Awasu » Much ado about synchronization
Thursday 30th September 2004 10:08 PM [General]

There's been a lot of buzz over the last few days about Bloglines' new synchronization feature. Some people seem to think it's the best thing since the last best thing while others are not quite so enthusiastic.

Awasu, of course, has had a synchronization feature for quite a while now which has several advantages over the Bloglines solution:

  • It's comprehensive i.e. everything gets sync'ed, not just your feeds but also your program settings, workpad, categories, everything.
  • It doesn't rely on a third-party service for it to work.
  • It's flexible. You can FTP or SCP the data, email it to yourself, even stick it on a floppy disk or USB drive and carry it around if you want.

The nice thing about the Bloglines solution is that you can read your feeds from a browser when you're away from your PC (e.g. at an internet cafe) and then sync everything up when you get back. At least, that's the idea but the Bloglines API doesn't really support this idea very well. To be kind, it's a first cut, version 0.1 kind of thing but Dare Obasanjo (the author of RSS Bandit) is somewhat more blunt:

These limitations don't make using the Bloglines Sync API a terribly useful way for synchronizing between two desktop aggregators. Instead, it primarily acts as a way for Bloglines to use various desktop aggregators as a UI for viewing a user's Bloglines subscriptions without the Bloglines team having to build a rich client application.

Thanks, but I think I'm going to pass.

We put a lot of effort into building Awasu's sync architecture (you'd be horrified if you knew how much) and if there's one thing we learned, it would be this: sync is really, really hard to do well. Most people think it's simply a case of keeping your PC's at home and at work up-to-date with each other at the end of each day. But what if you have 3 or 5 or 100 machines you want to keep in sync? What if some are sync'ed every day but others only very infrequently? And of course, people are going to be manually adding and deleting channels on any of those machines all the time so how do you intelligently decide what to do? Awasu handles all of this. /taka runs from the room, screaming at the memory of writing the code that does all of the above :o

Nevertheless, I'd love to see a web interface for accessing your Awasu channels. I've got a Java friend who's poking around right now for a project to work on and I'm trying to figure out how to persuade him that this might be a really cool thing for him to do. I mean, how could he turn down the fame, the fortune, all the geek groupie chicks that throng around the Awasu development team, er...

Sigh... :-(

2 Responses to this post

[...] Sushi synchronization Sunday 24th October 2004 1:04 PM [General] I posted the other week about the conversation that was going on in the RSS world about synchronizing a [...]

[...] Now, neither Google Reader nor Bloglines provide an API that is really suitable for this kind of thing so there are a bunch of limitations but Awasu does the best it can under the circumstances and handles the most common use cases. However, once the next alpha is released, we’re going to start work on modifying Gregarius to work with Awasu on this. This is an open-source online feed reader and being open-source, we can make changes to the code to provide the necessary API for sync to work properly and offer all the features users would expect. And this is definitely going to be Seriously Cool, being able to run a fully-featured powerful feed reader from your desktop but still have access to your feeds from a browser, when you’re away from your PC. [...]

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