Nautilus Devs Working on a New Way to Integrate Cloud Providers


nautilus logoDid you read my list of 3 neat new features coming to Nautilus? This set of improvements will really help to improve the usability of the GNOME file manager.

But they’re not the only changes that could be winging their way to Nautilus.

Work is underway on a new way to integrate cloud providers in Nautilus to deliver a more consistent and uniform experience — and this work might mean the end of hokey third-party Nautilus patches, legacy tray icons, and multiple sync daemons.

This official GNOME Design team mockup shows exactly how this integration would work:

cloud provider mockup

Cloud providers like Dropbox, OneDrive, SpiderOak et al become accessible through ‘deluxe’ entries in the Nautilus sidebar. They can show a status icon, custom context menus, and so on.

This is similar to how cloud service providers integrate with the ChromeOS file manager app.

Work started on creating ‘cloud provider integration’ back in 2015. GNOME developer Julius Härtl recently picked up the work as part of Google Summer of Code 2017. He’s refactored the initial code, split it out into separate libraries, and added support for native DBus signals to ‘react to changes of the cloud providers’.

What’s particularly useful is that feature doesn’t have to rely on cloud providers adding support for this feature themselves (which, let’s face it, many are loathe to do).

Instead, provided there’s an API available, anyone can create a budge between the cloud provider and Nautilus, albeit only as much as that API allows (this is what third-party ChromeOS developers had to do for Dropbox and OneDrive).

Here’s a short video that shows how these features is looking today:

Work In Progress

Promising stuff, isn’t it?

It would certainly save me the hassle after every fresh install of needing to head out and hunt down the official Dropbox Linux app, install the google-drive-ocamlfuse plugin, and remember make a web launcher for the files my sister shares with me in OneDrive.

As of yet there’s no definitive word as to when when (or if) this work will make it in to regular Nautilus. Developers are yet to play around integrating a real-life cloud provider like Dropbox, OneDrive, or SpiderOak.

While there are already a number of ways to integrate, sync and use cloud storage services on GNOME — you can mount Google Drive as a remote share in Nautilus OOTB — but a unified approach would make working with multiple providers a more coherent, reliable experience.

I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on this.

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