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Sync for SkyDrive–version 2 for Windows RT and Windows 8

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Version 2 of Sync for SkyDrive

[9th March 2013]

A new version of the application is now in the Windows Store.  You can find details of it here.

Thank-you for your interest in Sync for SkyDrive.  Following all the feedback from version 1, I’ve finished version 2 and submitted to the Windows Store.  When it is released I will update this with store location.  The tool is not free, but it is at the lowest price point I can make for the Windows Store (from the UK).

The purpose of the tool is very simple, to enable you to synchronise chosen folders from Microsoft SkyDrive to a Windows RT (or Windows 8) device.  While I would like this to be something that happened automatically, the processing time required does not fit into the Microsoft allowed timings for a Windows RT/8 device for battery consumption, so this is still a “user initiated process”.  While Windows 8 has a synchronisation tool for the desktop, Windows RT does not, so here is my offering in this space.

How does it work

The tool scans chosen folders on SkyDrive and the matching folders on your Windows RT device and draws up a list of differences.  You can then choose which of these files to sync across.  The first time this happens, if you have manually copied down files from SkyDrive, then you will need to “match” them as the time / date stamps for each file will be different.  The tool matches the files and highlights the file with the latest date, so it is not too difficult.

Once you have completed this, which is done only once, then a few clicks will always bring your local store and SkyDrive up to date.

Warning

This tool will be overwriting files in the process of it’s actions.  While every attempt has been made to ensure that this is not damaging, no responsibility is taken if data is lost through the use of the tool.  Having said that, no-one has reported data loss.  If you think you are experiencing this, please contact me immediately!

Discussion forums

I have opened up 3 forums to enable discussions in a more structured way.  You can find there here:

The first run

You will initially be asked to confirm that you are happy for Sync for SkyDrive to connect to SkyDrive.  If you have any concerns about privacy, please see the privacy statement below, however information flows from your device to SkyDrive and back again, over the internet.  No information is sent to me what so ever, unless you send me a log file.

The steps we need to go through are:

1 – Choose the local folder to hold the synchronised files from SkyDrive.  In the screen shot below, once you press OK, you will be presented with the standard Windows RT/8 file picker.  The folder you wish to use needs to already exist, so if you have not created an ideal location, do so in Windows Explorer on the desktop first

A - 1 - 1st Run Folder Selection

2 – Choose which folders from SkyDrive to synchronise.  The more folders, the longer the start-up process is as Sync for SkyDrive has to scan all the SkyDrive and local folders each time it is started.

A - 2 - SkyDrive Folder Selection

3 – Click the folder to sync.  By default, only the root folder is selected.  To select single folders, click on them once.  To select a whole folder tree, double click on it.  To collapse a part of a folder tree, right click or tap and hold on a touch device.  The folder will be shown in italic when it has been collapsed.

A - 3 - inital folder chooser  A - 4 - Folder Selection

4 – Click the File View tab on the left hand side to bring up all the files.  By default this will show the root folder.  To see all files in all folders, click the <all folders> folder name at the top of the folder list.

5 – If you are sure all files are up to date, click the  symbol next to any files shown as Update files to show all these files.  Do this for both local or SkyDrive files if any are shown

Update files

6 – Now bring up the app bar by either right clicking at the top or bottom of the screen or by swiping the top or bottom and select for both the local and SkyDrive columns Fix date for similar files.  This will presume the files are the same where the filename and size is the same and will no longer be shown in the list.

select App Bar

That is it, things are now up to date.

Using Sync for SkyDrive

To use the product, click each folder with bolded folder names.  These have updates in them.  You will see the files in that folder that can be synchronised.  To select a file, tap or click it.  To select all items in a group, double tap the group title. To select everything in that folder, swipe or right click at the top or bottom of the screen to bring up the app bar and then pick Select all local (or SkyDrive) files.

You can select files in each folder as the selections are remembered and then once you are ready to sync, simply select the sync option from the top app bar. 

Sync App Bar

You can change the default behaviour by dragging files from one column to the other.  When you do this, the behaviour will change as below:

From To
New file Delete the new file (please check the text to ensure you understand whether the file will be deleted on SkyDrive or the local store)
Updated file Restore earlier file
Delete file Restore missing file

The screen shot below shows many different file groupings where several of the items above are shown:

5 - moved files

If you pick a folder with many files in it, greater than 150 in any particular grouping of files, then you will only be shown 150 files due to performance reasons.  Any actions you undertake will impact only the shown files.  If you wish to show all the files, you can drill in by clicking the  symbol.  Once you have finished making changes, click the  to get back to the list.

