ExpanDrive — Seamless sftp mounts

Not so long ago Jonathan Ragan-Kelley mentioned ExpanDrive on the mailing list and I assume it is the same Jonathan R. quoted on their page as saying:

I’ve never seen TextMate work well on a network drive. With ExpanDrive, it’s a dream. And the drives stay mounted perfectly when I move my laptop between home and work.

John Gruber just posted a review about ExpanDrive in which he writes:

My first impression after reading ExpanDrive’s promotional description last week was that it sounded too good to be true. One week later, I’m pretty sure it actually is that good.

If it wasn’t clear from the above, ExpanDrive lets you mount remote sftp drives and it actually works! I.e. no long delays or dropped connection in the middle of a save. Their introductory price is $29.

2008-03-11: Update: There is a $5 discount for the first 100 who use UWQ0OUQZWIB1ZMTP as coupon code.

60 Comments

  1. 04 Mar 2008 | # seyDoggy wrote…

    We were twittering about this yesterday and a whole bunch of us gave this a spin. It IS that good! I actually opened my entire "mounted" drive as a TextMate project, did a whack of edits, saved all… it gets a bit slow (understandably), when you do a project find and replace and save, but honestly, I have no real complaints about this at all.

    ExpanDrive is like iDisc without .mac, it's like WEBDAV without being jenky, it's like sftp across all apps. It's beautiful!

    Haven't bought it yet but I intend to drop some coin after a few more weeks testing.

  2. 04 Mar 2008 | # Damien McKenna wrote…

    The question is, why would you use this instead of directly using MacFuse, given that ExpanDrive is based on it?

  3. 04 Mar 2008 | # jrk wrote…

    MacFUSE is just an API — it's an interface that allows you to write filesystem drivers in a slightly-more-portable user mode API, rather than an OS-specific kernel mode API. It makes it much faster to write new filesystems (and is an excellent piece of software), but it doesn't actually do anything on its own.

    The open source fuse-sshfs filesystem is what provides similar functionality, and ExpanDrive is very much not based on sshfs. All of its key features of aggressive caching/low latency and connection resilience are unique to ExpanDrive's own filesystem code. Not to mention that sshfs+MacFUSE have virtually no GUI and have proven confusing for normal users to install and use.

  4. 04 Mar 2008 | # lordmatrix wrote…

    This is just great!! … and working perfectly with TM projects.

  5. 04 Mar 2008 | # RH wrote…

    Expandrive is to sshfs as Crossover is to Wine, i.e., they are basically the same thing, just one has been commercialized and made easier to use. There was probably some agreement (cash exchange) that lets Expandrive use their source code.

  6. 04 Mar 2008 | # Mike wrote…

  7. 04 Mar 2008 | # PG wrote…

    We tried it too and it's just awesome. If you are a CLI person, all the more fun; just cd to the mount point and fire away.

  8. 04 Mar 2008 | # Matt Baron wrote…

    Unfortunately, my TM project is still too big to open over sftp. When I open the project it just spins for hours…

    It would be great to see some optimizations on the Textmate end to speed up opening of large projects over the network.

  9. 04 Mar 2008 | # Jeff wrote…

    @RH — ExpanDrive isn't at all related to SSHFS. We accomplish a similar task, but it is a full custom implementation that shares no code or design with SSHFS.

  10. 04 Mar 2008 | # Isaac wrote…

    Same question about MacFusion. I've used it some, and am wondering how ExpanDrive differs?

  11. 04 Mar 2008 | # Jeff wrote…

    @Isaac – MacFusion is just a GUI atop SSHFS [and other MacFUSE modules]

  12. 04 Mar 2008 | # Gareth wrote…

    I had the same experience as Matt. I tried opening a folder on an stfp server, and it was beach balls all the way.

  13. 04 Mar 2008 | # Gareth wrote…

    I gave it another go and it works fine, if you don't have the project drawer encompassing a too great a number of folders in one go.

  14. 04 Mar 2008 | # Steve wrote…

    Any chance of setting up a textmate/expandrive discount/promo?

    :-)

  15. 04 Mar 2008 | # Matt Baron wrote…

    Another strange problem… When I save a file on the remote drive, and then run an "svn status" on the remote server, subversion cannot detect any changes to the file even though I can see them if I open the file in vi.

  16. 04 Mar 2008 | # Jonathan Wight wrote…

    @jeff "ExpanDrive isn’t at all related to SSHFS. We accomplish a similar task, but it is a full custom implementation that shares no code or design with SSHFS."

    While Expandrive is pretty darn good (and i'll probably end up registering), isn't that statement a bit misleading? If you open up the app bundle you can see it uses the Twisted Conch SSL module. I do appreciate that you're making a great product here but would love to have less marketting speak and more technical details.

