Re: ThreePointOne: Contacts

On Di, 2011-04-19 at 09:12 -0700, Travis Reitter wrote:
> On Tue, 2011-04-19 at 12:45 +0000, Patrick Ohly wrote:
> > Another conceptual problem is that the server cannot communicate well
> > with the user. A client might pop up rich dialogs and ask the user for
> > help in cases that it cannot decide automatically (but designing such
> > a dialog is an unsolved problem). SyncML servers (and probably other
> > servers, too) don't have that option and instead fall back to
> > heuristics which fail inevitably in some cases.
> I think we'll have done something wrong if we need to ask the user to
> resolve their own conflicts (especially on a semi-regular basis in a
> process that may have started automatically in the background).

Agreed. It's more a theoretic advantage of having the possibility to do

More important is perhaps another aspect: with current servers, the
server admins (or perhaps even developers) decided how conflicts get
resolved. Some of them throw away data to avoid duplicates. That's not a
policy that I, as a user, would choose if I was asked, while for other
users it might be appropriate. With conflict resolution in the client,
it is much easier to give the user the choice.

But that's still a pretty power-user-ish option. In practice, with
SyncEvolution in MeeGo Netbook, we did something else: instead of
letting a sync proceed in a mode where heuristics are needed ("slow
sync"), we explain that there was a problem (without necessarily going
into details) and then let the user decide whether he wants to go ahead
with the local or remote set of data or wants to let the server do the
matching between the two sets.

I think for the (hopefully) rare cases where this decision is necessary,
users can understand the problem and make an educated choice based on
where they made the most recent changes to the data.

> I'm confident that sync is one of those things that users might request
> if you give them a checklist of features, but wouldn't want to deal with
> if they had to sort through hard-to-communicate conflict resolution
> dialogs like this. I think backups fall into a similar category, except
> they're even simpler. We all know how well most people deal with
> those :)

Incidentally, there are also automatic backups made as part of syncing,
in case that something really goes wrong... ;-)

Bye, Patrick Ohly
Patrick Ohly gmx de

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