To synchronise quickly

If you want to sync and go, the process would be to go to <all folders> folder, select all files in both columns and then press sync.  This will bring everything up to date.

Other user interface features

To make navigation easier I’ve included the following features:

  • Double tap a folder name – will select all the items in the folder when in folder selection mode
  • Right tap a folder to collapse it
  • Folders which are in bold have changes in them
  • When a new folder is discovered, it will pick up the synchronisation status of it’s parent, so if it is in a folder that is marked for synchronisation, it will also be marked for synchronisation

 

  • When in file mode, double clicking a group heading will select / deselect all the items shown under it.  If the list is limited to 150 files, you will need to drill in before you can select all

Settings menu

Settings - 1 clip

The first settings menu allows you to:

  • Change the location where the files are synchronised to
  • Access the settings screen below
  • See the Privacy and trademark information
  • Link to this web page
  • e-mail me suggestions or bug information
settings clip - 2

You can change various items of the program through the settings menu. The items allow you to:

  • Some files have a 1 second time difference.  This can be automatically ignored by Sync for SkyDrive.  By default this option is on and I would recommend leaving it this way
  • Picture file sizes shown on SkyDrive do not accurately show the actual size of the picture.  I’ve reported this to Microsoft, however they do not have a timeframe to change this.  For this reason, if a file is reported as a picture by SkyDrive, Sync for SkyDrive ignores differences if file size.  Without this, you will start to see integrity warnings when copying files
  • You can hide the warning dialog when you are doing a synchronisation if you do not want to see this information by turning off the Warn before overwriting files option

For performance reasons, there are two other options.  They are:

  • Keep application active while syncing which tells Windows RT/8 not to swap the application out.  Since the application will always perform a scan when starting to ensure the latest information is loaded, this stops it from re-starting your synchronisation process when left due to this.  By default this is on.
  • If you are having problems with the application, select the Enable detail logging option.  This is off by default.  If you turn this on, please contact me for the location of the file.

Privacy Policy

The Privacy Policy is very simple.  The application only shares information between SkyDrive and the application.  No information is shared with me or anyone else by the application.  If you send me a log file, which you can inspect, file names are in the log file, but no actual data.  If you have any concerns, please do not send me a log file, however the only use of this file will be to look for the exceptions.  This file will not be shared with anyone else.


Posted Sat, Feb 16 2013 9:31 AM by David Overton

Comments

Christopher wrote re: Sync for SkyDrive–version 2 for Windows RT and Windows 8
on Tue, Feb 26 2013 7:12 AM

David,

Great news today ! Looking forward to try it and give you some feedbacks. Just have a nap in the meantime, you deserve it.

C.

Guilherme B. wrote re: Sync for SkyDrive–version 2 for Windows RT and Windows 8
on Tue, Feb 26 2013 4:35 PM

Will it be available only in the US? I would certainly buy it if was available here in Brazil...

David Overton wrote re: Sync for SkyDrive–version 2 for Windows RT and Windows 8
on Tue, Feb 26 2013 4:57 PM

Guilherme,

I have made the application available in all geographies, although I've not been able to customise the languages, so I've not placed any restrictions.

Thanks

David

P.S.  I live in the UK, so definitely not US only.

davidsmi wrote re: Sync for SkyDrive–version 2 for Windows RT and Windows 8
on Tue, Feb 26 2013 9:02 PM

Installation went well - I'll try sync'ing tonight!

THANKS!

Gambit wrote re: Sync for SkyDrive–version 2 for Windows RT and Windows 8
on Tue, Feb 26 2013 10:14 PM

Does not Works for me, I'm never asked for files locations. Is it working with local accounts ? Or only Microsoft accounts ?

David Overton wrote re: Sync for SkyDrive–version 2 for Windows RT and Windows 8
on Tue, Feb 26 2013 10:18 PM

Gambit,

I've assumed Microsoft accounts due to the tight integration with Microsoft for SkyDrive.  Can you turn on detailed debugging (Settings, bottom option) and then e-mail at admin@davidoverton.com and I will tell you how to retrieve the log files.

From there I can start to diagnose your issue.  Thanks for letting me know.

David

Christopher wrote re: Sync for SkyDrive–version 2 for Windows RT and Windows 8
on Wed, Feb 27 2013 6:27 AM

It seems that if you wait more than 2 seconds on the try-out pop-up before pressing the close button, the app is somehow stucked. It tooks me 3 times for the system asking me autorisations (about accessing Skydrive and personals files) and retried then 5 or 6 times before the app asking me the local folder to sync.

At the first launch, the app was trying to scan my Skydrive and never asked me any autorisation first : i waited 20 mns before rebooting as i had no result.