  17. 04 Mar 2008 | # Aman Gupta wrote…

    My setup works pretty well, unless I open a huge directory: TextMate ReMate (http://ciaranwal.sh/2007/11/07/remate-update) MacFusion with the advanced option "-o noubc"

    Expandrive looks nice though, can't wait to try it out.

  18. 05 Mar 2008 | # Nathan Duran wrote…

    My one gripe is that–much like in every other Finder window–I can't see my .htaccess files by default. No clue if there's any way around that at the filesystem level or if the Finder does all the hiding up above it.

  19. 05 Mar 2008 | # Nathan wrote…

    Nathan, you can enable the Finder to view invisible files (any file that starts with a period, like .htaccess) via the command line or a tool like Cocktail or TinkerTool.

  20. 05 Mar 2008 | # Accesss sftp servers in the Finder at somefoolwitha.com wrote…

    [...] is a very useful little utility which mounts sftp servers as drives in the Finder. There's been a few interesting things written about ExpanDrive including using it in conjunction with BlueHarvest to [...]

  21. 05 Mar 2008 | # Nathan Duran wrote…

    I know that I can make the Finder show all the hidden files, but I don't want to see every single one, just those that are on the SFTP mount. I realize that might not be possible, but it's what I want nonetheless.

    Some other issues I've noticed in testing:

    1) Zipping a folder through the Finder is intolerably slow as it seems to download everything before it even puts up the progress bar, then re-uploads as it goes. Still have to SSH in if you want to make a backup of your docroot or /etc.

    2) No refresh button. This has become a problem for me several times.

    3) Why does the application not have a dock icon if it puts up windows? This makes as much sense as the misused group box in the preferences dialog (it's actually worse than it appears if you poke through the .nib). If I switch applications and bury the thing there's no way to get it frontmost again. Either get rid of the windows or get rid of the LSUIElement property on the application. If you want the service itself to be faceless then have a separate configuration app which is not so it behaves correctly.

    4) Opening medium sized folders in TextMate beachballs; hard. Obviously not a problem with ExpanDrive, but a problem nonetheless since that was one of the main attractions for me.

    5) Where does it stick its MacFUSE installation? Nobody else can find it when it's done, and I don't see it in the app bundle. If it's not in the app bundle then the documentation shouldn't claim that all we need to do to uninstall is trash the app.

    This would be extremely useful for times when I'm repeatedly exporting and uploading image slices from an Adobe app, but I'm still finding myself reaching for a regular old FTP client for everything else (especially since the Finder can't do tabs). It's kinda cool, but most of the heavy lifting seems to be done by either Google or a Python library, so I have to wonder: what parts did they actually write and what portion of the profits will they be contributing to those projects they depend upon?

    I'd highly recommend it to folks who don't quite "get" the Finder and therefore have little hope in understanding FTP, but I'm afraid I'm just not seeing anything worth registering for myself. The Finder just isn't a very good FTP client any way you slice it. I'm sure it'll prove to be a lucrative investment for them either way, so who cares what I think.

  22. 05 Mar 2008 | # Bear wrote…

    Is it just me or does it take a really long time for Textmate to respond when the application loses focus?

    First, I mounted a drive with ExpanDrive and add a new project (which took about 5 beach ball laden minutes). Then, when I switch from firefox back to my project window, it takes another 30 seconds or so before Textmate is ready to go.

    I'm not seeing the performance that everyone else is talking about.

  23. 06 Mar 2008 | # Hank Kiedrowski wrote…

    I was hopeful because Finder access is much more responsive than SSHFS, however on a realistically large project TextMate still beachballs with ExpanDrive. This is most likely TM's fault, not ExpanDrives.

  24. 06 Mar 2008 | # Dirk G wrote…

    Too slow over SSH using TextMate. Painfully slow. Seems like TM is querying a fantastical amount of information each time you click a disclosure triangle, rather than simply ls -l. Can't use it until this performance issue improves. Beachballs for sometimes a minute just to peek into a directory, or when switching back form the browser to TM.

  25. 08 Mar 2008 | # Devon wrote…

    Has anyone else experienced permission changes from 644 to 600 when saving a file from TextEdit using ExpanDrive?

    I create a forum thread, but haven't gotten any response.

  26. 08 Mar 2008 | # Phill Kenoyer wrote…

    I also have the problem with TM changing the permissions to 600. No matter what I do it still changes them. I can open the files in Text Edit, VIM, or whatever and it's just fine. Only TM does it, so far.

  27. 11 Mar 2008 | # Magnetk Blog » Blog Archive » ExpanDrive for OS X wrote…

    [...] working for a long time on ExpanDrive, and are very proud of the result. Our early adopters seem quite pleased [...]

