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Chrome bug bedevils file storage in the cloud

'I'm sorry, Dave. I can't do that'

Those using Chrome on Windows and other platforms may have trouble storing files over a network.

For at least the past ten days, Chrome version 109 – the current stable release – has balked when asked to save files using a universal naming convention (UNC) path. A bug report on the issue was submitted January 17, explaining that file saving failed on Chrome 109.0.5414.94 (32bit) for Windows.

Other browsers, specifically Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge (based on Chromium) appear to be able to complete this task properly.

The problem manifests itself after browsing for a file online, clicking on the save option and trying to store the data on a networked shared device or cloud server. As indicated in the bug report, doing so produces an error message that the package cannot be opened because it contains system files.

Windows users, however, are not the only ones facing this issue. The Register tested the bug demo code submitted by a different bug reporter.

The demo code implements the showOpenFilePicker() method that's part of the File System Access API. That particular method allows the user to choose a remotely stored file. When we attempted to open a Dropbox file on macOS Ventura 13.2 with Chrome Version 109.0.5414.119 (arm64), we encountered an error: "Can't open this file."

Screenshot of showOpenFilePicker bug

Screenshot of the showOpenFilePicker bug in action

Google has been talking up the File System Access API since 2019. It was previously known as the Native File System API, but that name got nixed for "inclusivity reasons."

Before that, it was known as the Writable Files API. It represents an attempt to provide developers with a way to let web apps access files and directories on local devices.

It's part of Google's Project Fugu, which aims to give web apps the same capabilities of native platform apps – a goal Apple has been widely accused of undermining through its timid development of WebKit-based Safari. Recently, however, Apple has accelerated its browser development in an effort to make Safari more competitive now that European and UK regulators appear ready to force the company to allow rival browsers on iOS.

The Chrome file bug, presumably residing somewhere within the Blink rendering engine's file system code, has been assigned to be fixed, ideally by January 31, 2023, when the stable cut of the version 110 code has been scheduled. It has been bumped to priority one because, as a Google software engineer put it, "blocking UNC paths broke a number of legitimate use cases." ®

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