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MindStorm

EN Messes up notes frequently :(

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I often use EN on my iPhone when I am not in any WiFi or cell range.  If I make _any_ change in that state, I almost always end up with "conflicting changes" that sometimes trail on for a dozen such conflcts until I spend the time to force all devices to sync when back at home.

As a software developer, we have had software that automatically would detect changes and sync files for a couple decades now (all Source Control Software does that).  Why isn't Evernote smarter about catching these?  It is really a major PITA... :(

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The behavior you want is exactly what EN has done for me since I started several years ago.  I frequently work on existing EN notes in airplane mode all day and it all syncs up okay later.  I haven't looked at the web settings in a long time, but I suspect there is something in there (there are a lot more in the online settings than the device settings) that will help you. 

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I have never had it properly update if I changed a note while not properly synced.  I frequently have to spend time (occasionally a lot of time, and renaming of notes) to get the d*** thing to sync properly and get back to a single note, with no conflict versions.

When I asked about this more than a year ago, I was told that they knew about the problem and were working on it.  I have seen zero progress on this front in that time, again despite this technology being available for decades on all Source Code Control software.

And yes, I have it set to update whenever it can, to use cell data (when it is available), etc.

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9 hours ago, rhkennerly said:

 I frequently work on existing EN notes in airplane mode all day and it all syncs up okay later.

The issue comes in when you have made changes in EN iOS when there was no wi-fi, and thus no sync, and then you forget to sync EN iOS before you start using EN Mac or EN Win.  This is very easy to do.  You come off an airplane where you have made changes, and as soon as you are find a wi-fi hotspot you open your Mac to check on urgent business.  Even if you use your iPhone, it does not sync unless you are in the Evernote app.

The big issue here, IMO, is not sync, but conflict resolution.  Sometimes Evernote will overwrite a version on the iPhone, that is pending sync, with a later version made in EN Mac or EN Win.  Thus, you lose all the changes on the iPhone without even being notified.

When conflicts are detected, Evernote needs to offer a side-by-side merge option that shows the differences, and allows the user to combine or replace from either source.

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Hmmm...I leave EN running & in focus on the iFon when I'm finished with airplane mode. I've never had it not sync up before I opened EN on another device. EN is one of the few apps I allow to sync over cell.  

of course, I have probably inadvertently avoided this issue because I tether cell off my iFon for my cell-less iPad & BT keyboard instead of lugging a laptop on trips anymore. 

Probably just a big difference too on what I tend to change on each device.  The iFon mostly for on-the-move stuff: B. Cards & phone contacts, travel docs & boarding passes.  Writing projects on the iPad. They just don't get a chance to cross each other up much, I guess. 

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3 minutes ago, rhkennerly said:

I leave EN running & in focus on the iFon

What is "iFon"?

3 minutes ago, rhkennerly said:

EN is one of the few apps I allow to sync over cell.

Most of us avoid this because we don't want to pay for high bandwidth via cellular.  Most things can wait until I'm connected via wi-fi.

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And then complain about EN not syncing all the devices? 

That's why I allow EN & messages to be about the only apps that sync over cell. 

Seems you can either have good self-discipline about manual syncing as you go or allow cell syncing.  The complaint is about not having self-discipline and being unwilling to spend a few cents while on the road.

it's the cheap man who pays the most.

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13 minutes ago, rhkennerly said:

it's the cheap man who pays the most.

You are entitled to your opinion, and your choice of workflow.  Please don't engage in name calling in these forums.  It's against forum policy.

Personally, I almost never have a sync issue, because I am careful and disciplined, and I don't need to pay extra for bandwidth I really don't need.  I just make sure I sync my devices before and after each session, before using Evernote on another device.

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Not a CarTalk fan, I perceive. That is Click & Clack's favorite saying, an aphorism, a truism. Guess it works better if you don't have to explain it <sigh>.

And it's was an observation, not name calling.  One has to spend time (syncing) or money (cell).  It's trying to cheap out on both that is the root of the problem here that is causing the extra time, confusion & coordination the OP is complaining about, not a flaw in EN syncing.  

