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Less.app is a very cool tool for using LESS / CSS - but I can't figure out where it stores its configuration file.

I thought perhaps it was storing it in this file:

~/Library/Application Support/Less app/lessDataFile.lessData

However that does not seem to be the case. Does anyone know where the correct configuration file is? To clarify I'm looking for the one that stores the list of folders and paths that are used by the app.

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Bryan here. Guy behind Less.app. The above locations for the data file and preferences are correct. The reason the app stores the information in a "don't mess with this" format is that it was never designed to be used across machines.

Here's the reason: say you have two computers. They both have the exact same website project in the exact same location. Say, ~/Desktop/Project/main.less exists on both computers. You might think you could add this project to Less.app on one machine and "share" the data file between the two computers. But behind the scenes, OS X sees these "exact same" files as very different. They have different file identifiers, which is the primary way Less.app "knows" which file is which.

It's a very challenging issue to manage, because there's no way for Less.app to know if two projects across two machines are really the same project or if they just have the same structure and file names.

And, since the app started life three years ago as my own personal tool and since I didn't need to synchronize across multiple machines, I never designed it to be used that way.

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Thanks for being clear about your affiliation and the neat answer. Welcome to Super User! :) –  studiohack Jan 5 '12 at 5:32
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Great to see developers answering problems here! –  Simon Sheehan Jan 5 '12 at 5:48
    
Thanks Bryan - that makes sense. I'd still like to be able to use Less.app between multiple computers, though. Is it possible for me to request a feature for "importing and exporting the configuration" then? –  cwd Jan 15 '12 at 19:06
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You had actually guessed right. The list of folders and paths used by the app are in:

~/Library/Application Support/Less app/lessDataFile.lessData

It's a binary plist (Property List) file, and from the look of the structure of the file, it's not meant to be messed with. It looks like an unintuitive serialization/dump of the internal state of the app.

It seems to store its preferences in this other binary plist file:

~/Library/Preferences/com.incident57.Less.plist

...but this file doesn't contain any of the folder paths used by the app. That's all in the lessDataFile.lessData file you'd already found.

It's standard practice for Mac OS X apps to store their preferences in a plist like that (that location, that naming scheme).

You can read and edit binary plist files with Xcode (and many other programming-oriented text editors for Mac OS X), or with the command-line tools PlistBuddy(8), or defaults(1). Or you can convert them to XML text files with plutil(1). Some tools for working with plists expect the file name to end in .plist, so keep that in mind if you're struggling to get a tool to open the .LessData file.

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Thanks @Spiff. I symlinked the first file into dropbox so I could keep it synced between two computers but it doesn't appear to be working - so even though the paths are in that config file I thought perhaps they were stored someplace else as well? Method I used was symlink the file on both computers. Open Less.app on the first, add a folder, exist less, wait for DB to stop syncing. Let DB sync on second computer, open less, no new folders show up... –  cwd Jan 4 '12 at 14:16
    
@cwd It looks to me like the .lessData file is a really raw serialization/dump of the app's internal state. It's no surprise to me that it breaks when you put it on another machine. –  Spiff Jan 4 '12 at 18:54
    
Ok I see what you're saying about that now. Thanks! Maybe they will build a better way to store the paths in a newer version. –  cwd Jan 4 '12 at 21:33
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