Monday, March 14, 2011

Dired and FTP

I maintain a Web site for our homeowners association. Mostly, this involves updating the monthly board meeting minutes, adding a pointer to them on the home page, and updating the minutes archive page. All of these pages, like this blog, are created in Emacs Org Mode and exported to HTML.

My normal procedure was to make the necessary changes to the .org files, export them to HTML, switch to a bash buffer, and call FTP at the command line to transfer the files to the hosting provider. I may or may not have remembered to clean up the HTML files and buffers when I finished. This was easy enough and only happened once a month so I never worried about whether there was a better way.

Recently, I was browsing around in Xah Lee's wonderful Emacs Tutorial and came across a page on using the shell in Emacs. On that page he mentions that you can FTP files directly from dired: just mark the files you want to transfer, press C (for copy) and when dired asks you for the destination type something like


Thus I type something like


Notice that second colon; you'll get a different result if you omit it.

The nice thing about this is that I'm still in the dired buffer with those files still marked so I can just type D to delete them and Emacs asks me if I want the associated buffers deleted too. I type y and all the files and buffers are cleaned up.

I'm sure I'm the last Emacs user on earth to discover all this but it's a nice way of doing that sort of thing. Anyone who does a lot a transferring of files between computers will find it a real time saver. You can use /scp: rather than /ftp: if the host you're transferring to supports it. Actually, Emacs supports several methods as described on this page of the Emacs manual.

1 comment:

  1. This was quite what I was searching for! Emacs is awesome.