Sorry if you see it otherwise.  I apologize for offending. 

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1 hour ago, rhkennerly said:

Guess it works better if you don't have to explain it <sigh>.

What works better is if you don't make statements that clearly seem to put down a lot of people.  The world is full of people with a wide variety of experiences and cultures.  Even now you are trying to imply that the rest of us, or maybe just me, is somehow less hip, less attuned to pop culture, than you are.  If you keep your discussion on topic, relevant to Evernote, then you won't offend anyone.  Apology accepted.  I suggest we move on, and keep this discussion on-topic.

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20 hours ago, rhkennerly said:

And then complain about EN not syncing all the devices? 

That's why I allow EN & messages to be about the only apps that sync over cell. 

Seems you can either have good self-discipline about manual syncing as you go or allow cell syncing.  The complaint is about not having self-discipline and being unwilling to spend a few cents while on the road.

it's the cheap man who pays the most.

Bull durham!  I DO have cell data sync, and I DO try to keep things in sync regularly. I live in an area where there are huge gaps in cell service though, and often I simply have no cell service for hours -- and sometimes days.

And WHY THE HECK should I have to work around their limits anyway?  As I said in my initial post, the technology for doing proper syncing of multiple disparate changes has been around for at least two decades.  As a (now retired) software engineer, I used that stuff daily on half a dozen different apps.

When I pointed out this limitation more than a year ago, EN rep said they knew of the problem and the feature would be "coming soon."  After more than a year, it is still not here. Instead we gets lots of trash addons that I have absolutely zero interest in.  Get the main app to work well before wasting engineer time of junk we don't need or want!

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44 minutes ago, MindStorm said:

And WHY THE HECK should I have to work around their limits anyway?

I'm not sure you're being fair on this.

If you updated a note on one device, and then without syncing you made a change to the note on another device,
Isn't it you who messed up?

Evernote does detect this, and notifies you that there's an issue, and gives you tools to sort it out.
What more are you expecting from them?

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21 hours ago, JMichaelTX said:

Please don't engage in name calling in these forums.  It's against forum policy.

Seems to be a bit of over reaction @JMichaelTX

My expressions would be: Penny wise, pound foolish; or, Take care of the pennies and the pounds will look after themselfs

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Off topic sorry, but my expression might be an old bit of schtick:

Patient: "Hey doctor, it hurts when I go like this."

Doctor:  "Well then, don't go like that."

 

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2 hours ago, DTLow said:

IIf you updated a note on one device, and then without syncing you made a change to the note on another device,
Isn't it you who messed up?

Evernote does detect this, and notifies you that there's an issue, and gives you tools to sort it out.
What more are you expecting from them?

Are you really and truly that clueless, or just a company shill???  Their "tools to sort it out" is nothing more than appending one version after the other and saying "conflict."  If it happens once, and not seen immediately (that is, any note more than a couple screens long), it quickly becomes a long list of such conflicts, with ZERO INDICATION of what the conflicts are.

You obviously have never used competent software that will look at all the conflicts, and in 90% of the time, simply resolve them with no need for human interaction at all.  When there is an ambiguous change that it cannot resolve, it shows you ONLY the change, and asks which version you want to use.  It NEVER just appends every possible version, as that would be absolutely and completely useless in tracking code changes.  And I am talking about software that can manage hundreds of different people making overlapping changes on tens of thousands of files.  Here, EN can't handle a simple case of one person making changes to a tiny number of files on two devices.

I AM EXPECTING AN APP THAT WORKS, nothing more than that.  And certainly not some nutjob that never seems to hit the problem being discussed and blames the user for the shortcomings of the app!

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7 minutes ago, MindStorm said:

You obviously have never used competent software that will look at all the conflicts, and in 90% of the time, simply resolve them with no need for human interaction at all.

No, I haven't seen such software.  Can you give me some examples.

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10 minutes ago, MindStorm said:

Are you really and truly that clueless, or just a company shill???

....some nutjob

That definitely crosses the line, and I'm sure is against forum policy

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13 minutes ago, DTLow said:

No, I haven't seen such software.  Can you give me some examples.

