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My apologies if this question has already been asked and answered.

With OF iPad's release imminent (or even with running the iPhone client on my iPad) I have a question about syncinc.

I use a free WebDav account at SwissDisk to sync between my OF Mac (on my desk at work) and the iPod client. My understanding is that whoever makes the last change overwrites the database (is that right)? This has been fine since I always sync before I leave work and when I arrive in the morning.

But with three devices it's a little different as I'll have both my iPad and iPod home with me. What happens if I have a task and complete it on my iPod but don't sync, add a different task with my iPad, and then sync that? When I go back and sync my iPod, will my task still be completed and will I have the new task (the one created on my iPad) show up?

Can I use both the iPad and iPod to capture ideas and then when I sync either device those changes will be stored on the WebDav server?


On my iPad I add TaskA, TaskB & TaskC to my inbox
On my iPod I add TaskD, TaskE & TaskF to my inbox

Sync my iPod
Sync my iPad
Sync my Mac

Will I see TasksA - F in my inbox on the Mac?
Pat - happy to help! Yep, you'll see all those actions. OmniFocus' sync doesn't overwrite the database entirely. You can sync multiple devices at different times, in whatever order, and except for a few pretty specific things, "it just works".

"What few specific things?" you may now be asking yourself... :-)

1) If you complete repeating actions on more than one device before they sync up, they'll each create a copy of the next version. Once the devices get back in sync, you'll have 2 or more copies of the action due tomorrow/next week/etc.

2) If the same item in the database - project, context, action, whatever - is edited on multiple devices while they're out of sync, whichever edit occurred last is preserved; the rest are ignored.

Example: if you sync all your devices, then add a note to an action on one device and change the due date on another, one or the other edit will be ignored when you sync back up again.

We have to do it this way in order to keep syncs on iPhones or iPads from taking far, far longer than folks are willing to wait. iOS devices are amazing, but they still have far less computing power than a low-end desktop computer...
How do systems like Toodledo, Remember the Milk and Nozbee handle this type of workflow, so that multiple devices touching the same Task don't get out of sync? I know these are all in the cloud, but they seem to have figured out the whole sharing and delegation thing with GTD.

I think this is going to become a bigger issue for people who sync their MacBooks, iPhones, and soon, iPads to their desktops via Bonjour. Any thoughts from the field on how to avoid this issue?

Last edited by policarpo; 2010-07-08 at 09:42 PM..
Most of the online-enabled systems are dependent on a big central server to do the heavy lifting of integrating changes. Device pushes some info out, then gets the results back from the server once it figures out what should happen.

OmniFocus' sync is designed to let you keep your data local to devices that are under your control - no central server/account required. However, that means that each device has to do the work independently.
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
Most of the online-enabled systems are dependent on a big central server to do the heavy lifting of integrating changes. Device pushes some info out, then gets the results back from the server once it figures out what should happen.
Quick question Brian, is that the same reason why their apps can finish a sync in the background while OmniFocus for iPhone canīt? Remember the Milk along with a bunch of other apps handle this to perfection, and it is extremely annoying to have to wait for OF to sync before you can close the app (especially because it sometimes takes quite a lot longer than the acceptable 15-20 secs).

Bonus question; could you add similar functionality as the one you mention to your OmniGroup sync server in the future?
Take with the huge mountain of salt labeled "I am not an engineer" - but I believe that's correct. Most of the "sync works via task completion" examples look like they're uploading data through an already-established connection. OmniFocus needs both upload and download, which we haven't been able to do yet, though we want to keep trying.

Making the sync server work in that manner is technically possible, but would require a lot of work, and means that folks that want to host their own data would be out in the cold. I wouldn't rule it out completely, but it's not something we've had a any real discussion about doing.
One last thought: keep in mind that OmniFocus is designed so that sync is interruptible; there's really no reason to wait for sync to complete before closing the app if it's inconvenient to do so. Next time you sync the app, it'll pick up right where it left off.
Hi Brian
Thanks for your response, very nice of you to go into depth with this.
Itīs good to get some clarity here to understand the difference between the kinds of sync.
Iīd really wish that it was possible to optimize it further though. It might seem like a little thing, but if you use OmniFocus as your main tool during the day itīs a shame if there is even a slight feeling of resistance to use it.

I usually open Omnifocus (or any other list management app) at least 10 times per day. Since I switch between OF for Mac and OF for iPhone a lot during the day so I have to sync it almost every time I open the app on the iPhone.
If you compare it to an app like Remember the Milk, which is the app with the best and most intelligent sync I have seen, it takes in average 10 secs to sync at startup, and OmniFocus takes 22 secs in average to sync at startup.
Thatīs a difference of 12 secs. per app launch.

That means that it takes 2 minutes longer to sync OmniFocus per day, or a whole hour per month, or 12 hours per year. When you add it up itīs a long to have that spinning wheel on the screen.
General reminder: please don't copy/paste posts into multiple threads. One is enough. Thanks!
Are you referring to my post above? Because that hasn't been copy/pasted...

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