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DropBox syncing of reference files works ... almost


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#1 Paul Ingraham

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 07:18 PM

It's getting to the point where I'm using either DropBox or MobileMe to sync data between my two Macs for pretty much every key application. SC is one of the last nuts to crack. I've almost got it, but not quite, and it may not be possible.

I've got my reference files in DropBox. There's a symlink from ~/Library/Application Support/Spell Catcher to ~/Dropbox/Library/Application Support/Spell Catcher.

(This scheme works great for many applications, by the way. Highly recommended.)

And it almost works with SC. Unfortunately, "learn" a word on one side, and the versions split. DropBox has a conflict-resolution feature that creates a duplicate a file if it is open on more than one machine. i.e. if you have a Pages document in the DropBox, and it's open on two Macs, DropBox will (correctly and wisely) create a duplicate.

Anyhoo, I'm guessing that SC always or routinely has its reference files "open" for writing, thus making it impossible to sync them via DB without constantly triggering this feature. Thus while the machine where the change initiated carries on using the reference file as normal, SC on the other machine gets redirected to a duplicate of the file created by DropBox.

Evan, have I correctly interpreted the problem, and do you have any thoughts on how to accomplish this?

#2 Evan Gross

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 11:08 PM

It's getting to the point where I'm using either DropBox or MobileMe to sync data between my two Macs for pretty much every key application. SC is one of the last nuts to crack. I've almost got it, but not quite, and it may not be possible.

I've got my reference files in DropBox. There's a symlink from ~/Library/Application Support/Spell Catcher to ~/Dropbox/Library/Application Support/Spell Catcher.

(This scheme works great for many applications, by the way. Highly recommended.)

And it almost works with SC. Unfortunately, "learn" a word on one side, and the versions split. DropBox has a conflict-resolution feature that creates a duplicate a file if it is open on more than one machine. i.e. if you have a Pages document in the DropBox, and it's open on two Macs, DropBox will (correctly and wisely) create a duplicate.

Anyhoo, I'm guessing that SC always or routinely has its reference files "open" for writing, thus making it impossible to sync them via DB without constantly triggering this feature. Thus while the machine where the change initiated carries on using the reference file as normal, SC on the other machine gets redirected to a duplicate of the file created by DropBox.

Evan, have I correctly interpreted the problem, and do you have any thoughts on how to accomplish this?


Sounds like your diagnosis is correct - Spell Catcher does keep its files open all the time.

I don't think there's anything you can do to make this work the way you want. There is, of course, something I could do, but it involves writing and changing a fair whack of code.

So I'll pose a more general question (to anyone that wants to answer):

Is this sort of "syncing" - i.e. entire file(s) vs. file contents (individual earned words or shorthands within a file) adequate? I did look at the latter (MobileMe) sort of sync, and it's not an easy thing to implement. It involves a significant amount of overhead as well. Not to mention weeks of work…

#3 Paul Ingraham

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Posted 11 August 2010 - 11:53 AM

Is this sort of "syncing" - i.e. entire file(s) vs. file contents (individual earned words or shorthands within a file) adequate? I did look at the latter (MobileMe) sort of sync, and it's not an easy thing to implement. It involves a significant amount of overhead as well. Not to mention weeks of work…


Syncing files does seem adequate to me, assuming it can be made to work, of course. If the current situation prevails, then obviously it is not a solution. ;-) But conceptually, file syncing is consistent with what I would hope for, and much like what I’m doing with other application support data. Doubtless your hesitation is that there is fundamentally still a risk of file syncing conflicts even if you develop a workaround for the always-open problem, but that seems to be a “goes with the power user territory” risk. I can handle the occasional file conflict for the sake of SC usually having access to the same support file data on two machines. I already deal with these compromises with other apps, and it’s no biggy: it’s just life with multiple computers.

I think it’s worth noting what Shawn Blanc wrote about this recently: “With the amount of shared information I keep between my iPad, iPhone, and Mac, apps which sync via the cloud are becoming a necessity while apps that don’t are quickly becoming so cumbersome to maintain they’re almost useless.” SC will never be “useless” without syncing, but I agree wholeheartedly with the general sentiment. I constantly tweak my SC reference files, have for years, and it is getting pretty frustrating to switch over to the MacBook Pro and not have the latest. It remains one of the only applications I have that is “stuck” on my iMac. ;-)

#4 MRubenzahl

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 12:35 AM

> I constantly tweak my SC reference files, have for years, and it is getting pretty frustrating to switch over to the MacBook Pro and not have the latest.

Paul, you nailed it. As long as I use multiple machines, I need my Spell Catcher references synced, especially the glossary. I'll muddle along without syncing but would love a solution. I was thinking about a script that shuts SC down and does a copy but that doesn't let me save a new glossary item on either machine. Hmm.

Interesting that Dropbox worked fine for me for many weeks. I think I did this a month and a half ago and it worked fine until this weekend.