General Question

serenityNOW's avatar

Web designers, how do you work (and sync files) on two computers at once?

Asked by serenityNOW (3419 points ) August 7th, 2012

Hi all. So, I’m doing a website or two. I was using Dropbox to keep my files in sync between my Mac and PC. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that’s actually a very bad setup. Updated pages and images weren’t showing up promptly, or at all. So, I’m looking for a setup/workflow where I can jump and edit between computers. (I use Dreamweaver if that helps or hinders the workflow.)
I’m below novice if I were to setup some sort of local network, but I’m open to anything.
Thanks!

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

13 Answers

ETpro's avatar

I’d never consider keeping files in more than 2 places. One being on my machine, with a directory tree such that they are in the same relative position to my HTML as they will be on the Web host. The other, of course, is the actual web host. When I use my laptop, I copy all working files to the same tree structure on it.

The good news in developing on both the Mac and PC is it puts the spotlight on browser incompatibilities quickly. The downside is—well, you’re living it.

As to Dreamweaver, if you aren’t really competent in XHTML, HTML 5 and CSS it speeds things up at the price of potentially publishing bloated code that’s not well coded for systemic SEO. It’s a workable tool, but if you plan to stick with Web development, move on past it.

serenityNOW's avatar

@ETpro – Thanks for the speedy reply. That’s precisely why I’m using the Windows machine – I got a program on it called IETester, and it emulates all the older version of the evil Internet Explorers. But oddly enough, despite the fact that I love my Macs, it’s nice to set in a big comfy chair as opposed to my Macbook Pro burning my privates because I’m on it for so long. Anywho, I get what you’re saying… just basically load ‘em up on the server and then download as needed. Makes sense to me – and the bigger files – the original Photoshops that are too big to post I can just toss on a flash drive, I guess.
BTW, I’ve been coding websites since the <blink> tag was popular, but I’ve never moved on past HTML and CSS3. I just can’t wrap my damn head around Javascript. Basically, though, I can go to site like Code Canyon, and they comment all the alterations you can make, and tie it into all the nifty jquery stuff to make everything dynamic, and really quite beautiful. If only…

Response moderated (Spam)
gambitking's avatar

Most web developers just use FTP and a text editor like Notepad+ or Komodo. You just open up your FTP client and edit files (web pages) from the web server right there. Dropbox is not well suited for this task.

Then you just save the file (and/or upload it back to the server via FTP), and that’s it. It takes half a second to save a file you’re editing, and the FTP client will prompt you to over write the file on the server with your updated one, and you’re done.

Backing up the entire web site to your local machine is good just for having backups, but it’s risky to keep local copies of the same pages that are on the web server. It can get confusing and you can easily make mistakes working with the wrong versions of things. How bad would you feel to spend hours on a page, and then upload a much older copy of it from your PC instead, by accident? Always work from the latest version of files on the web server.

Silence04's avatar

Keep the files in one location. I suggest the mac, as time machine backups to an external drive are super simple to setup and is a great fail-safe.

In order for you to access the files on the mac from your windows machine you will have to allow SMB connections on the mac.

Go to System Preferences>Sharing
Turn on “File Sharing”
Click Options
Turn on “Share Files and Folders using SMB (Windows)”
Then select which user on your mac you want to allow access to from the windows machine.

Once you have done that, go on windows and map a networked drive (I can’t remember the steps)
The username/password should be the same as the account you selected on the mac.

As long as both computers are on and connected to the same network, you will have access to the files form the windows machine.

phaedryx's avatar

The problem of keeping track of files is a common one. Many web developers use a revision control system. I use git.

Basically, I have a central place (github) where I keep my master copy of my website code. I can check the website code out onto my laptop, make changes, then check them back in to the master copy when I’m done. I can check it out onto my desktop computer at home, make changes, then check it back in.

I like git in particular because it is fast, keeps a history of every change I’ve made (oops, I did this incorrectly, I’ll revert back to where I was yesterday and try something else), and tracks versions (e.g. I have an “under development” and “ready to deploy” version of most of my stuff so I don’t accidentally deploy the wrong thing). It also makes it a lot easier to collaborate with other people.

Revision control systems have a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll never go back. You can try out git here.

ETpro's avatar

@gambitking Ditto on that, except that I love Textpad as my Text editor. If I had to pick one today, it would be Notepad++ for its syntax highlighting and syntax folding. That’s the only useful feature Textpad lacks. But I know Textpad’s Perl REGEX search functions pretty well now, and they are a huge help when converting CSV files from one CMS to another.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I just keep everything on the server, I’m sure there are probably better ways, but it works for me. Once you know enough code, you can even edit some things directly on the server without even having to download, even though I don’t recommend doing it, just in case you screw up.

ETpro's avatar

@poisonedantidote No matter how long I do this, double saves and back-ups of old, working code are a lifesaver. I used to be lackadaisical about saving old versions and assigning new version numbers, but I got burned often enough to realize it’s more than worth the hassle and time it takes.

serenityNOW's avatar

Thanks all. I think I’m going to check out git as per @phaedryx. And @Silence04, Time Machine saved my ass from disaster. (Not just website work, but my whole iMac, when I had hard-drive failure. Can’t recommend it enough, for us Mac users.)

serenityNOW's avatar

@Silence04 – Hey! Git was too heavy for me to comprehend, so I just used your method; voila! – All my files appeared. I just set it up, so I don’t know for certain that it’s all going to work out, but I see my (Mac) home folder, and all of it’s files. The combo of seeing my files on Windows, with a Time Machine backup on the Mac is a winning mix. Thanks!

rodlee's avatar

One common approach for designers (and others who want to improve productivity) is to use multiple monitors. Using two or more monitors can bring a number of significant advantages to designers. This desire for increased efficiency and productivity leads many designers to look to technology for methods that will improve their work flow.
adding a second monitor, if you’re working from a desktop computer, you will need a video card that provides ports for two monitors (or you’ll need to buy a second video card). For laptops you will need one port for a monitor (and the laptop screen is the other), which is included on almost all laptops from the past several years. iMacs have a port for a second monitor built-in.

forestGeek's avatar

I either use Dropbox or FTP to my host. I work in Coda so FTP works great. I tried Git and SVN but they seemed like more than I needed as I wasn’t collaborating and never really have had a need to revert back to previous versions.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther