Major usability issue with sharing Folders between users/groups

Hi everyone.

I run Nextcloud at home and in our company and love it.

However, there is one thing that bugs me really hard since day one when I installed and used my first instance (owncloud back then). Now is the time that I finally talk about it. I hope I am not alone.

Scenario 1: Two users John and Jane.
John wants to share a folder with Jane.

  1. John creates a folder shares/Jane and presses “share” on the Jane folder and selects Jane.
    So far so good.

  2. Now Jane has a folder “cluttering” her root folder called
    “Jane” (shared by John)

Scenario 2: Two users John and Jane.

  1. John wants to share his music folder with Jane.

  2. Now Jane has a folder simply called “music” in her root folder. (Never tested what happens on name collisions here)

Scenario 3: Two groups with multiple users “CompanyA”, CompanyB",

  1. Johhn of CompanyA wants to share stuff with all of CompanyB.
  2. He creates a folder shares/companies/CompanyB and shares this folder with group CompanyB
  3. Now all users of CompanyB hava a folder called CompanyB in their root.

I find this confusing at best for the recipient of the share and even security relevant as people of CompanyB could easily think it is a shared folder for sharing info between them.

My issues are basically.

a) I don’t want other people be able to put stuff into my root folder. I love it clean and sorted :wink:
b) Even them deciding how it is called on my site. (I know I can rename/move it after the fact. Still)
c) It can be really confusing at times.

Currently, me knowing this behavior I do something ridiculous as this:
creating shares/Persons/Jane/From_John and share From_John. Which is something I can not expect others on the same instance to do/understand.

Possible solutions
Most likely there are better ideas. But I don’t just want to complain. So here my ideas.

a) Inform me of shares, but don’t auto accept. Instead ask me on login where to put them and how to name them. Best would be if the sharee could also enter an intent message for the share. So I get this:

Jane wants to share “Music” with you: “Hi John, here is the music you asked for, Enjoy!” Accept Reject

b) Let the sharee provide a name for his folder on “the other side” and put them in a subfolder shared_with_you instead of the root folder

c) Instead of dropping them into the root folder. put them into shares/from/username/sharename and list them separately in the root view like this.

----- Your files ----
documents
music
pictures
shares

----- Shared by John -----
music

---- Shared by Jane ----
companyB

If I missed anything obvious here, please let me know. Maybe I am overthinking something.

3 Likes

There actually is a way to define a global default folder for shares: A folder for all shared files (defined per user)

This obviously doesn’t solve all problems, but it’s better than sharing to the root directory by default.
I really like the idea of sending a message with your share. Seems like a simple and elegant solution.

b) does essentially exist. Since sharing 2.0 the sharee can just rename any share he/she receives. Just press rename and thats what will happen …

I think “sharee” is the wrong word here. I understand it as providing a name for the person you share with, while maintaining a suitable folder name for yourself.

E.g. Alice shares a folder with Bob.
On Alice’ side it’s called “Music for Bob” and for Bob’s side Alice provides the name “Alice’ music”.

Wonder if this is possible by sharing and renaming (on Alice’ side in this case).

EDIT: Renaming after sharing works. So you can give a folder the name you want to be displayed to the recipient and rename it to your likes after sharing it.

This gets even more confusing, if you share eg. Downloads with a group, with read capability. Afterwards I want to grant edit privilege to John on a subfolder called “Apps”. When I do this, the “Apps” folder will be visible for John in his root folder and also in it’s original place… oddly he won’t be able to edit the same dir if he tries to access it via Downloads->Apps, only by going to the newly created Apps folder. Not the best if this is way the planned… :confused:

Yes, this is the current design. Sharing 2.0 works best if a flat share concept is used which is then put into a structure by the user. Yes, this is different from a SMB file system, but those don’t have the concept of sharing.

EDIT: Having shared files stored / displayed in a sub-folder of root has been supported since at least NextCloud 11 and is listed in the configuration section of the NextCloud 15 Administration manual as the following:

NextCloud 15 Administration Manual: All Other Configuration Options

‘share_folder’ => ‘/’,

Define a default folder for shared files and folders other than root.

Defaults to /

So to replicate the suggestion I made originally you would add 'share_folder' => '/Shared with Me/', to config.php

Original Post:
I would like to suggest the model used by Google Drive (among others):

Files shared are shared to a folder called “Shared with Me”

Users can access those shared files directly from “Shared with Me” folder as well as right clicking (or checkboxing) the share folder and saying “Add to my drive” when adding to their user list they are offered the opportunity to change where that share folder appears and what name it will use.

Bonus if the NextCloud Admin is allowed to add shared folders and specify user share location!

'share_folder' should be translateable to the locale setting of the user. I was thinking to name this “incoming” as it somehow invites to be moved and renamed to fit with the “Share 2.0” concept. But things should “make sense” without interaction, so I see the case of OP to ask for cascading within share_folder by the sharing user.
(I see lots of [Share 2.0] commits in the repo, but no principal specification, can somebody point me to a doc?)