Notes not syncing completely between macOS and iOS

What I did:

  • Import notes from Apple Notes.app on Agenda on macOS (~1300 notes)
  • Waiting for notes to sync to Agenda on my iPhone and iPad (syncing via iCloud is enabled)

What happened:

  • Notes did not sync
  • I suspected a sync problem because the number of notes is large, thus I distributed the imported notes in three projects with about 400/400/500 notes
  • Then I disabled sync on iPhone (deleting all notes on uninstalling Agenda on iOS), uninstalled Agenda, reinstalled Agenda and re-enabled sync.
  • Now, only one of the tree projects syncs the notes from macOS to iOS. The other projects are shown on iOS but are empty.
  • The project whose notes sync is incomplete, only about half of the notes are available on iOS.
  • Further, navigating the notes in the three folders with about 400 notes each is very slow, e.g. beachball shown for about 15 sec when switching between the projects.

Things that might be helpful to know (Agenda version, OS and model, etc):

  • Agenda version 10.0.4 on macOS, Sign in with Apple, iCloud sync, premium subscription.
  • Agenda version 10.0.5 in iOS, Sign in with Apple, iCloud sync, premium subscription.

Very sorry for the late reply. (We are a bit short staffed over the summer break.)

What you are seeing is almost certainly due to the large number of notes. Syncing that many notes will take quite a while. You would probably have to leave the devices connected to power, with Agenda running, and sleep/autolock disabled. The data has to upload, and then download.

The slowness in scrolling would probably be due to having so many notes in each project. You would be better off spreading them even more, so that each project only has 20-50 notes at most.

One way to start over would be:

  1. Turn off the sync inside the settings of Agenda, and when it asks, choose to remove the cloud data. Do this on each device.
  2. Reorganize your projects
  3. Delete the app on iOS devices, and install it again, to clear all the data there.
  4. Finally, turn the sync on for the Mac, let it run for an hour or so with, then turn the sync on the iOS devices.

When the sync is active, you should see a flashing cloud icon (top-right on Mac, in the right panel on iOS). As long as you see that, it is still busy.

If all this is too much trouble, some people choose for a different approach: they use Apple Notes as their shoebox of odds and end notes, and they use Agenda for very specific, project-based note taking (eg a project per patient for cases). Agenda is not really a direct replacement for Apple Notes, it is really for a different type of time-oriented note taking.

Kind regards,
Drew

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Thanks for your reply. I tried to sync the notes by deleting and re-installing Agenda from my iPad and letting sync run for a couple of hours, but this didn’t solve the problem.

But if there is a limit of a few dozens notes per project, Agenda is not suitable for my use case and I will have to go back to Apple Notes. Which is sad, because I liked the concept of Agenda.

I have three feature requests:

  1. An indication of the synchronization status and progress. I found out only by accident that the Notes imported from Apple notes are only available in Agenda on macOS but not in iOS.
  2. Developement of a more capable synchronization mechanism: I think that the expectation that a note taking app is able to sync 1000 notes that are (except for a few exceptions) text-only, is not unreasonable.
  3. Update the app description in the app store to clearly state that Agenda has severe limits on the number of notest that can be processed and synced.

I hope these issues will be addressed in a future release and I will be able to come back to Agenda.

Addendum: To be clear, in my case we are not talking about lots of data. The total size of my 1300 notes when exported in “Agenda file” format is merely 2 MB.

Kind regards,
Christian

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I’m having the same kind of problems. I have to use Dropbox for syncing because my different computers use different iCloud accounts.

There seems to be no way to force a resync. I kept trying to restart the app but my latest notes on one device didn’t show up on another, while the ones from others were pulled down alright.

It’s pretty confusing.

I agree, the lack of UI for showing the sync status and progress is utterly confusing. It is not possible to distinguish slow sync, from sync errors.

Since version 10 we do have a sync indicator, it shows on mac in the top right corner of the window next to the community icon, and on iPhone at the bottom in the inspector on the right.

Yes, I noticed this sync indicator but I find it not helpful for debugging my problem. There apeear to be four states (no symbol, cloud with incoming or outgoing arrow) which appear sporadically but there is no progress indication, such as 500 of 800 notes synced.

One of my projects has 487 notes on macOS. But after initially syncing 191 notes to iOS no further notes have been synced in about 2 weeks. I would expect that the sync symbol would be active all of the time on macOS and iOS until the sync is complete. But this is not the case.

As mentioned above, the amout of data to be synced is tiny: just 2MB in (zip compressed) Agenda export format or 20MB after unzipping.

Would switching the synchronization to Dropbox improve the situation?

Kind regards
Christian

Switching to Dropbox probably wouldn’t make much different. iCloud is a fast service, even faster than Dropbox.

To be clear, there is no limit on the number of notes in a project in Agenda. But more data will always require more processing, in any app. If you keep your notes under about 100 per project, Agenda will be faster, and it will also be easier for you to locate things.

So you no longer see any flashing cloud at all?

I’m trying to understand how you only have 2MB of data with 500 odd notes. Are they very short notes?

I guess you see no new notes appearing on the iOS at all over time, correct? Even if you let the Agenda run for 30 minutes or so in the foreground, with autolock off? (BTW Have you had the Mac app open; part of the sync is that the Mac app must upload the data, so it needs time to do that.)

If you wish, I am happy to try to test your data. You could export it and send it to drew@agenda.com. Of course, you shouldn’t send it if it is confidential at all.

Unfortunately, I cannot share my notes because they partly contain private and confidential information.

But to further debug the problem with similar data I generated 300 files with 50-1000 words of random text using the ruby script shown below (The generated files are in the attachment output.zip). Importing these notes into Agenda on macOS takes a very long time, at least 30 minutes. But once the import has completed, the notes are immediately available and completely synced on my iPhone.

Hence, I think the synchronization process per se does not appear to be the problem. I suspect that the problem is related to the export of the notes from Notes.app.

Still, Agenda has become unbearable sluggish on macOS after I have imported this amount of notes. Switching between projects causes the app to beachball for about 10 seconds. Hence, although I like Agenda’s clean UI, editing controls, tag support, etc. a lot, I have to stick with Apple notes until these growing pains have been addressed.

I hope you find this data and report useful for future performance improvements.

Kind regards
Christian

output.zip (237.1 KB)

#!/usr/bin/ruby

OUT_DIR = "output"

for i in 0..299
    filename = "Note_" + i.to_s.rjust(3, "0") + ".md"
    words = rand(50..1000)
    text = `lorem --words #{words} --randomize`
    text = "# MY NOTE Number #{i}\n\n" + text
    File.write(OUT_DIR + "/" + filename, text)
end

I noticed the sync indicator but its lack of granularity makes it not really useful. Can you consider adding at least a mouseover status (like what’s being synced, or even just how many bytes are being uploaded/downloaded) so that it’s clear something is going on?

I later found out my problem was due to the bad internet connection.

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I’m not sure how that would really help. If you see the sync indicator, it is uploading/downloading data, or performing other sync activity like importing the downloaded data. Flashing up numbers like “27KB” or whatever is unlikely to add much for most customers, and will probably just confuse them. (They sync data has very little to do with the data you see on screen, so you can’t interpret the packets of data as notes.)