Dropbox and Programming - A Match Made in Heaven

For those that don't know, Dropbox is a free service which lets you share a folder across multiple computers, even with different OSes like Mac, Windows, and Linux.  It's great for keeping all your personal files with you on both your work and home PC (without the need for a USB drive).  But where it really shines for me is when it comes to programming.

Dropbox-Review-2.jpgProgramming from multiple computers is always a bit of a pain.  What I normally do is I keep all my files on a USB drive, and just have to remember to carry it with me every where I go.  I'm always worried about breaking or losing it, so I have to back it up like crazy.

Another option is to use a version control system like Subversion or Git.  They work (usually), but you've got to remember to commit changes before moving to another computer.  For newbies they can be complicated to set up, and might be overkill for smaller one-man projects. Plus my IDE for Android development, Eclipse, just doesn't want to play nice with Subversion.

Enter Dropbox, my new hero.

 When you install Dropbox, you get a folder on your computer which is linked to your Db account.  Anything you paste into this folder gets magically synced (within a couple seconds) with your Db space, and magically synced to any other computers where you have Db installed.

For example, if you are at work and create a new project in Microsoft Visual Studio or Eclipse, called /dropbox/MyProject, then when you get to your home computer, /dropbox/MyProject will be there with all of the files you put into it from work.  You can continue programming on your project and effortlessly switch between a work computer, laptop, or whatever, and your code is always up to date. 

Some more features programmers will enjoy:

  • You can switch between Windows, Mac, and Linux computers and continue to work on the same files.
  • You can easily share a folder with a colleague, which makes collaboration a bit easier between offices.
  • Edits happen locally on your computer, and then get synced to the cloud.  There is no lag or delay, like there is where you are editing through an FTP connection.

But I think the best feature of Dropbox, the one which makes it such a friend to the programmer, is the fact that it keeps a version of every time you save your source code, and lets to revert to earlier versions on a whim.

So give it a try!  You get 2gb of space for free, with pay plans available if you need more.  And if you follow that link, it's my referral code, which will give you an extra 250mb for free.