File Explorer vs. FTP UI

10 Mar 2006 - 1:55pm
8 years ago
8 replies
664 reads
fahdoo
2006

Hey,

What is the best UI for an application that deals with the user transferring
files between a computer and memory card? Currently on our project, there
are two competing ideas. The first is to provide a windows file explorer
style UI within the application and the other is based on an FTP UI (two
panels: PC and memory card..with arrows in between for transfer).

Would any of you know of the problems or benefits with either method? Any
other method that we are overlooking?

Thanks in advance

--
[-_-] Fahd Butt

Systems Design Engineering
University of Waterloo <http://visualmetaphor.com>

Comments

10 Mar 2006 - 2:04pm
Josh Seiden
2003

> What is the best UI for an application that
> deals with the user transferring files between
> a computer and memory card?

There is rarely an absolute answer to this type of question. It will always
depend on the context of use.

So... why is the user transferring files between the computer and a memory
card?

JS

10 Mar 2006 - 2:09pm
Akanowicz Ron
2005

Don't most operating systems treat the memory card just like any other
drive? Whereby files can be dragged and dropped between the card and,
say, the hard drive or other folders?

I guess this is your first option (file explorer). Although I work on a
Mac and my FTP file transfer works the same way- local folders on one
side and remote folders on the other. I just drag and drop between the
two.

I've seen the two list boxes with arrows between the two, but it's
usually been in the context of adding fields to a database file, or
mapping fields. My opinion is that would be the less preferred method
for what you're doing.

Ron
Softerwareconsulting.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Fahd Butt
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 1:55 PM
To: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] File Explorer vs. FTP UI

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

Hey,

What is the best UI for an application that deals with the user
transferring files between a computer and memory card? Currently on our
project, there are two competing ideas. The first is to provide a
windows file explorer style UI within the application and the other is
based on an FTP UI (two
panels: PC and memory card..with arrows in between for transfer).

Would any of you know of the problems or benefits with either method?
Any other method that we are overlooking?

Thanks in advance

--
[-_-] Fahd Butt

Systems Design Engineering
University of Waterloo <http://visualmetaphor.com>
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10 Mar 2006 - 2:29pm
fahdoo
2006

On 3/10/06, Joshua Seiden <joshseiden at yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>
> So... why is the user transferring files between the computer and a memory
> card?
>
> JS
>

Thanks for the replies Joshua and Ron,

The memory card goes in a mobile device and the user can transfer files
between the PC and this memory card on the device. This can naturally occur
within windows own explorer, but there is discussion on including a file
management/explorer UI in the mobile device's desktop application (yes i
know, why include it if windows already provides a way :P).

The two UIs are being discussed and possibly even carrying out a usability
study on them. I'm personally not sure what kind of test we would be able to
carry out to determine which UI would work in this context. Any ideas?

--
[-_-] Fahd Butt

Systems Design Engineering
University of Waterloo

10 Mar 2006 - 2:46pm
Akanowicz Ron
2005

Using a mobile device, with such a small screen, could certainly affect
the way in which you implement this. You're right though- if the device
is connected to Windows and the user can view both storage devices
(local and remote, where remote is the device) then why would you want
to reproduce that on the device, especially given the screen
limitations?

If the 'higher-ups'insist on the user being able to initiate a transfer
from the device to the computer, then perhaps consider using a default
'upload' location. The user simply selects the file he wants to transfer
to the computer, accesses the menu or hotkey, and selects transfer. The
file would upload to his default folder on the computer. This would
alleviate him from having to navigate a (potentially deep) file
structure on his mobile device.

How to test? The test participants can transfer address books files,
photos, ringtones, etc.
It would be interesting to see where they would transfer said files-
certainly ringtones would have to be accessible to the phone's own OS to
work (I'm assuming a mobile phone here, but whatever)....

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Fahd Butt
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 2:30 PM
To: joshseiden at yahoo.com
Cc: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] File Explorer vs. FTP UI

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

On 3/10/06, Joshua Seiden <joshseiden at yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>
> So... why is the user transferring files between the computer and a
> memory card?
>
> JS
>

Thanks for the replies Joshua and Ron,

The memory card goes in a mobile device and the user can transfer files
between the PC and this memory card on the device. This can naturally
occur within windows own explorer, but there is discussion on including
a file management/explorer UI in the mobile device's desktop application
(yes i know, why include it if windows already provides a way :P).

The two UIs are being discussed and possibly even carrying out a
usability study on them. I'm personally not sure what kind of test we
would be able to carry out to determine which UI would work in this
context. Any ideas?

--
[-_-] Fahd Butt

Systems Design Engineering
University of Waterloo
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List Help ..................
http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription Options ...
http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home .......................
http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

10 Mar 2006 - 2:58pm
Josh Seiden
2003

> The memory card goes in a mobile device and the user
> can transfer files
> between the PC and this memory card on the device.
> This can naturally occur
> within windows own explorer, but there is discussion
> on including a file
> management/explorer UI in the mobile device's
> desktop application (yes i
> know, why include it if windows already provides a
> way :P).

