Collections are a design pattern for use by applications. They allow content items to be grouped together and organized.

Collections is a generic name that can be altered according to the context. A photos app might call them "Albums", while a notes app could call them "Notebooks", for example.


WilliamJonMcCann, AllanDay, JakubSteiner


  • Assign content items to collections, both individually and as sets.
  • Assign content items to collections, as a part of the import process.
  • Browse collections.
  • Edit collection names.
  • Remove content items from collections. Move them between collections.
  • Be quick and simple to use.
  • Design pattern should be applicable to Documents and Photos. Could have implications for similar apps, but is not intended to be identical across different application types.

Use cases:

  • Organize newly imported photos into a series of albums.
  • Place a set of papers into subject-specific collections.

Relevant Art

Google Drive

Filesystem-like model:

  • Folders can be nested.
  • Files can be placed in a single folder.
  • Folders can be empty.
  • Folder trees are browsed using a sidebar.

Google Keep

Classic tag-based model:

  • Notes can have multiple tags.
  • Main view shows all content items.
  • Tags act as filters (accessible from a sidebar).
  • Tags don't have to have notes attached to them.



  • Notebooks act as filters in the search window.
  • Each note can be placed in a single notebook (or not have a notebook).
  • Notebooks can be empty.



  • Main view is a timeline of all photos. A separate view allows browsing albums.
  • Photos can belong to multiple albums.
  • A special mode is used for album editing. This allows adding photos to albums through drag and drop.



  • Main view shows all photos.
  • Uses "tags" as opposed to albums.


  • An view showing all content items is good to have, particularly if it shows recent activity.
  • Ability to quickly select multiple content items is important for organising content into collections. Density of items on display could be a factor here.
  • Important for Photos (maybe documents too):
    • Select by date.
    • Add to album during import.
    • Manual ordering of photos in an album (or set the order as an album property).
    • Export or share an album.

Tentative Design

Things that Photos needs and are missing from this design:

  • Select by date in Photos.
  • Automatic albums by date?
  • Assign collections during import.
  • Manual ordering inside an album.

See 705708


Design/OS/Collections (last edited 2015-04-07 16:23:32 by AllanDay)