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Sharing content in the private (purple) team member folders seems broken. Is it?

Sharing content in the private (purple) team member folders seems broken. Is it?

Helpful | Level 5

[This question is in the context of DropBox for Teams, Advanced.]

 

The TL ; DR Version

What is the point of the purple private Member folders given that they appear to have an inferior (a.k.a. broken) sharing model versus that of Team folders? To be more precise: why aren't the purple private Member folders proper Team folders, instead of being (or at least behaving like) Ye Olde Style Shared folders?

 

The "All the incessant COVID news isn't boring enough; I want something truly brain-melting to read" Version
I think I've stumbled on a problem (for us anyway) with these new(-ish) private purple Member folders, specifically in terms of how sharing of content within those Member folders is done differently compared with sharing of content within Team folders. The problem is significant enough that it may well render the purple Member folders effectively useless to us. That said, I think I have figured out a workaround (although that then raises the question as to what the point is of these purple Member folders is in the first place). HOWEVER, I'm not sure I've understood things fully, so I'd appreciate comments from anyone who knows this stuff. I may be seeing problems where none exist.


So the problem concerns how a folder that one user shares with another shows up in the latter's view of DropBox; i.e. where it is "mounted", as it were. It seems to depend on whether the original folder being shared is located in the owner's purple Member folder, or in a Team folder. But, more to the point, if it's the former, then it seems to me that the sharing is done in a very problematic -- I might even say broken -- way.


So, take the first scenario where User_A wants to share something that's in his purple Member folder. Let's say User_A wants to share, with User_B the following folder:

 

     .../User_A/Mostly_Private/Some_Shared_Items/Shared_With_User_B

 

And to be clear, User_A wants to share only that lowest level directory, Shared_With_User_B. He does not want to have to also explicitly share the entire path above that lowest level. So it might look something like this:


SCENARIO #1

User_A's view

<DropBoxRoot>

|-- A_Team_Folder

|-- Another_Team_Folder

|-- User_A                           <== User_A's purple private Member folder

    |-- Mostly_Private               <== Only User_A has permissions for this

        |-- Some_Shared_Items        <== Again, only User_A has permissions for this

            |-- Shared_With_User_B   <== But User_A gives User_B view permissions to this


User_B's view

<DropBoxRoot>

|-- A_Team_Folder

|-- Another_Team_Folder

|-- User_B                            <== User_B's purple private Member folder

    |-- Shared_With_User_B            <== The shared folder gets "mounted" inside User_B's private folder


Crucially: note that because User_A did not explicitly share the tree above folder Shared_With_User_B, User_B sees the shared folder being "mounted" without it's surrounding context. And that is the problem, certainly for our use case.


But now consider the same situation, however this time we don't use the purple private Member folders at all. Instead, we create a set of Team folders, one per user, and use those instead. So now it might look like this:

 

SCENARIO #2

User_A's view

<DropBoxRoot>

|-- A_Team_Folder

|-- Another_Team_Folder

|-- Users                            <== A new Team folder to hold all the per-user Team folders

    |-- User_A                       <== Team folder which User_A controls

    |   |-- Mostly_Private           <== Only User_A has permissions for this

    |       |-- Some_Shared_Items    <== Again, only User_A has permissions for this

    |       |-- Shared_With_User_B   <== But User_A gives User_B view permissions to this

    |-- User_B                       <== Team folder which User_B controls

|-- User_A                           <== User_A's purple Member folder, but now redundant and unused


User_B's view

<DropBoxRoot>

|-- A_Team_Folder

|-- Another_Team_Folder

|-- Users                            <== A new Team folder to hold all the per-user Team folders

    |-- User_A                       <== Team folder which User_A controls

    |   |-- Mostly_Private           <== Only User_A has permissions for this

    |       |-- Some_Shared_Items    <== Again, only User_A has permissions for this

    |       |-- Shared_With_User_B   <== But User_A gives User_B view permissions to this

    |-- User_B                       <== Team folder which User_B controls

|-- User_B                           <== User_B's purple Member folder, but now redundant and unused

 

So this is a much better result. In this scenario, User_B sees the shared folder "mounted" within its surrounding context, AND, just as important, it's in the same context that User_A sees in the original. That is,  the shared folder gets "mounted" so as to appear within User_A's space, not User_B's And all of that happens even though, just as in Scenario #1, User_A has still only shared at the lowest level of his directory tree.

 

As far as I can see -- although admittedly this may simply be our use case -- Scenario #1 is simply not workable. As an example of the problem, imagine that every user had a folder within their purple private Member folder called SharedWithTeam, which, as the name suggests, they shared with everyone else. Wouldn't we then have a messy name-space collision, with DropBox appending differentiating numbers to a bunch of folders all with names beginning SharedWithTeam? Scenario #2, where the private Member folders are simply ignored, and everyone gets their own private (to whatever extent they want) Team folder, appears to solve that completely.

 

So I guess I have three questions, as follows. Am I right that:

 

  • 1) The way purple Member folders do sharing is fundamentally different
    from the way Team folders do it? AN:anguished face:
  • 2) The way purple Member folders do it -- i.e. without context, unless the full tree is also shared -- is broken? AND
  • 3) My workaround solves that brokenness?

Overall it feels that while DropBox is making the (welcome) move towards everything being a Team folder, the purple Member folders are providing some kind of legacy hangover support for Shared folders. Fair enough, but why? From my point of view I can't see why I even need the Shared folder legacy when it appear that I can do everything I want using individualized Team folders. I could frame that as a final question:

 

  • 4) Given that Team folders appear to offer all the functionality AND MORE of Shared folders, and given that the purple private Member folders appear to act like Shared (not Team) folders, then what exactly is the point of having the private Member folders in the first place? Why not just give everyone their own Team folder and put Shared folders out of their misery for good?

thanks for any input!

 

1 Reply 1

Re: Sharing content in the private (purple) team member folders seems broken. Is it?

Dropboxer

Hey there @ThomasQ, I hope you're well today!

 

I noticed your reports that your post had been picked up by the spam filter, which was probably due to the length of your post. I'd be more than happy to help out with your questions here.

 

Overall, the purple member folder is a designated personal space for unshared files within a team member's account. However, the member can indeed shared folders from here too.

 

If someone from outside of the team shares a folder with a team member, or even the whole team, it will only be able to show within the purple folder rather than the team space due the owner of the folder being outside of the team.

 

As any content within the team space (within the team folders) are owned by the team admin, folders shared from outside of the team can't be placed within the team space.

 

For your second question, the sharing within the purple folders is more similar to how it would be when sharing from a personal Dropbox account. Only the subfolder that is shared is seen rather than the entire folder tree.

 

If you prefer to have the entire folder structure available to view to other members of the team, then the steps you suggested could indeed be a good workaround.

 

However, if you were to have certain folders that shouldn't be seen at all by others in the team, even if it's just the folder name, then this could cause some issues with privacy or security.

 

Also, other members (eg. User C) will be able to request access to the folders they can see but have restricted access to, which could be granted by mistake (by User A, for example).

 

Essentially, the purple folder is meant to house unshared "personal" files for each member but it does have the option to share folders from within like a normal personal account too.

 

I hope this helps, let me know if you have any questions!


Daphne
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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