As soon as the first try-out window pop, press quickly close and see if it does the trick...

Thomas wrote re: Sync for SkyDrive–version 2 for Windows RT and Windows 8
on Wed, Feb 27 2013 9:15 AM

Great Tool, David.

As explained by Christopher above, one Need to Close after First Launch and then it asks Locations etc.

I've downloaded / synced 1,5 GB with around 1200 Files form my SkyDive succesfully.

One issue remains ... after next Launch it compares the Folder and then "processing Updates File liste" wich seems to hang. Art least it is running in this Mode for More than one hour now. Any suggestions what to Do?

David Overton wrote re: Sync for SkyDrive–version 2 for Windows RT and Windows 8
on Wed, Feb 27 2013 2:20 PM

Christopher and Thomas,

I have removed the dialog for trial, so this should remove this issue.  It will take a day or so for the application to get certified by Microsoft.

Thanks

David

David Overton wrote re: Sync for SkyDrive–version 2 for Windows RT and Windows 8
on Wed, Feb 27 2013 2:29 PM

Thomas,

There are two things.  First can you send me an e-mail at admin@davidoverton.com.  I will tell you how to find the log file created and we can find out if that has recorded any issues.

On the initial log-in, rest assured that the "quick click" need should go away, however, the licensing and LiveID login are both controlled by Microsoft, so I have limited capabilities here.

Thanks

David

davidsmi wrote re: Sync for SkyDrive–version 2 for Windows RT and Windows 8
on Wed, Feb 27 2013 4:17 PM

I was able to sync files without any problem (it ran rather quickly).

I think the UI is more complicated that most people need.   I think most of us would like to setup where to sync to - - - then sync.  Next time we sync we just sync - just a "are you sure" would be enough.

Maybe some people have huge SkyDrives, but I just keep the essentials there!

David

Montastic wrote re: Sync for SkyDrive–version 2 for Windows RT and Windows 8
on Wed, Feb 27 2013 9:32 PM

David, good job with the app. I was the one who posted a link on xda a while back when you had the first version out.

I bought the latest version and tried it on  my surface.

I think that app right now is from a programmer's point of view rather than a user's. To me, it seems too complicated.

Why not have just source (Skydrive) folder selection, local folder and then a sync button. (Optional buttons to specify sync direction).

Selection with bold folders, italics, etc just adds unnecessary clutter. I'm a hardware designer and familiar with programming/apps, but I still had to look up on your website to see how it should be setup. My $0.02.

David Overton wrote re: Sync for SkyDrive–version 2 for Windows RT and Windows 8
on Wed, Feb 27 2013 10:00 PM

Montastic, thank-you for the original posting on xda.  I really appreciate it.

I'm sure the UI will evolve over time.  I want to get to a Microsoft typical folder view, however there are several challenges that cause the problems.  I'm always happy to discuss new UI options, but probably easier either done on a forum (I will create one on here) or via e-mail at admin@davidoverton.com.

Now, for the challenges, there are three:

1) Every write (or sync) of a file creates a new date/time stamp.  This means that unless I simply sync all those differences and add to the network utilisation, I have to do a pre-scan and ask the user to manually sync them up.  I will add back the code to offer to do this on the 1st run.  What is more, time date stamps change differently between the file system and SkyDrive.  For example, a folder gets a date stamp change when a file is deleted on the file system, but not SkyDrive.  The internal references to files on SkyDrive do not change (neither does the date/time stamp) when renamed on SkyDrive.  The UI, at the moment, means that the user is still responsible resolve any anomalies that are thrown up to avoid incorrectly overwriting files.  Once this is secure, I will automate this to a greater extent.

2) WinRt has resource problems.  Displaying a list of files exhausts the system, so I've had to resort to the current drill in / out and grouping.  This added a week of coding at least

3) WinRT has background threading support that I have to use to enable the UI to be responsive while "work" is happening.  Unfortunately this process is very buggy with processes hanging between start and run, so lots of extra code goes here.

To date, I've been working on these "under the cover" problems.  Once I have that stable, and yes, I'm getting a few bug reports right now, I will concentrate more on the UI.

In the short term, I will add a "first-run" fix-up option to remove most of the issues.  I will also add a "Sync everything" button to remove all the user "hassle" as well to just get going.

All UI feedback is welcome as I will be working on this over the coming weeks.

Thanks

David

Chris C. wrote re: Sync for SkyDrive–version 2 for Windows RT and Windows 8
on Thu, Feb 28 2013 10:59 AM

Very good application. Had some trouble on the initial setup within the UI which took a few times to get right. Once figured out, runs as expected. Can't wait for updates.

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