Create and edit custom code snippets for multiple editors and sync them with your Dropbox
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SnippetMachine is an Angular 1.5.3 application running on a Rails 5 backend in API-only mode. Its purpose is to allow users to easily create and manage code snippets for use in their favorite editor (currently supports Visual Studio Code and Sublime Text 2). By linking their account with Dropbox, users can save snippets created within the web app directly to their local machine. There are instructions for symlinking the dropbox directory where snippets are saved with the directory on your computer reserved for storing user snippets. This allows snippets created within the web app to be usable almost instantly within your text editor. You can also edit snippets within the interface, save the changes to dropbox, and see your changes reflected within your text editor.

The project makes use of gulp, bower and browsersync allowing easy livereloading of edited files. Browsersync is configured to serve on http://localhost:3000 and Rails is configured to serve on http://localhost:4000. There is a gulp task for running both simultaneously, but I've found I prefer running them in two separate terminals so that I can still see the rails server logs for the API.

Ruby Version

This app is built using Ruby v.2.3.1 (2016-04-26 revision 54768) and Rails In order to get started, I recommend creating a gemset for Rails 5:

$ rvm use ruby-2.3.1@rails5.0 --create
$ gem install rails
$ rails -v

More details can be found on the RailsApps Project's instructions for Updating Rails.

System dependencies

To run this project, you'll also need to have the following dependencies installed:

  • Node.js (I'm using v.6.5.0).
  • Gulp-CLI (I'm using v.1.2.2)
  • NPM - which should have installed with Node (I'm using v3.10.3)
  • PostgreSQL (I'm using v.9.4.4 locally)

First thing's first, clone this repository to your local machine. I recommend setting the rails 5 gemset as your default using the following command:

rvm use 2.3.1@rails5.0 --default

Next, you'll want to cd into the directory you cloned and run:

bundle install

Now that your bundle is complete, we'll want to install the front end dependencies. To do that, you'll want to change directory into the angular client:

cd client

and run:

npm install

Once this installation is complete, we can move on to configuring the app to work with Dropbox.


SnippetMachine employs on the Dropbox API to provide its core feature: saving and syncing snippets to your dropbox from within the webapp.

In order to make use of this part of the app's functionality. You'll need to create a new dropbox application. After you've created your app, you'll want to add a couple of redirect URIs to allow for OAuth 2 Authentication:


After adding the redirect URLs, you'll need to add your app key and app secret to your local copy of SnippetMachine.

To add this configuartion to your copy of the app, we're using the choices gem which allows configuration to be imported from another file. A file called settings.local.yml is referenced from within config/application.rb of the rails app. In order to get this app to work, you'll want to create a file config/settings.local.yml and add your app key and app secret to it. When complete, it will look something like this:

defaults: &defaults
    app_key: 'your_key_here'
    secret_key: 'your_secret_here'

  <<: *defaults

  <<: *defaults

Once you've added these credentials, you're ready to move on to the next step.

Setting up the Database

SnippetMachine uses a Postgres database. All of the setup can be done with the following command:

rails db:setup

This command will create the database, migrate to create all of the tables, and seed it with some starter snippets. If you would prefer to begin without any snippets, you can run the following commands instead:

rails db:create

Next, to create the tables:

rails db:migrate

Running the Server

To get started and see if everything is working properly, run the following command:

gulp serve:full-stack

This will start a rails server at http://localhost:4000 and a browersync session running the angular app at http://localhost:3000. It will take a bit of time to finish as the code will be built and tasks will run before browsersync starts up. When it does, http://localhost:3000 will load in your default browser.

While working, I prefer to run gulp serve and rails s -p 4000 in separate terminal windows so that I can see the output of the rails server logs while I navigate through the app. This is especially important when changes introduce server errors, because gulp serve:full-stack will hide the server output and will only display the progress of gulp tasks when client files are changed.


I've set up detailed instructions for how to deploy this app to Webfaction shared hosting in this plunker. If you are planning on deploying to Heroku, you'll want to check out Jason Swett's tutorial on on deploying an angular 2 rails 5 app to Heroku. While the app uses the angular 2 seed, the only major difference is that you'll want to run gulp build instead of gulp within the postinstall. The heart of how it works is creating a symlink between the build output and the rails public folder.

The main challenge with deployment is that the build output is not stored in version control. This means that the build must run on the server after the source files have been deployed. On Heroku, this can be done with the aid of buildpacks as explained in Jason Swett's tutorial. On shared hosting, I've set up a post-receive hook that runs a bash script every time the I run:

git push deployment master

The way my plunker works is that once you fill in your database usename and credentials and information about your application, you'll be able to paste a bunch of generated commands into an ssh session to your account. These commands will accomplish the following tasks:

  • Create a directory in your account that is not public and initialize a bare git repository.
  • Create a secrets.yml file and database.yml file in this private directory and fill them with configuration referencing environment variables.
  • Create a post-receive hook within that git repository, this hook will do the following tasks when it receives a push:
    • set the working tree to your public deployment directory
    • copy server copies of secrets.yml and database.yml files into the deployed config directory
    • change directory into the parent folder of the rails directory
    • export environment variables to allow use of Ruby gems
    • export environment variables for database credentials and secret_key_base to allow rails commands to work
    • change directory into the rails app
    • run bundle install
    • migrate the production database
    • change directory back into parent directory
    • install npm-install-que, bower and gulp to install dependencies and build angular app
    • install node version manager and use 6.6.0
    • change directory into the angular app directory within the rails directory
    • run npm-install-que (I found that npm install was using too much memory)
    • run bower install to install front end dependencies
    • update node-sass so that gulp will work properly
    • run gulp build
    • change directory into the rails app directory
    • remove the public directory
    • symlink the client/dist folder to the public directory in the rails directory (ln -s client/dist public)
    • change directory into the parent directory of the rails app
    • restart the server
  • Make the post-receive hook an executable file.

Webfaction servers run on nginx using phusion passenger. To get this working with Rails environment variables, you'll need to edit the server block within your nginx.conf file. This file is located at /home/webfaction_user_name/webapps/app_name/nginx/conf/nginx.conf. You'll want to add the rails environment variables to this file. If you're using my plunker, all you'll have to do is fill out the form at the top (make sure to check the box saying that it's an Angular App you need to build). Then, you can copy the contents of the textarea at the bottom of the page and replace your server block within your nginx.conf. The block will look something like this:

server {
  listen             26371;
  passenger_enabled  on;
  root               /home/webfaction_user_name/webapps/app_name/deployed/public;
  server_name        localhost;
  rails_env          production;
  passenger_env_var SECRET_KEY_BASE your_secret_key_here;
  passenger_env_var DATABASE_NAME your_db_name_here;
  passenger_env_var DATABASE_USER your_db_user_here;
  passenger_env_var DATABASE_PASSWORD your_db_password_here;
  passenger_env_var RAILS_SERVE_STATIC_FILES true;

After that's set up, all that remains is to add a deployment remote to your local git repo. This is also set up for you if you use the plunker. All you have to do is copy the command generated in the textbox under Add Remote to your local git Repo.

After all of this is set up, you can deploy the app to webfaction using the command:

git push deployment master


For more information on contributing to SnippetMachine and how the project is organized, be sure to consult


This project is licensed under the GNU GPL v3. See for full details.