State of Sync, Part III

The previous State of Sync posts were fairly technical, at least when compared to other posts that have appeared here in the past. This time, however, I will concentrate on user-level aspects – and I’ll give a timeframe for our next steps.

After the previous post, our tech support team received quite a few inquiries about what exactly our forthcoming cloud sync solution would entail for end users. To help answer these questions – at least those we could answer at that time – we published this FAQ page. Today I’d like to answer some more of your questions – extending and updating that with some new information.

How it will work

As the name already implies, our sync solution is provided as a service that lives in the cloud. This means that the creation of an online account will be a user’s first necessary step in the configuration of Things for sync.

Of course, Things on the Mac and iOS devices will also need to be updated, in order to enable communication with the cloud server. This software upgrade will come at no charge, and will also sport a revamped database layer that is not only faster, but specifically optimized for cloud sync usage.

Things will sync frequently. While there will be a way to initiate sync manually there should hardly be any reason for doing so. Every change you make is transmitted to the cloud almost instantly. No matter when you quit the app, your data is safe with the server already. Whenever you open Things, switch applications, or wake your computer from sleep, Things will check back with the server to see if there are any updates to pull.

Things will always connect to the server using an encrypted connection. Not only during log-in, as many web sites do, but for every connection. This means that your to-dos will never be sent in the clear.

Service costs

Without large scale tests, it is not realistic to estimate how much resources our users will consume in the cloud. In particular, the frequency of interactions between users’ databases and the central service. Therefore we will be doing extensive scalability testing before we make an announcement regarding possible costs for the service.

Bonjour sync

Some users were asking about the future of our existing Bonjour-based WiFi sync. As a matter of fact, our Bonjour sync – in its current form – is incompatible with the database layer improvements I mentioned above. As a consequence, there is no way for us to keep the old sync approach with the improved database layer. What we are planning to do instead, is to rebuild WiFi sync using the same core components that also power our cloud sync technology. We’ll achieve this by putting a little sync server into Things Mac. This is something that might not ship with the initial release of cloud sync, but shortly thereafter.

Things Mac cloud sync beta

I’m sure the question on the mind of many readers is: when will I be able to play with Things cloud sync first-hand? As it happens, the integration of cloud sync with the Mac version is a little further ahead of its counterparts on iOS. We have therefore decided to start with a beta of Mac-to-Mac sync first.

Initially, the cloud sync beta will be invite only. Everybody can subscribe, but we will activate accounts on a first come, first served basis as we gradually scale up the beta. We will be starting with a small number of beta testers at first – the idea is to iron out any kinks on the server early on – we will then slowly add more people in order to test our system under increasing load. iOS devices will join the fun once we are confident with everything server-side.

When will this happen? We are expecting to start sending out invitation emails on May 2.

But there is one more thing…

The subscription page is already live. If you want to become a test pilot for Mac-to-Mac sync, please sign up here.

We will publish our next sync-related blog post once the beta is ready.

130 Comments

  1. Brian Cameron Mar 28, 2011

    Hooray!!!! Signing up now!!!!!

  2. Timm Mar 28, 2011

    Welcomed news, Gents.

  3. Justin Mecham Mar 28, 2011

    How will the new database layer affect the AppleScript interface of Things for Mac? Will the scripting support still be in place? My forthcoming app depends on this interface to operate.

    Thanks,

    Justin

  4. Joffrey Mar 28, 2011

    So, cloud sync means that we would (probably) have to subscribe to a paid plan while we already paid for both Mac and iOS apps? Eww.

  5. Jürgen Mar 28, 2011

    @Justin Mecham: The AppleScript interface will stay exactly the same.

  6. Peter Sanlon Mar 28, 2011

    If the cloud sync starts as a free service, then due to unforseen usage demand’ turns into a pay for subscription service…. I will be closing down my relationship with Things and using an alternative system.

  7. Justin Mecham Mar 28, 2011

    First of all, it’s great to see that you’re making progress with the cloud sync functionality. I do have some questions about the changes that the new database layer might bring…

    I am using the ScriptingBridge extensively to interact with Things for Mac in my forthcoming app to enable syncing issues with GitHub. Will the AppleScript interface still be available in Things for Mac and will the interface change at all given the data layer has changed?

