Flat versus tree file structure

Discuss new features and functions
Posts: 25
Joined: 25 Apr 2020

Musenka

I agree that both views (plain view and tree view) are both important and each of them is the best choice for some specific conditions. As I mentioned earlier, it's quite impossible to have one and only optionless view that is universally the best view for any use cases. These fundamental approaches (plain and tree structures) both deserve to be presented as optional views.

Additionally, at least for Tree View special "Save horizontal space" option would be very useful for the corresponding use cases. In "Save horizontal space" mode tabs corresponding to nesting levels should be minimized (but of course not omitted totally) and may be the first item in every separate folder should be listed not on the same line as path, but on the next separate line - with the same tab as all other contents of this folder (this saves horizontal space for the first item in any folder and provides more list uniformity).

As to me, I am still using version 10.25, because version 11.00 introduced bugs in visual representation (I described them in previous messages).
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JDB

Flat view with a horizontal scrollbar is good. Why is it neccessary to fill the panels up with whitespace when there is a deep directory structure or long pathnames? When I view the results of a compare, I like to see where I am, not be left wondering in some esoteric cloudy white space.
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Joined: 25 Jul 2020

JPringle

Also agree that the flat view or the tree view may be suitable.

So I take this opportunity to present my wish list:
- of course, first of choice between the flat view or the tree view...
- possibility to choose the background color in the lists (I would put on a green background the files that will be saved by the synchronization, on a red background those that will be deleted and on a white background what doesn't exist yet or will be updated)
- directory names could be written in bold for better readability
- reminder: the possibility to modify the icons already exists by modifying Icons.zip

I attach screenshots of what I mean:

FFS 10.24 with custom icons
FFS10.24.png
Actual FFS 11
FFS11.png
Possible custom version with flat view :
FFS10.24_wish.png
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JPringle

Perhaps better if updated files are also on red background, as this version will no longer exists
FFS10.24_wish2.png
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VladimirII

If the Icon background colour stays the same as it is now your custom icons JPringle are not bad.
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JPringle

If the Icon background colour stays the same as it is now your custom icons JPringle are not bad. VladimirII, 06 Aug 2020, 12:37
For a better experience, the icons background color could also be customizable :-)
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JDB

I actually don't want to be able to customize anything. Let's not talk about aesthetics, colors, icons, and other things from the other side of our brains. Basic functionality is the main issue. Performing a comparison and seeing a bunch of white space with vertical lines, wondering where they lead to, or wondering which directory a filename belongs to, is NOT FUNCTIONAL. Move the theoretical discussions to another forum and talk here about actual use cases and operation. My use case is: I want to see the root location of all my files CLEARLY without having to apply some visual perceptual algorithm based on theories about trees.
Posts: 5
Joined: 23 Feb 2020

thirl88

Well, JDB uses a lot of polite and clever words. Can I just be really straight to the point?
(1) I love FFS and have used it for years.
(2) The display of the grid in v11 is utter crap. Put it back the way it was. It wasn't broken.
Posts: 4
Joined: 1 Apr 2018

SinusPi

My biggest gripe with the new "tree" display?

Image

File 20 is clearly in "FOTO\2019". File 21 is... in "FOTO\!LRCAT"? Or maybe in "FOTO\2019\!LRCAT"?
Wait, wrong, both files are in the same folder!

Why fix what isn't broken? There are many ways to coll...pse paths that are too long, but this is absolutely not one of them.
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JDB

@thirl88 -- thanks!
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Joined: 26 Aug 2020

eclintATX

Please consider adding a button to switch between the tree view of the file structure and the older flat file structure. The descriptive nature of my folder names pushes the filenames off past the right of the windows. proehm3555, 19 Jun 2020, 20:08
I agree completely. This interface layout does not work for me.
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Joined: 19 Aug 2019

Sonik_C

The tree view may look nice (with more tweaking) and keep the visual clutter of filenames/paths to a minimum, but it's counterproductive, for me anyway. With the flat view I can easily see on each line exactly where every file is placed. Tree view means that if I scroll down and the folder is off-screen, I have to keep placing my mouse over every file or scroll back up to see which folder it's placed in. When there are a lot of folders or files to scroll through, it just adds more time.

The flat view is one of the reasons I find this software so easy and quick to work with. I can see where everything is at a quick glance, without scrolling up or down trying to find the folder.

This forced change to tree view is not good imo. The amount of posts/views on this thread alone should be a clear indication of that.

