Using Dropbox for versioning

Juan Orozco
Juan Orozco

Prior to my current position, I had no clue what SVN or GIT were.  I finally got a very thorough explanation of SVN and versioning in general a few weeks ago.  Like all concepts I learn, I started to examine areas that might benefit from not just SVN but the concept of versions and revisions.

The obvious place was my personal pool of ongoing projects.  But I know how I work with new things.  I get all “ooo shiny” and want to find a place for it even thought all it is is shiny – nothing more. With this in mind, I thought about where my projects currently reside: Dropbox. 


Dropbox has revisions!  Duh!  Using the methods explained to me but considering the size and use of my files, Dropbox is the perfect platform. I have accumulated about 4 gigs of extra space on my free account over the years; It already creates periodic revisions (I don’t believe it’s with every save, but that’s ok for my use it is with “every change”); and it syncs to all my other computers including my test server.

The test server, by the way, has symbolic links set up so when I save the file locally, it is immediately pushed to my web server for testing. No FTP required!

Research is for weenies.

I didn’t think to search if anyone already thought about this until recently.  Maybe I’m not searching with the right query, but I couldn't find much except “Hey! Here’s an idea!” which is less than helpful.

I did start reading up on the concepts behind SVN and GIT which helped a little.  Wiki: saving the day again.

[Update] I just found this link. I don’t have a problem with rollbacks but most of my projects are small.



I have a web application that I am updating: DailyKittehEmail App.  The current stable version is 1.0 while the current development version I call RC. So the folder structure looks like this:

WEBAPPS > DailyKittehEmail  > 1.0, RC

The versioned folders are locked – I don’t edit those anymore. If I need to make an update, I copy the whole folder to an RC folder and work from there – this is how I branch or fork a version.  When I’m ready to commit that release, I give it a version based on the edits made and change the folder name to the new version number. The new folder structure will look like this:

WEBAPPS > DailyKittehEmail > 1.0, 1.1

During development, though, as I finish editing for the night, I update my release notes with that nights version number.  Discipline, lads and laddettes, discipline. The folder would stay as RC but I keep the log going.

So, the cycle continues.  If I need to update 1.1, I copy it into a new RC folder and squash bugs or add new cool stuff.  The best part is that all this is done within Dropbox so it’s backed up and versioned.

Meh. What about source control.

The one thing it needs is source control.  Because it’s just myself, I don’t really run into me overwriting my own changes because I didn’t properly check something out/in.  But to make this a valid solution, it would obviously need some way of controlling edits and commits.

Another necessity would be to create a copy with every save.  The source control can back up the file before overwriting it to a specified folder in the Dropbox space.

Ok, it’s not very robust on it’s own, but it’s free and it’s robust enough for a one-dev gig.  With some proper planning, it can probably work with multiples but why when SVN is pretty cheap.


Also, apparently this helps with source control