Sunday, 7 August 2011

Another way to be portable

Few months ago I found DropBox. I almost immediately started using it as holder of some sample NetBeans projects. Its seamless integration with the host OS and immediate synchronising of the project files amazed me. These guys have done a wonderful job. I know they are being criticised about security and privacy matters, but if you get to become paranoid about your sensitive data why use Internet at all?

At first I didn't think of it as a variant of portability - actually portable are only your projects, and not the IDE. This in fact is more similar to a very simplified one-user-version-control. And for small projects I guess I would be happy with it. I would call it cloud portability, but it still would be about the projects.

And there's the idea - what if I installed the IDE in my DropBox folder? There are few drawbacks that come into my mind:
  • It would take up most of my original 2 GB quota. This is not the greatest concern - I could invite some friends or at some point I even can go for a paid account.
  • Performance. May be this is the biggest (as usual) concern. But since the IDE is copied on every HDD I installed DropBox on, it will be ran form a hard drive and not from a flash drive. This leads me to the next concern.
  • Synchronised environments. In order for the IDE to work at all I'll have to use the same classpaths for the JVM and the libraries. And may be at some point even for any servers. I know your next question - why not install everything in the DropBox folder? It seems tempting. Something bothers me here. I'm not very sure what exactly it is, but I'll figure it soon. May be the best way to find out is to just do the thing and watch it how it moves.
One thing is certain - installing the IDE will be as slow as your bandwidth. I mean, not installing it on the local hard drive, but sending it to your other PCs. Well this is not a real worry - DropBox does the transfer, not you. And if your remote PC is online, once you get there you'll might already have the IDE on it.

I'm kind of tempted to do it, but may be after some more considerations.

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