Working Remotely with Textmate

From: Rob McBroom
Subject: working with “remote projects”
Newsgroups: gmane.editors.textmate.general
Date: 2007-04-12 18:06:44 GMT (3 weeks, 5 days, 17 hours and 2 minutes ago)

Inspired by a [recent thread][1], I’ve come up with a couple of
commands to facilitate using TextMate’s project features on a remote
directory. To sum up, the problem is: I want to work with files in a
TextMate project from the local filesystem (for speed, Subversion
compatibility, and other reasons), but the files I’m working on are
useless unless they’re on some remote machine.

I say “remote projects” in quotes because the project is actually
local, but created from a directory that is intended to be an exact
copy of one from a remote machine. The commands are similar in spirit
to some of Dreamweaver’s “Site” features, for those who care about
such things. I’ve been using these commands pretty heavily on a
project at work and am pleased with the results, so I thought I’d share.

The two commands are “Get Remote Project” and “Upload Project
Changes”. The commands have a global scope (ideally, they would be
scoped to “files that belong to a project”, but I don’t know if
that’s possible). They essentially save all files and call `rsync –
au` on your directory in different directions. The basic process is
that you create a project in TextMate from a local directory, then
set a variable in that project called `WHERE_I_CAME_FROM` that
contains a location rsync understands, like `user server:/remote/
path`. When you’re ready to see the changes on the server, use the
“Upload Project Changes” command.

## Setting up a project

Here are two ways to set up such a project:
(Note the trailing / on the rsync “source” path. It matters.)

* Get the files and create the project

1. Make a local copy

mkdir foo
rsync -au user server:/remote/path/ foo

2. Open the directory as a project in TextMate

mate foo

3. Set `WHERE_I_CAME_FROM` in the project to `user server:/
4. Save the project

* Create the project and get the files

1. Create and open the project in TextMate

mkdir foo
mate foo

2. Set `WHERE_I_CAME_FROM` in the project to `user server:/
3. Run the “Get Remote Project” command (currently ⌃⌘P)
4. Watch your files appear in the drawer
5. Save the project

I prefer the second method right now, but if the final two steps in
the first method could be automated (set a project variable and save
the project), the whole process could be turned into a shell script,
or possibly a command in TextMate.

## Subversion

I haven’t had any issues using this method when the remote directory
in question is a Subversion working copy. You basically end up with
another working copy (and it’s normal with Subversion to have working
copies spread everywhere, so this is no big deal). I’ve been doing
commits and other modifications to the working copy locally and have
had no issues using rsync to update the remote side afterward
(although, theoretically, you could acheive the same thing by running
`svn update` on the remote copy).

## Outstanding Issues

* Deleted files

If you delete a file from your disk/project, the deletion won’t
be replicated. You need to either remove the file in both places
manually, or if using Subversion `svn update` the other end after the
removal has been committed to the repository. There is a `–delete`
option in rsync, but I consider it too dangerous to be on by default.

* Keyboard Shortcut

⌃⌘P wasn’t my first choice. I’m open to suggestions.
According to the manual, project related shortcuts should use ⌃⌘,
but I don’t think this has been stricly followed which made it hard
to find something. There are other commands using ⌃⌘P and since
they have a more specific scope than these “remote project” commands,
they will win in those scopes.

As for overriding ⌘S to run these commands, that would be
convenient in many situations, but innappropriate in most. The
commands really only need to be used if you’re in a project and
`WHERE_I_CAME_FROM` is set, so it wouldn’t really be appropriate to
have ⌘S trigger them unconditionally as they currently exist.

* Extended Attributes

If you’re going from Mac to Mac, you might consider adding the –
E option to the rsync command to be sure metadata is included. It’s
not there by default because most of my remote machines are running
Solaris and -E makes rsync on Solaris poop in its pants. Perhaps
there should be another variable that could be set in TextMate or a
specific project that holds your preferred rsync options for these

* Project variable name

I’m sure I should use something more grown-up sounding than
`WHERE_I_CAME_FROM` in the long run, but what? I didn’t see any
naming conventions for project variables in the manual. Are `TM_*`
variables meant to be only things that the application is aware of or
should all TextMate specific variables start with that?

## Other commands?

I’ve thought about adding a TextMate command that will do an `svn
update` on the remote path. This would be for deleted files or for
people who aren’t comfortable updating the various `.svn` directories
using rsync (I know you’re out there).

I’ve also considered adding a command that will run `rsync -aun` in
both directions to show you what will happen if you run one of the
commands without actually making the changes. Would either of these
be useful?

If you have need for something like this, try these commands out and
let me know what you think. Thanks.


Rob McBroom

I didn’t “switch” to Apple… my OS did.