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Gmail and Drive - a new way to send files (gmailblog.blogspot.com)
231 points by neya on Nov 27, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 93 comments

Totally off topic but blogspot is just awful. Why does everything have to be a complicated buggy JavaScript app? There's nothing wrong with serving up good ol HTML pages, especially for simple text and images content like a blog.

I despise this new trend, and it kills me that Google seems to be embracing it more and more.

Google Groups is the worst offender for me - it completely breaks my browser's keybindings for going backwards, so every time I'm, eg. searching Googling a bug and open a mailing list archive to find an answer to a bug, I inevitably end up collapsing the thread each and every time, when what I really want is just to go back to the search results. I don't want every Google website to have its own tiling window manager within the page - that's what my OS is for!

Of course, they have no intention of fixing this, it seems. Disabling Javascript just yields an error message - 'Please turn on Javascript to view this page'.

I totally agree. Not only does it disrupt bindings and make pages slow to load, but at least once a day Chrome now freezes when I do a Google search - the results page loads, but I can't click on anything and if I scroll down the bottom of the page hasn't been rendered at all. Nothing for it but to reboot Chrome 3 times (it dies silently the first two).

I still love Google overall (so yay on mailing big files and yay on Gmail generally), but the endless feature creep is a weakness, not a strength.

Uhh, but it's so shiny!1 Why u not like it?? http://img.nux.ro/n9H-fsckblogspot.png

It doesn't matter. I know already what it's about: more ways to get locked-in the "google-verse".

Funny thing is that the "new and better" Google Groups don't work for me on any Android browser on my tablet, at all.

Why make a website and not test it on your own ecosystem? Sometimes I don't get Google.

I have to admit, despite generally being a Google fan, I find a little humor in the fact that my Android phone can't read half their Google blogs. They open, but they won't let me scroll down. I have to stop a page before it loads completely (before it loads SOME element) if I want to be able to scroll. Makes me glad Blogspot is irrelevant to me.

In a discussion about this at work a few months back, someone suggested to me that part of Google's motivation might be to increase the cost of entry for search competitors. No longer can you just scrape a page and index it: not one of the 22 KB served at that URL actually contains the text of the page. To scrape one of those awful pages, you need to JavaScript interpreter and a DOM - a headless browser, really. Unless you're Google: they can just index the back-end directly

I'm not entirely convinced, but I've heard worse conspiracy theories that turned out to be true.

You can read the entire blog from the RSS feed. Can't say that about Google+, though.


Getting a headless browser up and running really isn't that huge of a hurdle if you're capable enough to build a search engine whose intent is to be competitive with Google.

It's not technically hard, no. However, there's an overhead in running a headless browser, of memory, CPU, time, and bandwidth, so it might cost substantially more.

You don't need a browser for everything, but working out which pages need a headless browser and which you can get away with scraping sounds like an interesting problem.

Try using it on an iPhone, where the site interprets any sort of horizontal swipes (such as ones you might make while zooming in and panning on some text) as an intention to go to the next/previous article in the blog.

I just tried that on my iPhone 4 and it rendered the post OK. Horizontal swiping didn't seem to do anything.

They would be better off using Google+ for these announcements anyway. It looks cleaner, they can get a lot of feedback in comments, and they get to further promote Google+, too, as it gets more people used to it.

these blogspot dynamic themes are a pile of turd. they even override some key binds which redirect to other posts. overengineered piece of crap. google groups are barely usable too. haven't used a slower mailing list since I was on dialup. ctrl+click? forget it.

I can't scroll down with the space bar. This makes me unreasonably angry.

Pff … just use your mouse to scroll!

/me moves cursor over to the scroll bar only to be intercepted by a pop-up menu containing a logo, helpfully labelled "Logo".


What's better - if you click on it, you see just that.

A blogger logo. That's it. That's where the link leads. To blogger logo.



hmmm, scrolling-with-space works for me...

You have to make sure the article body has the keyboard focus first though (e.g. by clicking somewhere on the text); it would be nice if they'd somehow arrange for that to happen by default...

