Remotely update Pelican via Dropbox

I wanted a way of forcing Pelican, the blogging platform I use, to update as soon as I had an article to publish. At the moment I have a cron job running every 20 minutes that updates Pelican with any new changes but I wanted a quick way of having Pelican update as soon as I wanted to in case I noticed an error in an article or wanted to publish a new one immediately.

Pelican does have a regenerate option but I find it is too unreliable, often causing it to fail without generating all files. It’s good for local development but when used in production, it’s too risky.

Instead, I wrote a shell script (based upon this answer over at Stack Overflow) that checks for the existence of a file in the Dropbox directory I store the articles in1. If the file exists, Pelican rebuilds the HTML and the site is updated. If the file doesn’t exist, the shell script simply exits gracefully.

Amend the filename and location within the script then set it as a cron job to run every minute. Whenever you want to force update Pelican then simply create the required file (using touch, for example) in your content location on Dropbox. Within a minute, the server will be notified and Pelican will automatically update.

I have this saved as a cron job that runs every minute and moved my 20 minute interval to 2 hours in case I forgot to add the file to Dropbox.

  1. This requires having Dropbox installed on your server and Pelican configured to view a directory within as the location to grab content.