Look at Wikipedia page -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_version_control_software

They list several of the more popular software used for this purpose.  They name 44 products.  I have personally used Perforce, CVS, PVCS, and Subversion (I used these over a more than 20 year period, for dozens of clients).

As I have said several times in this thread, and in my OP, this is a very well known technology.  This list shows 17 Open Source versions, so it is there to be licensed and included in the EN change management system (which is at the Caveman level right now).

My guess is that the EN team lives in an area with ubiquitous cell data coverage, so doesn't see this problem theirselves.  If they lived in an area with less reliable coverage, they would have hit this themselves, and fixed it long ago.  The solution -- have the engineers turn OFF their cell updates, to simulate the environment where others CANNOT have it work (because there is no cell coverage).  They would then see how often this problem bites.  

I get hit with it about once a month, and then have to spend 15+ minutes to get things back to norm.  Time that is frustrating and completely unnecessary for a product like this.

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19 minutes ago, DTLow said:

That definitely crosses the line, and I'm sure is against forum policy

Then stop trying to be the company shill that defends them for not having a needed function, and instead blaming the user.  That is about the most stupid argument I have ever heard to defend a flawed product.  

That might have worked in the 1980's, when computers really were highly limited.  That no longer flies 30 years later, when technology like I am referring to is so widespread and has been around for more than 20 years already.

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55 minutes ago, MindStorm said:

 

55 minutes ago, MindStorm said:

stop trying to be the company shill

 

Shill - shill, also called a plant or a stooge, is a person who publicly helps or gives credibility to a person or organization without disclosing that they have a close relationship with the person or organization

Fanboy maybe, but I do not have a close relationship with Evernote

The first law of holes, or the law of holes, is an adage which states that "if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging

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28 minutes ago, MindStorm said:

My guess is that the EN team lives in an area with ubiquitous cell data coverage, so doesn't see this problem theirselves.  If they lived in an area with less reliable coverage, they would have hit this themselves, and fixed it long ago.  The solution -- have the engineers turn OFF their cell updates, to simulate the environment where others CANNOT have it work (because there is no cell coverage).  They would then see how often this problem bites.  

BTW, this is very similar to a technique I used with our software teams over the years. I lived and managed software in Silicon Valley, where internet speeds were much faster than in other parts of the world.  Every so often, I would have the group's internal internet speed throttled down to dial-up speed.  That let the engineers see how their product fared in less speedy internet connection environments.

As a result, they became more motivated to be frugal with internet connectivity, and not just through internet queries around willy nilly.  Once they saw how painful it was to use our product in a slow connection environment, our products became better...

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6 minutes ago, DTLow said:

The first law of holes, or the law of holes, is an adage which states that "if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging

So STOP DIGGING already!  You have already proven that you have zero idea how the product SHOULD work, and have zero understanding of what is standard software technique for products like this.  If you don't have anything positive to add, and insist on blaming the user for the faults of the product, then shut up and leave.

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I don't know by what processes Evernote sets priorities for development,  but a while ago the former head of tech support commented that at the end of 2014 users had submitted thousands of feature requests,  "none of them technically easy to implement across multiple platforms".  Whatever they've delivered by now I'm sure the backlog of requests will be bigger.

The advocates of each one,  be it better versioning, real-time multi-user editing, enhanced formatting options, better print formatting and options, etc. etc.  will feel equally passionately about their individual causes,  and I can't remember how many times I've seen phrases like "it should be simple to add",  or "xyz does this,  why not Evernote?".

Evernote is a big group of very smart people so they will be fully aware of the problems of slow connections and spotty syncing.  The company policy of not commenting on work in progress can be frustrating - they might have all sorts of projects going on in the background,  but with 100M+ users their overall main priority must be the IT Hippocratic Oath - If it works (mostly),  don't mess it up. 

One of the team leaders may have given some indication of relevant issues in a recent post - there's apparently been "a years-long project to drastically overhaul the (Mac) Editor code".  There've been similar comments in the Windows and Android threads too,  so I'm guessing this is an across-the-board rewrite in at least 4 major OS's.

