After some research I found the module "Easy Folder Listing" by Michael Gilkes. The basic idea was fascinating: this module simply displays the contents of a selected folder on the server. Because I needed significant enhancements for my project, I decided to recode Michael Gilkes module completely.
The result is DVFolderContent. It follows the basic principle of "Easy Folder Listing", but was greatly expanded. In particular, a lot of options for controlling the display using access levels have been implemented. The uploading of files controlled by access levels is possible too. The file links are encrypted, so that no association to the physical location of the files on the server are possible.
I can get the module to list the contents of a folder (as promised) in the frontend and use the file upload feature there successfully.
However, when it comes to clicking on a file listed (to download), I receive either a 404 or 500 error.
I am not a developer and my technical knowledge is basic at best. However, I do believe the problem to lie with either URL-rewriting/SEO-friendly URLs (have tried turning on/off various options) and/or encryption of the actual download links that this extension generates.
Since then, I have made numerous attempts at contacting the developer via e-mail, his website form, facebook, etc. but without any reply whatsoever.
I even made a 10 Euro donation on the 17th October 2012 to solicit some help but again no response.
I really like the look and operation of this extension, however what use is it to me when it does not actually allow me to download files in the frontend?
Thus, I am fairly disappointed.
A couple of feature requests for a future release maybe
1) Display the directory where the files are located in the front end
2) Email someone when a file is uploaded/deleted.
3) pop link to show file from the listing, without having to download it to view it.
Please dont think I am complaining, I'm just thinking of further ways to make this simple to install / confirgure product even better.
You have many options in this extension, select what must be shown (name, date, size). You can also change the layout table or list so it can almost fit anywhere in your website.
Once you set things up, you will notice that the module has a front-end disclaimer. This is actually the best part, for no cost you can retrieve a key so de disclaimer will disappear.
I had some trouble letting the disclaimer disappear but the support is very fast and within a day I got a response. Not long after that he found the issue en released an update for this extension!