The tree view just isn't as convenient as the flat view, for my usage anyway. Unless I can see the folder at a quick glance on every line without scrolling. I prefer functionality over aesthetics!
There was absolutely nothing wrong with how the flat view worked before. Just restore the option to keep the old view and everyone will be happy! This is a big change to the whole UI, which has stayed pretty consistent over the years. Giving users the choice would be the better option, rather than forcing the change.

I really don't want to have to stay on an older version without bug fixes, but it seems I might not have a choice if the flat view is permanently removed.
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Joined: 7 Jan 2018

bgstack15

Zenju, please consider restoring the traditional file layout. The version 10.24 was the last one with a view where you could see the entire relative path or entire full path of the files. This view was the simplest to understand.
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Joined: 6 May 2020

OmalleyTEC

I agree to the reviews of most of the other users posting here. I am sad about reading Zenjus post where he says that he doubts the need of options for this problem. :-(
But it fits to the fact that he rolls out a new version of his program without providing a beta version and without asking users what they want. I never saw any request. :-((
It is also fact that FFS is freeware and it is Zenjus project. He can roll out a new version an stop bugfixes and security patches for older versions at once. It is an ego software. Donations mean buying something without getting rights.
I can only decide if I want to use his software further on and if I will support it with donations.
I have to say that I don't like the way the developer handles the issue. But maybe I am the only one.
My decision for now is .... yes, I will use the version 10.24 until I found a better solution and ... no, I will not support it with donations until I get a version which is comfortable to me.
I will keep an eye on the project.
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Joined: 23 Feb 2020

thirl88

Indeed, the developer has let himself down and let down all of those who have used his prgram for years and those who have kindly asked for the old functionality to (at least) be an option. Perhaps the developer has learned his update procedures from Microsoft as they are well versed in removing perfectly good and well loved features without warning!

In the main FFS has worked perfectly well (for my needs) for many years without ever needing to update, though I always update when there is a new version. But in recent times when I see the update notification I think "oh no, what has he changed this time"!

I too have gone back to 10.24. I'm not looking elsewhere for another program at this point. 10.24 does what I need without issues. It's a case of "it ain't broken, so I don't need to fix it". If that were the final version I'd be happy enough. For now, for me, it IS the final version. But I am very thankful for what has been created to this point. FFS remains my favourite file backup tool.
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xCSxXenon

Don't crucify a developer for trying to improve the product. I highly doubt Zenju is running things with a "holier than thou" mindset. He does care about user feedback and has proven that many times over. Of course, there is nothing wrong with not liking certain changes, and options are great, but at the end of the day this is a passion project and I believe it shows. He may have let you down, but he has not let himself down, or me. I see changes toward a better future, which has growing pains sure, but may end up brighter at the other side. If your primary value is "it ain't broken, so I don't need to fix it", then you wouldn't/shouldn't have updated past the first version you got the job done with. I hope he continues working on the design, as I agree it can definitely be better, but it takes time.
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thirl88

To be clear, I did not mean that Zenju has let anyone down (himself included) just because he changed something in his own software. It is the fact that he has "apparently" ignored the pleas of people to put back something that "wasn't broken" and, in fact, made that change without asking his users first. That is what is a let down. If asked, it is obvious that tons of us would have said... "no, please don't do it". Perhaps he has explained somewhere why he thinks the new way is better and why he thought the old way was so bad that it needed removing?
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Joined: 19 Aug 2019

Sonik_C

Nobody is crucifying the developer, it's his software at the end of the day. But, let's face facts here, most people are NOT happy with this change! As I said in a previous post, just look at the amount of views/posts on this thread compared to others! If that isn't a clear indication that people are unhappy/concerned, then I don't know what is!??

The Dev is just "pushing on" with his vision, without paying any attention to the main problem, which is the complete removal of the old UI.
The solution isn't to tweak the new UI and ditch the old one. The solution is to actually LISTEN to user feedback, keep working on the new UI if so desired, but at the very least, give people the OPTION to keep the old layout!

People are welcome to use this new layout if they so choose, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with how it worked before. The old UI works much better for many people, as has been stated quite a lot here. Why just completely remove it?? Terrible decision! THAT is why people are voicing their concerns! I have no issue with people wanting to use the new layout, I just have issue with the lack of an option to keep the old layout. And I'm sure many others here feel the same!

Yes, this is just my opinion, and will most likely be completely ignored as I only have 10 posts here, but this is absolutely THE WORST change that has happened to this software! The new layout just doesn't work for many people. Just read through this thread, it's really not that difficult to see!
Posts: 11
Joined: 19 Dec 2019

bazbsg

The change was made because the developer DOES listen to user requests. There were at least several users asking, including myself. But in my request I asked to have both the old and the new available and switchable at runtime (without a new Compare step) because there are cases where each is better than the other.

