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Show HN: New UI pattern for file manager type apps (github.com)
124 points by greyshirts 56 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 33 comments

I admit that I haven't read everything, but that's because I got stuck on the first paragraph of the README:

> New UI pattern for file manager type apps. It makes moving and reordering files much easier and more intuitive than traditional UI patterns.

You should go into more detail who the target audience is here. Casual users don't care about moving and reordering files into place meticulously. They just want to find stuff quickly and are will prefer a better search box over a better filing system.

I'm sitting on the other end of the scale. I do obsess over file ordering to a certain extent, but then again doing any of this ordering on any sort of phone UI drives me crazy because of the form factor. I'm much better served by something that lets me do this on the big screen. Right now I use KDE Connect which has a feature for mounting the phone's FS on the PC via sshfs. Then I can use big-boy file managers (or heck, just a terminal and good ol' coreutils).

I'm not saying that there is no place for your UI design, but a good design starts from which users have which needs, and your pitch (i.e. the README) should reflect that.

Because casual users are exploring Github looking for new UI patterns for file manager apps?

The audience is clearly not casual users.

And why does the README have to be a pitch?

Well, people who develop apps for casual users are exploring GitHub.

What is the first paragraph of a README if not a pitch? It's explaining to someone who just stumbled on the repo (maybe through a search) why they should take a closer look at the repo.

I have a hard time understanding what you've built (and don't have an Android device handy to test). The GIFs are jerky, and it's always hard to tell what is going on with touch interactions on screen recordings alone.

From what I can tell, this shows a few interactions for a multitouch file manager, where there is an explicit "selection mode" to reorder/move files; selection is preserved when navigating away from the current view. Additionally, interstitial affordances are revealed to facilitate rearrangement.

My main point of feedback would be to focus on the presentation - it is very hard to tell what is going on, and all I wrote I feel like I had to speculate to interpret. Explain clearly what problem you are solving, and why the current approaches haven't worked for you.

Btw I'm not sure what the claim of newness is; I have seen these interactions in other software in the past (but perhaps I am missing something).

The "move here" thing for me was confusing.

When showing near the folders, was the "move here" between folder 1 and folder 2 supposed to mean move the files into folder 1, folder 2, or literally just display the selected between the two folders? It was not clear to me.

I think this could benefit from tweaking the "move here" thing to be closer to the thing that it relates to (classic UX issue/design approach)

Yeah I struggle with these types of UIs as well, where it's in between two elements. I think it would work a little better if the right side of the horizontal bar had an overlay with the Move Here text. That way you could tap a much larger target and it's more obvious what it's referring to. This is an improvement though to many patterns I've seen.

I also had no idea what was supposed to be happening because ordering files is not a use case I’ve ever cared about on mobile.

So I assumed ‘move here’ was supposed to move videos into videos and was trying to think how that would work.

I was also confused by this.

The Moodle learning management system [1] uses a very similar UI for moving items (links, documents, etc.) [2]. It supports drag and drop, which is more convenient for small moves, but this method is better for big moves or moving between sections (~folders). I think Moodle can only move one item at a time, though.

I think the pattern probably works better for this kind of thing than for files, as files aren't often manually ordered.

[1] https://moodle.org, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moodle

[2] https://www.umass.edu/it/support/moodle/reorder-sections-or-...

This seems to be highly tied to the challenge of moving things around on a mobile phone (multi-touch device). While I do think there's benefits for accessibility in this sort of UI, I think most users would prefer if a multi-touch drag/drop reordering UI would be... multi-touch. I should be able to drag with one finger and scroll with another. I find this to be almost nonexistent in practice though :-(

EDIT: On a desktop you have a mouse wheel that very much serves this purpose at least in a single-view scenario. Again, accessibility is a whole extra layer to the topic

This is a really cool concept, thanks for sharing.

I like the idea, but I'm not too keen on the way that once you select an item, the additional "Move Here" UI pops up for every single item in that view - I can imagine for longer lists, this could alter your frame of view significantly as you get towards the bottom of the list. I didn't clone the repo, though - do you had any considerations about this concern? I wonder what an alternative UI would look like for that piece - I guess a simple, more traditional checkbox wouldn't do the trick because it doesn't signal where you want to move something.

You could maybe mitigate that with by only having the "move here" show up in the visible portion of the list

Expanding all those 'move here' regions sure is disorienting and janky/slow. I suggest a floating element with an arrow pointing to the seam between the list items, that way you don't have to relayout anything.

Anyone remember Tera Copy?

It (was?) is a Windows file copy/move utility that was fantastic! It support multiple file copying, and drag/drop operations to queue files and add to an existing running operation.

Still use it. It's good with resume-copy on huge files.

I think the creativity here should be applauded, it's an interesting novel improvement to an existing pattern. I think it'd be very interesting to do a bit of a formal usability study on this: set some metrics for common tasks and ask people to do them versus a control group and see how well it performs. I think sometimes we get all caught up with the hype of UX, but a good old study like we did back when we called the field HCI would be enlightening here. You could even get a published paper out of it!

I'm interested... but puzzled about what is it about from reading the Readme and seeing the anima-gifs

This is the case of when a picture is in a need of more words; not a thousand, but maybe enough to word the principle and contrast the novelty.

Still interested.

I like the idea over drag and drop, but the interface itself in the demo is too low-information to use.

It reminds me of all the problems with Apple Podcasts compared to other podcasts apps. Too many screens, too little information on each screen, and the thumbnails are way too big.

I would be good to edit the title to say this is mobile specific.

Nice idea, but not good enough. The long press is undiscoverable - put it on more Have a menu appear under the item on more with simple icon actions - move, rename, delete, copy. When an action is selected, change the state of items in the list to "Editing" and have each folder have a "Move here".

Or, you can also do drag and drop that everyone understands.

I think the best concept for file management ever invented is the one used by the orthodox file managers (Double Commander, Midnight Commander, FAR etc. etc).

This appears to be aiming at mobile, so maybe a split screen wouldn't work, but I'd at least argue that directories should be at the top.

There are cases where a file is associated with directory, e.g. you export a web page and its contents are saved within a dedicated directory, and some languages will allow module.foo and module/submodules.

But those are odd cases and the insight that the file managers had was that folder navigation and file manipulation are two separate things. If you need to move a file, you always want to move it to another folder. All the files just get in the way. If you want to find a file, it's in a folder, it's not "between" two files.

Putting everything together is plainly nuts.

On Android Total Commander offers two panes by swiping between them.

What do you mean?

Meaning, the screen is always split in two. On both sides, there's a directory shown. All commands (copy, move, etc.) now instantly have a target (namely, the other side).

Ah, right, that seems on now you point it out.

I use Q-Dir at work because I’m constantly managing files on four networked devices.

No affiliation, just a satisfied user.


I used Solid Explorer when I was on Android and that's exactly how it was set up. I really can't think of a better design pattern for a file manager on a mobile device.

It reminds me of a bookmarking pattern. You bookmark several items and later on perform actions on the bookmarked collections. Very interesting concept worth investigating further .

I like this. On desktop the "move here" could be on hover, maybe, to prevent so many added elements.

It kind of reminds me of spreadsheet functionality in terms of inserting x rows above or below.

> "New UI pattern for file manager type apps"

Needs the word "mobile" in the heading somewhere, as it's nothing to do with standard (eg desktop) apps.

Isn't the number of smartphone owners larger than desktop/laptop owners?

Amazing idea, scrolling unidimensional UIs for the hand need more innovation like this

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