A number of users have asked if SOHO Notes will work with Dropbox. The primary reason for this inquiry is that users would like to use Dropbox to effectively "sync" their database between multiple computers. SOHO Notes currently supports syncing between mutliple computer using Apple's Sync Services technology, but this type of syncing requires a MobileMe account which many users don't have.
At first, we weren't sure if SOHO Notes and Dropbox would work well together since SOHO Notes stores its information in a database file that is usually open and being accessed by either SOHO Notes or a background helper application. A database file that is always open and being accessed is much different than a text file or graphics file that is quickly opened, updated, and closed when changes are saved.
For your reference, the SOHO Notes database file is stored at the following path where ~ denotes your Home folder:
So we installed Dropbox and gave it a try. We discovered two thing:
1) SOHO Notes can work with DropBox if some critical restrictions (see below) are respected;
2) Its performance is only as good as the upload speed of your internet connection when changes are updated to Dropbox.
Setting up SOHO Notes to work with DropBox is not for novice computer users for two reasons: 1) it's a bit complicated; and 2) we're not officially supporting using SOHO Notes with Dropbox because there are too many things that can go wrong if some technical restrictions aren't precisely followed. As such, we're not going to provide novice-level step-by-step setup instructions. Instead, we're going to provide some general steps that more computer-savy users will understand.
1) Create a "Databases" folder in your Dropbox folder
2) Create a symbolic link pointing to this "Databases" folder
3) In ~/Library/Application Support/Chronos, place the "Databases" symbolic link created in the previous step. This means you'll have to move the current Databases folder and its contents like the "Personal.sohodb" file. You'll want to move the "Personal.sohodb" file to the "Databases" folder in your Dropbox folder.
The above steps effectively move your database to the Dropbox folder.
Dropbox works by detecting changes to a file (the "Personal.sohodb" database file in this case) and transmitting these changes to your Dropbox folder in the cloud where your other computers can access these changes. The Dropbox model breaks down very quickly if multiple computers are accessing the same file at the same time (Dropbox wasn't meant to replace a networked database server). This can happen very easily with SOHO Notes because as long as it or one of its helper applications are running, it has the "Personal.sohodb" file open. If Dropbox makes changes to the "Personal.sohodb" file while one of these processes has it open, there is no way for these processes to know about the changes made by Dropbox. The likely result will be database corruption.
You might be thinking to yourself that this won't be a problem because computer A will be asleep or sitting idle when you're accessing computer B so the two computers aren't technically accessing the "Personal.sohodb" file at the same time. This line of thinking isn't correct because computer A still has the "Personal.sohodb" open. So how do you ensure that you don't corrupt your database?
1. Whenever you're done using SOHO Notes on a particular computer, you need to quit SOHO Notes and its helper applications.
2. When you switch to one of your other computers, you'll need to launch SOHO Notes and the helper applications since they shouldn't already be running. If you left them running, you'll have a likely database corruption problem.
SOHO Notes uses the following helper applications: SOHONotesService, SOHOCalendarsService, SOHO Sync, and SOHOPreviewMaker. If you're using SOHO Notes with SOHO Organizer, then you'll also need to make sure that you always quit SOHO Organizer. The SOHO Sync helper application can run at any time so you'll need to disable syncing in SOHO Note's Sync preference pane. The other helper applications can be quit using the Activity Monitor. This means you need to check the Activity Monitor every time you switch computers to quit these helper applications.
NOT OFFICIALLY SUPPORTED
As you can see, using Dropbox with SOHO Notes is not trivial, but it is possible if you absolutely want to. We've created this article to give our users a definitive answer regarding Dropbox support. It's primarily intended for computer-savy users who can understand, appreciate, and respect the dangers of using SOHO Notes with Dropbox. That said, we don't officially support using Dropbox so if you run into problems you're on your own (we hope you keep database backups). At the end of the day, we think the dangers outweight any benefits, but we totally respect if you feel otherwise and hope this article provides the information to help you make that decision.
QUESTION #1. Do you plan on adding some sort of Dropbox compatibility in the future or other type of cloud syncing?
ANSWER #1. It's not possible for us to make SOHO Notes compatible with Dropbox for the technical reasons discussed above. It's important to remember that this is not due to any deficiency in the design of Dropbox or SOHO Notes--both are well-designed. The problem of syncing records (notes in this case) in a database between multiple computers requires a more sophisticated solution. Our current solution uses Apple's Sync Services technology with MobileMe as the middleman. This solution works great but does require a MobileMe account. Our other choice is to develop our own cloud-based service that would handle syncing amongst multiple computers. We're currently investigating this idea, but have no concrete plans to announce at this point.