The Omni Group Forums

The Omni Group Forums (http://forums.omnigroup.com/index.php)
-   OmniOutliner for iPad (http://forums.omnigroup.com/forumdisplay.php?f=66)
-   -   Automatic document synchronization? Dropbox integration? (http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=21028)

Ken Case 2011-05-12 10:52 AM

Automatic document synchronization? Dropbox integration?
 
We’re exploring Dropbox integration, but just adding Dropbox to our existing “Import/Export” functionality probably isn’t what people are looking for—at least, I know it’s not what I’m looking for. What I really want is automatic syncing of edited documents, and Dropbox doesn’t make that easier or harder, it’s just another place in the cloud to sync to.

In other words, my priority is to get automatic syncing working (in all our apps), so it works with iDisk, Omni Sync Server, and other WebDAV servers. (And possibly also Dropbox.)

jabancroft 2011-05-12 11:01 AM

It's an understandably tricky thing to get right, and I appreciate your honesty and how clear your priorities are (to make it work right, not just slap it on).

I'm using DropDav to make my Dropbox act as a WebDAV share, and so I have rudimentary import/export with my Dropbox folders between OO on my iPad and on my Mac (both of which I just bought this morning, I've been waiting for the iPad version!). Looking forward to automatic syncing (and an iPhone version!) when it's ready. :-)

HappyCatMachine 2011-05-12 11:16 AM

Synch isn't that important for me. Being able to import from a source that most apps export to (dropbox) is. Synching is nice for backing up but since I don't use the computer for much these days I find the need for synching to be minimal.

That being said, synching is what quite few people want but I wouldn't want to simply ignore dropbox because the synch issue was difficult to figure out.

See Notebooks (an iPad/Phone app) for synching that seems to work okay. Still, we have webDAV and no synch, why not dropbox and no synch? That is a rhetorical question though I can't deny that the issue of synching seems a bit of smoke screen given webDAV functionality without the ability to synch.

Edit: and don't you need to have basic dropbox functionality before you can synch to it anyway? :)

bpwhistler 2011-05-12 11:29 AM

I'm glad to hear that automagic syncing in all your apps is a priority. I truly appreciate this feature in OF when switching between iMac, MB Air, iPad, and iPhone during my day. The same functionality in all the apps would be fantastic.

Add my +1 vote for automagic sync support

Thanks for the great products and customer service

JohnJ80 2011-05-12 12:15 PM

Very glad to hear that you are pursuing true syncing.

This is a critical item for iPads. An iPad is not an alternative to a computer, it's an adjunct. When I need to do power computing in deep detail, then I do it on my Mac. When I need to update in the field, take notes, correct data etc... then it's on the iPad. I'm not a big enough brain to keep the status of which file(s) I need to update from which source for which app. It's recipe for failure to do it that way.

I need to be able to have my iPad apps sync the way you do with OF. That is the perfectly rendered syncing - by item not by file and so that it works cross platform on multiple platforms seamlessly. I'd be using the same philosophy for OO as for OF.

The big issue that OF had in syncing is trying to get the platforms right. Not everyone has MobileMe and not everyone knows how to set up a WebDAV server. The sort of defacto set of places to do this sort of thing for most every iPad app is (in order): DropBox, Google Docs (ick) and then MobileMe. Google Docs is not an option for those of us that deal with Intellectual Property or proprietary info since we all think Google is searching it.

Great work on OO for Ipad. Do the syncing piece for the next rev.

J.

FolsomRider 2011-05-12 03:02 PM

The Omni Sync Server is working for me, thank you for the quick turn-around!

RedHotFuzz 2011-05-12 03:26 PM

If Omni Sync Server is going to stay free for Omni software users, I'm all for that. But the last thing I need right now is yet another monthly online service fee.

If Omni Sync Server is going to become a for-pay service, add a vote from me for DropBox integration.

jap 2011-05-12 03:57 PM

Ken, firstly thanks for a great App, its has filled the chasm between MindMapping (iThougts) and OutLiner on the Mac for me.
From my perspective OmniSync Server is not the optimum answer. I use DropBox for all my documents in different parts of my workflow, everything else sends files to DropBox, which syncs with GoodReader which links everything together. I can already open files in OO from GoodReader, the simple ability to save data back to GoodReader (or at least 'Open file in') would go a long way for me.
OmniSync Server is great for OF, but composing/developing work in OO has a different workflow and the requirement to interface with other Apps, for which DropBox or GoodReader is the logical aggregation device.
Thanks again for a great App, the simple way it does Everything is great, I live in AUS and had to burn the midnight oil to get in early on the release, loving it!

d2hamilton 2011-05-12 07:16 PM

How to use omnisyncserver
 
How do I use Omni's sync server with OO for mac or iPad and what does it buy me?

Meanwhile, a hearty vote for syncing between mac and iPad. That will truly make an awesome app.

Ken Case 2011-05-13 06:13 AM

[QUOTE=RedHotFuzz;97226]If Omni Sync Server is going to stay free for Omni software users, I'm all for that. But the last thing I need right now is yet another monthly online service fee.[/QUOTE]

As I noted in my latest [URL="http://www.omnigroup.com/blog/entry/ipad_or_bust_omnioutliner_for_ipad/"]"iPad or Bust!" blog post[/URL]:
[INDENT]Our free Omni Sync Server has been in beta since last summer, and it's been working quite well: over 18,000 people have signed up and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. This will remain a free service for all Omni customers when it leaves beta; if you haven't tried it already, I encourage you to give it a spin![/INDENT]
Please feel free to use it as free cloud storage for any/all of your Omni apps.

korm 2011-05-13 07:33 AM

Syncing is fine and maybe essential for OmniFocus, because it's transactional - make a change on one platform and all platforms get updated without much ado. Synching for OO is less important, IMO. I'm not going to run back and forth between the iPad and the desktop; I'm going to spend time editing a document one place or the other before I decide to commit the changes (via upload to the cloud). For me, having more clouds available is more important than sync, WRT OO.

DavidFoster 2011-05-13 07:42 AM

I agree with the need for Dropbox and TextExpander support
 
Sync or not, Dropbox is an indispensable tool in accessing documents on the road. It's the most widely used cloud-based service; plus it's accessible from a huge number of other iOS apps.

Textexpander support is similarly nearly ubiquitous. It's a huge timesaver when composing text and minimizes reliance on the screen-based keyboard when an external keyboard isn't at hand.

Support for '...open in' would be a cherry on top!

Congratulations to the team, Omnioutliner for the iPad is absolutely wonderful, and canvassing the reviews, it looks like almost all users agree!

I'm really looking forward to implementation of these requested features in version 1.1.

wolfneuralnet 2011-05-13 09:13 AM

Ken -- Nice job on the first release. I understand that Sync is the long-term priority for all apps, and I think it should be for mobile devices as well.

Unfortunately, as things stand right now, I cannot use the app without abandoning my workflow. I have all of my OO outlines so I can work with them on multiple machines stored on my Dropbox, and I can find no way to open them in OO or save them back to the Dropbox. Is there really no way to easily interact with the Dropbox app on the iPad in order to get these issues worked out?

I have already paid for the app and couldn't get it working with my existing files due to the lack of DB support. My understanding is that you are recommending the use of your WebDAV server that I already use for OF. Can someone direct me to a document on how to set this up, and how this workflow could be used with DB? It sounds complicated and unwieldy to mount a WebDAV server on the desktop every time I want to edit the files on the Laptop/Desktop, and then open and resave them on the iPad. How would I edit these files if I had no internet access? I just don't get how the storage of the OO files on the WebDAV server solves the problems that DB does.

In short, if you or others could explain to me how to use this new app successfully with DB or post a doc somewhere on how to use your service so that it functions somewhat like this that would be great.

If there really is no way to do this, what is the hesitation with putting in DB support before you get the whole syncing thing worked out? I guess I agree its for the greater good, but it doesn't seem to me like its going to be a huge deal to put in DB saving/resaving support prior to working out that larger issue.

Thanks for listening -- bummed I can't really use my new app right now in my current workflow.

P.S. I cannot afford DropDAV so that isn't going to work for me.

Fordyce 2011-05-13 10:25 AM

Data export preference
 
I would really like to export OmnitOutliner data to OmniGraffle for further treatment/diagramming. Dropbox integration would be a really handy method for iPad <-> Desktop transfers, but I'm talking about sharing files between OMNI Group programs on the iPad. Has anyone asked about this yet?

