What Happened to Dropbox Sync

The latest versions of Chronicle for Mac (8.0) and iOS (7.1) removed the option for Dropbox sync. On older versions, the sync will stop working on September 28. Here’s why:

The short reason why is that Dropbox disabled the API that Chronicle uses to communicate with the Dropbox servers. More details are below:

Why We Dropped Dropbox Sync

Syncing is the most time-consuming, difficult thing to implement. If it’s not done correctly, it could lead to lost data or other problems. Last year, Dropbox announced it was ceasing to support the Dropbox API that Chronicle and many other apps used to sync with Dropbox, in favor of a new API. This would mean we would need to completely re-write the Dropbox sync code in order to keep Dropbox working. We had recently just went through a similar procedure re-writing all of iCloud sync to support CloudKit, Apple’s newest sync framework.

Since the switch to CloudKit, Chronicle sync via iCloud has been much more accurate and reliable. It’s also automatic, while Dropbox sync we implemented as a manual process.

We looked into the new Dropbox API, but realized quickly it was going to be a lot of work to re-implement the sync well. In addition, all the time we spend on re-implementing sync is time we can’t spend developing new features, fixing bugs, or refining Chronicle in other ways. Pus, supporting two sync methods has always been troublesome. It’s more difficult to troubleshoot when we have to contend with two sync systems, or figure out which sync method someone is trying to use, or figure out what sort of problem could occur when people have both sync methods enabled. Finally, iCloud sync is a lot less difficult for people to enable, as almost everyone with an iPhone already has an iCloud account.

For all of those reasons, we decided against re-implementing Dropbox Sync.

Syncing With a Partner

All that said, we know there is a particular use case with Dropbox sync that is really important to a lot of people—the ability to sync with a spouse or partner. With iCloud, this isn’t possible unless you are both signed into the same iCloud account, something that isn’t usually the case.

There’s still a way to (mostly) do this with Dropbox. Chronicle still has the ability to store your database anywhere. So, the process to share with a spouse with Dropbox now is as follows:

  1. On your Dropbox, create a folder named “Chronicle” in the root of your Dropbox. If your partner uses a different Dropbox account, then share this Chronicle folder with your partner’s Dropbox account using the Dropbox share feature.
  2. On your Mac, go to Chronicle’s Preferences and select the “Advanced” tab, and click “Move Database”. Select the Chronicle folder you created in your Dropbox, and a “Chronicle.chdata” file will appear inside that folder.
  3. On your partner’s Mac, go to Chronicle’s Preferences, and select the “Advanced” tab. Click “Open a Different Database,” and again select the same Chronicle folder. Do not try to select the “Chronicle.chdata” file itself.

Following that, you will be sharing the same data.

Here’s the catch: this only works on Mac. However, you can each still sync with your own iCloud accounts to your own iOS devices. Once the Mac version is updated on one Mac, the updates will be pushed to iPhone and iPad when you click the sync button.

While it’s not perfect, it’s a solution while we explore new things like iCloud data sharing for more advanced options for sharing.

If you have questions or problems, please contact us at support@littlefin.com.