One message from the developer seemed to imply he thought the original list view WAS a tree view. If not aware of what was available out there, maybe that explains why he seems to have rolled his own tree view. I imagine that was a lot more work than just using a control that is already available. But as I stated before, I'm not sure how being able to run on multiple platforms makes the development more complicated. My experience is WIndows programming from back in the XP days and earlier where I could have just popped in an MFC CTreeView. Maybe there isn't a control available today that would run on all the platforms supported by FreeFileSync and rolling his own was the only option??? Unfortunately, what came out is not what people were hoping for and hence there are a many more people asking to go back than that had asked for the tree view in the first place.

I hope that an option to use the original view is given soon and that the tree view continues to be improved.
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Joined: 7 Jan 2018

bgstack15

I have written a patch that adds a "Traditional" view for version 11.1! It is too long to include in-line here, but it's on my gitlab: https://gitlab.com/bgstack15/stackrpms/-/blob/master/freefilesync/debian/patches/ffs_traditional_view.patch

Zenju, please consider including this patch in mainline FreeFileSync. But for anyone who wants to build with this patch, here you go!

2020-09-19 edit: point to most recent version of patch
Last edited by bgstack15 on 19 Sep 2020, 13:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: 25 Apr 2020

Musenka

Some people here stated that Tree View "hides" paths for cases when there are many files listed in folders so scrolling down the list hides the path and mouse hovering is needed to check the path. I do not understand these statements. Here are 3 screenshots of the same list in Tree View in 3 random scroll positions. The list is rather long and contains many hundreds of files. When I scroll down the list the full path is always shown on the top line so you always see the exact path in any scroll position. This is very convenient, at least for me.

3 random scroll positions - and full path is always visible on the top line:
Screenshot_20200907_154421.png
Screenshot_20200907_154505.png
Screenshot_20200907_154531.png
As to other topics - I quite agree that OPTION for view type (plain view / tree view) with possible another OPTION for max horizontal space saving mode (for very very long paths - see previous discussions) would be very helpful for all. Personally i always prefer Tree View because it has many strong benefits discussed before (for example, see my posts on this subject) and I find it convenient but I understand that some people hate Tree View and do not want to use it at all.

P.S.: I am still using version 10.25 for Linux for reasons I already mentioned before, but I'm going to test new versions of course and transfer to them sooner or later.
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Musenka

I tested the latest 11.1 and found it to be a clear good improvement. Visualization issues noticed in 11.0 are repaired. Moreover, resizing of FLOATING "Configuration" window in Linux version works well now!
Screenshot_20200907_162846.png
My previous post about the fact that full paths are ALWAYS visible in tree view even for very long file lists and scrolling does NOT break things fully holds for the latest version 11.1.

3 random scroll positions (in the same folder) - and full path is always visible on the top line (version 11.1):
Screenshot_20200907_162443.png
Screenshot_20200907_162509.png
Screenshot_20200907_162530.png
Thanks for very good work, Zenju! The new version is really an improvement!
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JPringle

Another good thing in 11.1 is that the background color is now grouped by directory (and not every other file) : much better!
20200907_FFS11.1_group_by_directory.png
But please consider colouring the files on each side according to whether they are saved or deleted/updated
20200806_FFS10.24_wish2.png
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Joined: 8 Sep 2020

Novgorod

Hi!
The new tree/flat/whatever hybrid view is fine and I don't have much of a preference, BUT why can't I collapse the folders anymore?? That was one of the most important features in the overview and now everything is expanded by default (which is fine) but without the option to collapse folders (which is the opposite of fine). My backups contain software installations or project archives with many thousands of items per piece, so it's virtually impossible to scroll through. Previously, I could just collapse the folder if it just needs to be mirrored or doesn't exist on the target and quickly go through the entire list. Now you have to highlight the folder (which highlights the sub-items) and manually drag the scrollbar until you find the end of the highlighted section (if you're lucky and don't scroll lightyears past it).

So please add back the folder collapse function.
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lawrence-dol

I don't have a significant interest in this debate -- I have a 50" 4K monitor, and though I sync a few million files daily, both locally and remotely, FFS meets my needs either way as I can maximize my window and have no truncation or misalignment. I've donated occasionally, but I consider FFS to be essentially free; frankly I don't care for the entitled tone of some of the posts, but, despite that, I assume that they are meant in good faith. For my part, speaking as a fellow programmer, I thank the author and appreciate his work, which, I can assure you all, is not trivial.

With that said, and as I've commented before, the new view is demonstrably a step backwards. The new layout does not save any horizontal space, it does not make the list more readable, and the misalignment that occurs trying to keep the file name displayed is simply confusing.

