You’re right that “MaidSafe Network File System” is a misnomer at the moment. It provides a psuedo-RESTful interface to the vault network - it’s not really a NFS.
It probably is the most straightforward way to immediately put and get data to/from the network just now. However, we’re keen to steer devs more towards the API project for a couple of reasons:
Possibly the most compelling is that we’re thinking about making the existing NFS interface private, and replacing it with a “proper” NFS interface. This would take over from “Drive” as being the way to store, update and delete files from the network. Drive would then just become a VFS whose callback functions would each call a corresponding NFS function.
This would make the NFS accessible on all platforms - even ones which don’t allow VFSs (e.g. mobile platforms). It would also fix our other main issue with the existing NFS RESTful interface; namely that the data stored via these methods is assumed to be already encrypted.
Unfortunately, there’s no real way to validate that data passed to NFS::Put is encrypted. Our concern is obviously that a dev writes an application which sends unencrypted data onto the network, expecting that it’s somehow encrypted by the network. Another problem is that a malicious actor could put unencrypted illegal content onto the network this way, content which would end up on innocent users’ PCs. We can handle that by having all chunks obfuscated locally with a machine-specific (i.e. non-deterministic) function, but that adds overhead.
The advantage of the Drive interface is that it is a proper FS interface, and it takes care of encrypting the data before putting it onto the network.
So, my recommendation would be to have a shot at the NFS API in its current state if you’re really keen to start validating the network, but to expect this to change/break in the not too distant future. The best option is probably just to watch the Examples project - it will show how to create user accounts, authenticate onto the network and mount the Drive VFS.
All the best,