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xamarin - System.IO write operations not working in Android 11 outside of app sandbox

I have read about and think I understand the essentials of changes in Android 10 and 11. Gone are the days of accessing folders and files outside of the Android app sandbox willy nilly. That's fine. Just need a way forward and that's become difficult.

I have 2+ apps that share a local Sqlite database and related files in a folder. One or more of the apps in the group might be installed - no guarantee on which of the apps are present. On iOS and Windows (UWP) there is a nice "app group" (iOS name for it) style concept that supports this kind of arrangement formally in the platform. First one installed/run will create the local storage files. Last app in the group uninstalled and the OS cleans up the shared storage location. Android never had this concept so a common location was created outside of the app specific sandbox.

After studying the options available going forward, seems like the "Best" option was to use the Storage Access Framework (SAF) to get permission from the user for some common folder to use. Note that although there are many different "sharing" options in Android, none of them are great for this use case, and most are not friendly to cross platform Xamarin C# without wrapping them somehow. This "Best" option using SAF still requires the user to independently pick the SAME folder from each app that wants to share the local db/files. You know users are going to mess that up, but that's beside the point at the moment.

In testing this approach, I have been able to use the SAF picker to get the user to choose a folder. The Documents folder is what I've been choosing to test with as a folder. From there the app attempts to create a subfolder where all this shared "app group" content would go. Unfortunately simply doing a Directory.CreateDirectory(path) gives a System.IO.IOException: 'Read-only file system'. I checked am I am still able to do Directory.CreateDirectory(path) in the app sandbox (GetExternalFilesDir), just not the SAF chosen location.

I am also able to create a directory in the SAF location if I stick to the SAF API, such as illustrated in the Xamarin Android sample here: https://github.com/xamarin/monodroid-samples/blob/master/android5.0/DirectorySelection/DirectorySelectionFragment.cs#L169-L188.

Is there any way to treat the SAF location chosen by the user just like a normal file system and use System.IO operation to manipulate it? The app has been given permission but those ops don't seem to work in that location. Or is there a better overall approach to this problem that I've totally missed?


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Normal Java File I/O does not work with Scoped Storage. File paths and File or Directory objects do not worked in Storage Access Framework, you have to do everything through the DocumentFile API. DocumentFile has the ability to create files and directories in locations that the user has granted your app access to through the File-picker dialog.


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