    Also, do you foresee offering a web-based API for the cloud service?

    Thanks for the update!

    Justin

  8. Djui Mar 28, 2011

    Beautiful Sign up page! Great work.

  9. Greg Day Mar 28, 2011

    Are we to understand that with the new syncing model, it will be possible to simply forward a port on my home router and get my own over-the-Internet syncing that doesn’t need to use your servers at all? Sounds like it, and I would *love* that.

  10. Morgan Mar 28, 2011

    Awesome news, great work guys!

  11. Brandon Stewart Mar 28, 2011

    This is great!

    I have Things on mac, iphone and ipad. I’m anxiously waiting on how you plan to charge for the sync service and if there will be other options available to people who’d rather sync on their own server (even me.com!).

    Cheers,
    Brandon.

  12. Caleb Mar 28, 2011

    Thank you for the updates!

    It sounds like development for iOS is behind development for Things Mac, and it also sounds like it will be some time before the new WiFi syncing is possible in conjunction with Cloud Sync.

    Does this mean that after the Cloud Sync update to Mac is released, users will be indefinitely unable to sync to iOS devices unless they use Cloud Sync (which may have an additional charge)?

  13. William Beekhuis Mar 28, 2011

    ‘possible costs’? Oh this is going to go over really well…

  14. Chris Mar 28, 2011

    Happy to see some forward progress, disappointed that’s it slow. I truly hope the end product is worth the weight. Since it’s over a month before we get to try it, I might give another app a try during that time…

  15. Joey Mar 28, 2011

    Here is me smiling.

  16. Donald A. Kelly Mar 28, 2011

    I’ve been a user of Things off and on since the first Beta, and it’s nice to see things moving along, and also nice to see some visible signs of progress in the form of the beta page, even if at this point, it’s just a page.

    Here’s to more progress with the project in future!

  17. Mike Mar 28, 2011

    Cool, thanks for the update and I’m looking forward to the beta!

  18. Paul Taylor Mar 29, 2011

    Having been a Things user since launch, with the promise of a proper sync solution, this is too much too late. I’ve paid what I consider fairly premium pricing for the desktop and iOS clients and you’re talking about a bespoke sync solution for which there’ll be a subscription?

    I’m sorry, but if 1Password can manage on a Dropbox solution (your previous posts on the technical side notwithstanding) and Evernote manage a business model that accommodates non-premium users, you’re kidding yourselves that users who have waited this long are going to pay you an ongoing fee for functionality that should have been worked in from the start. And don’t you dare break local sync as a consequence.

  19. Jordy Mar 29, 2011

    Thanks for the update, but there’s one thing that worries me.
    The fact that you can’t say how much the service will cost, implies it wont be free. I think it should be because your applications aren’t cheap.

  20. Bridgford Mar 29, 2011

    So if beta invites are only going out in may this won’t be out fully until months after that? I’m still struggling to see why its such an issue and there is a cost when other apps have mac/iOS sync sorted and are completely free?

  21. H Mar 29, 2011

    I’m assuming it’s very very likely sync will cost extra since every blog post mentions about additional fee. I don’t know about that. Doesn’t seem like keeping it simple and will consider what to do once you start charging extra for keeping already paid Mac and iOS apps in sync.

    I, for one, have postponed purchasing iPad version until things get clear and real, and this doesn’t encourage spending any more right now.

  22. _________________ Mar 29, 2011

    Wait, cloud sync doesn’t work with iOS versions, _and_ you’re removing WiFi sync?

    I don’t understand this at all. How do I sync with my iPhone after you finish cloud sync?!

  23. Mark Stanczak Mar 29, 2011

    Thank you for the update and the timeline. Given the $80 investment many of us have made, I feel the ongoing charge for a cloud sync service should be offered at-cost to your users. $10/year or $1/month sounds reasonable.

  24. Peenak Mar 29, 2011

    I look forward to near future! And if I may, with out knowing much of your pricing model, I’m very much a fan of Dropbox and other subscription models where the amount you pay is scaled to your usage. I hope it is in the thought process of what you are thinking deeply about.