Fordyce 2011-05-13 10:41 AM

email OPML files
 
I just emailed an OmniOutliner iPad OPML file to myself and opened it in Dropbox on the iPad. I was also able to open the Dropbox OPML file on my desktop in OmniOutliner Pro.

Cypher 2011-05-14 07:41 AM

I was really pleased to see OmniOutliner for iPad released and was just about to buy it when I noticed no Dropbox integration :(

I use Omnifocus on the Mac & iPad and use applescripts in Omnifocus to create project folders and OO documents for each projects in my dropbox account. I've been looking at my system with a view to removing Omnioutliner from my workflow and to use plain text notes instead as all my data is locked up in OO format and as a windows user at work, I'm cut off from my files unless I remember to export them to other formats. It really becoming too much work and text files seems the way to go. Seeing Omnioutliner for iPad was now available I thought it was Christmas, my prayers had been answered. However I assumed OmniOutliner would give me access to my dropbox files on the iPad.

I don't understand the issue with syncing, I just want access to the files in my dropbox account and be able to save back to dropbox. I'd leave dropbox to do the syncing to my other systems.

I will have a look at the other integration options available to see if I can work OO for iPad into my workflow but without dropbox integration I really think its a deal breaker. :(

whpalmer4 2011-05-14 10:33 AM

If you're doing this at work, you've probably got fast, reliable connectivity for your iPad, right? In that case, you've got Dropbox access from the app, right now, using the DropDAV service. Just save the file back to Dropbox after you make a change, or at the end of the time you're using the iPad, and fetch it from Dropbox when you start working on the iPad. You've got a local backup copy stored on the iPad so you can access it when you don't have connectivity. Unless your files are very large, or you switch between them like a toddler on crack, the time spent shouldn't be an issue. It would be nice if the saving of files could continue in the background after switching to another app, but the Dropbox app doesn't seem to be able to do that, either!

Now, if you are frequently without internet connectivity on your iPad, this is more of a challenge, but sitting at your desk at work, bathed in speedy WiFi, this is more a case of convincing yourself there's a problem. Sure, life would seem easier if the app supported Dropbox syncing and did the dirty work for you, but if you give the matter a little careful thinking, you'd realize that you would still have some of the same issues if you can't make the assumption that the iPad (or any other device that changes files in your Dropbox) is always connected and able to sync immediately after making a change. Edit a file on your laptop on the plane and don't connect to the internet after landing? Oops, that change isn't in your Dropbox! Colleague puts a file in your Dropbox with details for the presentation you plan to work on during the flight, but you didn't remember to connect the laptop to the internet before heading out? Oops again. Yes, Dropbox makes things easier in an always-connected environment, but once you wander away from that simplifying assumption, there will likely come a day where you find yourself wishing you had handled a few more of the details personally :)

JohnJ80 2011-05-14 10:58 AM

There are two issues here: (1) true sync and (2) file save with cloud access. I think we might be confusing the two. True sync can be file save but file save is not true sync.

Forgetting to save a file back to the cloud makes it easy (and likely) to potentially destroy critical data. I use my iPad as my notebook for taking customer notes in engineering meetings. I need to get that data back to my laptop and I need to be able to edit it in both places maybe even simultaneously. I lose those changes and I'm toast because the topics are far too complex to recall the changes. Same would have to be true for students and class notes etc...

Cloud saving is here now with DropDAV, iDisk or general webdav. It's here, but saving to the cloud is insufficient. Dropbox or any of these other services are places where you can do a file save to the cloud. But, unless the file has a lock on it until it's saved by where it's edited last, you will be at risk for catastrophic loss of data.

Sync is the answer. Sync done in the manner that Omnifocus does it (and does it so well). Each action is synced separately instead of each OF file (or in this case OO file). That works, and that makes huge sense to implement and is what, I hope, Ken means when he says "sync."

J.

gopi 2011-05-14 11:38 PM

I want sync and a file browser that can handle lots of documents. I don't mind if it "penalizes" me if I take my devices offline and edit the document in two places.

In other words, I'm fine if it duplicates my document if I take an offline iPad and offline MacBook and edit the document on each. Let me handle the merge. Sync like that would cover most people and shouldn't be too complicated.

The inability to do this, and the inability to handle 20+ documents comfortably is stopping me from really getting in to OO and starting to use it.

robbmonn 2011-05-16 02:42 PM

So this is what I want:

Instead of importing a doc from Dropbox, I'd like to be able to find a doc (in my case an OPML) doc and mark it "sync."

It will download it and put it in my doc library with a Green or Red sync indicator to reflect if it is the most current version or not.

When I save the doc it tries to update the Dropbox instance if it can.

When I open it it tries to check Dropbox to make sure that it has the most current version.

If there is a conflict it makes a new copy of the document with the most current remote version of the doc with a "broken sync" icon to let me know.

I'm sure there are better behavior patterns, but this would eliminate the problem of docs being out of sync.

Ultimately I want the docs on Dropbox to be in a special "sync" mode. OO should check the sync status of all the docs on boot.

This might be confusing, but this is what I need. By keeping local copies of my OPML docs on the iPad that do not sync, I'm creating a lot of problems... my outline that I edited at home can't make it to my OPML folder by itself.

My requirement is to be able to work on a half dozen outlines without having to email them all over the place and as close as I can get to always being able to edit my OPML based outlines and having them automagically be up to date on dropbox and my iPad so that I can then work on them from my desktop or from iThoughtsHD without having to worry about different versions being in different places.

robbmonn 2011-05-16 02:44 PM

Goodreader and iThoughtsHD both more or less do this. And they are not ideal in how it works... but it works.

I understand that inelegant solutions are not the Omni way, but I can't use your tool for what I want to use it for (which maybe doesn't matter to anyone but me) unless something like this is integrated.

In the meantime can I pretty-please get a "DropBox" export target in OO/iPad so that I can send my edited documents back to Dropbox? that would solve some problems pretty immediately.

Cypher 2011-05-16 02:56 PM

[QUOTE=whpalmer4;97386]If you're doing this at work, you've probably got fast, reliable connectivity for your iPad, right?

Now, if you are frequently without internet connectivity on your iPad, this is more of a challenge, but sitting at your desk at work, bathed in speedy WiFi, this is more a case of convincing yourself there's a problem.[/QUOTE]

The network at work is locked down so I can't do anything on it, and I have no access for the iPad via Wifi so I'm stuck using my iPad over 3G.

I'm playing around with DropDav now to see if that improves things, but it did mess a couple of existing outlines up when I opened them and subsequently saved them back. I suspect it may be related to the naming convention as the applescripts add a weird character as a prefix to the project name when creating the OO file.

I do have access to Dropbox on my work PC, so I think keeping notes using text files rather than OmniOutlines is probably going to be the best approach. I can then miss the iPad out of the loop and work between text files on my Mac and Work PC whilst are kept in sync via dropbox. I will never be at home AND at work so editing in two places will never be an issue. Using dropbox still enables me to be able to grab them on the iPad should I ever need a copy of one of them.

TedPas 2011-05-17 09:11 PM

I really hope you can fix syncing and file management quickly. I want to use this product, but for now I have to stick with Notebooks.

GeoffAirey 2011-05-18 02:37 AM

I've emailed the Ninjas, but I feel that the lack of automatic data syncing is a major omission as your only other options are to manually export each document every time you edit it, or to connect to a computer regularly for a full ipad backup.

Both are unwieldy and (for example) if you're travelling for a week, you could lose a lot of data because you forgot (or were too busy) to export the data.

GeoffAirey 2011-05-18 03:26 AM

[QUOTE=korm;97288]Syncing is fine and maybe essential for OmniFocus, because it's transactional ... Synching for OO is less important, IMO. [/QUOTE]

I couldn't disagree more on Syncing and OO, it's not important for me so I can work on it on another platform (I only have the ipad app). it's important for me so that all changes are backed up away from the device in case something happens.

ptcinsf 2011-05-18 11:53 AM

Ditto Dropbox!!! Beyond any financial concerns, dropbox has become integrated into my workflow across all apps - for myself and my other key collaborators within my business - most of whom run windows and therefore would have not interest in the omni synch server.

whpalmer4 2011-05-18 12:14 PM

[QUOTE=ptcinsf;97661]Ditto Dropbox!!! Beyond any financial concerns, dropbox has become integrated into my workflow across all apps - for myself and my other key collaborators within my business - most of whom run windows and therefore would have not interest in the omni synch server.[/QUOTE]

Omni Sync Service works just fine with Windows and Linux — it's a standard WebDAV file server.

joelande 2011-05-19 04:59 PM

I agree and disagree with Ken's original post, and have an additional question.

