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Chrome OS Will Soon Let You Access Dropbox, Amazon S3 and More from File Manager

websftp-128Chromium developers have been working on letting third-party filesystems and cloud storage services integrate with the Chrome OS file manager for well over a year.

Now, with real functioning code in trunk builds of Chromium OS and the requisite APIs being primed for early promotion to development builds, it shouldn’t be too much longer before we’ll be able to access Dropbox on a Chromebook and our S3 buckets from a Chromebox.

Ahead of then let’s take a quick look at how it will work, what it can do and the sorts of services it plans to support.

Chrome File System API

Chrome OS File System API Providers

Amazon S3 is among the initial wave of providers

The ‘File System Provider API’ allows developers to create Chrome extensions that support virtual file systems and make files stored on these to be available from the file manager on Chrome OS.

As of writing the File System Provider APIs are still read-only but will shortly be updated with support for write operations.

Support Services

According to the GitHub page for the project the current focus is on first supporting Amazon S3 Buckets, WebDAV and Dropbox. Support for SFTP, Samba and Box is also planned.

The repository splits “filesystem providers” into two separate types:

  • Protocol providers connect to servers over a particular protocol like WebDAV or SFTP
  • Cloud providers connect to an account on third-party cloud storage services like Dropbox or Amazon S3

All providers add an entry to the sidebar of the Files.app from which a list of remote content can be loaded and viewed.  Depending on the provider, it should also be possible to navigate through directories and sub-folders; open, edit, save and rename files (when write support lands); and sort items by name, type, modified date or size.

Like the Google Drive folders in Chrome OS, virtual file systems will automatically mount on login or after a reboot (unless otherwise told not to).

When Can I Try It?

As of writing there is no firm date on when this feature, or any of the provider extensions, will be made available for user testing.

Developers running Chromium OS from trunk can toy with the work as it stands by following instructions on the FileSystemProviders GitHub wiki, where detailed information on creating a File System Provider is also listed.

  • This is exciting, I’ve been getting slightly annoyed that I cannot use Dropbox on my Chromebook.

    • Frederic MANSON

      Yup, me too. It will be much more easier than using the window app.

      The “cloud” is not a bad technology. The bad part of its use is the low broadband from the ISP. I am stuck at a tiny 1.5 MB when it’s “calm”. I am not located on a network backbone and the network repartitor of my area is 611 meters far away to have a correct up stream… I hope that I will get optic fibre or coper line in the months to come…

      • Yeah, that’s no fun. I used to be a subscriber to Verizon broadband, with around 3Mbps down and 0.5Mbps upload.

  • ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ Go Dropbox!

  • Lou G

    And Samba? wow! that makes sense. I’d imagine it’d be easier to share over Samba via Linux to Linux (since ChromeOS is linux) on the same connection.

  • ForSquirel

    webdav!!!! yes!!!! This is going to be fantastic.

  • Dev’o’mac

    I would say Samba is much more important than S3.

  • Joseph Dickson

    Excellent news for those of us who collaborate with a varied group of online services.

  • disqus_1N5TGClDwS

    I hope OneDrive and iCloud Drive are also added to the list in the future.

    • Frederic MANSON

      I add Box and Hubic with its 25 gigs of storage for free. Yup, it’s a French company (OVH).

    • JPB

      I would think those depend on having an API themselves that can be mapped to Google’s interfaces. Do they have programmable APIs?

      • Heimen Stoffels

        Not sure about iCloud, but OneDrive has a very well documented API.

    • Also Yandex Disk and Mail.Ru Cloud.

    • Robert Nasiadek

      I wouldn’t count on any iStuff playing nice with anything but other iStuff. That’s just Apple way.

      • Georgie Orman

        If apple has published a iCloud api then maybe. But most likely it hasn’t.

  • Aldo Martinez

    BitTorrent Sync support will be awesome

  • Perfect. I don’t mind coding in a simple text editor, but not having real SFTP support was a real drawback.

  • frsgrs

    Where’s OneDrive?!

    • Heimen Stoffels

      Exactly my thoughts.

    • As a user of OneDrive I hope to see it, too. But it’s not Google’s place to make extensions for every service. They’ve created an API, posted the documentation… if there’s a cloud storage providers you want it’s sort of up to them.

      • frsgrs

        Makes sense, I hope Microsoft will implement it!

        • Boothy

          Be interesting to see. With the new direction at MS, I’d be hopeful, but given the recent history of “co-operation” between Google and MS, and MS’s ridicule of Chromebooks, I could see it arriving “later”.

  • Denimourson

    That’s great.

  • Bradley Ellison

    Add NAS support too!

    • frsgrs

      Samba?

  • Pietro Giovani

    local network and hard drive box (in france freebox) please !!!

  • You’re welcome :)

  • Yvan Philogène

    That’s a wonderfull initiative from Google for its cloud-based system.

  • Ryan Hellyer

    SFTP will be extremely useful, as it would allow you to integrate BitTorrent Sync, hence creating your own cloud platform. I imagine that being very useful for schools and businesses, not to mention geeky personal users like myself.

    • Or people who prefer SFTP to FTP for managing remote files, such as I.

  • Ryan Hellyer

    I think it would be great if Chrome OS could cache the files locally. Being able to access them locally is nice and all, but instant access without worrying about connection speeds (or any connection at all in fact) would be a very nice addition to it’s functionality.

    It would be somewhat more complicated of course, since sync’ing would need to occur, but I think it would be incredibly useful for many people.

    • JohnWinstanley

      This would be great. With selective sync of course. Having a local copy of all my .txt notes would really help.

  • Chrome

    One question to all:
    In the last few updates for Chrome OS it says: “except Lenovo ThinkPad 11e Chromebook, Education Chromebook, HP Chromebook 14, HP Pavilion Chromebook, Toshiba Chromebook, Acer C7 Chromebook, and Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550”

    Why are they doing this? Why they not updating all devices? Is there any reason for that?

    • Ryan Hellyer

      They did this ages back for something (can’t remember what) in relation to the CR48. I think the reasoning at the time, was that they hadn’t had time to test every device. So I guess it’s just a matter of being careful. It’s possible that the beta releases land on all machines though.

  • Zach Smith

    I just use JoliCloud Drive, its a Chrome Extension and it links several Cloud Storages together including Drop Box.

  • Georgie Orman

    I use Joli drive however, I personaly feel that it is starting to get heavily covered in additional features that aren’t necessary. Such as social and video categories. I prefered libraies.