Virtual File Systems—possibly the killer app

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The second afternoon talk was presented by Steve Huntley. He talked about his work creating VFS's in Tcl. (I strongly suspect he has more experience applying TclVFS than anyone else in the world!) I was very interested in hearing about his work and can imagine a number of possibilities I could apply it to in my own work.

"Virtual filesystems are the killer app for Tcl total world domination." :-)

Heirarchial filesystems are a universally applicable abstraction. Databases can be made to look like a set of files.

The past

Drawbacks of previous implementations

Challenges of the present

A template virtual filesystem: Only function is to be a complete metaphor (with read/write, all file info services, complete error handling, and adequate performance). Could also be called a service-providing virtual filesystem.

Types of VFS already developed on the template:

They can all be combined/stacked/chained. Analogous to Unix pipes and streams but maps to hierarchial data.


Could be used as a metaphor for handly any tree data (LDAP, XML, etc.). New transport paradigms all the time (P2P, BitTorrent, RSS, etc.) Arbitrary meta data has potential.

Abstraction of data collections. Source configuration (SCM) and content management (CMS), and Package Management.

Could make Tcl virtual filesystems visible to the operating system and thus to all programs. We have the technology (FUSE on Linux and WebDrive on Windows).

Available at under the Tcl license. New version, not yet committed, should be there within a week or so.

—Michael A. Cleverly


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