[whatwg] Multiple file download

Jose Fandos iaminlondon at gmail.com
Tue Feb 23 13:26:25 PST 2010

On Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 6:13 PM, Ashley Sheridan
<ash at ashleysheridan.co.uk>wrote:

>  On Tue, 2010-02-23 at 18:12 +0000, Jose Fandos wrote:
> On Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 5:07 PM, Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky at mit.edu> wrote:
>  On 2/23/10 5:10 AM, Jose Fandos wrote:
> What doesn't seem to be there, unless a java applet is used (haven't
> come across one using flash) is the multiple file download. Even Google
> Docs uses a zip file to download multiple files.
>   What do you mean in terms of "multiple file download"?
>  Download 10 files as 10 separate files, without having to
>  a) Okay the saving of each file to your drive independently
>  b) Downloading them as a zip file that then needs to be uncompressed by
> the end user
>  Imagine a list of files showing on a website (like google docs, or like
> you would have in a default ftp listing in firefox). Scripting would allow a
> selection of a number of these files and a download button would open a
> dialog on the UA to select the folder where the files will be copied to.
>  You can do this right now in two ways:
> 1)  An archive file (your zip example) with the files in it.
>  This is b) which we have, agreed, but not what I meant by allowing
> multiple file download. It's allowing the download of just one file, the zip
> file.
>  2)  A multipart response with the files as parts, each part having
>    "Content-Disposition: attachment".
>  as far as I know, and I could be wrong, this would suffer from what I
> described in a), i.e. there would be a dialog propping up to accept each
> downloaded file.
>  You can gzip this multipart response to get the compression behavior you
> want.
>  I was suggesting the resource packages as a way to make use of
> compression/decompression.
>  /J
> -Boris
> So how would you decide where each file goes? Would you just pick a
> directory and it chucks all the files in there?

Yes, that would be the most common use. Allowing for choosing several
different folders for different files would be left up to the UA. I don't
thing the UA should bother with that, though; the waste of time to select a
different folder for different sets of files negates the benefits of
downloading 15 files in one go as 15 distinct files.

> Also, the genius of archive files (zip, tar, rar) is that you can specify a
> path within the archive, so that a collection of files which requires a
> certain structure (a web page and its assets) are retained.

Agreed that's one benefit of archived files, but I'm looking for a more
general use that's common within the desktop os yet it cannot be reproduced
easily over a web app, namely copy a select set of file from here (website)
to there (a folder in your desktop) without having to resort to
decompression of archives.

> Most operating systems have built-in features to read into these files as
> if they weren't archives at all.

Agreed, but it only goes so far. Mac OS doesn't, not natively, as far as I
can see. I remember Windows did, but only for the file you were opening. If
you opened a program to read a file from within the zip and that file
depended on another file also in the zip, it wouldn't work. But that might
have been fixed long ago. Still, this is a request I get often enough from
non-technical people. We are covering this with a Java applet, but that
brings its own set of issues.


Windows can only do this for zip files, Linux can do it for most archive
> types, not sure about MacOS or other OS's.
>   Thanks,
> Ash
> http://www.ashleysheridan.co.uk
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