep me out of there as well) so it created ProgramData, then AppData (in several places and flavors) and in Vista, added VirtualStore within AppData.  But for me as a user? I get “My Documents” full of stuff I don’t recognize.

    So I also use a completely separate set of folders, on another partition, for storing MY files.  I used to try to keep programs and data on separate partitions so the very static programs partition would only need an occasional backup, but MS has made that impossible.  I’ve grown to very sincerely appreciate the incremental backups I can make using Macrium Reflect!

     

  4. Mr.Dave

    @Andrea D’Intino:
    I’m very excited to get try the newer version of Tabbles.  As much as I loved the uniqueness of the old interface, the “Explorer” approach may work well.  But now I’m caught in a bad spot – I need to use Tabbles to manage my files (move, rename, etc.) or the program adds no real value.  But I have over 3,000,000 files, and way over 10,000 of them are the ones I would like to track inside Tabbles.  If I later upgrade to a more expensive version, will it be able to load my “Home” version’s database?
    I’m also stuck on how to manage offline storage – I have too many files to keep them all on my internal drives, and either move them to external drives or make backups of many of them on external drives.  I don’t want to have to tag them twice; it would be great if Tabbles could track multiple storage locations of files (ah, but then you get into the need for tracking multiple versions as well, and knowing when to kill a tabble for a file that you copied and later changed & renamed for use in a different purpose.  It happens!
    Anyway, thanks again for the chance to try this one, and it’s so good to see your active involvement here and on the GAOTD site.
     
     

  5. gpc111

    Nice review Ashraf. I will pass on this after reading about RAM usage. I use XP SP2 and I have 3 GB of Ram. But I would not want to devote so much RAM to a program that would not get that much use for me. I think the publisher is wrong to think RAM usage is not a concern to most users. The NET requirement is not that big a deal for me. Anyway… thanks for the great review and it’s nice to come back to your site.

  6. Felstrex

    I am fairly new to GAOTD and programming and tech stuff, but I am interested in it all of it. I would like to say that I appreciate the time you take, Ashraf, to research the product and also alternatives for those people who might need to look at a different product.
    I find that your posts are informative and well situated with a clear good/bad listing of features and benefits.
    It may not mean a lot, or it might mean a good bit, But Keep on doin’ what you are doin’ there are those of us that follow what you write and find the info invaluable. Thanks and you have a new fan and follower in me here.
    Warmly,
    Felstrex
     

  7. Josh

    While I find this application very interesting, I also appreciate the comment about the RAM consumption.
    Believe it or not, but there are still many, many people who enjoy their computers, but cannot afford to buy huge chunks of RAM. Keep in mind that technology is in fast mode and all these things have to be “upgraded” fairly often. And some of us have to cope with software that’s essential for our survival (such as Microsoft and Adobe products) which demand ever increasing high quantities of resources, so I humbly suggest that keeping the RAM and other demands as low as possible should always be an important consideration.

  8. Slavka

    Andrea:
    > Should anyone out there have an idea on how to get this
    > done: WE’RE ALL EARS – SERIOUSLY!!!
    How about using additional file streams and placing tags (along with other user-defined info) there?
    In this case tag will stay with the file at no cost.

  9. WobblyWombat

    Thanks for the review Ashraf, glad to see you doing GotD reviews again – it always helps me decide. In this case I’m reluctant due to the system resource limitations of my laptop (and can’t install to the desktop as the GotD wrapper needs a live connection.)
    I’m always struggling to keep track of files and folders (I found Tag2Find more annoying than helpful – frequently wanting to tag temporary and irrelevant files). Unfortunately it’s hard to tame a rabid wombat’s mineshaft after it’s been dug, so I tend to live with it and use “Everything” a lot to find things. Next time I start with a clean formatted hard disk I’ll be looking at options like the one RobCr mentions.
    It looks like the developers are onto something good with this program, and it’s great to see them following the feedback. It’s also apparent that they have a passion for the project, which suggests to me that it’s one to keep an eye on in the future.
     
    @RobCr: “…a mineshaft dug by a giant rabid Wombat.”
    I resemble that remark! ;) I like where you’re going with the directory tree you describe, it reminds me of the days of DOS 6 when I felt like I told the ‘puter what to do, rather than the other way round as it is nowadays..

  10. david roper

    RobCr, you have described my thinking.  How did you do dat?
    I agree with all your reasons, too.  To move some of my folders “up” the tree, I name them beginning with a underscore to force the name to the top of explorer like
    C:\__Icons to use
    C:\Asc\
    C:\Batch\
    C:\Conversion\
    Not good examples but you get the idea
    At least there’s two of us to keep it simple still.
     

  11. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @RobCr: Sounds like something hit a nerve =P.

    @phoenix_rising: You are welcome!

    @Andrea D’Intino: Very true – tag2find is dead in terms of development. However, it is still a fairly comprehensive program that people can use if they want.