I always start with the assumption that this kind of
storage management task should be managed behind the
scenes--the "best" UI is no UI at all. At the end of
the day, the user didn't buy the device to manage
storage--the user bought it to accomplish some task
unrelated to storage mgmt: scheduling, messaging, etc.

Your description makes me wonder if you've got a
synchronization activity taking place instead of a
file transfer activity. If that's the case, "no UI" is
likely a good option.

> The two UIs are being discussed and possibly even
> carrying out a usability
> study on them. I'm personally not sure what kind of
> test we would be able to
> carry out to determine which UI would work in this
> context. Any ideas?
>

The first thing I would do is research why/if a user
would use this "feature." Once the usage scenarios are
worked out, you can easily see which method makes it
easier to carry out the scenarios.

JS

10 Mar 2006 - 4:36pm
fahdoo
2006

On 3/10/06, Akanowicz Ron-ERA002C <ERA002C at motorola.com> wrote:
>
> Using a mobile device, with such a small screen, could certainly affect
> the way in which you implement this. You're right though- if the device
> is connected to Windows and the user can view both storage devices
> (local and remote, where remote is the device) then why would you want
> to reproduce that on the device, especially given the screen
> limitations?
>

Sorry, its not quite whats happening here, maybe i wasn't clear. The device
will be connected to the computer but the actual file transfer process will
not be happening through the device but on the computer (an application on
Windows).

How to test? The test participants can transfer address books files,
> photos, ringtones, etc.
> It would be interesting to see where they would transfer said files-
> certainly ringtones would have to be accessible to the phone's own OS to
> work (I'm assuming a mobile phone here, but whatever)....

Good points, thanks!

On 3/10/06, Josh Seiden <joshseiden at yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>
> Your description makes me wonder if you've got a
> synchronization activity taking place instead of a
> file transfer activity. If that's the case, "no UI" is
> likely a good option.

These would be tasks in addition to this: transferring ringtones,
picture/media files, word or excel files (or pretty much anything that can
be put on a memory card)

--
[-_-] Fahd Butt

Systems Design Engineering
University of Waterloo
visualmetaphor.com

sofia-ai
President
sofia-ai.org

10 Mar 2006 - 5:28pm
Andrew Otwell
2004

> The memory card goes in a mobile device and the user can transfer files
> between the PC and this memory card on the device. This can naturally occur
> within windows own explorer, but there is discussion on including a file
> management/explorer UI in the mobile device's desktop application (yes i
> know, why include it if windows already provides a way :P).
>
> The two UIs are being discussed and possibly even carrying out a usability
> study on them. I'm personally not sure what kind of test we would be able to
> carry out to determine which UI would work in this context. Any ideas?

Sounds like building a file management UI for a mobile device would be
difficult. What about thinking of the mobile as having a very specific
role in the relationship? Don't duplicate the identical functionality in
both places: play to each one's strengths.

Many FTP programs have a "synchronize" function which moves and deletes
files from one location to another in order to make both identical. Of
course you can do this manually--synchronization is just a shortcut.

Mobile devices are nice places for initiating those sort of shortcut
processes. Plugging in your iPod, for instance, is one way to activate
a synchronization shortcut. If your users have the full-blown file
management option through Windows, the mobile UI could just offer a
one-button "synchronize files between this device and my PC."

20 Mar 2006 - 8:01pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

The first is to provide a windows file explorer
> style UI within the application and the other is based on an FTP UI (two
> panels: PC and memory card..with arrows in between for transfer).
>
> Would any of you know of the problems or benefits with either method? Any
> other method that we are overlooking?

Why not make a one step Wizard with an option to show FTP like interface?

FTP interface is nothing more but two explorer interfaces aligned side
by side. In fact its strength is that it can be quite a bit less than
explorer interface. As such it facilitates the specialized task of
file transfer and therefore is preferable if design clearly define
target and source and means of transfer (buttons, drag-n-drop) - not
an impossible task.

The problems might arise if actual user's goal is not to transfer but
to transfer and... do something with the files post transfer as others
have mentioned. Clarify this issue with users and you have made your
choice.

--
Oleh Kovalchuke

On 3/10/06, Fahd Butt <fahd828 at gmail.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> Hey,
>
> What is the best UI for an application that deals with the user transferring
> files between a computer and memory card? Currently on our project, there
> are two competing ideas. The first is to provide a windows file explorer
> style UI within the application and the other is based on an FTP UI (two
> panels: PC and memory card..with arrows in between for transfer).
>
> Would any of you know of the problems or benefits with either method? Any
> other method that we are overlooking?
>
> Thanks in advance
>
> --
> [-_-] Fahd Butt
>
> Systems Design Engineering
> University of Waterloo <http://visualmetaphor.com>

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