Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Filespots: Is it Vista? Or the web?

Category: Sencha, Showcase

Filespots is an online file management system that allows you to store, manage, share, and version your files on the web.

The application uses Ext 2.0, and it shows. If you are a Vista user, you will be surprised to see how similar the look and feel of this web application is.

Glen Lipka discussed this in his review. He mentions that when your web app tries to look like a desktop app, it is likely to get compared to them. It is hard to compare performance and such between a web app and a native desktop one.

Compared to other web applications though, Glen is a huge fan, and some of his concerns (e.g. no right click context menus) have already been addresses in new versions of Filespots.

Just take a look:

Posted by Dion Almaer at 9:00 am

4.4 rating from 93 votes


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The Uncanny Valley


Comment by Peter Michaux — October 9, 2007

well, that’ll look nice on my mac…

Comment by Cyril Doussin — October 9, 2007


Lol but at least it is a clean, good looking UI.

Comment by Alex — October 9, 2007

Mac theme is coming soon… ;-)

Comment by Bernado — October 9, 2007

So, who thinks that a webapplication should look just like a regular application? I think it shouldn’t. For one, a Mac/Linux/Windows XP user is not familiar at all with this interface, so why copy the ‘exact’ looks of Vista?

Comment by Mike — October 9, 2007

Stupid question: who has an invitation, please?

Comment by efattal — October 9, 2007

Looks good, but IMO having your web app open in a popup is a no-no, a bit too 1998-y where you have a simple page saying “enter” and then a flash site pops up in a new maximized window.

Comment by Stoyan — October 9, 2007

Given that the Windows explorer interface is pretty well known (even among those who don’t use Windows as their primary OS), I don’t think its much of an issue in this case. The Vista version of explorer is a bit different, but better (I love the combo clickable/text paths). Generally though, I would agree with you.

Comment by Andy Kant — October 9, 2007

wow! I was impressed when webshare popped out of nowhere to steal KFM’s glory, but this looks even better! Looking forward to actually trying it out.

Comment by Kae Verens — October 9, 2007

It looks real nice, but I agree with other comments saying web apps should have their own designs/personalities rather than an OS’s.

Comment by Michael — October 9, 2007

I think this web desktop approch has its advantages depending in the type of the application. For example many server requests can be saved using windows (like in the desktop in the ext examples). You can have many windows opened (data grids for example) with the information you maybe need for later use, instead of hiting the back forward buttons of the browser or simply doing an action again.

Comment by Alberto Lopez — October 9, 2007

I disagree on the point that web apps should look different. “Web conventions” arose as a result of browser and technology limits. Whilst I understand violating the user’s mental model is sometimes bad (for example, single clicking a file in the OS opens it – most (all?) OS’s use double click to open a file), this is not one of those cases.

Quotes from an O’Reilly article and Bill Higgins respectively state:

“We must ensure that we design our applications to remain consistent with the environment in which our software runs”

“A Windows application should look and feel like a Windows application, a Mac application should look and feel like a Mac application, and a web application should look and feel like a web application”

What’s the environment in which the application runs? Is it really a browser, or just another runtime in the OS? What’s the difference between a browser running a JavaScript App and a JRE running a Swing app (Swing is not native – it is another desktop emulation)?

I think the line has (or always was) blurred for those who aren’t technology professionals. Do most users really care that there’s a distinction between a desktop app and a web app? I don’t think so, or are they really concerned with getting the job done quickly and efficiently?

I also don’t agree with the whole “uncanny valley” thing, I don’t believe anyone has ever empathised with Micrsoft Word or Mozilla Firefox. I think what happens with browser based apps is that when it looks like a native app the user expects the app to work like a native app e.g. drag ‘n’ drop, single click selection, right click context menu etc – when the app dosen’t work like this is when it’s ‘broken’ or ‘uncanny’… if you must.

Just my 2p.

Comment by DaveC — October 10, 2007

The problem is when webapps try to emulate the look and feel of a desktop app but fail is some subtile ways. Menues don’t quite behave like in the OS, reactions to dragging are not 100% done. It is already irritating when (even modern) Java applications differ in some ways from native ones.

I am a huge fan of leaving the form controls in their native look for usability reasons. But I refrain from creating the impression that the webapp will behave exactly like your native app. For now at least.

Comment by Martin — October 10, 2007


Have you ever designed an application where you were directly involved with the users? I wish I could make my applications look as closely-related to the host OS as this — trust me, it would remove about 90% of the headaches that I have (you know, questions like, “Where’s the button at?” and “Where do I type in my name?”).

Comment by mdmadph — October 11, 2007

Hi altogether,

checkout the final release at https://www.filespots.com!
It’s online for about one Month right now and it looks even better than the closed beta from 2007…

Comment by mattr — August 10, 2009

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