Firstly, Ken is right. At the end of the day, most of us [B]ultimately[/B] want true sync. That is, keeping the files current on multiple devices automatically. No import/export/delete/connect repeat.

That being said, I would have to assume that getting a good sync system up and running is going to take considerably more development time than simply adding the ability to import from and export to DropBox.

And like others in this thread, DropBox has become integrated with an overall workflow across many of our apps because:
1. It works reliably and quickly
2. It is supported by most iOS apps (so it is almost ubiquitous)
3. Unlike MobileMe, it is free
4. Unlike MobileMe, it works reliably and quickly
5. Oddly enough a considerable amount of iOS apps don't support MobileMe. I am sure that is because it is not really used on the PC side of things, and issues 3 and 4 above

So while MobileMe and OO support is fine in an OO bubble, when we are storing and organizing all of our related Project documents used by several apps in folders on DropBox, cutting OO iPad out of that loop really creates additional pain (on top of the already painful import/export manual sync situation) in our daily workflows that involve using several apps.

So assuming that developing a reliable sync framework is going to take considerably more time than adding support to access DropBox storage, couldn't we get a fast band aide to help us users that depend on DropBox in larger workflow schemes?


And now the additional question: I can see how OmniFocus syncs because it is a database system. All of it's data is stored in known locations, and involves a controlled number of specific files.

But I have OmniOutliner documents scattered all over my computer in various locations and folders - organized with their related project folders of course, but they are all over the place. Very often that folder hierarchy/structure changes as I reorganize things.

How on earth is syncing of OmniOutliner going to work?

whpalmer4 2011-05-19 05:10 PM

[QUOTE=joelande;97760]3. Unlike MobileMe, it is free[/QUOTE]
...if you only have a few GB of data. I don't think you would really want to hitch your workflow to Dropbox if no one was paying in some fashion!

joelande 2011-05-19 05:53 PM

[QUOTE=whpalmer4;97762]...if you only have a few GB of data. I don't think you would really want to hitch your workflow to Dropbox if no one was paying in some fashion![/QUOTE]
Good point, you are absolutely right, and I agree.

And I upgraded and paid for DropBox for that very reason.

[although I also think that many people [B]can[/B] get by on the free DropBox account, of which there is no equivalent for in MobileMe]


Now, here is the [I]really[/I] interesting (and telling) thing:

I [B]totally[/B] forgot, until I read your post... I pay for DropBox!
...which is because the service is just so dang great on [B]so[/B] many levels...
it doesn't even register as something I paid for!
(that's saying something for the total effectiveness of the service)

On the other hand, I think of what MobileMe (which I also pay for) costs constantly...

Just goes to show you the differences in the services.

[Really, I don't get why Apple, who is so successful at so many things, and has total control over the OS, can't make iDisk — a [I]paid[/I] service (and not cheap!) — work as good as, if not better than DropBox...it seems they do far more complicated things far more elegantly... But I have tried and tried and tried, and it just fails miserably in comparison]

HappyCatMachine 2011-05-20 04:14 AM

DropDAV now costs. Omni, now is the time to get DropBox support at it's basic level into your apps. You can no longer point to DropDAV as a solution without a cost involved. Thousands of productivity apps support DropBox with no synching. Why premium price products like OO and OG do not support DropBox is a question that is now critical.

JohnJ80 2011-05-20 05:59 AM

[QUOTE=joelande;97767]

[Really, I don't get why Apple, who is so successful at so many things, and has total control over the OS, can't make iDisk — a [I]paid[/I] service (and not cheap!) — work as good as, if not better than DropBox...it seems they do far more complicated things far more elegantly... But I have tried and tried and tried, and it just fails miserably in comparison][/QUOTE]

Apple just built a billion dollar data center in NC. My bet is we see this change pretty quickly. They, of all companies, get the cloud and post PC thing.

On sync -

Fortunately Omni has done this well as evidenced by the OF experience with seamless syncing at the record level on multiple platforms. We need to do the same thing on OO - especially on OO - which has the potential to be even more of a collaboration tool than others. I'd also like to see it integrate to some degree with OF. For example, select a cell in OO and have it turned into an action in OF.

J.

GeoffAirey 2011-05-20 08:36 AM

[QUOTE=joelande;97767][Really, I don't get why Apple, who is so successful at so many things, and has total control over the OS, can't make iDisk — a [I]paid[/I] service (and not cheap!) — work as good as, if not better than DropBox...it seems they do far more complicated things far more elegantly... But I have tried and tried and tried, and it just fails miserably in comparison][/QUOTE]

It's not their core thing, it's not the ONLY thing they do day in and day out and it's not key to their business model, however who knows what's coming over the hill with 10.7

joelande 2011-05-20 09:13 AM

[QUOTE=JohnJ80;97782]Apple just built a billion dollar data center in NC.[/QUOTE]
<sarcasm>
Yes, and according to the "press", wait I mean [I]people who have access to web publishing[/I] ([I]and because we all know what Apple is going to do[/I]), it is going to solve [I]all[/I] problems that Apple has for ever and ever:

The NC data center is going to magically make MobileMe not suck, and everything will be free, and it have a new online app suite that beats Google Docs, and it is going to provide free 5G wireless service to everybody nationwide (why offer 4 when 5 is so much better). Additionally by year's end, the new NC data center is even going to turn all of our iPad 2 displays into retina display iPads. The Apple NC data center will also, for the first time in the company's history, allow Apple to stream every single movie and TV show ever produced in the history of all time.

Because the NC data center is cool, Apple has found a way to offer all of these great and innovative services at no cost to end users.

The NC data center solves all
</sarcasm>

[QUOTE=JohnJ80;97782]They, of all companies, get the cloud ...EDIT... thing.[/QUOTE]
That has certainly not been my experience and observation. If anything, I think "cloud services" is the one thing Apple has never really understood or executed well.

JohnJ80 2011-05-20 10:23 AM

[QUOTE=joelande;97792]
That has certainly not been my experience and observation. If anything, I think "cloud services" is the one thing Apple has never really understood or executed well.[/QUOTE]

The implementation has not been seamless but neither has it been anywhere else. There is not a dominant standard for this yet and there needs to be.

Apple does get the importance and impact of the cloud over pretty much anyone else. That's why I think they will address this - they have to. No one else has even remotely come close to solving it on a soup to nuts basis either.

J.

joelande 2011-05-20 12:09 PM

[QUOTE=JohnJ80;97797]There is not a dominant standard for this yet and there needs to be.[/QUOTE]
Well DropBox is pretty close when it comes to accessing documents and building an ecosystem that third parties can tie into.

And Google Docs, Mail, Calendaring is fairly ubiquitous in those areas.


[QUOTE=JohnJ80;97797]Apple does get the importance and impact of the cloud over pretty much anyone else.[/QUOTE]
I think they are just starting to, although I don't think I agree the statement more than anyone else.

I think the iOS ecosystem (and even the popularity of Google services) has influenced this, but I think this is a relatively recent revelation/change.

And I don't think that anyone can argue that this has [B]always[/B] been Google's vision (everything in the cloud).

Amazon is a solid performer here as well, and not just with their recent music locker, and android store, or their Kindle service, or the rumored Andoid tablet that is making the headlines these days.

The online store itself is the start of this vision, and many of the items I purchase at the online store are available in a digital locker as well (and have been for years).

But they have had an even bigger (but most people don't know about) S3 service that drives many of the popular online services we use today, such as InstaPaper.

Not saying that those are necessarily the types of services to compare to MobileMe/DropBox, but as far as companies understanding "the impact of the cloud", I don't think Apple has been a forerunner in this area.


[QUOTE=JohnJ80;97797]That's why I think they will address this - they have to.[/QUOTE]
Don't get me wrong, I [B]want[/B] them to address this. I [B]hope[/B] they will address this. There are some indications that they will address this. It seems obvious, from so many angles...

All I am saying is:
1) given their track record, I will believe it when I see it
2) I don't understand, given how well they do everything else, how poor MobileMe sync (in general, and iDisk in particular) is...and its been that way for a long time. And you pay for it! [again, compared to DropBox]


I sure hope iOS 5 and/or Lion and/or iCloud.com and/or the NC data center bring great things to document and management soon.

