We have a number of clients that deliver files as part of their jobs – editors delivering cuts, photographers delivering images. Many of them forgo using FTP to allow access to these files – and why not? It’s far easier to send clients a link to a directory with their files than it is to create an FTP account for the client, upload the files to that directory (sometimes requiring logging in with said account) and then communicate all of the login information to a client who has hopefully used an FTP client before.
That’s quite a few steps, especially if you have a new client for each job. Fortunately, Apache provides ready-to-go directory file listings. Anyone accessing a directory will be presented with a list of files, that they can download directly out of the browser. The major downside to the directory view is that it looks lame. There’s no branding, it’s alarmingly tech-y and seems barely professional.
Thankfully the ever helpful Jeff Starr of Perishable Press has a fantastic tutorial on how to customize the look of the listing. Basically, you create a header.html file with your styling and any header messages or images and a footer.html file with any messages or images below the directory listing.
The tutorial is very detailed and extremely helpful, but we did discover one area that might trip you up. This is what the directory listing looked like with our fancy styling and a nice basic sans-serif font:
Not ideal, as all of the data in the columns doesn’t quite line up with the different headers on the list. We were baffled by this until we realized that the spacing for the column headers and data was being determined by the number of spaces – which are only consistent in monospace fonts. Here is the same directory with a monospace font.
Give it a try, and see what kind of results you can get. Share any tips in the comments.