On things being in more than one place

Infoworld’s Jon Udell posts outtakes from his interview with Quentin Clark, the director of program management for Microsoft’s WinFS that will serve as core technology of the next generation of Windows code-named Longhorn. Of particular interest is his take on Outlook’s current limitations and the problems posed by trying to work through this:

. . . The limitation of Outlook 11 is that it doesn’t allow you to put an item in more than one user lassoing. We want to allow multiple lists, or folders, where you can put the same thing in both. We’re removing that Outlook limitation.

We encountered significant design challenges around user experience and expectations, and also problems around the DAG (directed acyclic graph). Consider security. I take an item, it lives in a bunch of folders, what is the security on that thing? Folder 2 has it too, then moves to folder 3. All the way back on folder 1, does the owner have any way to know what’s happened? Then there’s naming. If I have a doc, call it “jon’s doc,” created in a single folder, then I want to have it appear twice in that same folder, what is it called? If it’s in a second folder, and I delete it from folder 1, then at some point I rename folders and put the doc back, calculating namespaces becomes complex.

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