  28. 11 Mar 2008 | # Thiago deMello Bueno wrote…

    Has anyone had the same problem Matt Baron has had (and I) it seems that subversion doesn't pick up my changes even though they are indeed saved properly… which is a pretty big issue for me. Otherwise, it works rather well.

  29. 11 Mar 2008 | # Wim Leers wrote…

    Thanks for the coupon code, Allan!

  30. 11 Mar 2008 | # Phill Kenoyer wrote…

    I just used coupon code. Thanks!

  31. 16 Mar 2008 | # kevin wrote…

    Completely off-topic, but when is TM2 coming? Because I really need native double-byte support; people are moving to skEdit in droves due to TM's lack of this, and I don't want to be one of them … cheers.

  32. 17 Mar 2008 | # brookr wrote…

    Thanks for the coupon, it's still working!

    I'm loving it so far, and they seem responsive on the support forum (including working on the TextMate issue…)

  33. 19 Mar 2008 | # binnen wrote…

    doesn´t work for me. everytime i´m saving a file in textmate, the connection to the server gets lost and all files/directories within my tm-project are marked red.

  34. 23 Mar 2008 | # kL wrote…

    I'd rather see TextMate fixed than using more elaborate hacks for it.

    C'mon, why is it sooo hard to add preference key for "Do Not Scan Every Thing Every Time I Activate Any Window Dammit!"?

  35. 23 Mar 2008 | # Phill Kenoyer wrote…

    I know…. I've been waiting for years for that preference. Years….

  36. 24 Mar 2008 | # Gareth wrote…

    I've found the perfect combination. Expandrive (I managed to use the coupon code, so there are probably still some left), and ReMate. Then you don't have the problem of endless refreshes each Textmate regains focus.

    I still can't wait for Textmate 2, though.

  37. 27 Mar 2008 | # RG wrote…

    @ Gareth

    Thanks for the heads up on ReMate! The combination of Expanddrive and ReMate really is great.

  38. 27 Mar 2008 | # Phill Kenoyer wrote…

    Excellent! ReMate even fixes the moving the screen around problem when switching back and forth from editor to browser.

    Thanks for the heads up Gareth!

  39. 29 Mar 2008 | # Tobias wrote…

    At last! Using Expandrive and ReMate fixes my remote working problem. Although it's still not like on a local drive, it's now usable (I tried Fuse as well). Well done folks! Tobias.

  40. 03 May 2008 | # james wrote…

    i have the same, or a similar problem as binnen-

    Closing a file's tab in Textmate seems to close the entire connection.

  41. 05 May 2008 | # minimal design wrote…

    Remate is a sweet tip! Thanks!

    I still don't quite get why this is better than MacFusioin though… I guess I'll give it a try. Maybe it'll be obvious then. :)

  42. 20 May 2008 | # Bernhard Fürst wrote…

    To share my experiences: Macfusion + FUSE is great if you use a fast network. Using consumer DSL with 16/1 MBits/s (download/upload) to connect to remote hosts seems not to be enough when I tested it. Expandrive works better but also has problems when using bigger Textmate projects. Remate may help here – I did not try it yet.

    Not satisfied by the solutions above I created my own which is a bundle for Textmate using the OS X built-in commands ftp or scp to upload or download files from within Textmate to a remote host. Try it if you want but don't expect too much – it has limitations by itself: FTP/SSH Bundle

  43. 15 Jun 2008 | # Clay Shentrup wrote…

    I bought Expandrive and will buy Textmate if this issue Bernhard mentions is fixed. I think it's related to the weird bug where Textmate freezes if the network is disconnected, even if I'm just typing in the file, not loading or saving. Maybe it's trying to do an auto-save or something that I can disable??

  44. 23 Jun 2008 | # JB wrote…

    I purchased this based on the recommend but I find it unusable even on the local network with anything but a very small project. ReMate helps not. Project window just beachballs constantly over and over. Just my experience.

  45. 27 Jun 2008 | # Jeff wrote…

    We just released ExpanDrive 1.2.7 – it includes a lot of updates and fixes, if you are having trouble – I definitely recommend giving this a look

  46. 05 Sep 2008 | # Flüge wrote…

    Oh dear! I gave it a try and it´s just marvelous:) I love it!

  47. 17 Sep 2008 | # fl0w wrote…

    I tried sshfs + macfuse, and I wasn't impressed. I just gave this baby a spin. Started with the 30 day trial and 1 hour has passed and I'm loving it.

