TL; DR: Tabbles is a social data tagging tool that enables users to find files by navigating concepts, rather than folders. The desktop-based app is also a robust collaboration tool, featuring chat-like functionality and sharing options. With Tabbles Web recently released in Beta, the company is making it easier than ever for anyone who creates and saves files to intuitively reduce digital chaos.
Andrea D’Intino knows from experience that file organization is the bane of a marketer’s existence, especially when juggling multiple client portfolios. Of course, he also knows it’s an utterly essential survival skill.
While working as a marketing manager more than 10 years ago, Andrea frequently found himself saving the same logo in multiple project folders — one for a poster, one for a brochure, one for a website.
“I wanted to magically clone the file wherever I needed it,” he said. “I figured out that tagging was the solution to my problem, but there wasn’t any software for file tagging on the market.”
Realizing he had identified a glaring hole in the market, Andrea phoned his friends Maurizio Colucci and Irma Sta to gauge interest in a possible business endeavor. They wanted in, and the team began writing code at the end of 2008. On August 1, 2009, Tabbles — named after a mashup of the words “tag” and “bubbles” — was born.
During its 10 years on the market, the desktop app has grown into a real-time relational file system in which tags can be accessed as folders or used as keywords for search. It supports multiple file and document types on both local and shared drives, as well as cloud storage and file synchronization systems.
While Tabbles can be used as folders, the software goes far beyond that use case. For example, it allows users to automatically create tags based on their path, name, and content, and it also offers chat-like collaboration options. In addition, the company is currently putting the final touches on Tabbles Web, a lightweight client that will help reduce digital chaos when searching files in a web browser.
Automatically Create Tags Based on Path, Name, or Content
Setting up a traditional folder-based organization system can be frustrating. Imagine you choose to organize your folders by customer, followed by year and topic. If at some point you need to access all files by topic, you’ll have to hunt through countless files to find the information you need.
Ultimately, no single folder structure is ideal in every scenario — and that’s why Tabbles was designed to make data management dynamic. Unlike static organization systems, Tabbles allows users to organize, group, and find files automatically without determining a folder structure in advance.
Instead, subfolders are generated dynamically depending on which folders the user opens. So, using our previous example, if you click on the customer first, you will see all the topics associated with that customer as dynamic subfolders. Conversely, if you click on a topic first, you will see folders for all the customers related to that topic.
The dynamic data management system also allows users to find files simply by describing them using the Combine function. The graphical and intuitive solution presents users with records that match the given description, regardless of whether they are located in connected drives. During the process, Tabbles guides the user through steps to refine the search, which helps pinpoint the files in a natural way.
Tabbles also enables users to search for files using regular expressions such as email addresses and Social Security numbers. “For example, you can look for something that resembles a credit card number, a generic email, a passport number or a Social Security number,” Andrea said. “This feature can be used to data-mine information by matching the content of files to patterns.”
A Powerful Collaboration Tool with Chat-Like Functionality
Tabbles provides obvious benefits for individual users, but it’s also a robust solution for streamlining document management between team members. Because Tabbles stores tags using Microsoft SQL Server databases, users can share some or all of their tags on local drives, shared drives, and cloud drives, such as Dropbox.
The process is simple: The system administrator uses the control panel to manage users and share permissions, creating an environment where each user can locate files based on tags applied by their colleagues.
Tabbles also enables teams to communicate with each other by adding multiple dated comments to files and folders on local disks, shared drives, and web-based drives alike. In a multiuser environment, this system functions similarly to chat, as viewers can see who wrote what and when.
Andrea said the bootstrapped company has a large customer base of individual users and a handful of corporate customers that use Tabbles in conjunction with DropBox. Tabbles offers four payment plans, all of which come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. The Free plan, intended for personal use, includes comments on up to 500 files, auto-tagging with up to 15 rules, and email tagging for 100 emails.
Intended for light users, the annual Basic plan includes comments on up to 2,000 files, auto-tagging with up to 25 rules, and email tagging for 100 emails. The Pro plan offers unlimited access to all features, as does the Corporate plan, with the addition of setup and configuration support and shared tagging with colleagues.
Just Released in Beta: Tabbles Web, a New Browser-Based Solution
Tabbles operates in a fast-paced development environment. Andrea said the first lines of code for the software were written at the end of 2008. Tabbles went public just seven months later, in August of 2009. “The idea was to get the project to market as quickly as possible, and that’s what we did,” he said. “From there, we started adding features mostly based on customer feedback.”
To ensure Tabbles would become an enterprise-grade tagging solution and relevant in the long term, the company has added multiple features that allow users to tag and search files, boost productivity through automation, and streamline searches in the cloud.
The company doesn’t add every requested feature, but if the team receives at least five requests, it will seriously consider putting new features into development. On such example of this is the company’s recent focus on Tabbles Web, a lightweight client that will help reduce digital chaos when searching files in a web browser.
“Last year we surveyed our user base, and one of the things that people asked for the most was the ability to run Tabbles in a web browser because they want to have a multi-platform application,” Andrea said.
Tabbles Web, just released in Beta, will allow users to search by combining tags, copy the file paths they’re searching, and download files to use the software as a sharing service. The new tool also features manual tagging capabilities and support for chat-like comments. Users can log into Tabbles Web Beta here with the following credentials: Username: demo, Password: demo.
It was 10 years ago when Andrea and his team originally developed Tabbles, and, at the time, open-source technologies weren’t as popular as they are today. Since the desktop version of Tabbles isn’t open-source, the company decided to open up the front end of Tabbles Web, allowing users to observe how backend APIs work and use its RESTful API to integrate it with other applications.
The company also hopes to convert Tabbles Web into a mobile application.”Multiplatform is the way to go,” he said. “We don’t want our customers to have to pass up our product because they have a few Mac users.”