Believe it or not, I’ve actually received about as many requests to make errors less intrusive as I have to make them more intrusive.
One gentleman within the past few weeks or so thought it was absolutely awful that the Activity Log would pop up every hour on the hour just because his hourly sync failed (why did it fail? Because he takes his laptop to work, where it can’t find the other machine). To him, not being able to perform an hourly sync at all isn’t even an error condition.
Of course, none of this is particularly bothersome to me – I can just make a little method that uses hidden preferences to send all messages to /dev/null, the Activity Log, or alert dialogs complete with klaxons and grisly crime scene photos, as the user desires.
However, there are other considerations, namely that popping up modal steal-focus error windows – basically the only foolproof way of getting the user’s attention – can conflict with things like scheduled syncs, direct connection authentication, startup and shutdown, and so forth. I’m very hesitant to mess with things that demand the user’s attention, especially things that might be scheduled to run quite often, which is why Sync uses the standard DEVONthink tools for reporting sync issues.
Nathan, I agree that unbidden popup windows are annoying. I’ve always hated the Activity Window for that reason – and now that it flashes messages, then goes blank, and then falls behind other windows it is even more annoying than before.
But … the problem remains that there is no clue that activities that users initiate are actually finished successfully, and if not successfully then where do we start the troubleshooting. (OK, “no clue” is strong – the Log gives mysterious clues. IMO, for the average joe, mysterious clues == no clue.)
One of the many problems with Sync 1 is the sheer number of things that can go wrong. There are hundreds of possible error messages at several different levels – filesystem level, network level, WebDAV vs. Dropbox vs. Direct Connection, database verification errors, and so forth and so on.
To make it worse, many of these errors can be caused by different issues. Sometimes your Mac upstairs is unreachable because your wireless network is down. Sometimes it’s not turned on. Sometimes its copy of DEVONthink isn’t running. Sometimes its copy isn’t listening. Sometimes you’re trying to reach it on the wrong port. Sometimes it’s throwing an exception because of a programming error but not crashing. And that’s just a simple thing, the “host is unreachable” error when a DC attempt fails.
For this reason, Sync reports the error and, with a very few exceptions, doesn’t suggest any kind of remedy. Simply put, the error is written in such a way that it helps me narrow down the plethora of possible causes to a dozen or fewer.
Could more of the error messages suggest remedies? To be sure. I just don’t know of any.
Further complicating the situation is that these remedies may change from version to version to version or even build to build, meaning changing the messages nearly continually. This also means relocalizing the messages (into German, French, and Japanese), which in itself can be agonizing because it of course depends on context.
Finally, I don’t know all of the possible causes for an error until people start opening support tickets and I’m able to track down the possible causes. So it’s a cart-before-the-horse kind of thing.
I don’t mind support, but of course I’d rather be working on Sync 2 right now. Also, by the time people post on the forums or open a support ticket, they tend to hate my guts. So believe me, I’d just fix the error messages if it were that simple.
Needless to say, this situation has greatly impacted my design philosophy with regard to Sync 2.
Let me add one thought :
my Dropbox-Sync still doesnt’t work (stops with error messages). Direct Sync beetween two macs work, ok, if you do it manually and not automatically (because this causes memory leaks).
But right now, i don’t have any backup of my notes on the cloud, so i have to backup manually (every day, i copy all “newest” notes in a dropboxfolder…).
Remember, YOU are not every User. What you want may NOT be what a larger majority of Users want. How you think things should work isn’t necessarily how anyone else thinks it should. (We have been incredibly open and flexible in letting Users have choices.)
We have to assess what changes to make and cannot possibly adjust for every single request, otherwise we’d be issuing maintenance releases daily. No one wants this to happen and we don’t have time nor desire to change and unchange the same things day after day. Sometimes you just have to decide and go forward.
There is a distinct difference between something that is non-functional and something that works but not like you want it to. Non-functional trumps until time allows. And if the software is broken, please start a Support Ticket.
Do not always assume it’s our software. Many issues arise due to operator error/habits/misunderstanding and also from having to interface with APIs outside our control.
Consider how we get blamed when Apple issues an update and the Mail plugin appears to stop working. This is not something we did (and not truly a problem as it’s generally just a quick reinstall of the plugin). We have to work with what Apple does because we agree that Users should be able to get their email into DEVONthink. We’d hear no more complaining in this situation if we removed the Mail plugin, but is that what anyone wants?
Constructive criticism is good, healthy, and necessary. Demands (or threats) will not produce the desired results. You want to help? Awesome. We want Users to be active participants. If you want to demand what must happen… give yourself a time-out, breathe, and try again.
Sorry if i misunderstood me. Of course, i only wanted to tell that it is frustrating that an essential function of an “Evernote-Killer” (it’s perhaps my error that i saw this in DTPO) does not work yet.
Without the possibility of Dropbox Sync, i never would have imported 10 GB of notes from Evernote in DTPO. I even uninstalled Evernote on my MacBookPro (still habe a copy with all notes on another machine).
And now i am not at home, and every trial to sync my MBP via a VPN doesn’t work (it considers this as a completely new Sync, this is too slow ), and the Dropbox sync doesn’t work either, so i am conscient that if someone steals my MacBookPro, all work oft this week will be lost. This would not be the end of the world, but i just wanted to tell this to the other users and the developers.
I will open A support ticket.
Thanks for your work, it is really a great software, i am only missing one important function
I hope you are not relying on the cloud so much that you are not observing proper local backups. Regardless of what the marketing hype wants you to believe, this is a very fragile and dangerous thing to do with your data. Don’t make it an EITHER/OR. If you want to use the cloud make it a BOTH/AND. Seriously. I don’t say this because I’m paranoid or whatever, I say it because it’s really not a good idea to try and make the cloud your universe. (Sorry, Dropbox, et al.) Think about this: If your hardrive died, can you boot off the cloud? Nope. Just offering some things to think about.
Back on topic, yes - the best thing to do is to open a Support Ticket. These Forums constitute a very small number of Users from our total User base and the truth is that Sync is working very well for the majority of Users. So if you’re having a problem, we prefer to have a report to track issues.