inessential by Brent Simmons

What Sync Means These Days

I love this tweet by @BuildingTwenty:

MarsEdit - no iOS app
Glassboard - no Mac app
Vesper - iPhone only
NetNewsWire 4 - Mac only

Even a trace of @brentsimmons destroys sync.

It’s funny and true.

But it also illustrates an interesting change in what we mean when we talk about syncing.

Note that the tweet doesn’t really talk about syncing. It talks about multiple versions of an app, which is not the same thing.

Consider Glassboard. My then-co-workers at Sepia Labs did an excellent job with the backend, and syncing works wonderfully. But the non-existence of a Mac app is considered a sync bug, rather than a feature request for a Mac app.

Or consider MarsEdit, which downloads posts from your blog. That’s by far the most important part of sync for a blog editor (though I could understand wanting to sync your drafts).

But the lack of an iOS version of MarsEdit is considered a sync bug.

I’m fine with this. “Syncing” now means not just syncing itself but the creation of multiple versions of an app that sync.

(It can also mean that an app includes export formats and cloud backup. Cloud backups I get: that’s implicit. But export formats are yet a different thing.)