Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MIME Helper Interfaces & Opt Outs

A few people commented to me when I blogged about our MIME helper interfaces that this intermediate step would drive them crazy. As those of you know that follow our work, when you double-click on a file a dialog comes up and then offers you several options on what exactly you want to do with the file.

What's interesting is that we just deployed a new Firefox server a week ago, and there were a few file types that were not configured to open these helper interfaces and we got calls from some users that had no idea what to do when a download manager opens and asks them where to save a file. I then added those file types to the mimetypes file and they were content. So, I know that a vast majority of our users have benefited from this module being in place. Instead of having to worry about WHERE, they can focus on WHAT.

But, there are a few advanced users that want a traditional interface on the new desktop. When they double-click on a file, they want the default application to just open. They are perfectly content with moving the files around manually and do not like the additional step in the middle. So after some conversation with my Director, I wrote a quick Glade/Python UI that allows people to opt out of the helper interfaces and to just launch an application.

I broke this down into three different settings. One of them is for the Desktop, which is defined as interaction of files with Nautilus. The second is Evolution, which is defined as the interaction with files that are attached in email. The third is with Firefox, and defines how to handle files that are downloaded from the Internet. This offers a great deal of flexibility and those users that wish a more traditional approach to file management is able to work in this manner.

In the shot below is the opt out UI, along with a view of the current helper interface that opens when you double-click a file. Changing the setting to "No" disables this feature.

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