Presumably - and this is purely my personal opinion based on my speculation - the end result will include better tools to deal with conflicts;  although all the discussion here may make the point that at least 5 people feel really strongly about it,  but we aren't the only measure that Evernote uses to prioritise releases. 

I'm sure this will get done,  but there's no telling when.

G (also not a company shill...)

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Well, if it was easy I suppose EN would have already done it.  Personally, I'm not sure I would want EN to reconcile any conflicts for me automatically based upon the few times I have had a conflict, multiple syncs and changes on different platforms in the same area of the note creating something of a mess.  I would however like to see the conflicted notes put somewhere, maybe a conflicts notebook (fond memory), and then make my own determination as to automatic or manual fixing.

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29 minutes ago, csihilling said:

Well, if it was easy I suppose EN would have already done it.

I see that statement a lot, but I'm not sure it is true.  Over the years Evernote have made many design decisions based more on what the Evernote  management found personally useful/important rather than what's easy to do.  There have been many requests for features that are relatively easy that have been ignored, while other features were implemented that were clearly much more difficult to implement.

But back to the main topic here: Note Sync

Having closely followed these forums for several years now, I have noticed many, many complaints about syncing, and note conflicts.  It is easy to discard these complaints as "user error" or "user ignorance", and perhaps some are due to those causes.  But with so many complaints it has become very clear to me that Evernote sync is not nearly as bullet-proof as it should be.  Syncing should be a feature that the user rarely has to think about.  

When we save a file to a network drive, or to Dropbox, we never have to concern ourselves with whether or not the saved file will be done properly, and available on other machines or to other users.  Many, many years ago file servers learned how to lock a file when one user opened it, preventing other users from making changes at the same time.    Sync should work just the same.  The technology is there, and has been there for many years, to provide this.  OTOH, Google has figured out how to support simultaneous changes.

Having said that, note conflicts can still happen, like when two users try update the same Note without first syncing the other user's changes, perhaps when both users are offline, so no way to detect the Note is open for editing.  Evernote's handling of conflicts is very poor, and inconsistent.  Sometimes the conflicting versions are all appended to the same original Note, and sometimes the conflicting versions are put in a new special Notebooks.  User notification of the conflict is very poor.

Because note conflicts will happen, Evernote needs to provide us with tools that clearly notify us of the conflicts, and to resolve the conflicts.  Again, the technology has been in place for years to identify and resolve file conflicts, and allow the easy merging of those conflicts.  Take for example the Mac app TextWrangler (which is completely free).  It provides an excellent file comparison tool.  I'm sure there are Windows tools that do the same.

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22 hours ago, csihilling said:

..... and then make my own determination as to automatic or manual fixing.

Automatic fixing sounds scary ?

Evernote currently identifies that there is a conflict.  They could go the extra step of identifying the exact differences. Sometimes it's difficult to do this manually with long notes.

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2 minutes ago, DTLow said:

Automatic fixing sounds scary ?

Evernote currently identifies that there is a conflict.  They could go the extra step of identifying the exact differences. Sometimes it's difficult to do this manually with long notes.

I used automatic fixing for at least two decades, on dozens of clients, and literally many millions of lines of software code.  *****-ups were exceedingly rare, and in every case I can remember was just the SCC putting a block that identified the small section that it could not figure out properly. You would look at the source code, and everything would be fine, until you saw ">>>>>" followed by 'original code', then "<<<<<<" followed by 'new code' and "<<<<<<" to close off the block.

You thus knew exactly what the change was that the SCC could not resolve itself. Easy to look at it, decide which version you wanted, and delete the other one.  The rest of the file was then intact, with all desired changes (often from multiple programmers) as desired.

As is now, all you get in EN is one version of the file (the _whole_ file), followed by "conflict dated xxxx" and the whole file again, of the other version.  Often this is followed by another conflict and file, and another, etc.  I have had it go as deep as five such conflicts before I realized the da** thing had gotten out of sync somewhere.  I then had to laboriously look at each and figure out what the heck it was complaining about.  More often than not, I just deleted all but the first, and live with the fact I just lost whatever was entered when I did not realize it was not properly synced.

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