JohnJ80 2011-05-20 12:37 PM

[QUOTE=joelande;97800]Well DropBox is pretty close when it comes to accessing documents and building an ecosystem that third parties can tie into.

And Google Docs, Mail, Calendaring is fairly ubiquitous in those areas.

[/QUOTE]

uh, no.

Every app has their own way of doing this. The majority of them that use Dropbox just create a folder at the main root level and that's it. No say on the user's part. Don't move it or else. Besides that, it's in a place I don't want to be. Heaven help me if I inadvertently move it on my desktop system.

I can't tell you how many times I've tried to get one app's data to another and come up against a road block. The whole thing is ridiculous in the extreme.

yeah, there are some players out there but nothing is even close to ubiquitous. That's the whole problem. Now I have files scatted over at least three different file storage system - Dropbox, Google Docs and MobileMe. To put a point on it, it's a cluster.

What it needs to be is something like a device wide file system that knows how to talk to a cloud based (industry standard) service. One Single Service of my choosing. Something that works on a file system basis as seamlessly as OF's syncing does cross platform.

Dropbox is a one of the players, but don't kid yourself that they are the end all/be all. They are not. All they are is a file storage site and are basically pretty iffy when it comes to app support in general. Yes, you can find apps that have Dropbox support, but that whole thing is pretty clunky - I have yet to see one that isn't to be truthful.

I use Dropbox and thought it pretty neat at the start - a stage I'd call "Dropbox Euphoria" but that has faded. Now, it's pretty much the same PITA the rest of them are.

J.

Brian 2011-05-20 02:39 PM

I have a Dropbox account - it's a great service and yes, handles file transfer better than the MobileMe account I also pay for. The Dropbox API being the [I]best[/I] way to get at those files makes total sense. But I can't think of a reason (that serves their customers) for it being the [I]only[/I] way that they provide.

Making those files accessible in third party apps is a two way street. And as we were reminded recently, when you upload files to any service you don't own, you don't know (and may not like) what they do with them tomorrow. Example: the recent changes to the Twitpic terms of service that [URL="http://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2011/05/10/twitpic-changes-its-terms-of-service/"]asserted commercial rights[/URL] over the content their customers uploaded. Folks have also raised [URL="http://academhack.outsidethetext.com/home/2011/why-i-might-be-although-i-would-rather-not-leaving-dropbox/"]privacy concerns[/URL] regarding files stored on Dropbox.

Which is not to dismiss any of the concerns in this thread. I like Dropbox, I use it, and I can see why folks want it in our apps. I just hope that the folks here are also filing feature requests with Dropbox to make their files accessible through generic technologies. Support in our apps or no, it seems better for their customers.

joelande 2011-05-20 04:03 PM

Good points Brian.

And personally, I would love to not have to pay for and use DropBox anymore.

The only reason I do is because iDisk had such terribly slow and consistently unreliable performance, and I could no longer work effectively or efficiently.

At the same time, I don't see myself not paying for MobileMe, because of the other sync features it offers throughout the Apple Eco system.

So, here's to hoping that iOS 5 and improvements to Apple's cloud services offers some relief soon.

jap 2011-06-12 09:03 PM

A vote for OmniSync
 
[QUOTE=Ken Case;97138]We’re exploring Dropbox integration, but just adding Dropbox to our existing “Import/Export” functionality probably isn’t what people are looking for—at least, I know it’s not what I’m looking for. What I really want is automatic syncing of edited documents, and Dropbox doesn’t make that easier or harder, it’s just another place in the cloud to sync to.

In other words, my priority is to get automatic syncing working (in all our apps), so it works with iDisk, Omni Sync Server, and other WebDAV servers. (And possibly also Dropbox.)[/QUOTE]

I use DropBox and OmniSync, in different situations. OmniSync is a great service for syncing my OmniFocus clients, so its continued development is importanty to me.
On the iPad I use GoodReader extensively as my work reference and 'Ready Use Locker'. It has the advantage of interfacing well with most iPad Apps and providing 'Links' that can be pasted into other Apps. It also syncs my OmniSync WebDav so all my files are available. On my Mac I mount the OmniSync Server so I have access to my data as well. As and added benefit my iWork docs can also be transferred/accessed on my OmniSync WebDav!

While syncing to DropBox would be great, a first step of syncing (vice upload/download) to OmniSync would be a great step forward for version control!

The current fly in the ointment is the formats that iPad OmniOutliner will accept (I can export simple HTML for transfer to word outlines, but not re-import them).

Love the App and using it extensively:)

BobB 2011-06-18 08:12 PM

[QUOTE=JohnJ80;97782]Apple just built a billion dollar data center in NC. My bet is we see this change pretty quickly. They, of all companies, get the cloud and post PC thing.
[/QUOTE]

Apple gets the cloud? As evidenced by what, iDisk, MobileMe, or Ping? Apple [I]gets[/I] a lot of things, just not the cloud or mice. I'm hopeful that iCloud is going to be a turning point but we've heard most of Apple's promises before.

Brian 2011-06-20 07:02 PM

According to Wired magazine, [URL="http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/06/dropbox/"]Dropbox Left User Accounts Unlocked for 4 Hours Sunday[/URL]. (June 19th, 2011, for folks who read this later.)

Apparently, you could access any of the accounts on the service by typing in any password at all...

dude 2011-06-25 08:59 PM

With Apple poised to kill off iDisk it will be an interesting Fall when we see what and how iCloud actually works.

HappyCatMachine 2011-06-27 03:53 AM

[QUOTE=dude;98942]With Apple poised to kill off iDisk it will be an interesting Fall when we see what and how iCloud actually works.[/QUOTE]

I will be amused and appalled (again at Apple) if iCloud is not FULLY cross platform. In addition I don't want it to require bloatware or complex install procedures.

Apple used to be the computer for the rest of us. I'm glad that they cater to the pros now but when companies like Dropbox provide such a simple and clean solution while Apple requires iTunes and cumbersome file management mechanics I feel that Apple has made the decision to turn their eye from simplicity.

Apple used to make simple yet powerful software. Now with the iOS it seems they need to sacrifice power for simplicity. It's painful to see as a former Apple fan and one who loves the idea of tablet computing just how poorly Apple is handling iOS. I watch my colleage use a bluetooth keyboard and mouse with his Android tablet with full keyboard control if he chooses and think how stupid the iPad looks with no mouse support.

I try to get a refund on an App (that the developer sold to another company and did not offer any existing customers compensation) and am told that the new license agreement that I agreed to specifies that refunds are NOT ALLOWED for any iTunes store purchase under any conditions (including apps, music, movies, etc...). That is not only not nice Apple, but that is hostile to consumers. On an Android device you just say you don't want the app any more from the main menu and it automatically refunds you and removes the app.

And yeah, I know all of the justifications and the down sides of Android tablets. I want Apple to be the best though. Sadly they are not. I have absolutely no faith in iCloud. I hope this is proven unfounded.

djwesto 2011-11-07 03:32 AM

Hi there Kan,

Do you have any rough idea of when this feature might be introduced to OO? I will be purchasing OO for iPad soon, now I've finally taken the plunge and bought one.

Sorry if this has been answered elsewhere but I can't find it anywhere on this thread so far.

Many thanks!
Chris

Brian 2011-11-10 01:23 PM

Thanks for choosing OmniOutliner, and welcome to the forums!

Dropbox support is still under consideration, but for the time being we're focusing our attention on iCloud...

kcwookie 2011-12-11 08:24 PM

I agree with working on iCloud, but don't forget about Dropbox. Many of us need Dropbox very bad.

namtastic 2012-01-31 08:18 AM

I just want to be able to open the Dropbox app and pass the file over to OmniOutliner to view it at the very least. Right now since it is a package file (and there's no flat file option like OmniGraffle offers), Dropbox navigates into the folder to show the contents.xml file, instead of allowing me to Open In…

With the death of MobileMe you guys have to get Dropbox integration solved soon. At least reach out to those guys to get support for the filetype added to Dropbox iOS. I know some users have emailed them on their own, but us users would be better represented by the company itself, considering the situation and the need.

jap 2012-02-01 06:50 AM

I agree, currently drop box offers no more than OmniSync, as you can mount omni sync on you Mac and save/open as required. OmniSync works far better than DropDav

wickenden 2012-03-14 07:09 AM

Workflow broken
 
For now my workflow is broken -- Eventually yes, give me synch however that will work. For now -- it is essential that dropbox work. It doesn't need to synch. Just allow us to get it to the dropbox. I hate hate hate having to mail it. That is so much more difficult than simple dropbox synching. I'm using your Omnisynch server, I like that -- but Dropbox is my one locus. If an app has iCloud AND Dropbox, I turn on Dropbox.

santra 2012-03-18 06:52 PM

When are we going to get REAL sync?
 
