Hi. I’m Anthony Wicks, and as Director and sole employee of Everclear Systems I’m going to write this in the first person singular. Me to you. An Epistle from – ok enough of that! Right, what about this rainbow then? Why have I done it? We’ve always organized pictures a certain way, what’s wrong with that? This page is about the why and the what.

Here goes…

Let’s start by defining the problem – which is that of organizing by grouping; commonly on a mobile we put pictures into albums, just like we do with actual physical photos in real life. Why is that a problem? Here are two quick examples why:

You’ve surely flicked through displays like this wondering which one to tap on to get that picture. Who remembers stuff like that? Each date is a group and we are forced to choose – get it wrong and we have to come back out and tap elsewhere. Or this…

Unless we notice the tiny icon on the right – and I swear I only did for the first time while making up this page – we’ll just see two groups both called ‘Camera’. Yikes! Why though? A while ago I pointed the camera to store pics on the SD card, and the group on the right is from since I did that, and the group on the left is from before I did it. But knowing that still doesn’t help me find a picture if I took it some time ago, because I don’t know if I took it before or after I made that change.

So that’s the problem of choice right there. You’re offered an assortment of ‘boxes’ and forced to choose which one to open. And of course with groups come hierarchies and that’s a whole other problem. On mainframe computers the old hierarchical database systems long since gave way to flat ‘relational’ ones for just this reason, but on personal computers and mobiles we’re still stuck with groups and hierarchies. Well, that’s what I set out to try and fix.

How though?

This is what I wanted:
No ‘boxes’ – so all items had to be unpacked into one single list
Organizing of items by tagging, as simply as possible
Retrieval of items by filtering on tags, as simply as possible
All that on one screen, on a mobile!

How to arrange these 3 things on a single screen?

A couple of things quickly became obvious; one, that the filtering mechanism, because it acted on the whole list, would need to sit above the item list on the screen – like this…

…and two, that because the tagging mechanism would act on an individual item, users would need to tap at item level. Not actually on the item, because that would just be selecting the item, with the required tag to be chosen later. That’s what all the other apps do. I wanted to be able to connect an item to a tag with just a single tap. So my area for tapping (and to show a marker where a tag was set) had to go next to the item. So all that gave me this:

But how to visually connect each ‘tapping area’ with its respective tag name / filter box? It was just one further step to say ok I need bars of colour or shading across the top and down the side. And only at this point did I think Oh! it’s a rainbow! I don’t know if you’ve ever danced around the room listening to Brahms but I did that then.