Virtual Dired

From the documentation:

In Virtual Dired mode, all commands that do not actually consult the filesystem will work.

This is useful if you want to peruse and move around in an ls -lR output file…

Here’s one use case: I want to create a text file for every image file in a buffer. The images in this directory come from multiple cameras with different naming conventions, and some of them were edited and thus I cannot sort them by name (the default) nor by modification date (using s). What I want is to display and sort them by the exif DateTimeOriginal field. And ideally, I want this to work for remote directories as well.

(Tools using such text files would be fgallery and sitelen-mute.)

In the code below, the first function gets the field I want via exiftool, possibly from a remote server. The data gets turned into an alist and is used to generate a text buffer using all the data without running ls. The entire buffer is then put into Virtual Dired mode and we’re good to go.

(defun asc:image-dired-exif-data (dir)
  "Return alist of filenames and Date Time Original.
Do this for all files in DIR, possibly remote."
  (message "Reading exifdata for %s..." dir)
  (let* ((default-directory dir)
	 (data (eshell-command-to-value
		 "exiftool" (list "-p" "${dateTimeOriginal#;DateFmt('%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S')} $fileName"
				  "-q" "-f" ".")))))
    (message "Reading exifdata for %s...done" dir)
    (mapcar (lambda (line)
	      (if (string= (substring line 0 2) "- ")
		  (let ((name (substring line 2)))
		    (cons name		; filename
			   "%F %R" (file-attribute-modification-time
				    (file-attributes name)))))
		 (substring line 20)	  ; filename
		 (substring line 0 19)))) ; date and time
	    (split-string data "\n" t))))

;; (asc:image-dired-exif-data "/ssh:megabombus.local:/Volumes/Data/Pictures/Fotos 2019/Portugal/Album")

(defun asc:image-dired-exif-mode (dir)
  "Create a virtual buffer for images sorted by creation date.
Use the apostrophe to edit the text files matching the image file."
  (interactive "DDirectory: ")
  (with-current-buffer (get-buffer-create "*images*")
    (let ((inhibit-read-only t)
	  (data (asc:image-dired-exif-data dir)))
      (let* ((files (sort (directory-files dir nil "jpg$" t)
			  (lambda (f1 f2)
			    (string< (cdr (assoc f1 data))
				     (cdr (assoc f2 data))))))
	     (prog (make-progress-reporter "Reading files " 0 (length files)))
	     (i 0))
	(insert dir ":\n")
	(dolist (file files)
	  (let ((attr (file-attributes (expand-file-name file dir) 'string)))
	    (insert (format "%s % 3d %s %s % 10d %s %s\n"
			    (file-attribute-modes attr)
			    (file-attribute-link-number attr)
			    (file-attribute-user-id attr)
			    (file-attribute-group-id attr)
			    (file-attribute-size attr)
			    (cdr (assoc file data))
			    ;; (format-time-string "%F %R" (file-attribute-modification-time attr))
	  (progress-reporter-update prog (setq i (1+ i))))
	(progress-reporter-done prog))
      (local-set-key (kbd "'") 'asc:label-edit))
    (switch-to-buffer (current-buffer))))

(defun asc:label-edit ()
  "Edit the text file for the image at point.
This is used for `asc:image-dired-exif-mode'."
  (find-file (concat (file-name-sans-extension

DiredMode CategoryDirectory