I clicked on the article what felt like 100 times and it still didn't get focus.

Came here to post something similar.

Not only do I have to disable no-script to see any content, but then the page usurps my back button taking me somewhere I don't want to go.

For a company that makes neato flip-book-web3.0-page-turny stuff so well, they sure do fall flat on the blog thing.

Yeah, it works okay for people who are browsing it on a decent machine with an up to date browser and gives everything else problems. All for little to no gain in functionality, all we really want is a title and some text nicely formatted with a decent font (and these can be easily fixed with readability/ instapaper anyway).

Seems like the wrong direction in an increasingly mobile world, feels like this stuff is either tested on very specific mobile devices or not at all.


When I feel compelled to read such a page, I haul it up from Google's cache. (Firefox has an extension to click-ify that. And, fortunately, Google cache functionality is not all ueber-Javascripted -- yet.)

To cut to the chase: These templates are designed for the sake of Google, not users.

I don't care why, as I browse with javascript disabled I just end up on a blank page and move on to something else.

I suggest both you readers and users of blogspot do the same.

I actually really like it. What don't you like about it?

For a start... how about the stupid menu that pops up when I try to use the scroll bar? A stupid menu that actually has an entry titled "Logo", with a "I love blogger" graphic? What the heck is that supposed to mean?

Completely and totally breaks instapaper.

> Have you ever tried to attach a file to an email only to find out it's too large to send?

Yeah! Some jerk who runs my MTA set the size of acceptable attachments really low! I wonder who did that...

$ host -t mx mydomain.com

mydomain.com mail is handled by 0 aspmx.l.google.com.

Oh... I see.

Attachment size limits aren't there just to fuck with you. Sending large files around between web clients is okay, but if you send a large file to an outlook user they're going to have to sit there waiting for it to download before the rest of their email comes in. And then it's going to make their PST file exceed the maximum PST file size, which in a poorly managed system (i.e. most personal computers) is going to cause data loss.

Also, my parents used to use an ISP-provided email address, and it would silently drop any messages that included a file that exceeded their maximum attachment size. So any time i tried to send them photos, they'd never get the email. Limiting attachments to a fairly small size is just being a good citizen of the email network.

> Attachment size limits aren't there just to fuck with you.

Although bandwidth and storage have greatly been raised, the scaling problem remains: send a single email with the usual limit of 10MB to 20 recipients, and it will balloon to 200MB total at some point, possibly multiple times even. Scale this up, and you've quickly got a problem. What's more, either you put on limits or become a target for volume-filling DoS, and whatever limit you put on will be used and abused (ever seen those professional PPTs filled with ridiculously sized, uncompressed BMPs?).

So when sending big files email basically becomes a form of push signalling mechanism, where voluminous resources can be pulled on demand. Maybe a standardization of this process is in order instead of everyone coming up with its body-embedded HTML presentation mimicking regular file attachments? Something like a multipart message with mime type application/email-attachment-uri, which would make it nice to text-only modes.

BTW this really looks like what's currently implemented in Sparrow with CloudApp or Dropbox.

Also don't forget that attachments are usually base64 encoded which increases the size by 33%.

Thanks for explaining this, it sounds obvious now but I never understood why attachment size was limited.

I think attachment sizes were also limited because back in the day, you know when Internet connectivity was a series of beeps and clicks, people used to surf the internet on these shitty little things called modems that ran at 33.6 and 56 kbps. Forget the 10 meg limits imposed in those days, it would probably have taken an hour to download that single message!

A lot of the hang up may have remained from that.

I remember the days when it would take 20 minutes to download an mp3 only for it to drop out in the final minute. Grrr!

Add to that what lloeki said, it's probably one of the most important reason. I becomes very easy to take down several servers at the same time!

Oh sure. However, it also puts a lot of load / strain on servers that Google doesn't want to run (SMTP, IMAP, etc). The way the post is written makes it sound like Google has figured out how to tame some natural force to allow us to have big e-mail attachments, while all along the limit was set by Google itself. I really don't think that Google cares about Outlook users (why should they).

