Software and Other Mysteries

On code and productivity with a dash of unicorn dust.

Co-editing Using PlainText / Dropbox

Happy new year! Over the last six months I’ve become the proud owner of both an iPhone and an iPad. Indeed, the fanboy accusations are getting hard to dismiss. Anyhow, my fiancée also got an iPhone and I thought I should do something useful with that.

I guess most people have heard of the amazing (and free!) Dropbox. In short, it is a file sharing service that integrates directly with your file system. Simply drop a file into the Dropbox folder and - wham! - you can now access it via the web, a mobile application or another computer, or share files with your friends and family. Other applications can utilize this great feature, and one of those is PlainText. It is an iOS text-editing application that syncs all files using Dropbox.

One lacking feature of PlainText though, is that it does not give you the option of sharing files and folders with others, which would be really useful for, say, grocery shopping. I realized it would be pretty sweet if whenever Emelie or I thought of something we needed to get at the store, we just wrote it down in an app and both of us would have instant access to the list, so it wouldn’t matter which one of us went shopping. Since PlainText uses Dropbox, this is in fact a rather simple thing to set up.

First of all I created a new folder in PlainText, since I want easy control over which files to share. This folder will be synced using Dropbox so after it has been created, manually share the folder with whomever you’d like either by right-clicking the folder on your computer or via the web interface. When you share a folder within another folder, the receiving user will have it appear at the lowest level in his or her Dropbox folder structure, so make sure they move the shared folder inside their PlainText folder.

And, voilà! Time to get the freaky co-editing started! If the folder does not show up, or disappears after it’s been shared, do a hard restart of the application on your device. It did the trick for me.

Do you have a nice Dropbox trick? Or simply know of a free app that does this same thing, only ten times better? Share in the comments.