Everyone’s got an opinion or definition as to what cloud computing is all about and why it might be beneficial so here’s mine.
First of all the standard definition:
“Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).” – Wikipedia
And in English:
“Rather than access software on your computer, you access it through a website.” – Leon
Why Cloud Compute? The Benefits:
- Cheaper or FREE,
- More secure,
- Easy access via any internet enabled device,
- Data backed up automatically,
- Syncing between devices,
- More Scalable.
- Requires good internet,
- Less capable software (but maybe not for long!).
I’m personally switching as much stuff to the cloud as I can, here’s what I’ve switched so far:
I’m hoping to buy a Google Chrome notebook soon which is a laptop that pretty much only runs an internet browser (Chrome). That’s all I really need to run my business these days. In fact I could probably do it all from my phone too!
I’m currently building a site for a local Pharmacy who would like to have the ability to allow customers to upload photos to be developed via an online form on their site. The catch is, they would prefer to have the files go to their Dropbox (File sharing/storage site) folder for easy processing. I done some searching for an off the shelf WordPress plugin and this one came closest but unfortunately, didn’t have batch capability and seems slightly buggy – WordPress.org/extend/plugins/dropbox-plugin.
I then got to wondering if it was possible to Email pics to Dropbox and found a few sites/apps that can do it well. This one seemed best – SendToDropbox.com.
So, armed with the above knowledge, here’s what I done:
Contact Form 7
This is one of the most popular FREE form plugins for wordpress and the current version includes the ability to add File Upload fields to a form. As many as you want. I setup a new form with standard questions like Name, Email, etc..and included a few upload file fields with specifications as to File Type, File Size, etc.. I then pasted in the automatically generated email address from SendToDropbox.com in the “To” field. Contact Form 7 also has the option to send the results of the form submission to a second email address and I setup a duplicate of the first email to go to the proper contact email address of the website, minus the file attachments, just so the website admin would get notification of newly uploaded files. Of course, the Dropbox PC software also alerts you straight away when new files are added to your folder. See below for Contact Form 7 settings:
This is a simple but cool site that connects to your Dropbox account and provides a custom email address that you can send emails and file attachments to. It also has a copule of extra features that process emails received such as: Automatic Unzipping, Email Content Inclusion and control over Dropbox Folder Names/Trees for emailed files, ie – files uploaded in this way can be added to folders named by Date, Email Address, Subject, etc..handy for keeping thigs organised and finding customers uploaded files! See below:
The end result is a normal looking contact form on the customers site that allows basic personal info to be uploaded to Dropbox along with files and photos. The website admin gets instant notification of new files added to his Dropbox account as well as email notifaction of the customer’s details. Nice!
Of course, it can be even simpler. If you just add an email address to the site like Upload@SiteName.com and have that forward on to the custom SendToDropbox email address then people can use the methods they already know for sending emails and attaching files and it will work just as good. I personally think it’s best and more professional to use the form method but perhaps a choice can be given.