Syncing is byzantine

I think you need a total UI redesign on syncing. Period. Say I am wrong; say I am stupid. Look at all the problems and questions you get. It’s not that the plumbing is wrong; you’ve correctly surmised that external file system syncing like webdav or Dropbox or Box cannot be used to sync large blobs like databases.

But, the UI and the concepts are downright awful. Seriously. Don’t get Teutonic on us. If most users can’t figure it out, then the problem is yours.

My questions: my databases are indexed if the content is publicly available information. And the file structure for the content files is in dropbox. So, the indexed content will get synced no matter what. Using a sync store enables the indices and Devonthink metadata to be synced.

  1. Should sync indexed content be on or off?
  2. If sync indexed content is OFF, will the content be unavailable on Devonthink to go?
  3. Why when a database is closed does it appear only as a remote when I examine the syncstore in preferences/sync? It is still part of the sync store. It is still resident locally.
  4. If a database is currently closed but is part of a sync store, will it sync?

5. What does File/Synchronize sync? Does it sync what is currently selected in the left pane? Or does it sync all databases? Or all sync stores? In other words, what is the target of this command?
6. I have synchronize set to “automatic” but the better word would be sporadic. The only time I ever see the activity window pop up to show syncing is occurring is when I am in the sync area of preferences. What triggers automatic syncing? When? For a single database? For a single group? For the entire sync store?
7. Why are the settings split into fragments? In the preference/sync dialog, there are two panes–one for sync stores and one for databases. There is the gear icon–which almost universally means settings in Mac apps. But, it’s not for you. The crucial settings are accessed with the “i” icon. The gear seems to mean actions: clean, remove, something quickly.

All told there is WAY too much mystifying UI around this whole capability and the risk of configuring it erroneously is much too high.

Lots of very, very confusing questions arise from the level of indirection you introduce (with good reason) with the sync store concept. it is a blob that your sync code syncs. All well and good, but there are many side effects that go unexplained. I think you need to redefine the concepts and redefine the UI.

Again, tell me I’m wrong but you only need to look at the vast quantity of questions to honestly acknowledge you have a problem. On the other hand, you can just say the customer is wrong or the customer is too inadequate to be worth serving with your product. Your choice…

Your choice.

The content will be unavailable, and logically so, since the content wasn’t Synced. (This relates to your choice in question 1.

Local lists open databases. Remote lists closed or unimported databases. Closed databases are not going to be listed as they may not even exist any longer. In that case, you would need to import from the remote location.


It Syncs the current database if that database is being Synced. Holding Shift would Synchronize All open databases that are being Synced. And yes, any active Sync location.

Sync is not constantly running. It runs on an interval. 30-45 seconds after a change or within 4.5 minutes on idle. And no, it’s not granular to a group.

Correct. This is a logical break between the two elements of a Sync: The locations that can be used and the databases that are being Synced with those locations individually. You can Sync one database to several locations.

Correct. The gear icon is the Action menu.