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Accessing your Publii site on multiple computers via Dropbox

Publii was originally designed to be utilized by a single user to build and maintain a static website, but additional functionalities added during the beta stages have made using Publii on multiple computers a viable option; perfect if you work on your site from different machines, or have multiple authors that you want to be able to work separately on your content.

In this guide we'll cover setting up cloud file storage using Dropbox, and how this can then be used with Publii to allow for easy access and modification of your Publii site from multiple locations.

Installing Dropbox

Though it's possible to manually upload and download files via the Dropbox website, in order to use Publii effectively you'll want to have the benefit of real-time upload and download of any file changes, so installing the desktop app is a must. To do so:

  1. Open your browser of choice and navigate to the main Dropbox frontpage. If you haven't already created an account, you will be able to fill in the details in the Sign Up section on the right to create an account, or use your Google account to complete this instantly.
  2. Once your account is created you will be taken to the main Dropbox interface, where you can upload files or folders or change permissions. Ignore these options for now, and instead click on the account avatar in the top-right of the browser window (it defaults to a smiley face until a new avatar is uploaded).
  3. In the menu, click on the Install option to go to the app download page, and click the Download Dropbox button. Install the package once the download is complete.
  4. Once the installation is complete Dropbox will create a Dropbox folder on your local computer in the documents folder; any items added to this folder will be automatically uploaded to your Dropbox cloud storage.
  5. Chances are you'll want to keep your Publii files separate from your other content, so create a new folder in your Dropbox folder specifically for your Publii site files; you can choose whichever name is best for you.

With Dropbox installed and a folder for Publii's files created, we can move on to setting-up Publii to use your Dropbox folder for your site data.

Configuring Publii

Getting Publii ready takes just a few simple steps:

  1. Make sure that you've created a folder for your Publii site files in your Dropbox folder; you don't have to do this, but it will help keep your site files neatly ordered and separated from your other Dropbox content.
  2. If you haven't already, download and install the latest Publii package available from the download page.
  3. Open the Publii app and click on the app settings menu button (the three dots at the top-right of the app window), then choose Settings from the list of options.
  4. In the Files location area of the app settings screen, click on the Sites location field; the file explorer will open for you to select a new location for your site files. Select your newly-created Dropbox folder, then save the changes.
  5. You can now start creating your new website and its content; any sites you create will be stored in the Dropbox folder and uploaded to the cloud.

Publii and Dropbox are both ready to go, but how do you go about setting up Publii on a second computer? We'll look at that next.

Configuring Publii and your site on a second computer

With your main Publii installation ready and uploading files to your Dropbox storage, we can move to setting up your second computer; just a bit of syncing to make sure you've got the same files available.

  1. Download and install the Dropbox app on your second computer as covered at the beginning of this tutorial; once you're logged-in it will automatically download your shared files to your Dropbox folder, including the Publii site files.
  2. Now download and install Publii, and run it. On the Create a website screen, instead of entering your site details, click straight on the main app menu at the top-right of the screen and select Settings
  3. Next, set the Sites location option to point to the Dropbox folder containing the site files; remember that Publii will create separate folders for each site you create, so make sure to select the top-level folder that you created in the first part of this guide.
  4. Save the changes. Publii only runs checks for site files when it first starts, so restart the app and your existing site/s will be automatically added to the app.

Now every time you update your site in Publii, the files will be overwritten accordingly in your Dropbox folder, and Dropbox will automatically detect the change and upload the changed files to your cloud storage. In turn, when you go back to your original computer the Dropbox app will detect the updated files and automatically download them, keeping your two Publii installations in sync.

Sharing a site's files with another user

Users who want to allow other authors to access and update their Publii site can do so using Dropbox's file sharing functionality:

  1. Install Dropbox on the target computer, and have the new author setup an account.
  2. Open your Dropbox folder on your main Publii computer, then right-click on the folder containing your Publii site content; select Share... from the drop-down list (if you have multiple share options, pick the one with a Dropbox icon next to it).
  3. A pop-up box will open where you set the sharing options and who you want to share the file with. Enter the email address of the user you want to be able to edit your Publii site; you may also set their access level, which should be set to Can edit if you want the user to actually be able to modify your content. Once done, click the Invite button.
  4. An email will be sent to the user advising that they have been given access to the shared folder, as well as a message sent via their Dropbox app. Clicking the Go to folder option in the email will take you to the Dropbox interface with the shared folder added.
  5. The secondary user can now download the Publii site file folder to their own Dropbox folder. Once done, they will need to install Publii and configure it for the downloaded website according to the Configuring Publii and your site on a second computer section of this guide.

When all these steps have been completed the shared user will be able to edit your site in their own local version of Publii, and the updated files will be uploaded to Dropbox and synced to all other users that have access to the shared folder. By repeating these steps you can add even more users if desired.

Note: Dropbox will always try to sync the latest version of the files, which means if more than one user is editing the site content at a given moment and you are both connected to Dropbox, there may be some conflict between the changes and some of the content will be lost. If necessary you can pause Dropbox from syncing your files by clicking on the icon in your system tray, then the cog (options) icon to open the option menu, and finally, selecting the Pause syncing option.

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