Friday, 1 May 2009

Using Dropbox as a Host for Static Websites.

I have been a huge fan of dropbox for a while. What they have acheived is nothing short of amazing. I recently had an epiphany that may make the implications of their synchronization paradigm even more interesting.

What if I could use dropbox as a host for a static website?

Dropbox has a feature that allows you to make some files public simply by dropping them on your 'public' folder. It turns out, that placing interlinked html files works just fine. Case in point:

http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/117449/page1.html

I presume images, etc. would work just fine as well.

What makes this observation interesting is that combined with the synchronization infrastructure of Dropbox, this means that you can keep your static website right in your desktop, edit it with your favourite editor (WYSIWYG if you have to), and have it instantly available online. It may not be the best idea for everything, but for a number of basic uses, it might just be a massive step forward. One of the most difficult steps for beginers to master, is the need for FTP. Dropbox-as-a-host completely sidesteps that and lets new users easily build their websites.

Of course, once a nice little hack is found, the next thought is to consider what can be improved and streamlined:

Can we incorporate dynamic elements to this scheme?
Can the ugly URL be replaced with something better?

I gave myself very little time to write this post, opting to write it now rather than postpone, so these and many other potential questions, my dear readers, I leave as excercises for you.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.expandrive.com/mac can be used as a general solution for this kind of thing.

Anonymous said...

I have successfully done this using iWeb and the Public folder of Dropbox. However, I am noticing now that the webpage and essentially the public folder has been deactivated. I guess my modifying of the webpage has caused a lot of activity in the folder, which they didn't like. hope this is temporary but if this persists, then I guess this will not be such a good option. they might be more flexible with paid customers.

Anonymous said...

To follow up on my last post. Too much activity may not have been the problem last time but DB maintenance. My website has been up and running for more than 1/2 year. I also now have a blog with an rss feed that others can subscribe to. All from iWeb. Love DB

Alexandros Marinos said...

Thanks for the report, Anonymous. I would have thought that they would deactivate the folder as you said as well. Maybe this protection kicks in after a certain amount of traffic?

Bryan said...

Interesting article - I've just had the same thought today and it appears to work just fine. I'm not aware of any bandwidth caps but I would have thought it's just a matter of time once this catches on.

A bit of nitpicking:
> One of the most difficult steps for beginers to
> muster, is the need for FTP.

I think you mean 'master', not 'muster', it's 'beginners' not 'beginers' and the comma is superfluous.

Parker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alexandros Marinos said...

Bryan, it took 2 years, but typo is fixed, cheers! Not that you'll ever read this :)

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