How does it work?
The way SparkleShare works is pretty much familiar with everyone who has ever used dropbox. A SparkleShare special folder is created upon installation inside the home directory. The various projects of yours are going to be copied inside this special folder, and will be synced accordingly when a member of the registered project changes something. You can have multiple projects connected to different hosts.
First thing to do is enter your name and your email. The startup screen and the quick tour that follows are both very helpful and very user friendly, explaining how SparkleShare works in a simple and understandable way.
I wish the road that got me there was more user friendly though… There are no deb or rpm installation packages available right now, so the only way to install this on Linux is compiling it from source which is not good at all for newcomers…
One more important thing is the almost universal interoperability that is of key importance in such applications. You have Linux, Mac OSX and Windows support, but Android is not there yet :(
So, SparkleShare will create a folder on your computer and sync with the host that you set, but what can you set exactly? SparkleShare supports setting your own server, Bitbucket, Github and Gitorious! Although not everything supported yet like Canonical’s Bazaar for example, things on this sector are ok if you ask me…
You can also get reports of the history (for commits/changes etc), and have notifications on your tray when they happen! The icon on the tray is also a quick way to access all your projects folders, as well as add new ones, enable/disable notifications etc.
Security and conflict management
All projects can be protected with a password. When password is used, all files in the protected project’s folder will be be encrypted locally using AES-256-CBC before being transferred to the host. The password is only stored locally, so if someone cracked their way into your server it will be very hard (if not impossible) to get the files’ contents.
When a file has been changed by two people at the same time and causes a conflict, SparkleShare will create a copy of the conflicting file and adds a timestamp. This way changes won’t get accidentally lost and you can either choose to keep one of the files or cherry pick the wanted changes.
What are the plans for the next release? Hylke Bons promises better Gnome 3 integration, ability to locate SparkleShare’s special folder somewhere else other than your home and better handling of large Git files. This new version will hopefully be ready in the next few months so go grab it, test it, learn more about it and finally become a contributor! This is a great little tool that covers a long lived vacuity. Kudos to everyone involved!