Somewhat unrelated, I think that Google is beginning to try and pressure people to stop using SMTP and IMAP. I've long used Mail.app, mutt, or Thunderbird to use mail hosted by Google, almost entirely because the GMail client doesn't support any kind of message encryption or authentication. Recently, I have been receiving a lot of "quota exceeded" messages during routine interactions with the IMAP servers. I suspect that Google is in the process of gradually lowering the allowed quotas for IMAP usage in an attempt to get people to use the web UI, Android, or cros ...

I'm not sure why you're getting those quota errors, but I can assure you that we're not trying to pressure people to stop using SMTP and IMAP.

If you post on the forums, some user support folks should be able to help you out and escalate to engineering if they find you're hitting a bug.

Sorry for the issues you're seeing.

How often are you syncing? I use offlineimap and haven't noticed any issues.

If that's the case, though, seems like I should start looking into alternative email providers....

> I really don't think that Google cares about Outlook users (why should they).

Because they want their users to be able to communicate with Outlook users?

You are talking nonsense, they obviously need to play nice with other email hostings/clients; and with this new way of sending files it let their users know that they are two different ways of sending data; that is not really an email attachment but a link to your file in the cloud; a distinction that many times matter.

And they can't give the amount space they give in Drive to every gmail account; why would they do that? Better to be a different service that only the people interested in that kind of big cloud storage will take.

I've been paying for Google Drive for several months because I really, really want it to work, but it's actually kinda useless as it causes constant instability and 120%+ CPU load on my 2012 Macbook Pro. This means that I frequently close the application down, so it's not actually covering me and if I lost my computer, the most recent files probably wouldn't be covered. There's been an open issue about this in the support forums for months and there's no news on when they're going to fix it...

I switched to Arq with Glacier as my "House Burns Down" backup, as I already backup to a Time Machine external drive at home. I'm very happy with it, but of course, I've never tried to get the data back yet.

> I'm very happy with it, but of course, I've never tried to get the data back yet.

Not to be that guy, but... if you don't have a tested restoration plan for a backup, you don't have a backup!

Nothing's worse than losing all your data with no backup... except for losing all your data and going to restore from your backup, only to find that all your data there is gone as well!

Agreed. When Arq finishes its backup, I'll do a verification.

I appreciate you being "that guy" :)

I uninstalled Google Drive myself... I just don't "get it", it doesn't seem to work as well as Dropbox, and it's kind of cool I can see my Google Docs, but organizing them in Drive doesn't appear to organize them in the "Drive" link of my Gmail, etc...

Yea, the native clients suck, but then again Google was never known for making solid desktop apps (it's not really in their DNA after all). I have similar experiences as you, so I use it purely from my web browser now. The website has gotten more functional and easy to use lately.

This is long overdue. I've been inserting links to Google Docs (the old name for Drive files) into emails forever, but plenty of people I know don't realize how easily they can do that and give up if a large file cannot be attached to an email. I'm also surprised by how many Gmail-using friends of mine don't even know there's some hefty free file storage a click away even though the link to it has been at the top of their Gmail for years.

A welcome feature, but we can't ignore the paradigm shift's tiny repercussion: once the sender deletes the file, the receiver will no longer be able to access it (assuming they've lost, deleted, or not yet downloaded their own copy). Lately I've used shared Dropbox folder links for larger attachments, but the same problem seems to persist with any hosted solution. A solution that pleases both the sender having control over their files and the receiver having long-term access is tough to imagine.

> A solution that pleases both the sender having control over their files and the receiver having long-term access is tough to imagine.

It's that paradoxical? Having control of the file means being able to revoke access to it. If the viewer has long-term access, the owner doesn't have control.

I agree with your statement. I should be more precise: the gap will appear in the layman's approach. For example, A: "Hey remember that file you sent me a while ago? I can't access it anymore." B: "Oh, I deleted it." A: "But I thought it was an attachment?" B: "Well..."