There are, in my opinion, only three useful ways to display the list, and I would like to see all three, and be able to switch between a flat and tree layout without resynching (which should be no problem as the underlying data must be the full filenames).

Option 1 is the original list, with mouse-over to display the full path of a truncated filename. I think this would be far more useful if the ellipsis was rendered in the middle of the name, e.g. "c:\users\...\some\file" when the filename doesn't fit.

Option 2 is a tree-like layout (directory folding would be very nice, but is not essential to me). This will maximize horizontal space at the cost of additional vertical space, and "empty" folders should be combined on a single line to avoid unnecessary vertical space. This looks like:
Sync Root Folder 1
  File1
  File2
  File3
  A Subfolder
    File4
    File5
    Subfolder\with\some\empty\folders
      File6
      File7
    Another Subfolder
      File8
  And so on
Sync Root Folder 2
  AsAbove
    Etc etc
  You get the idea
Option 3, as I mentioned in a previous post, would regain significant horizontal space by splitting the current two-pane left/right display into three panes, filename/left/right. The filename would then be shown only once, with a left/right pane for the file details to indicate which side is newer and which direction it's going to go. This would apply to both an improved original view and a tree view, whereupon only the first pane would change when the view is toggled.

So I'd like to see a program option for a two-pane or three pane view, with a list toggle for tree layout and flat layout. But if nothing changes, or it's reverted to the original view, then I'm not complaining either.
Last edited by lawrence-dol on 16 Sep 2020, 19:12, edited 2 times in total.
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Sonik_C

I don't think anyone here has acted entitled, just because they've been voicing their concerns about something. As I've said before, it is the Dev's software and he can do what he wants. But, a lot of posts here have been asking the Dev to reconsider and reinstate the old layout as an option, for the last 3 months. The new layout could have at least been beta tested by a small set of users, before being forced on everyone.
Even some users who prefer the new layout still seem to think the old one should be an option. Some people here are unhappy, but I don't think anyone here has acted "entitled" for voicing it.

It's still the best backup software in my opinion. It's just a shame that I've been unable to update past v10.24 for the last few months, as the tree view doesn't work for me. Other users here feel the same.

I'll stick with this version for a while, and if nothing changes then I'll have to eventually find something else that suits my needs. I'd rather not though, because I've been using FFS for years, and I'd really like to continue using it with updates.
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bazbsg

"A option toggle would seem to be the way to go so folks could pick their poison."

In Windows, a checkbox has a well established functionality. I would prefer it follow that. However, if a checkbox has a different functionality in other operating systems that this program supports, then I would suggest that the checkbox follows the functionality of the OS it is running on. I would accept an option toggle in that case as a second choice.
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lawrence-dol

I'm trying to stay positive, but in the latest release (11.2) the list has become even less readable.
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JDB

Below are 2 listings of the identical directory structure using version 11.2 (top image) and 10.24 (bottom image). ... except for 2 files that snuck into view when switching the software. The 11.2 version on the left is "noisy" and mis-aligned. My eyes dance around and I find it difficult to come to the conclusion that all the files in the right folder don't exist in the left folder. The tabular format with randomly placed cell divisions and right-justification is really confusing. It's aggravated by the fact that the cells are too small, and higher level directory names end with "...". True, if one studies it, it can be deciphered; albeit not "at a glance", which is possible with 10.24.

Looking at the version 10.24 example, I can instantly observe which files in the right folder don't exist in the left folder. I don't have to study the chart carefully as I do with the 11.2 example. Also notice how inefficient the 11.2 version is in terms of utilization of vertical space. I don't care if the pathnames are truncated in the 10.24 view, because the mouse-over event is very fast and reveals the full pathname with a consistent effect, simply by scrolling up and down the list. When the ellipsis ("...") appears, it's at the far right and doesn't cut off higher level parts of the pathnames. With 11.2, the mouse-over popup dances all over the place, and seems to have a quarter-second delay added.

I would really like to see the 10.24 output format reinstated. Thank you for your consideration!

Also, please, if you are planning to NEVER change the format back, please announce this with a sticky post so that everyone can stop fussing and learn to live with that decision. Thank you.

Version 11.2:
Verson 11.2.png
Version 10.24:
Version 10.24.png
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Joined: 25 Jul 2020

JPringle

I've made several proposals about how to display files that will be updated/deleted or those that do not exist on either side of the sync, here for example. But so far this has not been accepted.
I still think FFS is an excellent product but it's a bit of an interface issue. It deserves a real graphic designer's eye over the technical side of the software (excellent, I repeat).