Making Frequently Updated Files Publicly Available

It is easy enough to upload essays and papers to my website where they are publicly available. But it can be a cumbersome task update my website every time I make some small modification to the files. To get around this petty annoyance, I use Dropbox.

Dropbox is a very handy and easy to use sync and backup utility. Once you install the Dropbox application, all you have to do is specify a directory on your local machine and everything in that folder will automatically be backed up/synced. If you sign into the Dropbox website you also have access to that directory’s contents from any web browser. Dropbox also designates a public folder–every file contained in this directory is publicly available via a url.

A nifty thing about Dropbox is that it supports symbolic links. This allows me to keep a local copy of an essay or paper I’m working on in a private location within my Dropbox directory, while a symbolic link to the file resides in my public folder. When I publish the url to the link, the file is publicly available. Now every time I update and save my local copy of the file, the changes are automatically reflected in the publicly available version! To implement this, just issue the command

ln -s /full/path/to/private/file.pdf /full/path/to/public/file.pdf

Now just go to the Dropbox website and get the public url for file.pdf, and you’re done!

Will Rosenbaum

Saarbrücken, Germany

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