When thinking of organizing components, most people think of categories. But, as it turns out, categories are actually not very practical. A category tree requires a lot of work to set up and maintain, and parts have to be assigned to categories manually. Even worse, some systems only allow you to assign a part to a single category. This is limiting: does that 7805 regulator belong in "Through-Hole Parts" or "Voltage Regulators"? All this means that there is a lot of manual work, with little flexibility.

Tags are a much more powerful and flexible approach. You add tags to parts, and then instead of a static category tree, you use searches or smart folders to find parts with a given tag set. That is great in itself, but I wanted to go a step further — what if you didn't have to do all the tagging yourself? Could we add at least some tags automatically?

It turns out that it is possible. Auto-tags now get added automatically for linked parts where there are specs available. It's a small set for now and they aren't always perfect, but you can already search for #smd, #tht, #resistor, #capacitor, #0603 and similar. And it's fairly amazing to be able to just enter "#0603 #capacitor" into your search field and instantly find all the 0603 caps in your collection, without doing any tagging work!

How to use tags? For searching, it's enough to enter a #tag in the search field. Tags can be combined with normal searches. If you enter a tag, or several tags, only the parts that have all of the tags will be considered for search.

Tagging can be done either for individual parts, or with a mass add/remove tags operation on selected parts.

Happy tagging!

Earlier blog posts: Projects (BOM management) (2016-04-20)
Later blog posts: BOM Pricing for projects is now available (2017-05-05)

PartsBox is an online app that lets you take control of your electronic parts inventory, BOM pricing, and small-scale production. It keeps track of where components are stored, what the current stock levels are, and which components are used in which projects/BOMs.

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