Other sync solution than iCloud needed

The other problem with the “drop the data into a folder and let a service sync it” approach is that it really only works on macs. On iOS, Agenda would have no access to the data, because it is in a separate, sandboxed app. We would have to download from the service manually via their web service, and effectively you are back at square one.

Thanks a lot for all the info!
See my post as a chance for you to explain the difficulties of having a sync with other cloud services… :wink:
I actually do understand the challenge and am happy that iCloud works already albeit it would be really cool to also have support for other stuff.

There are other difficulties too. Eg. the data is actually not just one file, it is many files. If you leave it to a service to sync up the files, you have no guarantee the files are consistent. Maybe only half of them synced over so far. In the software terms, it is not ‘transactional’.

This is actually a real problem with many apps. With some other apps, people will put the database (SQLite) into Dropbox with a hard link. There is no easier way to get data corruption :frowning:

  • 1 for sync using MSFT OneDrive; required for secure work environment

Thanks

Hi Drew, would like to get your clarification please around a specific Dropbox issue/feature - which hopefully is on your radar.

Dropbox Basic, which I signed up for specifically to enable Agenda sync (can’t use iCloud for reasons that others have covered), has sufficient free storage (2Gb) but does has a three device limit.

Do you know if this limit is enforced at the API level (where Agenda interfaces with Dropbox)? With the flaky behaviour at the moment I can’t determine whether some of the behaviour I’m seeing relates to this limit (I have 4/5 devices syncing) or other known/unknown issues.

I don’t know, to be honest. It is possible that Dropbox software kit that we use sends the device id up to the cloud. We don’t do that though, it would be Dropbox doing it.

Do you see any sync at all via Dropbox? If so, I would say that the sync is working as it should, but is slow due to the other issues mentioned. The fix is hopefully not too long away. Sorry for the wait.

Kind regards,
Drew

Hi Drew, it’s really difficult to figure out exactly what’s working and what’s not.

Each of my four devices currently have a subset of data (with the possible exception of the MBP which is my primary device). If I look at Today for example, I have two notes on the MBP, four on the iMac, and zero on the iPhone and iPad. Generally, only a proportion of data has sync’d consistently across devices. This goes not only for the Notes but also the Categories and Projects. Syncing of changes to Categories seems to be particulary weak.

All in all, a bit of a mess. When you release the updates addressing some of the sync performance issues on Dropbox, some advice on cleaning up existing data inconsistencies would be appreciated.

Going back to the original question, if using Dropbox sync on more than 3 devices requires payment to upgrade my Dropbox plan, that introduces a very significant additional cost (200 GBP per year) to using Agenda that I’m not sure that I’d be keen to pay - since I don’t use (or want to use) Dropbox for anything else.

The beta is not long away now. I recommend you grab that as soon as you can.

I’m afraid there is not much we can do about the price of Dropbox. iCloud is our preference, because most people have free space, and it requires no sign up, but for others we added Dropbox at quite a cost in development time. But if that is no good for you either, I don’t know what I can suggest other than perhaps you stick to 3 devices for now.

We can keep adding sync services, but each one is a month or more of work, and it is a month that we don’t have for adding other features. Perhaps down the track, but no immediate plans. Sorry.

BTW I’m not sure the 3 device limit applies in this case anyway. We don’t use the Dropbox app. Perhaps that relates to Dropbox Drive. If you do see data on all your devices, there probably isn’t any limit. It’s probably just the Agenda issues which the beta will hopefully solve.

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Thanks Drew. I know that the Agenda team can’t do much about the price of Dropbox but I’m suggesting that this (potential) limitation should have been taken into account when selecting Dropbox as an alternative to iCloud.

Couple of thoughts to add.

  1. You’re making a good case for having your own sync solution rather than adding support for multiple 3rd party options. It’s been mentioned before but OmniGroup have gone this route and, as an OmniFocus user, I can tell you it’s rock solid and very performant.

  2. I’d be able to use iCloud across all my devices if you supported choosing to which iCloud account to sync with (rather than the one set up on the device). What do I mean? On MacOS, you can have a primary iCloud account and one or more secondary accounts. If I could select an account other than the Primary for sync then that would enable me to use iCloud across all my devices.

Dropbox was chosen for its popularity. It has free accounts, so for most, this was a good alternative.

In the long run, it would be nice to have our own sync service, but…

  1. The price of Agenda would need to rise quite a bit. Consider the cost of OmniFocus.
  2. We would need a bigger team. Omni is 100 strong. We have a much smaller team.

As for using a separate iCloud account, I’m afraid that is simply not possible. Apple don’t allow that.

This thread is fantastic. Privacy concerns are the only thing keeping me from committing to Agenda. I tried reading through the entire thread (hopefully didn’t miss anything) It’s great to see dropbox support, but looking at the files in the dropbox app folder, they are unintelligible. Does this mean they are encrypted? Sorry if this is a naive question.
Cheers,
RS

Alas, not yet encrypted, something we still plan to add down the line.

Thanks for the quick reply. I know you guys work on Agenda non-stop, so risking being annoying ;-), Any ETA? Or alternatively, sync via SpiderOAK or similar, which has built-in zero-knowledge encryption.

Sorry for the truism, but in times of data leaks, hacks, and facebook swaying elections, encryption is no luxury anymore for a software which can hold personal or otherwise sensitive information.

Alas, this is quite a bit out I’m afraid.