    RAM usage for me isn’t that big of a deal because I have 3 GB of RAM and I never, ever max out. However, many people don’t. Imagine the person with 1 GB of RAM (the minimum requirements stated on your websites required to run this program) and Tabbles ends up using 1/3 of that? What makes it worse is Tabbles is typically going to be always on in the background.

    That said, I am glad you guys are so willing to listen to your (potential) customers. You guys have a winner product on your hands, without a doubt.

    @Mister Tee: To be fair, the developer is providing many opportunities to get Tabbles for very cheap. If you enjoy the software that much, you may want to consider purchasing it (plus the GOTD version is limited to 10,000 files anyway).

    @elishabenabbuyah: Thanks!

  12. Mister Tee

    At this point, I already have .net 4, so downloading that isn’t a problem.  But I haven’t downloaded it yet *because* its ram goes up.  If you do implement such an improvement, and it doesn’t up the version number (just the build number), would it be a free upgrade?
    Thanks

  13. Andrea D'Intino

    Guys,
    I don’t want to sound like an asshole here, but while Tagfind is still a valid application, it’s been evidently dead for at least 2 years now. And believe me, I’m really sorry in writing this, but that’s the way it is.
    We’re not: we’re alive and kicking, we’re developing, fixing, improving EVERYDAY and we’ve even sold some 250 licenses already…
    We’ve not been paying too much attention to the RAM load as very few people are complaining about it. If we’ll get more complains about the memory we’ll prioritise some RAM optimisation. Just keep in mind that whether we add features OR we optimize stuff – they both takedevelopment time!
    This is what we’re working on right now;
    http://tabbles.net/forum/post1649.html#p1649
     
    Thanks,
    Andrea

  14. RobCr

    OOPs,
    Sorry, this is a topic very dear to my heart, which I get carried away with.
    In my fervor, my examples evolved back to what I use, where I used the Letter D
    I figured for people setting this up fresh it is better to use B_ as they can think of the B_ as meaning Backup
    Thus, the examples should have read –
    C:\B_\CD-DVD\
    C:\B_\Health\
    C:\B_\Money\
    C:\B_\Web\
     
    Un fervor’ing,
    Rob

  15. phoenix_rising

    Thanks for the comprehensive review of Tabbles, Ashraf. I have been interested in this for quite a while. As tempted as I am to give it a go, the RAM usage is making me baulk. It’s pretty heavy, and my laptop is already suffering in the summer heat. However, I am going to have a second look at Tag2Find. Thanks again.

  16. RobCr

    KISS
    I hate MS’s evolution to ‘smoke and mirrors’.
    I hate the Documents and Settings folder.
    It is like a mineshaft dug by a giant rabid Wombat.
    And I hate the pretend folders in Windows Explorer ‘My Pictures’ etc.
    Which in fact are like shortcuts to 6 miles down the mineshaft of ‘Documents and Settings’
    I believe Windows 7 is adding more of this abstracting for Files and Folders.

    Join me to fight this ‘bs’
    Instead, create folders in your C drive like –
    C:\B_
    Under there, you can have folders for Money, Web, CD-DVD, Health, etc
    C:\D_\CD-DVD\
    C:\D_\Health\
    C:\B_\Money\
    C:\D_\Web\
    And then you can have sub folders under them.

    Doing that means you will always know where to find things, without any ‘pretend this is a folder’ rubbish.
    And you can burn the lot to a DVD Weekly or Daily, to back it all up.

    In addition, change the Settings in all your programs, to prevent them saving things into the mineshaft (where you may have to search to find them).
    Instead have a folder called
    C:\Downloads\
    And save everything into there.
    Get a multi tabbed Windows Explorer like XYPlorerFree, and lock the first Tab to the Downloads folder.
    You can have that Tab set to sort by Date, and you can lock that preference.
    Then every so often, you can go to that tab, and move your files to the C:\B_\ sub folders.
    Not only will the most recent be at the top (of your Downloads folder, Tab), but the adjacent ones will relate to the same download session.
    KISS,
    Rob

  17. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @ha14: You are welcome.

    @Andrea D’Intino: Yeah, I remember the last version of Tabbles I reviewed did track them. I am not a programmer (not a pro anyway, I know a little only) but I understand if there are technical limitations as to why you are doing what you are doing. I still have to critique it though, otherwise it wouldn’t be a full review now would it ;-).

  18. Andrea D'Intino

    Hello Ashraf,
     
    GREAT review once again – thanks!
    One comment about the “not keeping tracks of files when you move them via Windows Exlorer”: we did it for a while (it was present in the Tabbles GOTD from september 2009) but we soon realized the technological limit to the approach we were following. To track file movements we were using the .net class FileSystemWatcher which is well documented to be unreliable (http://bytes.com/topic/net/answers/460919-filesystemwatcher-unreliable). We invested months on development trying to fill holes and workaround (including investigating file-system minifilters, which are complex to develop and probably wouldn’ solve the problem) and we couldn’t yet find a solid alternative to the buggy FileSystemWatcher.

    Should anyone out there have an idea on how to get this done: WE’RE ALL EARS – SERIOUSLY!!!

    Thanks,
    Andrea