Questions about a unified API for file choosers (and platform/toolkit integration)

Ingo Ruhnke grumbel at
Mon Mar 27 11:21:05 UTC 2017

On Mon, Mar 27, 2017 at 11:59 AM, Matthew Paul Thomas <mpt at> wrote:
> or resort to a separate dialog before/after the file picker,

Gimp does that when you export an image. In the file dialog you just
select the format and the filename and in a dialog shown after you hit
"Export" you get to chose file type specific settings (compression,
interlacing, gamma, etc.). Works pretty well.

Also let's not 'perfect be the enemy of good', just because a solution
wouldn't work every time, doesn't mean it couldn't work most of the
time. File dialogs are really not that different in most applications
or even across operating systems.

> annoying all users for the sake of a few.

Having a different file dialog in every app is annoying *all* users,
not just a few.

> On the other hand, if any set of interfaces *was* capable of these
> things, it would be similar in complexity to a toolkit.

The file dialog wouldn't need to be a toolkit itself, all it would
need to do is provide a way to embed a custom widget of another
toolkit in it. I haven't seen anybody sticking a Qt widget inside a
Gtk app, but that should be something doable.

That said, I think it's a little late for a regular old file dialog
API, it could have been really useful 15 years ago, but we are slowly
moving away from apps that have full system access. So something like
Flatpak's Portals seem to be a more realistic way forward.

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