WiFi/bonjour sync may not be the best way forwards

Like many others I have struggled to make DTTG useful. I have successfuly managed to get it to sync with my macbook provided I am on my home WiFi network.

It’s not possible to synchronise using the WiFi at work though, and I think this might be either due to bonjour-blocking (but I don’t think that’s the case) or might have something else to do with the corporate-class WiFi we use. (For example, its neither a class-B nor class-C network, but something in-between).

In my view, advising people to drop firewalls is not good enough. If you must give advice about opening firewalls, please give more details about what ports are really required to be enabled. I am happy to assume the network scope should be “LAN”, as that seems reasonable to me.

Even when it does sync, I find a number of disappointing aspects. For example, if I copy a parent, and one of its sub-groups into the “sync” group at the top level, the sub-group appears in DTTG at the top level, but is absent (not contained within) the parent group. (In other words, some of the group-tagging has been lost or disregarded in the synchronised data). I have experienced many other such disappointments, but will put those aside for now because there is more basiic problem that needs fixing: “basic synching”. Other disappointments include: the limited number of data-types that DTTG can display.

To limit the sync options to bonjour and WiFi is not going to be suitable for all users in all work contexts. Inventing crazy WiFi solutions like “making your Mac project its own mini WiFi network”, is not a solution, its a work-around, and not one that will work in many situations. For example, if you are at work and using work WiFi say for email, you can’t then create a new network just to enable DTTG to synchronise. And some work places I work in (hospitals) consider it rude to set up WiFi nets.

I use omnifocus and that syncs beatifully with moblileMe iDisk. Can we have a range of choices for synchronisation media (not just WiFi), but dropbox, mobileme, bluetooth(!), iPhone USB cable, iTunes … others …? (Just copy ideas that are used by other successful synchronisong applications.)

I shall wait though. I shall wait for updates to DTTG before I can begin using it, and before I can begin trusting it. And I shall be patient, because Devontechnologies are so great, and DevonThink is such a brilliant application which I almost “live inside” every day.

We are working on a ‘universal’ syncing solution that will support multiple desktops and devices, but it is not possible to say anything beyond that we plan to roll this out sometime before the end of the first half of 2011.

The best solution would be a server-side solution, using the Internet (of course, that limits you to Internet-available syncing). That said, a number of users on this forum have stated forcefully that they would not support such a solution out of concern for the privacy of their data.

As you may know, Apple does not allow 3rd party developers access to USB syncing - such apps are barred from the AppStore. This is not to be confused with apps that use the iDevices as a giant flash drive; they cannot ‘see’ or modify data for individual applications on the device.
As mentioned above, we will offer alternatives in the future, but we need a robust WiFi solution akin to what we are now offering. As others have mentioned, there are iOS applications that provide a more stable and user-friendly syncing experience and we are working on such a solution for our next major release of DTTG (later this year or very early next). Keep in mind, however, that if you look in the reviews for even the highest-rated applications in regards to syncing, that the vagaries of home/office networking manage to defeat even the best technology. But we are striving to offer multiple solutions, and a better WiFi solution, in the coming months.

As a user I don’t mind if additional and cloud based sync is an option as long as there is always a private wifi version. The whole reason I am looking at DevonThink is to get away from mobileMe, dropbox & similar cloud based solutions. I must have a bonjour or local wifi option or I will not use the product for very long.

A lot of us either have no internet access on a regular basis unless we are at our home base or refuse to put sensitive data into cloud systems. DT must support us as well.

Rest assured that we have no plans to drop the WiFi solution going forward. Our immediate goal is to make it far more robust over the next few months. Of course there are people who require a cloud solution and we are discussing such options (although not in the immediate future).

Just as a data point, I’ve been pretty happy with how OmniFocus handles WebDAV-based syncing.

I’m sure that supporting DAV is a potential minefield, but in my own experience, with my own servers, these guys have made it work well.

Personally I’m okay syncing moderately sensitive data over ssl to “the cloud” when I own the cloud.