Trouble with directories posing as files in browsers David 09 Jan 2006

14 comments Latest by ed

The fact that directories ending in .app or .keynote are treated as clickable files in OS X is mighty clever most of the time. It makes packaging a breeze and you don’t need to have any secret format for it. But someone forgot to tell the browsers!

This is how Safari treats you when trying to upload a Keynote file to Backpack:

That’s not very Apple. The error is hidden in the middle and squeezed between a ton of technical gibberish. Worse still, most people would think that the fault is that of the site. And they will write the operators of that site. Many of them. Frequently. And said site operators will be forced to shame the beloved Safari in public to make it stop.

Firefox isn’t much better. It allows you to select the tricksy files, but then just refuse to submit the form. Another likely cause of “why doesn’t this site work?!”.

So could the “let’s be clever about packaging” department please talk to the “files be files or thermal meltdown will commence” department? Chop.

14 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Jack 10 Jan 06

Keynote files are actually folders? Cool.

Yeah while I admired the slickness of the folders-as-files metaphor I did imagine the abstraction falling short one day. Nonetheless, I think the abstraction was a Good Idea (tm).

I’m tempted to say “why not store as a compressed file instead of a folder” but then I remember how annoying the zip-files-as-folders thing in WinXP is.

Chad Ingram 10 Jan 06

Since directories appearing as files is so common on OS X, you’d think Safari would zip the directory or automatically make a .dmg for the upload.

Sebastian Grl 10 Jan 06

Also, Omni Outliner (oo3) are making problems and i really love OmniOutliner

ceejayoz 10 Jan 06

I’ve been rather surprised at how bad Safari’s error messages can be.

Chad Ingram 10 Jan 06

I’ve reported it, but my report is pretty basic… Feel free to add to it!

Paul D 10 Jan 06

I agree with Thijs. This should be reported as a bug, so that Apple produces a fix soon.

I wonder if it’s up to Safari to upload a .dmg file like Chad suggests, or whether the OS should do it automatically (so that it’s transparent to all browsers).

Morten 10 Jan 06

Paul D: Wouldn’t it be preferable to convert the item to a cross platform format, like zip?

I’d say the browser should prompt the user, inform him that this is a directory containing so and so much data, and allow a cancel, or a zip and upload.

Carlo 10 Jan 06

Why would you need a cross platform format when the file it would contain will only work on OSX?

Michael 10 Jan 06

I wish there were more posts like this.

Morten 10 Jan 06

Carlo: It’s a generic problem as I see it. Who says the format will be OS X forever, remember MS Word? Either they should hide it completely to the user that this is in fact a directory (by tar/zip/somesuch), or solve the generic problem of uploading a directory.

kevin 11 Jan 06

Thanks for updating my information.

Adam Messinger 18 Jan 06

Jack: Using a compressed file instead of a folder can work very well sometimes. files are all zip-compressed archives of XML files and various assets (images, etc.). This fact is well hidden from the end user, and they handle just like regular files in the filesystem and over networks.

ed 19 Jan 06

right (control) click -> create archive of “file name”
creates a zip file that can be uploaded.
It’s a workaround, but it works.

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