Why do browsers still not have file upload progress meters?

It’s 2008.

Firefox 3 was just released – years of work, thousands of bugs fixed, new features thrown in.  No file upload progress meter.

IE7′s been out for awhile, but I don’t have a copy here handy to test.  My memory is telling me it doesn’t have one, or if it does, its very unobtrusive and not immediately apparent.

Opera 9.5 was recently released.  No file upload progress meter.

Konqueror 3.5 – no file upload progress meter.

It’s too late for me to check Safari2 – but I don’t think it’s got one.  I don’t have Safari3 on a Mac, so *maybe* it’s got one, but I doubt it.  I think I’d have heard about it if it does.

This current tirade stems from implementing a file upload progress meter in PHP5.  Yes, PHP5.2 has some hook, and there’s a PECL extension.  However, there’s *0* documentation on it, and the few pages Google turns up are mostly people saying “it doesn’t work!” and a few “hey it works!” with little in between.  I have one other option, I think – the APC cache system apparently also has file upload progress functionality in it now.  I was hoping to avoid it, because 1) I think it might have conflicted with the ioncube encoder on the machine and 2) I was really hoping to use an extension that just did the one thing I needed, not a bunch of other stuff as well.

I realize this is partially a PHP issue I’m ranting about, but it’s ultimately a hacky workaround to a basic piece of functionality that browsers should support.  The browser is pushing the file up – it has a notion of how many bytes have been pushed out to the network.  It is in a position to know the accurate size of the file in question.  Showing a local status of that information would be a faster experience, rather than adding a layer of AJAX calls to an upload screen.

I was at a developer panel in Ann Arbor back in 2003 and someone from MS was on the panel.  He had been on the IE team at one point, and I remember making the suggestion to him to pass the ‘upload progress bar’ back to the IE team.  It was a bit of an odd response – it wasn’t a ‘no’, but a bit of a bemused look, as if to wonder why people would want that.  He didn’t *say* that, and was cordial enough to take the suggestion, but it obviously did bugger all.  I was sort of figuring IE would have included it in IE7, then FF would eventually make it available as an extension, adding yet “one more extension” to the list of ‘gotta haves’, then they’d talk about how innovate FF is.  :)   Or perhaps even Opera might just slip it in under the radar in the past 5 years.

Alas, it seems that people that write browsers are somehow oblivious to the need app developers face in this area.  Perhaps they all live on petabit connections and/or only do development with local servers, and uploading 10 meg files takes 2 seconds.  In the real world, for most of us, it’s considerably longer and more painful, both on the development side testing, and for end users uploading.


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