In exploring some warning messages from a download of a FirstClass conference during a migration from FirstClass to Box yesterday I came across a potential issue that could affect others as well. The short version is that you should explore all errors and warnings that occur during downloads to determine what happened and whether it will adversely affect what you are doing. The long version is this.
The following applies to FirstClass
1) Unlike most file systems (such as the ones that are commonly used on WIndows or Mac systems) FirstClass is able to have multiple files or folders in the same location with the same name .
2) FirstClass also attaches extra information (most notably a "Subject") to files. This additional information can be used to sort and organize the folder and/or files.
3) When downloading files or folders from FirstClass only the "Name" of the file or folder is used to name the resulting downloaded object.
If you select a folder or conference to download that contains multiple files or folders with the same name (but possibly different subjects) the following happens. All folders at the same level with the same name in the "Name" field will be merged into one folder. All files with the same name in the "Name" field that are in a folder (which may have been because of a folder merge operation) will be downloaded but each file with the same name, after the first file to be downloaded with that name, will have one or more underscores added to the beginning of the name until its name is unique. The following example illustrates this.
Structure in FirstClass
+ Folder 1 (name "Folder 1", subject "Folder 1")
- File 1 (name "recipe.txt", subject "File 1")
+ Folder 2 (name "Folder", subject "Cookie recipes")
- File 2 (name "recipe.txt", subject "Chocolate Chip Cookies")
- File 3 (name "recipe.txt", subject "Sugar Cookies")
+ Folder 3 (name "Folder", subject "Cake recipes")
- File 4 (name "recipe.txt", subject "Chocolate Cake")
- File 5 (name "recipe.txt", subject "Spice Cake")
Structure after download to a Windows system
+ Folder 1
As you can see from the above example while no files were lost the organization and subject (which conveyed information about the file's contents) are lost.
1) After identifying problem areas (probably via a test download) modify the "Name" field in FirstClass on the affected items to make them unique (possibly by including the information in the subject field) and then do a final download of the files/folders/conferences to use. In our example above we would modify the "Name' field for Folder 2 and 3, and Files 2-4 to prevent name collisions and then re-download.
2) If the number of items affected is small and it is easy to identify duplicates files from their contents, it may be easier to modify the resulting download to reflect the structure and additional information provided by the subject line in FirstClass. Using the above example, we could rename "Folder" to "Cookie Recipes" create another folder at that level called "Cake Recipes" and move and rename the corresponding versions of "recipe.txt" in the (now) "Cookie Recipes" folder to the correct folder with the correct name (name would probably be obvious from the contents of the files).