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-   -   Sync with new Dropbox API [DropBox is great, but not well-suited to OF sync.] (

rladd 2009-01-31 07:28 AM

Syncing with DropBox

I'm trying to use DropBox for syncing OF on home and work computers.

When I tried doing that last night after getting home from work, my home computer's OF data seemed to overwrite my dropbox file, rather than the other way around.

I'm not certain that I quit OF before I left work... could that cause the problem? Sorry, I think I'm a little confused about how syncing works.

Would I be better off saving a backup file to DropBox and then restoring from the backup? I already tried that approach, but although it seemed to work, I got an unhelpful error message and I noticed that the perspectives I created in OF at work didn't show up when I restored the file at home.

Many thanks,

iNik 2009-01-31 07:47 AM

Here's the thing; OmniFocus' built in syncing is an item-level sync. So an update to a few items on one client and updates to a few other items on another client get merged on each sync. It even handles conflict situations wherein the same item gets updated on multiple clients before being sync'd.

When you do any other kind of syncing, you lose this intelligence. Instead you have a file-level sync. So File A overwrites File B. This gets even more complicated, because OmniFocus' document is actually a package containing lots of tiny documents (like a digital Russian nesting doll). So many sync processes will end up merging those internal files, which causes no end of craziness. DropBox is one such sync'ing agent.

If you want to roll your own sync and do a file-level sync, you are going to have to be VERY careful, and follow this process EVERY TIME you use OmniFocus:

1. Sync to server
2. Open OF, do your thing
3. Close OmniFocus
4. Sync to server

If you do not follow this procedure every time, you will end up with conflicts. Conflicts will lose data.

As I mentioned in the post that spawned this one (according to the PM you sent me), in order to get DropBox to work, I also created certain scripts that would force a remote OmniFocus session to quit.

My advice: Stick with WebDAV/Mobile Me or Bonjour syncing. Omni's done a great job with the syncing process. Unless you're as anal retentive about technical stuff as I am, you're just inviting pain.

Check out [url=]this post[/url] for information on alternate syncing arrangements that might make your life easier. The one I'm using is quite stupidly complex, and I cannot recommend it to anyone else, even though it does set a nice balance between speed and ubiquity.

rladd 2009-01-31 09:30 AM

Thanks a lot. Very helpful. I think I may decide to delete my OF database at home and in my Dropbox and start over using my existing OF database at work (assuming it still contains the changes I made to it yesterday). I may decide to use my home Mac just to view (not change) my data, since I'm using OF mainly for work-related projects.

It does seem like the backup approach should work more easily for me though, since (I assume) it is a file level backup.

My overall goal is to get to the point where OF actually helps me get stuff done rather than being another project in itself... gee wouldn't that be nice? ;)

CatOne 2009-01-31 11:48 AM

Why not use a WebDAV server (which is supported) rather than using Dropbox?

iNik 2009-01-31 03:17 PM

You can also just export your OmniFocus setup as an HTML file to make it easy to view elsewhere. But I have to agree with CatOne -- why not just use WebDAV?

mmb 2009-01-31 03:43 PM

I was doing a lot of this same nonsense with dropbox, etc. I set up webDAV today w/ bingodisk in about 5 minutes. Problem solved. iPhone and 2 laptops working beautifully.

Highly recommended.

P.S. I'm not pitching for bingo specifically. The free services that I looked at, ([url][/url]) and swissdisk, should have worked fine, too. I ended up going for lowest possible latency and paid $20 for it.

rladd 2009-02-01 05:20 AM

Thanks everyone... I learned a lot from your posts. I think I'm going to try syncing with bingodisk.

invictus26 2010-05-13 07:24 AM

Sync with new Dropbox API
Dropbox recently announced an API that can be used to sync data. I don't know exactly what's possible because you have to be a developer and apply for access, but I think it would be great to sync OF between computers and to the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch. Is this a possibility? I'm sure it would be so much faster and more reliable than MobileMe or other WebDAV providers.

Brian 2010-05-13 03:10 PM

Thanks for the heads-up! I had missed that announcement somehow. I'm not qualified to have an opinion on whether we can use their API to do sync OmniFocus. I'll be sure to mention this to thems what are qualified, however. :-)

kunicki 2010-05-13 11:22 PM

I couldnt agree more. I was excited to see they have an API now. Benefit of dropbox is its free and VERY easy for people to setup. I use it across 3 macs, 2 windows installations and 2 iphones. And its always reliable.

It would be wonderful if OF implemented this support. Basically you would be giving your users a very easy and free way to setup syncing.

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