I mean SEAMLESS sync—like OmniFocus.

It takes forever. This should be happening in the background. Do you really think I have 5 minutes—each direction—to sync changes across.

I live in NYC. We say things to each other, at home and at work, like, "OK, I'll be ready in 23 seconds." And we are not joking.

At my job, users says to me thinks like "You have 5 seconds to solve this, or I'm calling the Director of your department.

Welcome to my world.

So...

Do you know how many FREAKIN' steps it takes to keep an Outline on the Mac and the iPad in sync? Something live FIVE STEPS (or more) EACH DIRECTION.

Please. I do not have time for this.

lamp 2012-03-19 11:50 AM

+1

This is the main reason I gave up OO iPad and use iThoughtHD (granted it is a mind mapping program) with seamless sync. The steps of creating outline on iPad local, and click Edit and click Export, and go to iDisk folders, and export. And then import back to Desktop is productivity killer.

whpalmer4 2012-03-19 12:37 PM

Here's a heretical notion: don't bother with shuffling your documents back and forth all the time. Work on the documents you need to be portable on your iPad, even at your desk. When you need to move the document, move it, and put it back on the iPad when done. Document sync isn't going to magically appear in OO3 next week, and OO4 isn't going to magically appear soon either. Wasn't portability the reason you got the iPad?

By all means, [URL="mailto:omnioutliner-ipad@omnigroup.com"]file those feature requests[/URL] but make it easier on yourself while you wait.

wolfneuralnet 2012-03-19 04:08 PM

At least let us open files from Dropbox and save them back to it -- I cannot believe this is still an issue after this program has been out for so long.

Is there some summary somewhere of why Omni refuses to include Dropbox support for Outliner? At this point all I can remember is there is some problem with iCloud, there is some problem with Dropbox, and Omni may or may not create their own syncing solution.

I am finding OO iPad useless since I can't access my docs on it without 10 steps...

Brian 2012-03-19 05:28 PM

The first post in [URL="http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=21028"]this thread[/URL] - which I'll move these posts to next - has the requested information.

To reiterate: we're working on the kind of sync being requested here, using iCloud. Have been doing so for months, actually. In some cases, that work means filing bugs against iCloud. Once that happens, our ability to make further progress means waiting for Apple to resolve those bugs.

It remains important to note that Apple's own document-based apps don't yet take advantage of iCloud in the way folks are asking for. iCloud currently is great at moving your photos or media files to devices where they don't exist yet.

That's pretty great all by itself, but merging concurrent edits from multiple devices into a document file is [URL="http://twitter.com/#!/tjw/status/175334400312094720"]another beast entirely[/URL].

When Apple introduces iCloud support into their iWork apps on the Mac side, it'll be an important signal that it's ready to do a different class of work that supports what folks are asking for here. They are progressing towards that goal, and once they work out the remaining blocking issues, we'll integrate it into our own apps.

wolfneuralnet 2012-03-20 04:11 AM

Talking past each other...
 
[QUOTE=Brian;108577]The first post in [URL="http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=21028"]this thread[/URL] - which I'll move these posts to next - has the requested information.

To reiterate: we're working on the kind of sync being requested here, using iCloud. Have been doing so for months, actually. In some cases, that work means filing bugs against iCloud. Once that happens, our ability to make further progress means waiting for Apple to resolve those bugs.

[/QUOTE]

I love your company, and the apps you make, but on this issue we are simply talking past each other. Ken's post from 10 months ago makes it clear that although many people want to be able to open documents from Dropbox, he thinks the customers are only interested in "true sync". You go on to explain in great detail why its Apple's fault that iCloud failed to live up to expectations, and until it does, we won't have syncing.

I get that syncing is hard, but just because SJ couldn't convince Dropbox to sell to him means that I can't open my Dropbox docs without many workarounds in your app. As a company, you can give me what I "need" now (a way to open these files and save to back to Dropbox), and what we all "want" later - true syncing.

You simply aren't hearing what I and others have been saying for ten months, which is we would greatly appreciate not having to pay DropDav $5 a month just to use our iPad OO with our Dropbox files while we wait for Apple to figure sync out. There are people in this discussion on your boards who have abandoned the app completely for these reasons.

[B]A summary ;)[/B]

Us: Love the new iPad OO - can we get Dropbox availability?
Omni: No - cause you really want true syncing, and we don't like Dropbox!
Us: Umm - OK - I can wait a few more months to see about iCloud, but not sure how that solves my Dropbox problem.

[B]iCloud Announced Months later[/B]

Omni: So - iCloud doesn't work the way we thought it would
Us: So can we have an Open/Save for Dropbox now?
Omni: No - we are working on our own sync solution now
Us: Stop changing the subject!

Thanks for listening -- I have never seen Omni so obstinate about something their customers have asked for. I presume there is a reason that we, your customers, just wouldn't understand.

Simon. 2012-03-21 01:59 PM

+1,000,000 what that guy just said.

I don't care about auto sync within iPad OO at all. I just want to open a current version OO document, that is synced via dropbox running on the multiple work computers i use, then edit it on the iPad. I don't know when I need to do that, so I don't want to upload to a WebDAV ever single time I get called into a meeting, or go to lunch. I would be happy to be able to use the dropbox app to download it to the ipad, and ecstatic to use GoodReader to sync it, hell I'd even be happy to have to then email that outline to myself in GR to open it on the ipad (I can't lose all the formatting (bold & italics) in all these cases - so opml is out). If I could do any of these, I wouldn't even much care if I did need to complete a magic dance workaround to get the modified file back into Dropbox, really!

I'm so tired of this being an issue that I'm about to give up on the app completely, as I'm not changing my entire workflow just for oo documents, however much I like them, as they aren't the core files I use for work. Sorry. Also ditto the love of your other apps, always been a fan.

[QUOTE=wolfneuralnet;108594]I love your company, and the apps you make, but on this issue we are simply talking past each other. Ken's post from 10 months ago makes it clear that although many people want to be able to open documents from Dropbox, he thinks the customers are only interested in "true sync". You go on to explain in great detail why its Apple's fault that iCloud failed to live up to expectations, and until it does, we won't have syncing.

I get that syncing is hard, but just because SJ couldn't convince Dropbox to sell to him means that I can't open my Dropbox docs without many workarounds in your app. As a company, you can give me what I "need" now (a way to open these files and save to back to Dropbox), and what we all "want" later - true syncing.

You simply aren't hearing what I and others have been saying for ten months, which is we would greatly appreciate not having to pay DropDav $5 a month just to use our iPad OO with our Dropbox files while we wait for Apple to figure sync out. There are people in this discussion on your boards who have abandoned the app completely for these reasons.

[B]A summary ;)[/B]

Us: Love the new iPad OO - can we get Dropbox availability?
Omni: No - cause you really want true syncing, and we don't like Dropbox!
Us: Umm - OK - I can wait a few more months to see about iCloud, but not sure how that solves my Dropbox problem.

[B]iCloud Announced Months later[/B]

Omni: So - iCloud doesn't work the way we thought it would
Us: So can we have an Open/Save for Dropbox now?
Omni: No - we are working on our own sync solution now
Us: Stop changing the subject!

Thanks for listening -- I have never seen Omni so obstinate about something their customers have asked for. I presume there is a reason that we, your customers, just wouldn't understand.[/QUOTE]

psidnell 2012-03-21 03:35 PM

Well, *IF* you don't mind storing your desktop OO docs as OPML in DropBox, it may interest you to know that CarbonFin Outliner got an update today with DropBox support.

CrisB 2012-03-21 03:46 PM

From a new user's perspective, I'm quite shocked at how clumsy the workflow is between the mac and iPad versions. An indicator of how far behind the norm the Omni group is here, I hadn't even thought to check before buying whether there was an automatic, over-the-air means to use the same documents on both platforms, because every app I use regularly just has this (and has had for some time).

I'd love a robust 'real' sync option, but, failing that, the ability to round-trip between OO and dropbox seems just obvious. Sure, it would be a temporary expedient, but what's wrong with that, pending a perfect iCloud and/or OO sync server solution is feasible?

