Cloud Computing Living in the Cloud Programming Technology

Living in the Cloud: Code Editing

TextDrop is a text-editing, cloud-based web-application that allows you to create, modify, and save text-based files back to Dropbox.

As I mentioned in my previous post of the Living in the Cloud series, the majority of the stuff I do on the computer at work, and on the internet these days, involves creating/editing PHP codes or work and personal projects. Continuing the effort to turn the CR-48 into a useful and productive tool for people in my line of work, I have found a workable solution for those wishing to edit codes, and keep them sync’d onto their computers via DropBox.

Over the course of the last couple weeks with the Chrome OS netbook, my file synchronization setup has come to this:

  • Intranet web server runs Windows Live Mesh 2011 – syncs website files & database to Skydrive
  • Work PC runs Windows Live Mesh 2011 and pulls files from Skydrive. It saves them in a DropBox subfolder, and sends them up to the DropBox server.

A couple things about why my configuration is the way it is:

  • I use Windows Live Mesh 2011 for two reasons: the remote desktop feature and the fact that it doesn’t care where the folder you want to sync is, you can sync it right there.
  • I only recently started using DropBox for the potential of its API functionality. However, not many people are using the API, and it’s only available in certain programming languages.
  • I do use WAMP on my intranet server, so I am capable of moving the website’s files out of the www drive and into a DropBox subfolder and creating an alias in the Apache config for the new location. I haven’t done it yet, because I hadn’t found a web-based code editor that works with DropBox to provide a compelling reason to make that change – until now.

On to the good stuff.

For my web-based editing, I have decided to use a relatively new app from DropBox‘s own app site called: TextDrop. (Update, the app is no longer listed in the DropBox app site. The Link now goes directly to the app’s site.)

TextDrop - First Run

At first glance, this is a very basic text-editor. I do all my web coding in Notepad++, so using a notepad-type app is not an issue for me. If this is not the case for you, you may be better off using or Bespin from Mozilla.

Also, right now, if you create a new page with the app, it is unable to save that back to DropBox. I don’t know what the status of this issue is, but at this time, it is only a minor annoyance as I’m not creating files usually, I’m editing existing ones.

TextDrop - Open files

The opening page has a Log In link, which gets you set up with DropBox to authenticate the app and give it permission to access/edit your files. Once you’ve granted TextDrop permission, you’re all set. Choose the Open button and you’ll be presented with the top-level directory of your DropBox cloud storage. Open up any text-based file, and you’ll be able to edit it right there, and save it back.

Since I only just found out about this app recently, I’m by no means an expert on it. However, Monday when I return to work, I will give all the pieces of my Living in the Cloud configuration a shot to see how productive I can be with only an internet browser.

Another web-based app that I’ll be keeping an eye on (which is being actively developed as of a couple days prior to this posting) is SourceKit. Right now it doesn’t get past the login screen – apparently the developer is working on getting it approved as a Production Application from the DropBox folks (API Key requirements, etc., if you’re familiar with how all that stuff works). It will have a tree-structure file list, and include the Bespin code editor along side it – essentially a light-weight Kodingen setup, using the DropBox storage instead of an FTP backend. The author has released some updates and looks like everything is ready to go. I’ll be working on a blog post after I’ve spent some time with it on my web development projects. It might even become my de facto code editor.

There will be more Living in the Cloud posts to come as well, with some Google Chrome OS features, functionality examples, and hardware demonstrations, some of which will also have videos. But for now, this is a promising step in the right direction to make this a viably productive utility.

By [[Neo]]

I am a web programmer, system integrator, and photographer. I have been writing code since high school, when I had only a TI-83 calculator. I enjoy getting different systems to talk to each other, coming up with ways to mimic human processes using technology, and explaining how complicated things work.

Of my many blogs, this one is purely about the technology projects, ideas, and solutions that I have come across in my internet travels. It's also the place for technical updates related to my other sites that are part of The-Spot.Network.

7 replies on “Living in the Cloud: Code Editing”

Saw your post about my SourceKit. My priorities right now is to get the Dojo & Ace based REWRITE of my code out. Then I’ll rework Dropbox auth hopefully to use the OAuth authentication method instead of the user / password mechanism.

No worries, man. I’m not too concerned with the authentication method at the moment. My biggest limiting factor is that it and Chrome OS seem to have a problem when it comes to editing php files. As I mentioned, I periodically use the app to see what has changed. I like it, and I wish others would integrate dropbox as well.

I see you’ve just made some changes in the last few days, and it works with PHP on Chrome OS. Well done. I’ll work on a blog post for it this week, after I’ve played around with it some more.

Hi there, I am the creator of the TextDrop app. Glad you have found it useful. I finally got around to fixing the new-file bug and did a whole refactor of my code. It’s still not super-polished but I hope it works out for you. If you have any problems, please feel free to drop me a line.

Best regards,

I saw the changes you’ve made recently, and it looks great. For some reason (at my last check) you don’t show up in the DropBox App Store – not sure what’s up with that, but I have changed the link in my article to go directly to your app-site instead.

I took it off the Dropbox App store when I realized it wasn’t working – I was embarrassed by all those 1-star reviews saying it wasn’t working =) It should be back up now.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.