Yojimbo, an application that is quickly gaining ground as my favorite software of all time, was upgraded today to version 1.3. This release adds, among other things, the ability to easily tag items and then to group those items into “tag collections” by said tag. While, this is the one feature that I was waiting for to turn Yojimbo into the info-ninja I have been waiting for, I am sure it will not satisfy those who are champions of the long in the tooth idea of sorting.

You see, one of the reoccurring requests that keeps coming up on the Yojimbo mailing list that I am member of is the ability to have endless sub-collections. That is, to be able to have a collection folder called “Projects” and then be able to have sub-collection folders underneath that with the names of your ious projects, then sub-collections under that for the ious project areas, etc. Basically, a way to organize information that is not much different than the Mac OS Finder (for our purposes here – “sorting”).

The Bare Bones folks have countered that this feature is not in their current plans for the product and may never be. Their argument is that, with the ability to label, tag, flag, search and the ability to create your own tag collections will provide all of these benefits of sorting and more. Better yet, they say, the Core Data based capability to search for the information one seeks by any of these criteria and/or the content of the info is all one needs to be able to slice and dice their heaps of info (for our purposes here “searching”). They hasten to add that this arrangement is not really any different than what Apple is doing in iTunes and iPhoto, and the direction Apple is moving even in the Finder with sidebars and smart collections – why should data in Yojimbo be any different?

There are many things I find interesting about this. Not insignificantly, what I see as the upcoming computing battle royale of the decade, search (including labels, tags and flags) versus sort. Search, as an organization metaphor, is quickly gaining ground on the mature but aging sort paradigm. Needless to say, those that are strongly tied to the sort method are up in arms over this decision and are forced to either suck it up and change their long standing way of organizing or go elsewhere to an application that fits this need.

I personally agree with Bare Bones on this one. I think that by following this course, Yojimbo is doing just what it is supposed to do, allow one to be able to dump all sorts of information into it and then be able to recall that information quickly when needed. All of the options given (collections, labels, tags, flags, etc.) allow one to easily sort the data for the time such sorting is needed. For me, sorting items into endless levels of organization is actually less productive and in fact a giant time sucking wolf in organizational sheep’s clothing. Give me the ability to tag and bag quickly and easily any day and then I can let the little elves inside my computer do the heavy sorting work for me.