A Fresh Look at Clean Cloud Sharing with Droplr

Last time we did a feature on the lightweight, cloud-based content-sharing app Droplr, it was in an early development phase. Since then, we haven’t looked very closely at it, despite the raging rivalry between fans of Droplr and it’s main competitor (which I’ll talk more about later). Well I aim to remedy that, and since Droplr has recently been upgraded to Version 2, what better time than today?

If you’re not familiar with the app, Droplr is a lightwight file-sharing service. Put simply, it works like this: you choose some content, and a method of uploading it, and then Droplr generates a shortened URL that you can then use to direct your friends, family, or colleagues to that content. But that’s only the beginning. Any old app can share content, but it’s the details that give an app the upper hand. Read on to find out more about the new Droplr for Mac.

What’s New?

A lot has changed since Droplr first became available. First and foremost, the current version is now available on the Mac AppStore, which makes locating, installing, and updating it a breeze.

Droplr now has a new and improved web interface, uploader, and gallery page that are not only more visually attractive than they have been in previous iterations, but also much more useful. The gallery lets you search, sort, and filter by file type, and also lets you rename your drops to improve the usability of your catalog.

I've shared an unacceptably small number of cat pictures.

I've shared an unacceptably small number of cat pictures.

Droplr supports drag-and-drop uploading via the menubar icon, and still automatically copies the resulting URL to the clipboard for ease of sharing. However, for even further utility, Droplr now supports plugins for some of the most common apps on your computer.

"Plugins" doesn't sound as neat as "Raindrops" but they function just the same.

"Plugins" doesn't sound as neat as "Raindrops" but they function just the same.

Lastly, Droplr now has fully documented API support, which is good. But I poked around on the dev page and discovered that enthusiasm has been disappointing, and as a result, hasn’t quite taken off yet. And that’s less than good.

Droplr Vs. CloudApp

I suppose it’s time to address the elephant in the room. Yes, I’m looking at you, CloudApp. CloudApp is a relatively well known application that is identical in many ways to Droplr (as well as it’s closest competition). However, there are a few differences, and these subtleties are likely to be the determining factors in your decision on which app (if either) to use. Let’s bust out that magnifying glass.

The first and most obvious difference that I’d like to address is the gallery page that opens anytime a share link is used (with the exception of when outside links are shared). CloudApp’s share pages look nice, with their dark and almost theater-like aesthetic.

However, Droplr’s page looks even better in my opinion. Good design makes me want to do that thing that dogs do with their back leg when they get their head scratched, and Droplr’s share pages are extraordinarily well designed. They are clean, but ad-supported which is the major functional difference between the apps. They look good, and good-looking ads make me less inclined to be frustrated by them, but they take up a pretty large section of the page, which is my sole complaint because I’m rocking a 13-inch display.

CloudApp and Droplr side by side.

CloudApp and Droplr side by side.

Second is content-support. Both CloudApp and Droplr support the sharing of multimedia files like images, video, and audio. Both apps also let you share text, but only Droplr will let you specify if that text is actually a code snippet, and will color-code the syntax accordingly. This makes collaborating between developers and designers amazingly handy. Droplr also supports both Textile and Markdown.

Don't you judge my amateur coding skills. I'm new at this.

Don't you judge my amateur coding skills. I'm new at this.

There are only a few other small differences to address. Droplr’s standard public URLs seem to be shorter than CloudApp’s (by one character), but CloudApp supports longer private URLs for security purposes, whereas Droplr does not. This isn’t that big of an issue for me, but I can definitely see where having the option would be useful to some users.

CloudApp allows you to automatically upload screenshots that you take with the default OS X shortcut, but Droplr implements a separate keyboard shortcut for performing this task. I prefer the Droplr way of doing things, because I don’t necessarily want or need to automatically share every screenshot I take. Droplr’s share pages have built in links for sharing content even further, as seen in the top-right of the screenshot below.

Oh, that's just Abe Lincoln. With a machine gun. Riding a bear.

Oh, that's just Abe Lincoln. With a machine gun. Riding a bear.

Lastly, I find Droplr’s web interface to be much more pleasing and space-efficient than CloudApp’s, and Droplr’s iPhone app is just as useful, whereas CloudApp’s is nonexistent.

Final Thoughts

Prior to the composition of this review, I was a CloudApp user through-and-through. And I still won’t hesitate to say that it is a rock-solid app that has its merits. However, after using Droplr again for the first time in a while, I have to say that I’m very likely to switch. The gorgeous design (and icon), the iPhone app, the speed, and the versatility of Droplr have hooked me, I think. It seems like the developers of Droplr have been able to achieve finer attention to detail and increased usability without compromising the lightweight nature of such an app.

But of course, that’s just one guy’s opinion (our readers clearly disagreed in a recent poll). The age-old debate between Droplr and CloudApp supporters hasn’t shown any signs of stopping. Tell us, how do you like the new Droplr, and has influenced which app you prefer?


Summary

Droplr is a menubar app (and web interface) that lets you share any type of content with a shortened URL.

9
  • Rob Weber

    A terrific addition to the functionality of the menubar app would be the ability to edit the shared item’s title. Presently, you must visit your gallery at the Droplr site to make that change, unless I am missing something? While it’s nice to have the latest drops shown in the menu, the long original URLs aren’t necessarily useful to identify the item at a glance.

  • http://www.techgenial.com Luca

    Guys, I just downloaded it after reading this review and comparison with CloudApp (I am a happy user of CloudApp) but I immediately realized a big FAIL: wih Droplr I can’t upload a PDF or PPT or other document! I use CloudApp a lot to share docs, but can’t with Droplr. No go for me :-)

    • Rob Weber

      I am able to upload files of any type. The resulting link gives the recipient the ability to download. What’s not working for you?

  • http://raventools.com Jon Henshaw

    Ad supported pages is a deal breaker for me. Not only does it take up vertical space, it’s not professional when sharing with customers and social networks. Also, CloudApp supports custom domains. I was curious to know if Droplr does the same. Nice write up. Thank you!

    • http://twitter.com/@scottld3 Scott Danielson

      Thanks for reading! I can definitely see where you’re coming from on ad-supported pages, too.

      Droplr does support custom domains, but the new version has slightly changed the way it works. This API page explains it in better detail.

      http://support.droplr.com/kb/policies/custom-domains-with-droplr-2

      • http://biasedbit.com Bruno

        Scott & Jon,

        We’ll be rolling out paid accounts soon; among many other interesting perks, subscription will remove ads and allow custom domains.

        Nice review, really appreciate it!

  • Danny Tam

    Does anybody know how the Droplr plugins are activated? Does it use the ‘Copy Selection’ command?

  • http://jacksongariety.com/ Jackson Gariety

    Actually, CloudApp has a great iPhoen app, stratus, by a third party developer. It’s UI is pretty rockin’.

  • joseph zizys

    Hey! this is a great article, and it is also, I assume, a great total rewrite of the earlier Droplr article that drew such heavy criticism from comments. Good job!

  • Dan

    I am still trying to decide which route to go with. I will wait a little longer and see if the promised premium features show up with Droplr. As it is, I wish Cloud App used different hotkeys, and gav eme more than ten uploads a day (especially since it is using the system hotkeys.

    Anyways, as far as Cloud iOS apps are concerned, DropCloud is worth looking at. It looks good and has some good functionality. It also allows for the deletion of multiple files which it seems neither cloudapp or droplr allow on their web interfaces. Strange and totally annoying!

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