  25. Mike W Mar 29, 2011

    Great and welcomed news. Given what you are already charging for your applications, charging those of us who have paid $60 or more for cloud sync seems in poor taste. I understand you need to recoup costs, but consider what your competition is charging…

  26. Steven Noble Mar 29, 2011

    Hoping web-based cloud sync means I can update my tasks from my Linux laptop too, especially if you do HTML5 wizardry so we get app-like features like drag and drop plus the ability to sync while offline.

  27. Policarpo Mar 29, 2011

    ” We’ll achieve this by putting a little sync server into Things Mac. ”

    So, does this mean I can keep my data local and share it with my team who can’t keep data in the cloud? Please say yes, and you will make the hearts of so many Enterprise Customers extremely happy. :)

    I really want a locally hosted Server that I can use for Collaboration and Delegation. :)

  28. Cos Mar 29, 2011

    SARCASM WARNING: The Things cloud sync can safely run for the most engineered simple piece of software in history.

    I could develop in one afternoon a syncing policy that would satisfy 95% of the eager users here and it would probably take another month to smooth it out in the mac and ios apps. You will probably come out with a much better solution that will satisfy 99% of your customers. But is the wait worth it for the others?

    A $200/month server could easily act as the “cloud” handling your several thousands customers. Maybe my estimate for your customers is not right but if you have more, you can afford more. In any case, one person can probably eat at most 100Mb (grossly overestimating here…) of transfer data a month and with today bandwidth costs that would mean a few cents at most.

    I’m not arguing for not paying a subscription. I would gladly do. I just don’t understand the whole discussion around the great big transfer hell. We are talking about *text* here, right?

    I will continue to use Things nevertheless because of its interface. I still can’t figure out you guys managed to make such an amazing interface and get stuck in the sync solution.

    (pressure relief valve closed)

  29. Rod Mar 29, 2011

    It will be interesting when on June WWDC keynote Apple announces a complete sync API between iOS 5 devices and also Mac OS X Lion and all of this will be easy and seamless for developers.

  30. James Mar 29, 2011

    Encrypted between the server or enrypted *on* the server. If my unencrypted data is sitting on your server there is *zero* way my manager will let me use Things :-( “Unencrypted on your server” would still be great for the majority of your users, but for some of us, it would close the door permanently :-(

  31. Robert Mar 29, 2011

    I agree with Jordy. It all depends on what CC comes up with though. I’m gonna predict a choice of 3.99 a month or 29.99 a year(a savings of 18.00! Act Now!). 2.99/19.99 would surprise me.

  32. Jeff Mar 29, 2011

    Cloud sync sounds great but we already paid for this expensive software. Are you going to leave all the Mac-iOS users out in the cold who sync with wifi but don’t want to pay for additial services?

  33. Leonardo Avesani Mar 29, 2011

    Seriously, you shouldn’t even be considering charging us for this.

    After everything that’s happened (or not happened) in these last 2 years, that would be absurd.

  34. James Simpson Mar 29, 2011

    Great news, I can’t wait for this service to finally be completed. Keep up the good work guys!

    To all of those that are complaining about possible costs, give me a break. It will cost them money every single time you sync over the cloud. This is a fraction of a cent each time, but it adds up in volume. If this service were free, Cultured Code would go out of business pretty quickly. They have been working for literally years on this and you are going to complain about a few extra bucks? Last time I checked, Cultured Code isn’t a charity, and that is good because you get what you pay for.

  35. Rob Mar 29, 2011

    First, let me say that I think that Things is a fantastic Mac application. It’s one of the few Mac applications that rises to the level of excellence of Apple’s own applications. I basically consider Things the To-Do application that Apple should have made.

    With that being said, I keep getting my hopes up for Cloud Sync on Things, and my hopes keep getting dashed. The original Mac version of Things came out over two years ago, and there is still not a way to do cloud sync. It took an unbelievably long time for you guys to even update us about your progress. Now after months of blog posts concerning the status of cloud sync the best we get is that you’ll be sending out invitations for the Mac-to-Mac beta (!) on May 2nd. I find that unbelievable. I was hoping for something more like the full cloud sync solution will be ready by May 2nd or sooner. It’s just really disappointing.

