Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Time for development of a new major version?

There has not been any major work done on ESP for a couple of years now. There are a few reasons for this. First off ESP 2.0 is decently polished and fulfills it's purpose rather nicely. In other words, we developers who conceived and built ESP are pretty happy with the feature set. Secondly, we haven't had much success at bringing in revenue. Personally I'm not all too surprised at this because I myself rarely, rarely spend money on software. Thirdly... well, I'm not sure how much this really played into things, the big three (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo) and many other companies have all come out with desktop search solutions (... yes for free of course:) at least from the big boys). Heck, it's even built into XP which is the best solution I've seen to date.

So ESP has hung around filling, I believe, a niche for a particular kind of PC power user. ESP does not stack up well against other desktop search utilities if you just look at the number of features offered in other packages. ESP does not search file contents, there aren't plug-ins, there isn't a server-based solution...

What ESP does that the other's don't is give its users very rapid access to the data they know exists on their systems.

With ESP you don't create shortcuts or surf around in windows explorer, you simply punch in a few characters and ESP presents it to you!

My theory is that ESP fills a need that is missed by the present crop of desktop search utilities and I don't see them changing to what I'm looking for. Is there anybody out there that agrees with me? Recently I've installed windows DT search at work and i find it almost as annoying as the search assist puppy! It's slow (I have about 60K items indexed, but that's the data universe I live in...), the results seem to be ordered simply on whatever it comes across first and the array of data returned is too broad, pictures, music, docs, pdfs, etc etc. Now I admit, I'm probably not using the thing correctly or need to configure this or that to optimize performance but the fact is I don't know and don't care to read the documentation to find out....

Enough ranting. On to the good news... I believe it is time to develop a new version ESP. My vision is summarized below. Please respond with additional ideas and thoughts. Am I right, wrong or mis-guided?

Vision for ESP 3.0

1. Open Source the whole project
2. Support multiple hardware platforms
3. Additional file information (size, date accessed, etc)
4. Incorporate date modified in queries
5. Multiple views of search results (details, grouped by file type, or access date, maybe 3d? etc)
6. Store queries
7. Plug in support. Index email contacts, links, firefox bookmarks etc.
8. Built in file explorer. Innovative browsing of the file system
9. Load/Save search profiles (groups of directories to actively search)
10. User modifiable probability algorithms
11. Enhanced search options (boolean, exact phrase, date ranges)
12. Tag elements for searching
13. Persistent recent access list

This development effort hasn't begun yet, but personally, I'm itching to start. I'm learning wxWidgets for the gui front end and thinking heavy architecture thoughts... It's a start!