Rewriting a photo tagger in Go

In honor of the 25th anniversary of his Programming Snapshot column, Mike Schilli revisits an old problem and solves it with Go instead of Perl.

Hurray! This issue marks the 25th anniversary of my “Programming Snapshot” column, which first appeared in the German edition of Linux Magazine back in October 1997 (originally under the “Perl Snapshot” banner). Times have changed: Now the featured programs in this column mainly use Go, but you might also see Ruby, Python, or even TeX, as was the case recently.

For this dinosaur birthday party, I thought I might rewrite a tool I put together in Perl back in the dot-com era, but looking at it from today’s perspective in Go. The photo tagger from 2003 (it was called Image Database [1] or idb for short) is something I’ve been wanting to use again for a long time.

The idb tool assigns one or more tags to a set of photo files, distributed over arbitrary subdirectories somewhere on the hard drive. Once tagged with the tool, the same program can retrieve the photos if you provide the name of the desired tag. The problem with the old Perl code, though, is that you need both the time and the inclination to go through the installation and dependency hell of all the Perl modules used by it. Moreover, many years have passed since then, and some CPAN module developers have broken backward compatibility by changing the original programming interfaces. Luckily, it’s 2022, and Go has solved these kinds of installation problems for all time, as you can compile static binaries that run on similar architectures.

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