    I’ve been waiting and hoping, and I’ve refrained from switching GTD apps. However, today might be the day I switch because there are a number of GTD apps that sync over the air, and you guys just keep stalling. I don’t want to give up Things, but given the glacial pace of cloud sync I don’t know what else to do.

    I think you guys will learn a hard lesson from all of this, something I had to learn myself, which is that the perfect can sometimes be the enemy of the good. It doesn’t matter how great this cloud-sync solution ends up being, it wasn’t worth the waiting. Like I said, I think you guys have made an exceptional app, but in my opinion you have completely dropped the ball on getting us cloud sync, which is an incredibly important feature for a GTD app.

  36. Mason Mar 29, 2011

    Question about the beta: will the Bonjour Sync be completely removed, or can one Mac act as a bridge between the cloud and my iPhone?

  37. Jürgen Mar 29, 2011

    @Mason: The first beta will come with Bonjour sync turned off.

  38. Jake Worting Mar 29, 2011

    How can we expect you to deliver a reliable cloud syncing solution for Things if you can’t even manage “high demand” for your beta sign up? Your webservers crashed almost the minute you published the new blog post…

  39. Jürgen Mar 29, 2011

    @Jake Worting: Yesterday’s high demand affected our WordPress installation. The reason was a broken cache plugin which we fixed right away. The sync servers which handled the collection of subscriber emails didn’t break a sweat.

  40. David Simmons Mar 29, 2011

    Wait, you’re telling me I just today paid $75 for a family pack license so I can run Things on all my macs, another $20 for the iPad version, and now I’m going to have to pay a subscription fee for your sync service? Seriously?

    And if I spend the OTHER $10 for the iPhone version, I will have shelled out over $100 for your application, and STILL have to pay a subscription fee? Well, you’ve certainly perfected the “buyers remorse” feature in record time!

  41. Steve Gary Mar 29, 2011

    Great news. I don’t mind paying some money for a great sync solution. I just don’t want it to be annually more that I paid for the whole app. 5 – 10 dollars a year is reasonable in my opinion. Anymore and I will probably look elswhere for a Task Manager.

  42. Ryan Mar 29, 2011

    I think it’s great you’re making some headway.

    I also think that your customers who haven’t already jumped ship have shown a nearly infinite amount of patience. Maybe I’m on my own here, but the “we’re working on it!” and “it’s really hard, and there are lots of technical reasons why!” stuff is wearing thin. In fact, I’d say you fell through the ice a while ago, but that’s just me.

    And iOS sync is behind, and not coming out until even later? As in, who knows when? Guys, April 1st is Friday, so you’re a bit early with that one. I should hope also there are free sync for lighter users and paid for pros. Or sync via MobileMe, Dropbox, or something.

    I do think it’s great that something is finally coming, and I hate to rain on your parade here, but this really is getting ridiculous. At this point if your sync solution does anything short of getting a drink and giving a foot massage while syncing I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed.

    I hope it comes soon, I hope it works, and I hope it is free. Otherwise, after nearly a year and a half of waiting patiently (and silently), I know I will be.

  43. julian Mar 29, 2011

    How will this affect iOS launch times (which obviously cannot download tasks in the background)? Will you be able launch and use the database and add or check off tasks right away or will Things tries to sync with the server and cause a delay (like is does over with Bonjour syncing)?

  44. Jürgen Mar 29, 2011

    @julian: iOS launch times shouldn’t be affected at all. The apps will immediately launch to show their interfaces. The checking for and downloading of changes from the server will be done in a background thread. Even when you enter new to-dos at the same time, server and local changes will be merged seamlessly and sent back to the server without interruption of the user’s workflow.

  45. John Mar 29, 2011

    “What we are planning to do instead, is to rebuild WiFi sync using the same core components that also power our cloud sync technology. We’ll achieve this by putting a little sync server into Things Mac. This is something that might not ship with the initial release of cloud sync, but shortly thereafter.”

    Does that mean that I will be able to VPN to my home network from my iPhone/iPad/MacBook Air and sync with Things on my iMac?

  46. Matthew Mar 29, 2011

    Will there be a free sync option for those of us who have dropbox accounts already and can simply use that for cloud? I have already been syncing my Things with several Macs using dropbox, the only problem right now is if Things is opened on two Macs at the same time, so I am assuming the db conflict errors will be resolved for the cloud sync, it should be able to be utilized by other cloud services.

