Spring Loaded Folders in Nautilus

Spring Loaded Folders (SLF) is a feature which greatly simplifies drag and drop (DND) filehandling. With normal DND filehandling you drag a file object from one place to another container. SLF enhances this by allowing you to drag the object to a closed container which activates and you are then able to further the drag to other closed containers inside the container until you get to the target container and drop the object there. OS X supposedly have this feature and it is supposedly great. (link) The web browser Firefox also has a form of SLF. You can try it out by first creating a folder with a subfolder in the Bookmars Toolbar. Then drag the icon to the left in the URL entry field to the folder which opens and you can release the icon in the subfolder. It is in my opinion very much a killer feature and one of the reasons why Firefox is a much better browser than Ephiphany. Imagine if you can, how much better filehandling in Nautilus would be if it had this feature. Right, so someone long before me thought about it and submitted a patch to Nautilus which implemented this feature. (link) The history could have ended there and Nautilus would have been a much better file manager. But it didn't because there were some problems. (link) Yes, PATENT problems. The worst kind of problem ever. Apple has patented the idea. (link) Bastards they are, taking the best of the free software community (link) and then cripples it by patenting simple concepts! The patent problem is like a growing cancer in the free software community and to me, it is evident that something has to be done to combat them. What should be do to get SLF in Nautilus? My first idea was to emigrate the GNOME Foundation to Europe. Here we do not allow software patents so there would be no legal troubles as far as I can tell. Even if we did, the GNOME Foundation would still be much more protected because you have a harder time to make frivolous lawsuits here than in the US. Another advantage would be that it allow Cuban developers to contribute. :) But the idea carries quite a few logistic problems. Most developers contributing to GNOME are Americans and Novell, RedHat and Sun (all of which are major contributors to GNOME) are US-based companies. Still it seems like that, in the long run, basing the free software infrastructure in a more relaxed jurisdiction is the best and only option. My next idea was to try and circumvent the patent. For example, it is possible that Firefox' implementation of SLF which strictly speaking opens a menu instead of a folder is enough. Nautilus could work like that. I haven't seen how SLF works in OS X, but maybe it would even be better with a menu representation? Less mouse movement and so on. My third idea is to find prior art. If we can prove that someone else implemented an idea similar or identical to SLF Apple's patent becomes null and void. However, finding prior art is hard even if you instinctively know that there should be out there. Researching it is a lot of work. But if we work together I'm sure we can torpedo this and other equally stupid patents. According to my research the Mac OS programs BeHierarchic and DragonDrop was written before Apple's SLF patent and contain ideas very similar. A KDE FTP client named KBear may also do it. Also, according to this page: www.okinfoweb.com/moe/general/gen_0 12.htm it seems like Microsoft Outlook Express had a system extremely similar to SLF long before Apple. But more research is needed. I'd be very happy if someone with knowledge of these programs reading this could contact me and tell me if we have found any prior art or not.

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