Archiv vs. bunch of files (was: recursive archive reading)

Friedrich W. H. Kossebau Friedrich.W.H at
Mon Apr 10 01:36:59 BST 2006


Am Sonntag, 9. April 2006 23:30, schrieb David Faure:
> But in fact a real solution, for being able to read from archives in all
> apps and not just when opening the archive in konqueror first (to get the
> tar: or zip: protocol), would be the QFSFileEngine solution indeed, if the
> issue of "is foo.tgz a file or a directory" is solved somehow. But I don't
> know how it should be solved. In KFileDialog, when clicking on foo.tar.gz,
> how would we know if the user means "I want to select this archive as a
> whole", or "I want to enter this archive as a directory in order to select
> a file inside it". In directory tree views there is no problem (regular
> files don't appear anyway), but in iconviews it's more tricky.

(In directory tree views there is a problem, too. I hate it that all archives 
are now filling up the list with their names. How do you know I could want it 
this way? ;)

What is an archive, what is a bunch of files (directory/folder), what is a 
Why does one have her files inside another filesystem in her normal 
filesystem, why not use a standard directory/folder?

I guess, from my own answers to these questions, archives should be treated as 
files, unless explicitly commanded otherwise by the user. That is what an 
archive is, a simple file. Like a parcel is one plain object, until one 
unpacks it. The content is stored inside the parcel for a purpose: It should 
stay consistent and only be treated by suited recipients/handlers (cmp. .kwd 
files and KWord).

A different purpose is to save disk space, but then an archive is a hack to 
add support for zipped directories to the filesystem and should be treated 
differently to plain archives. Perhaps by adding a new dir type: 
"inode/directory-zipped" and marking those archives as such using metadata.

For the ui problem:
Given that modifier keys are already used by selection control an optional 
"Open as folder" action in the context menu might be needed.
Another, parallel solution might be to offer similar to "Use index.html" the 
option "Treat archives as folders" in the context options to control the 
default handling of supported archive style files.

Treating each and any archive as plain folder and hiding this fact might be 
technically fun, but creates a lot of inconsistencies and surprises which are 
not worth the gain, especially for simple users. The nesting of filesystems 
with some changes in the operating conditions might ask for some visual 
feedback so the user stays in control and is prepared.
Time for the usability team? 
(Allowed myself to CC: them, answers please there)

Remember Einstein's "Do not make things simpler than they are?"?

My 2 cents, Regards

PS: Thinking about this a simple "Turn into archive/folder" action might be 
very handy - filed now at bug:125267 :)
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