Can you make a copy in google drive?

Yes, File->Create a copy.

This is lovely. Very welcome.

Sending and sharing files are two of those things that are just now sluggishly rolling over to discover that it's a new millennium.

Dropbox and Drive are making great strides lately and I'm really thankful for it. Using Dropbox to have the same "folder" across three computers is the first time synced sharing ever felt intuitive enough for my (71 year old) father to regularly use, and now he can use this to reliably send larger files to people without any worry of fouling up permissions (that would otherwise be difficult for him to understand).

So can we use that to send binaries to people? Because gmail will absolutely not allow you do that. They will go as far as inspecting archives to look for binaries and ban you from sending them.

You can get around this by renaming the file to have some arbitrary image extension. Not ideal, but works.

That is true.

I wanted to email my tax data to my accountant. So, I made a self-extracting PGP archive several megabytes in size. Gmail wouldn't let me send it until I tacked on .remove after the .exe extension.

It's not really an unreasonable thing, IMO. Google is just making sure the file won't run semi-automatically upon being downloaded. Ending in a random extension prevents that, since the user has to deliberately rename the file first.

Or zip it up with something like 7zip, encrypt it with a password and tell it to encrypt the filenames as well so Google can't peek inside :)

IIRC, you can also just strip the file extension altogether.

I had to send some DLLs once -- that was a pain. I think the only thing that ended up working was zipping them and stripping the .zip extension off the file.

Once I wanted to send a zip file of malicious php files. Google (correctly) identified them as harmful. It wouldn't allow me to send them even though I tried to pack them into zip, tar.gz and tar.bz2 files. In the end I wrote a script that rot13 encoded the files and was able to send the files.

Does google drive impose similar restrictions?

So, in other words, Gmail just added a feature that Hotmail/Outlook.com have had for years.

golf clapping

yes. Exactly... But, you know, now it's done by Google... Anyway, I'm surprised that no-one except you cited skydrive and the fact that they just copied a feature so old for many users...

It's about time!

I use Google's cloud-based services for as much as I can, but it's still not seamless and is annoying when I have to open a new window to access a service run by the same company providing the one in the page I'm on.

Next step: Please allow me to easily save PDF's and other documents directly to Drive from a URL. I shouldn't have to download a file to my device and then upload it to drive.

If you use cloudprint (link: http://www.google.com/cloudprint), you can already save PDFs or any other URL directly to Google Drive. I use this all the time to save online confirmations, receipts, etc.

> Now with Drive, you can insert files up to 10GB

Hmm, how much space do I have in there now?

0% of 5 GB used... Now it makes sense.

You can pay and get more space.

Sorry for the late reply... that is what I was implying. They are offering this to sell more storage space.

Is no-one else worried about these TOS applying to their email attachments?

you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps).

EDIT: I guess it's a moot point if you're already using Gmail.

I've been dogfooding the "Gmail will double-check that your recipients all have access to any files you’re sending" feature for a month now and it's FANTASTIC. If you use Google Docs a lot, this saves so much permission pingpong.

Honestly Gmail's new features never cease to amaze me. Their new compose box is a good example. Initially it was terrible for me as I frequently send from other email addresses but within a week they had removed a click or two and now it's perfect.

I'm very impressed with how fast that other-email-address UI issue was fixed.

Is this minuscule feature worth the front page?

This is how email could work too. The sender would host it (by himself or in cloud) and the recipients go fetch it when they want to read it. Updates and comment threads all collect into the same place. No spam either since nobody would be pushing tens of megabytes of messages to your inbox.

It’s cool in a lot of ways, but there are two big disadvantages over traditional attachments:

- The recipient doesn’t get a static copy of the file to keep alongside the email.

- The sender’s responsible for keeping the file available until the recipient has seen/saved it.

those are both advantages in plenty of situations. Just depends on what you want in a given situation.

Well, you could always just paste a good old URL.

this is awesome! it might also just tip the scales from dropbox over to drive. I cant believe something so obviously powerful took so long! I do hope that it will allow me to share files with non-gmail users as well!

