Software Settings Sychronization

By Deane Barker on December 26, 2004

Here’s something I’d love — the ability to synchronize two installations of the same software on two different computers.

I’m thinking right now of Thunderbird. I have so many settings customized — email accounts, RSS feeds, custom search rules, address book entries, adaptive spam filters, etc. Settings I tweak on my installation at work, I have to come home and recreate on my installation at home.

For instance, I haven’t even set up RSS at home, because I got a little weary of just recreating the feeds I had at work. I change one at work, and I have to change it at home, etc.

Another example: I get a lot of automated emails. Not spam, but a lot of emails like blog comment notifications, cronned job reports from our servers, etc. I have a fairly intricate saved search set-up in Thunderbird to find all these emails so I can mass delete them a couple of times a day. There are about 14 parameters in the search, and I have to remember to change the one at home if I change the one at the office.

The FTP Bookmarks Sychronizer for Firefox came very close to this, but my version of that hasn’t worked with Firefox 1.0. Even if it did, bookmarks are just the tip of the iceberg.

I think client software developers in general need to consider that users are likely to run the same software on different machines, and there should a mechanism to mass dump all the settings and parameters so the user can get a second installation running exactly like the first.

(I got deja vu while writing this, and — sure enough — I ranted about this same thing over a year ago.)

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Comments

  1. It’s rumored that Apple is working on something like this… The idea is that a user’s home directory (all applications, application settings, desktop, documents folder, music, photos, etc…) would be housed on an iPod or another portable firewire drive, which the user could connect to any Mac and have a consistent computing environment no matter where he’s at. It’s possible to do this now, but only with some creative hacking. http://www.macdevcenter.com/pub/a/mac/2002/02/08/netinfo.html

  2. I use Awasu (awasu.com) as my RSS reader. It has several options when it comes to synchronization. I find it easies to have the software save it’s settings to an FTP server when i close it and reload them when i open it, but i could do something similar with a USB key, etc.

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