[whatwg] Directory upload via <input type="file" directory>

Jonas Sicking jonas at sicking.cc
Thu Apr 22 15:33:23 PDT 2010

I still don't understand the use case.

In all cases I can think of where applications allow me to pick a
folder (as opposed to a file), it's always been about choosing a
location to save files. For example choosing where to put the browsers
cache, or which should be the default download directory.

Is that the use case? If so, it doesn't seem like <input type=file> is
even close to what you want.

/ Jonas

On Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 3:15 PM, John Gregg <johnnyg at google.com> wrote:
> So are you suggesting an input element that accepts directories
> dragged onto it, but has no way of choosing a directory through a
> system dialog?
>  -John
> On Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 3:11 PM, Ojan Vafai <ojan at chromium.org> wrote:
>> But there is already a default UI that lets you select a folder, a file or
>> both (drag-drop). I don't see why this forces the UA to do anything. Just
>> because you can select both folders and files doesn't mean the UA needs to
>> expose extra UI on top of drag-drop to let you do so. Again, no more so than
>> they already have to expose extra UI to deal with multiple inputs.
>> Ojan
>> On Tue, Apr 6, 2010 at 2:28 PM, John Gregg <johnnyg at google.com> wrote:
>>> The most relevant issue is that in Windows/Mac/Linux, there are no system
>>> dialogs that let the user select either a folder or a file.  They each have
>>> separate "choose a file" and "choose a folder" dialogs.  I think the logical
>>> reason for that is that when selecting a file, clicking a directory means to
>>> enter that directory and select from its files, not to choose that directory
>>> as the result of selection.
>>> Thus we would force UAs to reinvent file-picker interfaces in order to
>>> deal with an input element that allows both folders and files.
>>>  -John
>>> On Tue, Apr 6, 2010 at 2:18 PM, Ojan Vafai <ojan at chromium.org> wrote:
>>>> It's unfortunate that users need to distinguish between single and
>>>> multiple file inputs. That's not something we can change at this point. The
>>>> web started with single file inputs. We can avoid adding a third type of
>>>> file input they need to understand though.
>>>> Also, what should happen if you drag files and folders onto a "multiple"
>>>> or "directory" input? Just drop the ones that are of the wrong type? I
>>>> cannot imagine users making sense of that.
>>>> It's not clear to me from your original email what issues you encountered
>>>> during implementation that led to this proposal. Is it just the leaf name
>>>> conflict issue? I agree that's a problem, but maybe there's a different
>>>> solution to that?
>>>> Ojan
>>>> On Tue, Apr 6, 2010 at 12:53 PM, John Gregg <johnnyg at google.com> wrote:
>>>>> That's a fair question, but how is it clear today whether an input can
>>>>> accept multiple files vs. a single file using drag-and-drop?  Currently if I
>>>>> drag multiple files onto an input that doesn't have 'multiple', I get only
>>>>> the first one.  (In Chrome.)
>>>>> Some good default text from the UA, like "Choose folder..." instead of
>>>>> "Choose file...", would go far to solve that, I think.
>>>>>  -John
>>>>> On Tue, Apr 6, 2010 at 12:38 PM, Ojan Vafai <ojan at chromium.org> wrote:
>>>>>> What about drag-drop? I should be able to drag a directory, a file, or
>>>>>> a list of files onto an input, no? If not, how is this distinction shown to
>>>>>> users? How will it be clear to users when they can do one or the other?
>>>>>> Ojan
>>>>>> On Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 3:53 PM, John Gregg <johnnyg at google.com> wrote:
>>>>>>> For context, Ian Fette started a thread about uploading directories of
>>>>>>> files in
>>>>>>> December: http://lists.whatwg.org/pipermail/whatwg-whatwg.org/2009-December/024455.html
>>>>>>> At that time, it was thought that directory upload could be
>>>>>>> implemented by a UA in response to a <input type="file" multiple> tag using
>>>>>>> different UI only, and modifying the FileAPI spec to allow path information
>>>>>>> in the form
>>>>>>> input.files[0].name="1.jpg"
>>>>>>> input.files[0].path="a"
>>>>>>> input.files[1].name="2.jpg"
>>>>>>> input.files[1].path="a/b"
>>>>>>> input.files[2].name="3.jpg"
>>>>>>> input.files[2].path="a/c"
>>>>>>> I've started developing a prototype of this in WebKit/Chromium.  Based
>>>>>>> on what I've encountered so far, I would like to propose adding directory
>>>>>>> upload functionality using an explicit new 'directory' attribute on the file
>>>>>>> input element.
>>>>>>> The existing behavior of <input type="file" multiple> would not
>>>>>>> change, but when processing <input type="file" directory>, the UA would
>>>>>>> display a directory selection UI and store the path information, and not
>>>>>>> allow individual files to be selected.  It would allow multiple files to
>>>>>>> have the same leaf name (.name attribute), as long as the paths were
>>>>>>> different.  The path attributes would include the name of the chosen
>>>>>>> directory
>>>>>>> This would be preferable for several reasons:
>>>>>>>  - Most built-in file system UI on major platforms (Windows/Mac/Linux)
>>>>>>> have distinct dialogs for choosing files and choosing directories.  Allowing
>>>>>>> the UA to use these directly makes sense rather than creating hybrids.
>>>>>>>  - Avoiding "leaf name" conflicts in a directory tree is not feasible
>>>>>>> in many applications -- asking a user to ensure unique photo names in a
>>>>>>> large set of albums before uploading would fail to meet that use case.
>>>>>>>  Therefore HTML documents should know in advance whether the path
>>>>>>> information will be relevant in the eventual storage of the files.  Sites
>>>>>>> currently using <input type="file" multiple> would have compatibility
>>>>>>> problems with an implementation which allowed conflicting file names along
>>>>>>> different paths.
>>>>>>> What are your thoughts about adding the 'directory' attribute?
>>>>>>> Thanks,
>>>>>>>  -John

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