A file manager is a ubiquitous bit of software. In windows you have the much outdated Windows Explorer and Nautilus in GNOME. I think file managers need a major shift.They have been doing the same things for many years now, managing files. Managing files were good when all you had were text files and binaries and very small storage space. Now, we have various forms of media (music, images, videos) including media that we watch, tag and bookmark on the Internet. And we have excess of 300 GBs of storage space. All that means that files are really easy to store anywhere and its even easier to forget their location.
So what would my ideal file manager be? Well below mentioned are a few requirements
1. Tagging of content(files). Many File managers already allow this. But its more important to make sense of the tags. For that we will need to understand the semantics of the data in the files. And that means a semantic file system. Lots of projects are working toward this viz, WinFS, GNOME Storage etc and none have really succeeded. With a semantic file system, your OS will “understand” the contents of your data, like which pics of your contain which friends and how they are related to the contacts on your address book. That would also simplify search.
2. Do away with directories. Directories should only be there for the OS and programs to stores the binaries. For the user, there should be no directories.I should be able to put a file anywhere in my home directory and I should have access to it based on the tags attached to it. These tags will also form ad-hoc and/or permanent directories.
3. I should be allowed to manage my online media (photos on Flickr or Picasa, videos on Youtube) as if they exist on my local hard drive. My online bookmarked content should appear on my local folder. Also I should be able to search online media right from my file manager. All of this is possible with many of the APIs provides by Yahoo and Google etc. Basically my online and offline content should be merged. I should be allowed to drag and drop media from my local drive to any of these sites.
4.I should be able to view my orkut scraps, facebook wall updates and twitter content right inside my file manager and reply to them as well.
5. Online docs and files should be visible locally. Of course you will still require an internet connection to view the contents.
Basically, I think that the next generation file manager should be Web 2.0 enabled. I should be able to access web services without using a browser. However, the architecture should be modular so that newer plugins can be added for different types of media and services as and when they come up.
The opinions mentioned above are my own. You many not agree with them or you might have better ideas. In either case, you are welcome to share them here.