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OmniFocus for iPhone - standalone backups? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I am looking for a GTD app for my iPhone, and I'm seriously considering OmniFocus for iPhone. I'm not looking for a desktop app (and I don't have a Mac so I couldn't use desktop OmniFocus if I was).

Since I don't plan to use a desktop app, I don't need "syncing" per se, but I do want to be able to back up my database so that I can make offsite copies, burn them to disk, etc. The database backup should be in a human-readable (or at least documented) format so that if I ever want to migrate my database to a different app in future, I can.

I understand that iTunes syncing will back up my database, but in an opaque file hidden on my PC. The WebDAV syncing sounds interesting (I have a BlueHost account and I think they support WebDAV). Will setting up a WebDAV server to sync to OmniFocus for iPhone result in my database appearing in some decipherable format on my server, without needing a copy of desktop OmniFocus?


Setting up a WebDAV server to sync to OmniFocus on your iPhone will put a copy of your OmniFocus database on the WebDAV server.
The file format is a series of XML files compressed into .zip files. There is no public documentation of the format. So it's somewhat human-readable, but not as convenient as plain text or something.

For example, I just added a task to my OmniFocus database, and the XML for it looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" standalone="no"?>
<omnifocus xmlns="" app-id="com.omnigroup.OmniFocus" app-version="" os-name="NSMACHOperatingSystem" os-version="10.5.4" machine-model="MacPro3,1">
	<context id="pH_AComJRtO" op="reference">
		<added order="4">2008-07-06T00:37:48.553Z</added>
	<folder id="pfTns_620w9" op="reference">
	<task id="mqK_FgC6HiH" op="update">
			<folder idref="pfTns_620w9"/>
	<task id="flXIcU_LX47" op="update">
		<task idref="mqK_FgC6HiH"/>
		<name>demo file format</name>
		<context idref="pH_AComJRtO"/>
Thanks Lizard! That's somewhat human-readable. I guess migrating to a different app would be tricky (I'd need to reverse-engineer the format and write a perl script - not a simple undertaking).

If something horrible happens to my iPhone database, I assume I can sync back from the WebDAV database? If I was using this as my backup mechanism, would I want to disable iTunes syncing of my OmniFocus database (since I understand this slows down syncing quite a bit)?
Syncing OmniFocus with iTunes and WebDAV both is technically redundant. (But that's kind of what backups are all about, isn't it?)

It probably comes down to a personal choice. Is it worth waiting a little longer* every time you sync in order to have your data backed up in two different places?

iTunes only seems to keep one backup at a time (so if it dies mid-back-up, you have none). It also doesn't let you selectively restore some stuff without restoring everything. And as far as I know, those backups aren't human-readable. It might be more worth your while to create a backup of the data on your WebDAV server occasionally instead. Copy those files to wherever you keep your computer backups or something.

*I don't have firm data on how much longer it is, so I recommend you test it for yourself once you've been using OmniFocus for a while and have a bunch of data.
Is there no way to separate out just the OmniFocus part of the iTunes backup? If there was just a subdirectory I could copy somewhere to have redundant copies in case iTunes got confused and nuked my OF database (which I gather can happen when upgrading iPhone apps) or something happened to my PC, I would probably live without the semi-human-readable WebDAV backup and just do that instead.
We don't know of any way to do that, sorry. Obviously, it would be nice if Apple provided some more granular backup facilities in iTunes, especially for those of us who aren't developing software for Windows (and our customers).

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