  47. Martin Szathmári Mar 29, 2011

    Thanks!

  48. Rob Mar 29, 2011

    Here’s to hoping for a reasonable price – I know that there are real costs associated, but with similar cloud-sync solutions out there at minimal cost (Producteev) I’d hope for a freemium implementation.

  49. Kenneth Mar 29, 2011

    Is the subscription also for ios devices in the futureor will it come up later?
    Because i only have a ipad and an ipod touch

  50. Turing Mar 29, 2011

    Forgive me, but I found your comment about Bonjour being incompatible with the new database layer improvements a little odd. If you can have a server set up on your computer, what prevents that server from publishing it’s existence via Bonjour?

  51. Brian Mar 29, 2011

    I hope I make the beta and all. It is indeed a positive sign and I hope things move quickly. In the mean time I will be using another free option that already does all this syncing.

  52. Alex Mar 29, 2011

    You guys are the best. Your calm, calculated approach to product development should serve as a model for others. Take your time, deliver something awesome.

  53. Andre Mar 29, 2011

    Beautiful landing page! Could you upload the background image as wallpapers for iphone, ipad and mac? :)

  54. Panny Mar 29, 2011

    If there’s service charges, this will not work for most people. The cost of buying Things on Mac and then on iPhone… its a selling feature that will increase your sales! Its a pity its taking this long for sync – would have been nice if you could have done it through dropbox like 1password which works perfectly and is free.

  55. mhoutman Mar 29, 2011

    Bonjour sync should be available with every new release. If not I and probably many others are done with Things. Sorry !

  56. alisanie Mar 29, 2011

    If i should pay i will switch!

  57. HC Mar 29, 2011

    Hi,

    Slightly concerned that this *sounds* like there will only be a paid for sync service for sometime when we loose the current sync functionality. That wouldn’t be a good move.

    HC

  58. Mathias Mar 29, 2011

    Very nice! I look forward to it.
    But I still have a question, which I also could read above, and is still not answered here.
    Will the Cloud Sync Service also offer a Web User-Interface. Would be really great to use Things via Web UI also on my Windows Desktop at work. I would highly appreciate that!

  59. Wayne Hoy Mar 29, 2011

    Instead of just a fee-based service, have you considered a free sync service based on in-app advertising? Also, would there be a way to test out the sync before signing up (i.e. free 30 day trial)? Anyway, I look forward to seeing what CC has come up with. Sounds like a great solution.

  60. Heiko Mar 29, 2011

    Does this mean that i can’t Sync my iPhone with the Mac beta at all?

  61. starkos Mar 29, 2011

    @Rod: “It will be interesting when on June WWDC keynote Apple announces a complete sync API between iOS 5 devices and also Mac OS X Lion and all of this will be easy and seamless for developers.”

    I’m thinking something along those lines, too.

  62. Julien Mar 29, 2011

    “Therefore we will be doing extensive scalability testing before we make an announcement regarding possible costs for the service.”

    This really scares me. We already paid so much money for all your apps. Please, make it free.

  63. Paul Mar 29, 2011

    Da hat wohl jmd Gestern Überstunden gemacht, um mit der Seite fertig zu werden. Gute Arbeit! :-)

  64. Vicente Mar 29, 2011

    Well, If you want to look at sync from a user’s point of view now, you cannot skip addressing pricing issue as you did!. How many of us are really wishing to pay on a regular basis? Buff, you will have the answer only when you lunch the product. I am not. I´ve paid a lot for your products yet.

    I don’t think anyone here is not trusting the quality of Things. We all love it. I am sure that the sync feature will work smoothly.

    But, am I wishing to pay a monthly- yearly fee only for it? Well, If I pay I would like to see the option for some structure for projects to enable more natural planning in Things while I think about stuff to be done.

    Money just for sync? I don’t think so…

  65. SBN Mar 29, 2011

    Will it be possible to share tasks with teammates over your sync-sollution? So you can work together on a project and see the progress of everybody?