There is a really good third-party Chrome extension that effectively does this already and also works with Box and Dropbox: https://attachments.me/

I LOVE attachments.me! I have it set up to automatically store attachments from certain folks to a dropbox folder. I only wish it worked with MailPlane...

Question: so with this, I can send an attachment and change the file before the recipient opens it? Will they see if it has been modified? Will I see when they have accessed it?

This is an automated way to do what was previously "copy and paste a Google Docs link into an e-mail".

Yes, you can change the file. If it's in native Google format (e.g. a Google Doc, not an uploaded/stored Word .doc file) you have a revision history. You can see when people join/leave the document while it's open (without timestamps), but you can't bring that up later.

plug: my friend built a chrome extension that does a superset of that - it is called Cloudy and integrates with filepicker.io which lets you choose files from multiple cloud storages: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/cloudy/fcfnjfpcmno...

disclaimer: I work for a Google competitor

Would be perfect if they add this Google Drive attachments functionality to Sparrow. Someday.

I wonder if this will cause storage optimisations on their data centers.

I never liked the idea of hosting my own files on someone else's server (Dropbox) or sending them through a middle-man.

That's why i just run my own "cloud" on my own premises. If I want to give someone access to a file, I just throw it on my Synology DiskStation and the receiver can get at it via FTP or HTTP client.

That's not a "cloud," that's just a server. There's an important difference, and people need to stop using them interchangeably.

> That's not a "cloud," that's just a server.

Much like Web 2.0, cloud doesn't have a technical definition.

> There's an important difference, and people need to stop using them interchangeably.

People need to stop using "cloud" altogether.

Hah. You silly young'uns. The internet has always been represented by a cloud. If his server is attached to the internet, it's part of said cloud.

What is the difference?

I believe cloud by definition means third party, but something like the host wont know what it is storing, just who accesses it. So in OP's case if his computer is shutdown, the server wont be able to serve the file, but if it is on "cloud" there is a lot less chance of downtime and greater latency as "cloud" can have multiple data centers around the globe to server same file.

I believe it's worse than that.

Since as long as I remember and probably even before that, when explaining networking to executives, marketing and other technically challenged people, we use drawings. In these drawings the part representing the internet is for some reason drawn as a cloud, probably to convey that some magic we don't want to get into the deatils happens there.

Now you've got it, the cloud, a.k.a. the internet symbol for ignorant people.

Haha, yeah that was kind of a joke and it's why I put the word "cloud" in quotes :)

(However if I own a couple/few of these boxes at different sites and they all sync up to store things redundantly then the line is blurred just a bit. The Synology devices are certainly capable of that.)

Sounds like an awful lot of work finding a problem which there are easier solution. What exactly do you not like about using Dropbox? A trust issue?

There are certain things I do host within my own ftp server, but I just use my web host which I have 10GB of disk space but am only using maybe 10 meg for my personal site. I wouldn't go to the extent of my own server unless it was a real business requirement, I'd be fine just putting on Dropbox/Google and if it was sensitive info then I would encrypt the files first - either 7zip or Truecrypt.

The Synology was purchased primarily to store our large collection of media files. It arrived, I inserted my hard drives, plugged it into the LAN and booted it up. I don't consider this as part of the setup for sharing.

The sharing features were then enabled with a few clicks on the appliance's locally hosted (ExtJS) web application. This step was much less work than going around to every PC in the home and office installing Dropbox.

Usage-wise, I find it to be less work to share something via my Synology than with Dropbox, particularly because A) I don't need any special software to share something from any computer in the world, B) most of the time my files arrive instantly and C) there are no limits to the size of files that I can share. When I was still using Dropbox, I'd hit that limit often enough to make it a PITA to use.

Seems very useful. I bet I'll be using that a lot.

Sorry for being pessimistic, but any speculation on the vulnerabilities this connection opens?

No more than the years-old sharing features in Google Docs/Drive, I'd imagine.

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