Our dev machines at Hexlet are remote, since the project is too big and resource-heavy for laptops. This good decision made by our CTO also means that the dev environment is freed from additional layers of complexity like managing Vagrant and Vbox.

Most of the devs work directly on the remote machines using vim. I used Sublime before Emacs, and seamlessly synced all changes using an excellent SFTP package. There’s a similar (and free) package for VS Code.

The canonical solution for Emacs is TRAMP. It’s pretty cool, but not suitable for my workflow. I want instant feedback when navigating the project with Projectile and searching all files using ag. TRAMP is slow as hell for these.

A possible solution is to sync files from local to remote using rsync and do it automatically when files change. Doing full folder sync is slow. Luckily, rsync has --files-from option. You can specify a list of files to sync. So, use fswatch to watch changes, and run rsync for each changed file.

Thanks to Alistair Phillips, I didn’t have to write the whole script myself. Here is what I got in

#!/usr/bin/env bash
rm --force /tmp/remote-server-rsync.txt
rm --force /tmp/remote-server-rsync-relative.txt

echo "Starting initial sync..."
rsync --verbose -azP --delete --exclude='.git/' --exclude='.DS_Store' --exclude='tmp/' . remote_user@XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX:/home/remote_user/hexlet
echo ""

echo "Watching..."

fswatch --exclude=".git" --batch-marker=EOF -xn . | while read file event; do
    if [ $file = "EOF" ]; then
       printf "%s\n"  "${list[@]}" > /tmp/remote-server-rsync.txt
       sed -e "s,/Users/rakhim/code/hexlet/,," /tmp/remote-server-rsync.txt > /tmp/remote-server-rsync-relative.txt
       echo "Beginning sync..."
       rsync --verbose --files-from=/tmp/remote-server-rsync-relative.txt . remote_user@XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX:/home/remote_user/hexlet
       echo "sync completed"
       echo "Watching..."

The workflow looks like this:

  1. Run ./
  2. That’s it :-) Just edit files and save them as usual. It takes about a second to sync.