I regret buying the iPad version now, as it's practically useless to me without easily being able to get to docs created on my macbook (and, no, emailing to myself or remembering to copy to webdav, or, worse still, working directly in a mounted webdav folder are not serious options).

This appears to nail the general attitude:

[QUOTE=wolfneuralnet;108594]

Us: Love the new iPad OO - can we get Dropbox availability?
Omni: No - cause you really want true syncing, and we don't like Dropbox!.[/QUOTE]

Given the Omni group's reputation, I had expected better.

whpalmer4 2012-03-21 04:42 PM

If you are within 30 days of purchase, you can contact Omni support for a full refund. Yes, even for App Store purchases. I don't think you'll find many others who put their money where their mouth is...

CrisB 2012-03-21 04:53 PM

[QUOTE=whpalmer4;108672]If you are within 30 days of purchase, you can contact Omni support for a full refund. [/QUOTE]

Not sure I feel justified in that, given that my assumption was just that (an assumption). There's nothing misleading in the product description, and it seems on brief acquaintance to be a very nice, well-made piece of software. It's just a shame in 2012 that for practical purposes it's a standalone app.

[QUOTE=whpalmer4;108672]I don't think you'll find many others who put their money where their mouth is...[/QUOTE]

Not sure what you mean here. Are you saying that people may complain about some things, but that Omni's products are so good that few are likely to return them? In which case, you might well be right -- OO's my first Omni purchase, and it suits the purpose I have in mind so well that, yes, I'll use it on my mac. I suspect the iPad version will go largely unused though until it has a practical means access to my OO files.

whpalmer4 2012-03-21 05:04 PM

Omni will agree you are justified, if you aren't satisfied with your purchase.

They may lag behind in some ways, but that policy (and the quality of their customer support, in general) is a way in which they are at the front of the pack.
They aren't just refunding your money, they are giving Apple its 30% cut of a purchase on top of that!

Simon. 2012-03-27 09:45 PM

[QUOTE=Simon.;108669]I just want to open a current version OO document, that is synced via dropbox running on the multiple work computers i use, then edit it on the iPad. I don't know when I need to do that, so I don't want to upload to a WebDAV every single time I get called into a meeting, or go to lunch.[/QUOTE]

I did some further research to at least deal with the issue of opening an OO3 file that's in my dropbox. I'm not going to pay $60 per year for dropDAV, but found an alternative, and just paid $5 as a one off fee for cloudDAV
[url]http://smestorage.com/?p=static&page=CloudDav[/url]

It works, I can access all my dropbox folders in OmniOutliner for iPad, download an OO3 file, work on it locally and reupload it (quite a clunky step of exporting it as an OO3 file, selecting the original location, and choosing 'replace').

Works fine for what I need, which is occasional and unexpected edits and access to my OO3 files, which I mostly work on between desktops.

Hope this helps, apologies if this has been mentioned previously. It does cost $5 but since I'd already spent $20 on an app I couldn't use... I'm sort of ahead of where I was a few days ago!

CrisB 2012-03-27 10:12 PM

[QUOTE=Simon.;108870]I did some further research to at least deal with the issue of opening an OO3 file that's in my dropbox. I'm not going to pay $60 per year for dropDAV, but found an alternative, and just paid $5 as a one off fee for cloudDAV
[url]http://smestorage.com/?p=static&page=CloudDav[/url]

[/QUOTE]

Looks like a really useful pointer -- thanks.

[edit] I see also that you can get the same service for no extra cost if you buy their $4.99 iOS app ([url]http://smestorage.com/?p=static&page=iphone[/url]). Haven't looked at it yet, but it's another option.

CrisB 2012-03-28 02:36 PM

Now I've tried it, I find that uploads of an already-existing .oo3 file aren't working. The temporary file that OO writes (named <filename>.oo3-write-in-progress-<random letters/numbers) stays behind, and doesn't replace the original (so I end up with both in the dropbox/webDAV folder). I've raised this with both SMEStorage and Omni Group's support (as I have no idea whether this would be a client or server problem).

Presumably though you're not seeing this?

Simon. 2012-04-01 11:57 PM

Hi CrisB, sorry for the delay, I have tried it and get exactly the same as you, it creates a folder named as you suggest, and because it doesn't end in .oo3 the finder sees it as a folder, not a package. It seems it doesn't/can't delete the previous file when choosing 'replace' in export to webdav. (as in, when you rename the folder, deleting the '-write-in-progress-<random letters/numbers' bit, the resulting file - for me - is exactly as it should be had it replaced the original).

Not sure if this is an issue with SMEStorage or OO - anyone else using a native webDAV and experiencing this? (A permissions problem perhaps?)

[QUOTE=CrisB;108893]Now I've tried it, I find that uploads of an already-existing .oo3 file aren't working. The temporary file that OO writes (named <filename>.oo3-write-in-progress-<random letters/numbers) stays behind, and doesn't replace the original (so I end up with both in the dropbox/webDAV folder). I've raised this with both SMEStorage and Omni Group's support (as I have no idea whether this would be a client or server problem).

Presumably though you're not seeing this?[/QUOTE]

CrisB 2012-04-04 03:53 AM

@Simon: I've got hold of some iPad OO logs, and am following this up with both Omni and IMEStorage's support people. It looks to me like a server problem (but then again I don't know much about webDAV). I'll follow up here if I get a resolution.

ravedog 2012-04-09 03:19 AM

Disappointment
 
I wanted to buy OO for iPad... I really did, but after reading that not only was Dropbox support not present, but iCloud as well. I'm saving my money. This thread is almost a year old and Omni has decided to post the same answer from last year again in the last couple weeks. In other words... No changes.

The thing I find most disturbing is that the built-in support for iDisk will GO AWAY in the next month reducing the number of options by one more. OG has laid the blame at apple (iCloud needing to be fixed).

I realize they are not going to do anything until they get the holy grail feature of true syncing, but in the interim I would suggest just adding DropBox saving and reading support and let the customer deal with true sync issues, just as every other app out there that uses dropbox has.

A whole year has gone by and after the shutdown of MobileMe there will be NOTHING tying this to Apple.'s so-called cloud. Swallow your pride, add Dropbox as an interim step and then wow us with your true-syncing integration somewhere down the line when/if it becomes possible.

If anything working with Apple should have taught developers is that they should not put your eggs in Apple's basket, especially when it comes to cloud services.

CrisB 2012-04-09 02:54 PM

[QUOTE=ravedog;109295]I wanted to buy OO for iPad... I really did, but after reading that not only was Dropbox support not present, but iCloud as well. I'm saving my money. .[/QUOTE]

Well, I did buy OO for iPad. It was Pro for OSX I primarily wanted, and I was evaluating it, but just went ahead and bought the iPad version because, in all honestly, the Omni Group's reputation is so stellar I just expected it would all be great.

And it so nearly was! But in the end I've found the clumsy and error-prone workflow for sharing data between desktop and iPad untenable. So no OO Pro or iPad for me (I've asked for a refund for the latter). Pity.

JockM 2012-04-16 11:00 AM

Perfect is the enemy of good enough
 
So why Omni sits on their hands and waits for iCloud to offer what they want, or for some mythical custom sync solution of their own devising (and thus yet another moving part in the world), Dropbox sits there as a perfectly good solution that their users are begging Omni to support.

We don't care if you can't offer true simultaneous editing. We just want our data backed up and instantly ready for use. Use file locks if you have to, provide import and export buttons, hack something together, but...

[B][CENTER]SUPPORT DROPBOX[/CENTER][/B]

You guys are letting Perfect be the enemy of good enough. If history has taught us anything, it is that is a failing strategy. How many more months is it going to be? I am personally doubtful that whatever it is you are cooking up is going to happen this year.

So I use second rate tools and get work done, because Carbon Fin is [I]good enough[/I], and supports the way I work. But the "perfect" tool (OmniOutliner) ends up being useless to me.

As such I am [B]not[/B] giving money to the company I would prefer to.

Omni Group, please explain to me again why your strategy makes sense, because I just don't see it...

Ken Case 2012-04-16 04:38 PM

We tried adding support for DropBox syncing in OmniOutliner, but that resulted in corrupt documents. See my post in this thread:

[URL="http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?p=109527#post109527"]The challenge of syncing OmniOutliner[/URL]

JockM 2012-04-16 04:55 PM

Thank you for that, but it feels like you missed my thesis: "Use file locks if you have to, provide import and export buttons, hack something together, but... SUPPORT DROPBOX"

You are trying to refactor your system to allow for atomic operations in a synced environments. I am no stranger to the issues that result from this. You are not wrong, it is very tricky to do perfectly. However they are also only likely to occur when true simultaneous access is occurring, and that is a rare situation.