  48. 22 Oct 2008 | # John Wyles wrote…

    Textmate should seriously consider a plugin or built-in support for optimizing SFTP/SCP edits. There are many more optimizations and caching that could be done in the client so as to alleviate the long (and I mean 2 minutes+ long) waits we frequently have to go through to load any medium to large sized project. I have seen others mention they have similar concerns so I can only hope they are heard by the Textmate development team and a solution provided. Until then I am left with no other choice than to not use Textmate, other than tinkering around with small projects on my local disk :o(

  49. 22 Oct 2008 | # Alex Ross wrote…

    What would be the point of building that into TextMate? I agree that remote editing is painful, but that's not so much TextMate's fault as it is the slow network you are editing over. Expandrive does what it can to locally cache server files, but it still has to download them.

    And anyway, if Expandrive can't make remote editing completely painless, why would a TextMate plugin?

    What you should do is maintain a local copy of your projects. The disk is always faster than the network…

  50. 23 Nov 2008 | # Jason wrote…

    I just tried Expandrive with skEdit and it's very snappy. The slowness experienced by a lot of people, myself included, is definitely a TM problem.

    I have even tried with ReMate and I get beach balls for several minutes at a time opening a folder.

    In skEdit with a much larger folder tree, the response is near instant.

  51. 04 Dec 2008 | # macZOT! » ExpanDrive wrote…

    [...] Allan Odgaard – Textmate [...]

  52. 10 Dec 2008 | # Jason wrote…

    I just upgraded to MacFuse 2.0.1 and MacFusion 2.0.3. The new sshfs is much, much faster than Expandrive but the problem with responsiveness in TM persists.

    Cheers, Jason.

  53. 11 Dec 2008 | # John Wyles wrote…

    While I understand that mounting an SFTP connection can be very beneficial with TextMate, I have a huge codebase and TextMate+ExpanDrive does not seem to be able to hang with it. So the second option for me was an SFTP connection browser. I use CyberDuck, which gets huge bonus points for being free (although you should probably donate), and can open all the files I need in TextMate, saving them back via SFTP. The downside is there are some quirks in the CyberDuck UI which bug the crap outta me; so an SFTP plugin, or something more stable than the ExpanDrive+TextMate combo needs to developed and sold (I know I would fork over a good chunk of change for it).

  54. 11 Jan 2009 | # Garrett wrote…

    I would like to note that ExpanDrive is NOT a good option for development teams working on the same project simultaneously. The caching is too aggressive.

    For example, when someone edits a file, saves it, and then asks you to take a look at it, it will not have their changes present when you open it if you had opened it previously. It does not matter how many times you try reopening it.

    This is dangerous and is not spelled out anywhere, at least that I could find, by the creators of ExpanDrive. Shame on them.

    Be wary if you work with others and use this product.

  55. 21 Apr 2009 | # joe wrote…

    vim+expanDrive==cashmoney. oh sorry, wrong blog ;)

  56. 23 Apr 2009 | # Jeff Mancuso wrote…

    Thought I'd let everyone on this thread know that we just put out ExpanDrive 2 – it has a completely new SFTP core, with an even better meta-data caching infrastructure that really helps out TextMate [remate helps too]. Apart from that, you can expect double the throughput, S3 support, etc etc. Check it out if you're still skeptical http://bit.ly/14oUgu

  57. 21 May 2009 | # Matt wrote…

    Been trialing Expandrive (2.0.1) with Textmate for a week now and found that mounting drives with SSH is ok, but FTP is hopeless – it's just perpetual beachballs and re-starts…

    Far quicker just to ftp the file down to your local machine and then FTP it back up again.

    But SSH is much quicker. I have noticed a problem, in that TM will crash if permissions haven't been set correctly on the folder / files you are editing (rather than saying 'you don't have permission'), which is a bit annoying.

    I may still buy it for SSH but it's quite disappointing that it doesn't work with FTP & TM.

  58. 21 May 2009 | # Matt wrote…

    Sorry for double post but I thought I'd add to my previous post by pointing out that it's not just with TextMate that ExpanDrive has a problem with FTP – just copying files to a from drive mounted on your desktop is so slow and prone to error that it's really not even worth attempting. Stick to a standard FTP client or go back to Terminal.

  59. 28 Aug 2009 | # Sam wrote…

    ExpanDrive started out at what, $9 via Facebook with a 70% discount. Now they're $39.95 and offer a measly 2.5% discount via Facebook.

    Sure, having a cheap app at the start is a great way to get good reviews but jacking the price up by a factor of 4x afterwards is more than a little bit cheeky.

    I've read contradicting reports about the performance enhancements – from "no improvement over MacFUSE" to "night and day". Just a pity MacFusion appears to be unmaintained.

    Sam

  60. 28 Jan 2010 | # ExpanDrive = remote nirvana for your Slice? | wrote…

    [...] of buzz for the new Mac app ExpanDrive. There's even a plug on the Textmate blog, where folks have been clamoring for a remote editing solution for as long as I can remember. [...]

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