Tracker Needle with improved tagging

Given there have been a number of improvements to tracker-needle recently, I thought I would make a video to highlight some of them. A quick summary:

  • Searching for “foo” now finds files tagged with “foo”
  • Searches are limited to 500 items per category/query (to avoid abusing the GtkTreeView mainly)
  • A tag list is now available to show all hits by tags
  • Tags can be edited by the context menu per item (planned to be improved later)

Really nice to have tagging supported properly in tracker-needle now.


GTK+ has had support for Tracker for a while as a backend search engine used in the GtkFileChooser. At GUADEC this year, the Tracker team were asked to update the backend at the GTK+ team meeting. I found time this week to add support and push my changes to the tracker-with-libtracker-sparql branch.

For now, I have dropped support for all older versions of Tracker because it really is a mess to maintain and GTK+ 3.0 should really be using the latest and greatest APIs anyway. The other change I made was to support searching by filenames not the content of files. There is a #define in the .c file (FTS_MATCHING) which allows switching between using FTS (Full Text Search) and filenames (which are usually part of an FTS search anyway). For me, finding a file based on the name itself seems more intuitive for the GtkFileChooser and tends to yield results I am really looking for better than the FTS matching. In most cases, I don’t want to find a file based on some content when choosing a file. I would appreciate any comments on this.

A demonstration of the new functionality:

Tracker Needle Update

What is it? Why? Where?
These questions were all covered in my previous blog about tracker-needle.

What’s changed
Well, a number of small changes have been going on based on user requests and making sure all the tracker-search-tool old features are covered. Specifically:

  • History is saved using a nice new editable combo box
  • Tags can now be seen (though that’s about it for now, more work is needed here)
  • A progress spinner has been added when queries take longer than the user might expect
  • Support for Emails has been added

You can see all these new features in the latest video:

What’s next?
I would love to get tags working better, allowing adding/removing and searching by them. Generally, searching by tags isn’t hard, what is hard is making the search categories include tags and identifying them with files. It can be done, but doing it in a fast way is not quite so trivial. I already have a patch I am working on for this.

Tracker Needle

What is it?
In short it is a replacement for tracker-search-tool. I know the name is a tad lame, but I used that for lack of a better alternative at this point.

We have quite a few people asking for things which are simply not available in tracker-search-tool and I wanted a good excuse to learn Vala. So, tracker-needle was born out of my desire to learn Vala.

Currently, it lives in a branch on GNOME’s Tracker GIT repository. I am hoping we can merge this to master before we start doing stable releases (which is going to be quite soon).

What next?
Well, right now, it is fairly basic and I plan to add more polish and more “views”. I have in mind to add some sort of photo/icon view for images only and perhaps also some sort of category chooser type view. Possibly some way of displaying and setting tags nicely would be good too. Any ideas appreciated. Note, the idea here isn’t to replace Nautilus or Zeitgeist, this is purely a tool for users to try Tracker with and use occasionally. Ultimately many of the Tracker team believe Tracker should be integrated with applications, not a separate application to search and I tend to agree.

Eye candy for anyone interested 🙂