I'm trying to design a solution to automatically assign categories to certain groups of foods, based on a huge set of available rules coming from parameters of these "foods".

Potential issues:

  • Food can comply with more than one rule.
  • Since categories will be customized, there is a high possibility of more than one category complying with one food using different rules.
  • My "desired" category is more important than all the possible others that comply with the same food.
  • do you have a mock showing some of your thinking and effort in terms of a UI? And how are the categories being exposed to the user? What do categories help the user to acheive?
    – Mike M
    Dec 12, 2018 at 19:49
  • Can you give an example? Mushroom risotto? Are you facing any issue to categorize it?
    – cameraman
    Dec 13, 2018 at 8:25
  • 1
    I'm not sure what a "desired" category means in this context. Jan 14, 2019 at 17:30
  • Examples would be helpful.
    – 習約塔
    Jun 14, 2019 at 3:23

1 Answer 1


You can try using tags, and allow users to filter based on one or more tags. The filters (queries) can be saved as searches and collections that are dynamic.

I'm not clear on the use case, but it sounds like some objects will share multiple attributes that could be searched or filtered together.

You can still use rules, but perhaps have rules that apply tags, rather than assign hard categories.

The limits of categories

With a category, you are making a clear distinction of 'what goes where'. This is helpful in a physical (analog) context, such as a store or file folder, where items are placed in distinct locations for access or retrieval.

Tags, scalability & flexibility

In the digital world, tags can allow you to build a looser taxonomy. It can scale as items may need to be identified by more than one attribute, or if different user groups find a specific attribute more relevant to their mental model when classifying an object.

Need to group items? Try saved searches, or 'smart collections'

You'll find a mix of tags and folders (smart collections) in many applications. For example, in Adobe Lightroom, you can use 'keywords' which are really tags on a photo:

enter image description here

Photographers often end up with a large database of photos (100k) to manage and edit. Then, you can build a smart collection (represented by a folder or 'box') by a series of attributes, including keywords, as seen here:

enter image description here

Give the user control

Rather than engage in the difficult task in controlling a category taxonomy and hierarchy, the saved searches can be tailored at the user level, and correspond to the way they perceive how several attributes come together for a grouping.

  • This was excellent. However, I still have an issue. If I have two set of rules, with different parameters, but both of them apply to the same object, how can i "prioritize" the application of one of them? Dec 17, 2018 at 14:52
  • If they are tags, wouldn't it just be an 'AND'? Since the tags are additive, you won't have to figure such logic, and users can create collections themselves. Or, you tag first, and have a category function which takes ANY of the tags you set in the conditions...
    – Mike M
    Dec 17, 2018 at 14:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.