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Home » Kerio User Forums » Kerio Workspace » Is using the folder metaphor to represent sub-spaces appropriate? (Representing and naming sub-spaces as "folders" causes conceptual and functional confusion for users.)

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Hi all, and especially the design team,
Having trialled Workspace and trained colleagues on its use for a number of weeks now, I find one aspect of the system creates a peak in the learning curve. That peak is caused by the labelling and iconic representation of sub-spaces elements as "folders".
Top level spaces are elements for delineating variations in content into compartments for the purposes of controlling and restricting access to different groups of users.
Sub-spaces, as far as I can see, serve exactly the same purpose, as a sub-set, if you like, of the space that contains them. They are functionally the same as the top level spaces.
However, sub-spaces are visually represented with a folder icon in the side bar tree hierarchy, and in the details page of the space that contains them, where they are are also referred to as "folders" in textual descriptions. eg. "Create a New Folder" and "This folder is empty". But folders here are really sub-spaces.
From standard OS conventions, users know folders as containers of files. But these workspace 'folders' can't be used to store files and documents in the standard way.
However, one of the prime functions, quite rightly, of Workspace is to be a file storage solution. So, workspace displays 'folders' that don't store files. As you can see, these concepts and conventions are at odds with each other. I have learnt that users find the availability of folders that can't be used to store files to be very confusing.
In order to store files and documents in Workspace, you need to create a page within a space or sub-space and then use a "File Library" element within that page as a file storage location.
So, the hierarchy of constructs in your workspace could look like:
space > folder > folder > page > file library > document file
Why could this not be like:
space > sub-space > sub-space > page > folder > document file
... so that the only time we come across the representation of a 'folder', it is as a file storage location.
Could not the sub-containers of spaces be described, named and look like spaces themselves, which is what they are functionally?
This would allow the "File Library" page elements to be correctly represented as file storage locations.
Perhaps it is just me, but I think this conceptual and foundation level change could make a big difference to the adoption of Workspace by users as it would be more naturally understood.
What do others think?
Am I missing something?
Is this consideration unnecessary?
Cheers, Peter B.

[Updated on: Tue, 23 November 2010 21:28]

Jarda Snajdr (Kerio)

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Hello Peter,

we made the changes you suggested in the beta 8 we released today. Pages are now organized in spaces and subspaces and "folders" are used only inside file libraries. Please have a look at the new version and let us know how you like it.

Jarda Snajdr
Workspace Team Leader

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Changes in beta 8 seem to address the criticism here. I also like how a space can inherit privileges (admin, editor or view) from the above space. Big thumbs up from me! Smile

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Hello Jarda and all of the Workspace development team,

Sorry it has taken so long for me to be able to come back here and reply appropriately - the last 6 months work and family life has been far too busy and hectic for me to find time for R&D interests, sorry.

I cannot find enough words to express how honoured and pleased I was when I first learned that you had taken up my thoughts and suggestions re the Workspace UI so fully. It looked and functioned absolutely great back then - just as I imagined it could - and now you are at v1.01 already. Workspace is a very significant product and I'm pleased for you it is taking off very well.

Thank you so much for listening and thinking about my comments. I've never before influenced the design of a project in such a way that it is going to benefit so many people. I'm feeling quite chuffed. I look forward to the day when I can actually deploy Workspace at a site I'm involved in.

Well done on such a great product, thanks again, keep up the great work, and all the best.

Cheers, Peter B.
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