What exactly is the Filr merged view client and why will you want it?

What exactly is the Filr merged view client and why will you want it?

One of the exciting new features we are working on for Novell Filr is something that a number of people throughout the organization refer to as a “Merged View” client. While it’s a descriptive name once you understand what’s happening, it’s not something that really helps customers get it. I thought I’d take a few minutes, now that we’ve got running code internally and highlight what exactly the Filr Merged View client is…btw…I expect that before we ship there’s going to be a much better name for this capability. As a reminder the capabilities you are about to read about are expected in a release later this year -- they aren’t part of the current Filr 1.2 beta program or the shipping 1.1 product.

One of the biggest complaints we’ve heard about Filr, is that if you want to be able to see the files you have access to, you either have to sync the file to your desktop or you have to use the web or mobile clients. The purpose of the desktop merged view clients is to remove this limitation and let you get access to any of the files that have been exposed through Filr, without having to synchronize them all down to your desktop.

Today in the Filr 1.1 client as you login the first you are prompted for what you want to sync to your device. Typically this includes My Files and Shared with Me. You can then select other folders that you want to synchronize down to your machine and can do so after install from the Filr console. However, if you want to browse everything all the time you’d have to synchronize everything, which would require huge amounts of disk space and generate a ton of network traffic. It would also be a complete waste of your time, because you’re likely to ever access a small fraction of the data and even when you did it would probably be only once or twice.

With the Filr “Axion” client, which is the code-name for the release of Filr that will include the merged view, this problem is a thing of the past. Instead when you browse to the Filr folder in explorer or finder you will be presented with this:

OSXMergedView1

From here you can browse any of the files or folders that you have access to, regardless of whether they are present in your My Files, Shared with Me, Public, or Net Folders. As you browse the device caches information to make it faster the next time you browse. In the current alpha version of this client you can then right click any file or folder and choose the option for “Make Available Offline” as shown below.

OSXMergedView2

This will cause that file or folder to be flagged for synchronization so that the files are available to you all the time and are always synchronized.

By the time we’re done, you will also have the option of just double clicking a file which will cache the file to the local store and open it in the default application. You can then edit the file and the changes will be automatically synchronized back to the server. At that point the cached file will be present on the local machine for a user-defined number of days. If the user does not access that file again within that specified number of days it will be automatically removed to save space and reduce synchronization overhead. This automatic clean-up process will only occur for files that were opened in this fashion, not for those that you have manually chose to make available offline.

That in a nutshell is what the merged view client does, it lets you use your Filr just like any other folder location and see everything you have access to. When you go offline, you’ll see only the files and folders you’ve chosen to make available and those that have been automatically cached via file operations. This should make it much easier for users to quickly access the content they need without having to think about how Filr works.

If you are interested in getting early access to the merged view client and helping us make sure it works the way you expect it to, drop me an email at jblackett@novell.com and I’ll make sure you are on the list for the early adopter drops.
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Sounds cool...too bad us linux guys in the IT dept are still waiting for a linux client. Maybe one day when IT gets the buy-in we can sell it to the end users.
This is a good step for easy usage.

We could also have a Filr overlay icons for all the File(s) & Folder(s) to distinguish from normal files & folders.
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