More downloading difficulties

November 23, 2007 ⋅ 2 Comments »

Sometimes it amazes me how difficult it is to do simple things on my computer.

In the last couple weeks, I’ve mentioned a few times the usability problems associated with downloading from the web (Uploading and downloading are seams in the web experience and Usability problems downloading from web apps). That’s exactly the same problem I ran into this morning.

What I want to do is download the slick Silk icon set. If you think about it, it’s really just a matter of copying a remote folder (containing the icons) to a spot on my hard drive. It should be as easy as a single drag-and-drop operation, just like copying a local folder would be. But it’s not. Here are the steps I have to go through:

  1. Click on the link.
  2. Choose to “open” or “save” the downloaded file. (It’s a ZIP file, so I choose to open it.)
  3. In the ZIP application, choose to extract the files.
  4. Navigate to the spot where I want to save the files, then click ok.
  5. Now, to actually see the icons, I have to again navigate to the spot where I saved them.

Now maybe that doesn’t seem that bad, but compared to copying a local folder, it’s a lot of work to go through. Partly, it’s complicated by the fact that HTTP doesn’t support downloading folders, although if both the client and the server support GZIP compression, there’s no reason it couldn’t. Also, WebDAV clients can manage it, right?


  1. Mr Lizard - November 24, 2007:

    I agree.

    I think the boundary between the web and the desktop needs to be torn down. I was interested in the Parakey project as described on Blake Ross's page, as it seemed that was a product designed to do just that.

    However, as far as the browser is concerned, wouldn't it be easier if...

    1) You clicked the ZIP file. It just opened.

    2) It unzipped to the desktop. Perhaps a little progress bar somewhere to tell you what's going on (similar to the 'copying files' progress dialogue)

    3) The resulting folder just opens.

    I can't think of a scenario where someone would want to click on a ZIP file and actually want to just save it, or even tell the unzipper where to put the resulting folder, but for these cases a simple right-click option could be made available (something like Save File To...)

  2. Mr Lizard - November 24, 2007:

    Actually, in addition to that, it would be handy if you could drag-and-drop the link to the desktop (or folder of your choice), and have Firefox move the resulting folder there for you.