I'm Michael Suodenjoki - a software engineer living in Kgs. Lyngby, north of Copenhagen, Denmark. This is my personal site containing my blog, photos, articles and main interests.

Updated 2011.01.23 15:37 +0100


The story about "Location is not available" error

This story is about an user experience while using Windows common/standard save dialog.

You may have received the dreaded "Location is not available" error dialog similar to what is shown below, when you try to save a document.

Illustrates the 'Location is unavailable' error dialog.

The problem can be reproduced by the following process:

So, what is going on? Well it seems that Windows keeps a handle to the folder even though it has been deleted. So when you activate the Save button to save the document under a name similar to the deleted folder, it believes that it should change to that folder - but it can't because it has been deleted, hence the error message.

The Save As dialog in action.

I believe this to be an error in the code. It should not maintain a handle to the folder when it has been deleted. The programmer probably did not think that users  delete folders during the save dialog, but I create, rename and delete folders a lot while opening and saving documents that I work with.

PS - About the automatic subfolder selection

Another interesting issue is that you normally don't find a folder and a document with the same name in the same folder - because you can't.

In the above screenshot you'll see that both a test folder and a test file is present in the same folder. How can that be possible? Well in this particular case, the file is actually named test.txt file (because it was created with Notepad). But the file extension is not visible.

And in the event that you enter a filename (without file extension) similar to a subfolder already present and activates Save, the dialog will not save the document under that filename but take you into the subfolder. Strange! I want to save  - not select (move into) the subfolder!

If you really want to save in the current folder - and not go into the subfolder - you can simply append the file extension yourself in the File name.

This behavior is probably a tradeoff which Microsoft have chosen. And as long as users don't use file-names similar to folder-names this problem never occurs. And in most cases the user really do want to move into the subfolder.