Nor is it unique to Dropbox. Software has had to contend with these issues for decades. And yet we deal with it.

So by all means, continue to strive for perfect, but in the mean time why don't you implement good enough. Add import/export support for Dropbox, do some kind of file locking such that only one app can actually edit at a time, save to a shadow file and then play the rename game, etc (see Word's behavior in this situation for a perfectly acceptable solution).

If you toss us a bone then we can actually use your software. If you don't, and keep pursuing perfect at the expense of good enough, then you lose revenue, you lose customers, and you create active badwill.

There is always a solution. It may not be the one you want, but there is always a solution. That is what we care about.

Ken Case 2012-04-16 05:11 PM

[QUOTE=JockM;109531]So by all means, continue to strive for perfect, but in the mean time why don't you implement good enough. Add import/export support for Dropbox, do some kind of file locking such that only one app can actually edit at a time, save to a shadow file and then play the rename game, etc (see Word's behavior in this situation for a perfectly acceptable solution).[/QUOTE]

We've actually tried many of these approaches with DropBox, including renaming (like we do with WebDAV), file locks, and so on. The problem is that DropBox not only doesn't support atomic transactions, it doesn't guarantee any order or synchronicity to its transactions. So you might think the document is not locked, but it is. (Or you might think it is when it isn't.) Or you tell it to rename, and your rename happens after the transfer instead of before. The synchronized directory looks fine for a little while—and then suddenly some extra files resurrect themselves inside it. We would love to automatically synchronize using DropBox, but it just doesn't seem to be designed to synchronize directories based on a specific point in time.

That said, DropBox does handle zip files perfectly well, so in our most recent update we added support for opening zip files (letting you send documents from the DropBox app to OmniOutliner) and in our next update we're adding support for sending zip archives of outlines to other apps (letting you send documents from OmniOutliner back to the DropBox app). Not an ideal workflow, but it's certainly an improvement.

JockM 2012-04-16 05:24 PM

This isn't really the place for an in depth technical conversation. But I will share this little tidbit: if you [I]always[/I] use the dropbox REST API to write and test the existence of a lock file, then it will work consistantly

Ken Case 2012-04-16 05:55 PM

[QUOTE=JockM;109534]This isn't really the place for an in depth technical conversation. But I will share this little tidbit: if you [I]always[/I] use the dropbox REST API to write and test the existence of a lock file, then it will work consistantly[/QUOTE]

Huh! My understanding is that [URL="https://www.dropbox.com/help/7"]DropBox stores its data on Amazon S3[/URL], and the [URL="http://docs.amazonwebservices.com/AmazonS3/latest/dev/Introduction.html#ConsistencyMode"]Amazon S3 data consistency model[/URL] explicitly does not support read-after-write consistency (such as what we'd need to be able to rely on lock file tests).

Are you saying that [URL="https://www.dropbox.com/developers/reference/api#files_put"]DropBox's REST API[/URL] makes consistency guarantees not made by the underlying Amazon S3 data store?

JockM 2012-04-16 06:41 PM

This is all based on empirical evidence (a boatload of scenario testing I did a year or so back), and tidbits I have put together from the APIs and the dropbox forums.

But Dropbox keeps a big old cache of metadata. While it get into the write-behind cache to S3, and synced to computers in whatever order happens behind the scenes, the metadata cache seems to get updated promptly.

So it isn't possible to inspect the contents of a file right away, in a consistant and guaranteed manor, creating and testing the existence of a locking-file shouldn't be an issue.

[CENTER]* * *[/CENTER]

But I also don't want to get too bogged down into the minutiae of Dropbox (though if what I said helped, then I am only too happy). I have great respect for everyone at Omni, especially as engineers.

But as a user I don't really care about the challenges, I care that there is at least some low-friction way to get my data back to my desktop (as well as other iOS devices). And a "perfect" solution isn't required to do that.

A simple import/export feature would do that. Alternatively, since you mentioned writing zip files, then add the ability to open them as a first class file type as well as an OO Bundle (OmniOutliner will explode and recompress as needed behind the scenes).

This latter scenario doesn't require any Dropbox specific trickery, is relatively simple to implement, solves any issues with atomacy, and is unlikely to posses any unwanted side effects. It also opens the door ever so slightly for Windows applications to be able to interact with OO "files". Its a win/win all around.

Few (software) problems are actually impossible. There is always a solution of some sort. More often than not it involves changing the way you look at the problem.

HappyCatMachine 2012-04-19 05:54 AM

[QUOTE=Ken Case;109533]We've actually tried many of these approaches with DropBox, including renaming (like we do with WebDAV), file locks, and so on. The problem is that DropBox not only doesn't support atomic transactions, it doesn't guarantee any order or synchronicity to its transactions. So you might think the document is not locked, but it is. (Or you might think it is when it isn't.) Or you tell it to rename, and your rename happens after the transfer instead of before. The synchronized directory looks fine for a little while—and then suddenly some extra files resurrect themselves inside it. We would love to automatically synchronize using DropBox, but it just doesn't seem to be designed to synchronize directories based on a specific point in time.

That said, DropBox does handle zip files perfectly well, so in our most recent update we added support for opening zip files (letting you send documents from the DropBox app to OmniOutliner) and in our next update we're adding support for sending zip archives of outlines to other apps (letting you send documents from OmniOutliner back to the DropBox app). Not an ideal workflow, but it's certainly an improvement.[/QUOTE]

On Omni's FAQ page it clearly states that Omni has no plans to support Dropbox so any and all arguments to the contrary are moot, or at least muted. Still, a thought: I don't care one iota about the details of file locks and what not.

Dropbox is supported by every app I use except Omni apps, it is a solution for me that is available everywhere and constantly. I have installed WebDAV links/shortcuts etc for one company's apps only: Omni's. It doesn't matter how good/bad Dropbox/WebDAV is for synching, I can handle my own synching without a problem and with Dropbox.

I'm probably in the minority here but it seems to me that the lack of simple Dropbox support is hurting the common user by forcing her to work Omni's way rather than supportive of that user's existing way of working. We know how Dropbox works, it's limitations, and we still want it. Period.

ryangoldman 2012-05-14 06:43 AM

I know zip about software engineering, but while reading this thread I keep coming back to the same questions about Dropbox support.

How does CarbonFin do it? Is OO that different?

psidnell 2012-05-14 07:02 AM

[QUOTE=ryangoldman;110359]How does CarbonFin do it? Is OO that different?[/QUOTE]

Fundamentally it's that CarbonFin doesn't do attachments.

If you have an OO document with several attachments, it's not just one file, it's several. If there's a write error "at some point" while saving the document to the cloud, it may well be broken, and DropBox doesn't allow reverting several files after a single write error on one of them.

A proper sync solution will have to deal with this gracefully.

JohnJ80 2012-05-14 11:47 AM

[QUOTE=HappyCatMachine;109625]I'm probably in the minority here but it seems to me that the lack of simple Dropbox support is hurting the common user by forcing her to work Omni's way rather than supportive of that user's existing way of working. [COLOR="Red"][B]We know how Dropbox works, it's limitations, and we still want it. Period.[/B][/COLOR][/QUOTE]

Well, we all know our limitations but we still want to be rich and beautiful too. It can be tough when one has to confront reality sometimes....

J

ryangoldman 2012-05-15 06:05 AM

-psidnell

Thanks, that makes sense now.

MacFrankencow 2012-05-17 05:29 PM

Perhaps a better comparison would be Circus Ponies Notebook? It syncs my notebooks (outlines) with attachments and all between my ipad and macbook via dropbox. Not sure how it handles the attachment issue as discussed by the OmniGroup team, but the sync works and it is really quite impressive.

[QUOTE=psidnell;110360]Fundamentally it's that CarbonFin doesn't do attachments.

If you have an OO document with several attachments, it's not just one file, it's several. If there's a write error "at some point" while saving the document to the cloud, it may well be broken, and DropBox doesn't allow reverting several files after a single write error on one of them.

