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File System -> HTTP/HTML presentation engine

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Right now, I'm running MacOS 10.3 - lovely file system and file browsing capabilities, and under the covers Apache is running. What I'd like is an easy way of linking the two which anyone with a normal browser can access through HTTP.
So, this might work as a special folder on my disk. The presentation engine would traverse the subfolder hierarchy, making an on-the-fly HTML page from every subfolder with back/ forward/ up links and doing file conversion with various rules - e.g. all Word files get converted to HTML, all Photoshop files get flattened and converted to JPEG, etc.
This would let me just drag documents/ folders into this area when I wanted them to be visible but without the problem of explaining to people what webDAV is or the problem of people not being able to open my Word files because they're created on a Mac.

(Now the next problem is to allow people to consistently be able to connect to my server when my IP address is set by my ISP).
hippo, Feb 03 2004

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       FYI, Mac created Word, Excel, PPT etc files can be opened by Windows machines.   

       Some email clients (e.g. Mail) can screw up MIME types. Entourage (comes with Office.X) has no probs.
timbeau, Feb 03 2004
  

       ([timbeau] Not all the time. Also Microsoft deliberately makes some versions of Office non-backwards compatible with the latest version to force you to buy the latest version... grrr!)
hippo, Feb 03 2004
  

       Hm. What about just leaving index browsing on or running an FTP server? Most browsers support FTP these days, and so does Windows explorer, which would be the most 'natural' thing for Windows users.   

       The business of converting all files to cross-platform formats sounds trickier. You'd need a special case for every file type -- probably a request to the responsible application, which may actually have to be started up -- and some things just won't convert neatly. Still, it would certainly be possible to crawl certain directories and create HTML versions of, say, any MS Office files. Maybe a more efficient way would be to have a server-side process monitoring requests; then it could create a HTML/jpg/whatever file on the fly if no converted version existed or if it was out of date.
Monkfish, Feb 03 2004
  

       Sounds something like a web-based document management system (though you're presumably only interested in offering read-only access).   

       If you have wads of cash, all of the photocopier companies seem to offer such a product (eg xerox's docushare). The conversion capabilities are generally a bit lacking though (sometimes everything -> pdf). There must be open-source offerings too (I've encountered one that looked decent but forget its name).
benjamin, Feb 03 2004
  

       Re: office, I thought they were all "backwards compatible", i.e. they could open documents created with an older version, but just by the nature of new software, they're not necessarily "forwards-compatible", i.e. you can't open a document created by a newer version than what you're running, if the document contains features only supported by the newer version. What ends is the product support that companies typically get with multiple-machine licenses. ("We're releasing Office2004sp2, we'll no longer be supporting anyone with a version older than 2004sp1, so buy the new version.")
Freefall, Feb 03 2004
  

       [Freefall] - most MS products aren't even "present compatible."
Detly, Apr 14 2004
  

       I use an FTP server to do this exact thing. My files show up in browser windows. I log in with a username/password, and if other people need access I just give them username/passwords too (or allow them to log in anonymously).   

       Granted, it doesn't convert all my files to .jpg's or .docs (which would require extensive processing - could take many minutes or hours in some cases, depending on the directory you're trying to view), but I can still access my hard drive's files from any computer, anywhere in the world.
ee_moss, Apr 14 2004
  

       Other than the specific "Word" format incompatibilities, isn't this pretty much what apache modules already support?
You can install and customize the presentation of directory indices, and you can install and customize filtering rules that would (on the fly, not in advance) convert one media type into another.
jutta, Feb 07 2006
  

       This is obviously something I've missed in Apache...
hippo, Feb 07 2006
  
      
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