Anyone that's worked with iWeb knows how simple it is to build a compelling, attractive website with relative ease. But if you've ever found the need to update your site from more than one computer, it can be a little frustrating. One option is to simply park your iWeb domain's files on a USB thumb drive or external hard drive and ferry the hardware with you where ever you go. Not a bad solution, but if the hardware, breaks down, what then? One could argue that signing up for a MobileMe account kills two web development birds with one $100 stone. True: You could park your working domain files on your MobileMe iDisk, and that $100 per year MobileMe access fee will also cover webspace for your site to reside upon. However, if you've already invested in a hosting solution for your website like GoDaddy.com or Backsun.ca, the cost of MobileMe membership might seem just a bit steep. Fortunately, the folks at Dropbox are here to help.
If you're not familiar with Dropbox, here's the low-down: It's a file hosting service that provides a cloud-based storage and synchronization solution for its users to access their files from multiple computers over the internet, making it perfect a perfect solution to our iWeb problem. What's more, you can snag a 2GB Dropbox account for free!
Let's get started...
Difficulty Level: Easy
What You Need:
>> iWeb '09 ($79.00, as part of iLife '09 apple.com/ilife/)
>> Dropbox for Mac (free, dropbox.com/)
>> A Dropbox account (available via dropbox.com: 2GB storage -- free; 50GB storage -- $9.99 per month; 100GB storage -- $19.99 per month)
Set Up A Dropbox Account
If you don't already have a Dropbox account, setting up one up is easy like pancakes. First thing's first -- you'll need to download their free software. Direct your browser of choice to www.dropbox.com and click the jolly blue button cleverly marked 'Download Dropbox.' Download and install the app.
Size Isn't Everything
Launch the app. If you don't already have an account, create one. The two free gigabytes of storage offered by Dropbox should be more than enough to meet the needs of most people looking to tackle this particular How-To. However, if your website is a huge, multimedia affair or you plan on using your Dropbox account to serve up more than your iWeb domain package you might need more space. Fortunately, Dropbox offers reasonably priced 50 and 100 gigabyte monthly pricing options. Pick your favorite flavor and click continue.
The Grand Tour
If you haven't used Dropbox before, you'll want to take the tour offered by the application. It'll give you the lowdown on a few important bits and pieces about what the software and what the service can do for you. In watching the tutorial, you'll discover that Dropbox has placed a new folder in your Home folder (unless you opted to place it elsewhere during the application setup process.) Open up your Home folder.
If a Dropbox folder icon isn't already in your Finder window's sidebar, click and grab the Dropbox folder, releasing it over the sidebar to create a shortcut that will be accessible from any window on your computer.
Direct your gaze to the top right hand of your screen you'll see that Dropbox has created an icon in your menu bar
Clicking on the menu bar icon will give you access to valuable information about your Dropbox account status, including the amount of information you've uploaded to it, recent file changes, and how much storage space you have left. The icon will also become animated whenever you upload or download files to or from your computer's Dropbox folder.
Master Of Your Domain
Now that you've set up your Dropbox account and know where your Dropbox folder is located, it's moving day for your Domain file. Go to your Home folder and navigate to ~/Library/Application Support/iWeb. This is the default location for your iWeb created Domain package.
Remember how we took care of placing a shortcut to your Dropbox folder in the sidebar of your Finder? It's time to reap the rewards. Grab your Domain file from the iWeb folder and drag it into into your Dropbox folder in the sidebar.
Teach iWeb to Find Your Domain.
Apple's iWeb is wonderfully intuitive to work with, but it's not a mind-reader -- you'll have to tell it where you've moved that Domain package to. Luckily, iWeb makes it easy. Simply open up your Dropbox folder and double-click your Domain package. In doing so, iWeb will launch, and reorientate itself to the location of the package.
Setting Up Additional Macs
Now that you're a certified Dropbox installation ninja, you should have no problem installing Dropbox on other Macs to tinker with your iWeb project. Simply repeat the process we went through to install the Dropbox software your first computer. This time around, however, there'll be no need to move your iWeb Domain package into your Dropbox folder.
Blue rotating circle means an item is still syncing. Green checks mean the item has completed syncing and is ready to go.
After signing into your the Dropbox account you created earlier, a Dropbox folder will appear on your second Mac. You'll soon have access to your Domain package, as well as any other goodies you felt like tossing into the folder along with it. Before working with the files, however, the Dropbox folder on your second computer will have to synchronize with the files from the your primary computer via Dropbox's servers way out there in the clouds. Syncing is an automatic, pain-free process. However, if you're working with larger website, or a site containing multimedia files, your initial sync could leave you waiting for some time. For example, a Domain package, that contains three expansive corporate websites and weighs in at close to 900MB in size, took us close to two hours to sync.
Once your second computer's Dropbox folder is synchronize, you'll be notified by a Growl notification. If you're not a fan of Growl, you can also verify that the files are ready for use by opening your DropBox folder, to take a peek at the files inside. If the files on the computer you're sitting in front of are synchronize and ready to work on, there will be a small green checkmark added to the file's icon.
Once the Sync is done, double click the Domain file to launch iWeb and reorientate it to the Dopbox folder.
And that friends, is how to keep your website updates poppin' fresh and on the cheap, no matter what Mac you're sitting in front of. Now get out there and build something beautiful from as many locations as possible!