I’ve been developing WordPress templates for a client lately and it helps to have the templates directly on the server so I can work easily with the designer and she can see all my updates immediately. So this is what I want to be able to do:

  • Edit files on the server in a secure way
  • Use Textmate or a local editor
  • Not have to run rsync or any sync/upload utility

Enter MacFUSE (and MacFusion) and SSHFS.

MacFUSE is an OS X port of the excellent FUSE (Filesystem in User Space) project. It allows you to build your own “filesystem” quite easily. (technical video on MacFuse available) Some nifty filesystems include:

  • SSHFS – allows you to mount a directory on a remote server over SSH, as a local Volume
  • FTPFS – same, but using FTP

The beauty of this is, programs that are only designed to edit local files can now edit remote files without realizing it.

Step 1: Mount the remote folder as a local volume

First, download MacFusion, which allows you to setup your SSH server parameters and mount it as a local volume. I was initially going to type out sshfs shell commands, but this is a much cleaner solution.

MacFusion should be intuitive enough that you can enter the host, username, password, and main directory. For extra security (yes, this actually is more secure), use public key authentication for SSH with the added convenience of auto-login (if your certificate doesn’t have a password).

Step 2: Edit in Textmate (or other editor)

Textmate (TM) is slow while using SSHFS for various reasons.

Firstly, when TM loses focus (say, you activate your browser) and regains focus, it rescans your project directory for any file changes. While this is a nifty and near-instantaneous feature for a local volume, it will take a few seconds on a remote server. There’s a quick remedy for that: ReMate – a TM plugin that disables the project folder refresh. This will make the experience much more bearable.

Saving files will result in a noticeable lag, but I think this is overall a good solution for having your cake files on a remote server) and eating it too.

Anyone inclined to suggest source control or rails like capistrano deployment scripts, this is a quick and dirty solution for wordpress themes and editing files on the server for instant feedback. For more complex apps, those deployment packages will do a much better job.


  1. When looking for remote editing capabilities for Textmate I too used MacFUSE for some weeks. It is very easy to setup but the poor way the Mac Finder handles slow or disrupted network connections did drove me nuts. That’s why I wrote a small Textmate Bundle which allows using FTP or SFTP to download and upload files to a remote server from within Textmate. It’s not comfortable like using the Finder but works quite well for me: http://fuerstnet.de/ftpssh-bundle-textmate

  2. Pingback: Editing remote files with Textmate laquo; Dash30

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