Silly, but helpful: Using Dropbox and soft-linking to edit non-Dropboxed files

Posted: 2010/06/13 in Development, Linux

Problem: I want to edit images for a website, lots of little tweaks that affect layout, feel, etc.  However, I have to copy the images back-and-forth to a PC that has editing as my development environment doesn’t do image editing.

Sometimes I overdo security. In this situation, I have a PHP Development environment that I run in a VirutalBox virtual machine (Ubuntu running Netbeans and a LAMP stack — host OS is WinXP). I have isolated the virtual machine on the network – it can get ‘out’ but only through the gateway (can’t reach the other devices on the network). Further, I keep my development environment very slim so that I don’t accidentally use a feature, function, software package, etc. in development that may not have installed elsewhere – just the defaults/standard/what-it-comes-with stuff.

I use Dropbox to transfer files back and forth between my virtual machine, my host OS, my Linux webserver, and my G1 (Android) phone.

I can’t edit images since I don’t have image editing software loaded in my development environment (see above). My workaround was to create a soft-link to the images folder of a website I am working on. I can edit images using the software on my host OS (or any other Dropbox ‘location’), but when I save my edits, the ORIGINAL images (the ones pointed to by the soft-link) are updated.

cd /home/user/LocationOfDropbox
ln -s /var/www/someWebsite/images .    **

** at this point, Dropbox got busy uploading the files from /var/www/someWebsite/images
** also, do note the period at the end of the line:   ‘  /images{space}{period}  ‘

My website’s folder remains clean (no links) and I’m not having to copy back and forth between my website’s ‘images’ folder and my Dropbox folder to see if the little image-tweaks I was making were actually what I was wanting.

I know this stores a lot of images in Dropbox (which can just be deleted when this project is done)… but the ease of having arbitrary files updated using Dropbox without having to move them to Dropbox was delightfully efficient!


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