A proper sync solution will have to deal with this gracefully.[/QUOTE]

JohnJ80 2012-05-17 07:29 PM

[QUOTE=MacFrankencow;110470]Perhaps a better comparison would be Circus Ponies Notebook? It syncs my notebooks (outlines) with attachments and all between my ipad and macbook via dropbox. Not sure how it handles the attachment issue as discussed by the OmniGroup team, but the sync works and it is really quite impressive.[/QUOTE]

Actually, Circus Pony Notebook is only file sync and works pretty crappy. If you make a change (inadvertently) on both the iPad and the Mac you get one or the other version wiped out. It's not like it's a true sync - it just wipes out the older file by date.

I use CP Notebook extensively - it is incredibly handy otherwise. The UI is a bit clunky and I use OO to create input on the iPad (1000x better) then import it as OPML on the mac version and do the file "sync" to get it into my notebook. Attachments work great on Notebook.

J.

whpalmer4 2012-05-18 09:37 AM

Interesting perspective here from Fletcher Penney on iCloud vs. Dropbox:

[url]http://fletcherpenney.net/2012/05/dropbox_vs_icloud.html[/url]

dude 2012-05-27 02:21 PM

[QUOTE=JohnJ80;110365]Well, we all know our limitations but we still want to be rich and beautiful too. It can be tough when one has to confront reality sometimes....

J[/QUOTE]

With almost 20,000 reads on this thread...

JockM 2012-06-26 06:17 PM

[QUOTE=JohnJ80;110365]Well, we all know our limitations but we still want to be rich and beautiful too. It can be tough when one has to confront reality sometimes....

J[/QUOTE]

The funny thing is they already know how to do it. Use .ZIP files. Just add first class support for them, and all of those sync issues go away. It isn't a trivial amount of work, but it isn't hard. Do that and they could have Dropbox working without a hitch. But they don't.

Why not? I can't say. I speculate that they want Dropbox to work differently, to work in a way that supports them. And iCloud will be here soon enough and they can just use that right?

Well kinda. So long as you have a version of the OS that supports iCloud (and is supported on your hardware), and you use iCloud, and you buy the new version of the app though the App Store, etc.

I am all for them supporting iCloud, but I want them to support Dropbox as well. They already know how to do it, but just like iPhone support seem utterly uninterested.

I personally am using OO less and less. It is an amazing piece of software, but if I can't get work done, it doesn't matter...

whpalmer4 2012-06-26 06:53 PM

[QUOTE=JockM;111985]and you buy the new version of the app though the App Store, etc.
[/QUOTE]
No need to force the customers to buy an App Store version, you just use the approach PDFPen's creator did and have a 99 cent app sold through the App Store that gets you iCloud access.

JockM 2012-06-26 08:48 PM

[QUOTE=whpalmer4;111986]No need to force the customers to buy an App Store version, you just use the approach PDFPen's creator did and have a 99 cent app sold through the App Store that gets you iCloud access.[/QUOTE]

Fair enough, you do raise a good point. One way or another you will need new software. Either an app update though the App Store. And Omni [I]could[/I] make a free or cheap way [I]if they want to[/I] — we will have to see what they actually do down the time.

So hopefully they do something like that. However it is all theoretical. My larger point still stands, Omni has everything they need to make syncing over dropbox work now.

Once again they are letting perfect be the enemy of good enough. They hold off for some [I]theoretically[/I] better solution, instead of giving us what we need to be productive now.

whpalmer4 2012-06-26 09:57 PM

They don't do anything as quickly as many would like, so doing an "interim" solution makes for even more pain for those who want the "ideal" solution (which usually gets delayed by all the time spent on the stopgap). They aren't going to knock out a Dropbox solution in a week or two, no matter how much you or I might want it or think that's all the longer it should take. One might almost suspect that if it isn't part of their vision, no one gets fired up about doing it, but there are clearly plenty of things which are part of their vision which also progress at a frustratingly slow pace. The thing that is more difficult but gets them fired up may not take much longer than that which is easier but reluctantly done to get us off their backs...

JockM 2012-06-26 10:29 PM

[QUOTE=whpalmer4;111996]They don't do anything as quickly as many would like, so doing an "interim" solution makes for even more pain for those who want the "ideal" solution...[/QUOTE]

I don't want half-assed engineering any more than anyone else does, but that is not what I am talking about. OO has been out for a couple of years now, and the idea of using ZIP files as a first class file format isn't hard (or uncommon). So they could have added this very needed feature anytime in, say, the last 18 months.

When I talk about perfect being the enemy of good enough I am not talking about knocking something out quickly. I am talking about the all too common problem engineers have where they have a vision of a "perfect" solution (in reality nothing is perfect) and they will either wait until they can do it exactly that way, or not implement a feature because it cannot be done that way.

Omni should have known the solution for a long time, but they have known it for a few months now. More than enough time to get a release out, or at least toss their users a bone and say it is coming...

whpalmer4 2012-06-26 11:28 PM

[QUOTE=JockM;111998]
Omni should have known the solution for a long time, but they have known it for a few months now. More than enough time to get a release out, or at least toss their users a bone and say it is coming...[/QUOTE]
More than enough time if they didn't have anything else on their plate. The OmniOutliner crew is focused on OO4.

Seems like they couldn't roll out something like this solely for OO, either — the other document-based apps would need it.

jchyap 2012-06-28 02:41 AM

On one hand, on the other ...
 
I use Notesy (iPad/iPhone) and National Velocity (Mac) to share notes and plans and what not, to manage the many diverse threads I have to handle. Yes, there were occasional sync conflicts but I lived with it. Just made it a point to sync before I switched; not too difficult since it is de facto a switch between working and mobile platforms (mental modes).

Was looking for a more structurable combination. Considered OmniOutliner for the Mac (which I have) and for the iPad (which I was thinking of buying), and then discovered there isn't Dropbox sync.

Such a pity. While I understand the technical difficulties, not having Dropbox deprives also those who just want a simple common backup platform, and those who want to share files in a commonly used way, and those who are happy to be careful in the syncing.

While the debate goes on, that's $19.99 that Omni Group isn't earning. Small potatoes for them, I know, but business nonetheless ...

Just my two cents (without the $19.99) ...

JohnJ80 2012-06-28 07:35 AM

What is really needed is a by cell sync and not file "sync". Otherwise, it's just doesn't work well. That means, probably, some major architectural changes. That's what I'd like to see.

J.

ptcinsf 2012-07-10 09:56 AM

Ken,

My consulting firm is now fully committed to the Mac and its ecosystem, a key part is your suite of tools (o-focus, o-outliner, o-plan). We would like to use OO collaboratively. Our workflow would have one user work on an outline, change the filename by incrementing a version (methodology outline v.2.oo3) for the next person to pick up. We use Box.com as our enterprise collaboration platform (dropbox does not have enough security capability to all use with our clients. Box will not sync an oo3 file. I assume the issues are similar to those with dropbox. I can't see omnisync being developed to the point of supporting multiple security access methods, etc. Any love on getting box.com/dropbox working? Thanks

Drumhum 2012-07-16 03:12 PM

A dropbox solution for some
 
Having read through this thread I have not noticed anyone mention that you can in fact access your OmniOutliner files in dropbox on your iPad. You just have to use safari and NOT the dropbox app:
sign in to dropbox (on the web via Safari for iPad)
find your OO file (folder wrapper thingy) and highlight it.
Now tap on the "get link" button (at top of page - not the one to the right of your file - that doesn't work!)
you'll get a new page and a box to type in email addresses to share the link. just close this box,
tap download,
tap "open in" and select Omni Outliner.
Ta-da!

For me this works for most of my requirements. I usually just want to read/reference my omnioutliner files when I'm on my iPad and this can save me if I'm far from my computer. I'll read them and delete them on the iPad leaving the "master files" on dropbox.

If I edit the OO file on iPad I can drop it back to my computer using iTunes and manually replace the older version on Dropbox. Its worth noting that drop box makes a back-up of your files so if you accidentally delete/replace the wrong file or just regret the changes you can always search for the back-up.


I guess most folk know this already but I thought it might help some.
Far from ideal but it gets me where i need to be.

JockM 2012-08-13 05:47 PM

As a result of an app I am writing, I can confirm that using the dropbox API is always accurate. This means you can set, test, and clear file locks using the API and be sure the effect (on the server) is immediate.

The API is very clear, and relatively simple to implement. Just RESTful calls and OAuth (SHA1 isn't even required, they support and encourage the use of PLAINTEXT). I will gladly offer any help (including working code to examine), for free if you desire it.

But the point is you now have a clear and definative way of using file locks with Dropbox.


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:08 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.