  66. zoara Mar 29, 2011

    This looks like good news, though I agree with others – there seems to be a worryingly indeterminate timeframe between the current local sync being turned off and the new local sync being turned on. Some of us won’t be able to use Cloud Sync at all (I’m not one of them, but I’d like to sit on the sidelines for a while anyway).

    I’d like to point out to those commenting about costs or suggesting Cultured Code “just do it like 1Password / just do it over Dropbox” that these have been covered in previous State of Sync articles and in the FAQ on sync. Best read those before commenting further!

    To summarise; the talk of possible costs are just that – Cultured Code have made no indication as to whether there will, or will not, be any costs, simply because they do not know what sort of data volumes will be required. It could be free or it could cost; they aren’t telling because they don’t yet know.

    And sync is not going to happen over Dropbox, WebDav, et al. This is covered in State of Sync part II, and is because Dropbox is designed to share individual files atomically, rather than the fragmented-sync style Cultured Code is aiming for.

  67. Brian Cameron Mar 29, 2011

    Surely, the money you have all paid was for the product that was available at the point of purchase?

    If CC add additional features, at a later point and wish to charge for these additional features then that is their right.

    Very few companies, share their project development path, look at Apple. CC has chosen too, but buyers beware – developers retain the right to change that path at anytime, and abandon developments at anytime without recourse. Your money spent was for the product that shipped when you bought – you don’t “invest” in future development. The developer uses your payments to invest in future developments as they see fit. If you think that the money spent on CC products, has earnt you the right for future updates for free, you are wrong. In my opinion CC have been pretty generous in their free updates so far, and have added some great features that i would happily have paid to upgrade for.

    If you do not upgrade, you will retain the product with the feature set you have at present, the product that you paid for.

    If you choose to upgrade, then you can choose to pay a recurring fee – IF CC impose one – Jurgen was pretty clear that no decision has been made, and he’s criticised for openness in this disclosure?!?!?

    I currently run office 2000 as i have chosen that the extra feature set of 2003, xp, 2007, 2010 are not needed by me. I made a choice on my own circumstances, as to whether an additional feature set was for worth the cost – for me no. I will make the same personal judgement on cloud sync for Things. Based on the CC cost (if any) I will decide if I wish to upgrade, and pay. Same goes for MacOSX Lion.

    I am excited by the addition of cloud sync. It will help me greatly in my GTD management. I fully intend to be a part of the beta test. However, their is always in life a cost justification to me made, for me $20 monthly is acceptable, but then i make high value use of the software – for others this would be wildly too high.

    You can’t argue over if, and how much CC should charge, if they choose to. You can only decide if it is worth the price to you. That’s the easy part. The hard part is for CC, a reliable, scalable sync, that if a paid service, finds the correct price point, to attract the right number of subscribers to cover the costs.

    Buy hey, at the end of the day – CC may be able to make this free! Lets live, learn, and decide another day – roll on the beta test.

  68. Devastat Mar 29, 2011

    I am very happy about these developments, however i want to tell my opinion about sync charges, that if it will cost more than 2,99€ a month, i will change to omnifocus as it supports mobileme syncing that will cost 20€ per year.

  69. Matthias Wenz Mar 29, 2011

    Good news at first – but: Another month to wait for the beta – let’s guess the beta test will take another month at best.

    And then: Many users will be unable to use the beta – since it disables them to sync with their mobile devices, or did I get it wrong?

    This is “soon” to you guys?

  70. Yannick Mar 29, 2011

    I’m very much looking forward to the new Things with cloud sync. I reckon you’ll release this as version 2.0 of Things for Mac and iPhone in the summer? I hope you’ll also redesign/refresh the UI design for version 2.0, making it a bit more colorful (like the splendid beta sign up page!) and taking a few cues from Things iPad for the Mac and iPhone apps (like the nice toolbar on the left)…

  71. Andrew Possehl Mar 29, 2011

    Awesome work guys! Looking forward to giving it a whirl.

  72. Keith Mar 29, 2011

    Any thoughts of using MobileMe as a sync option like one of your competitors? I don’t really want to pay for another sync service.

  73. Lutz Meyer Mar 29, 2011

    @Brian Cameron : While I do agree with the idea of “If you do not upgrade, you will retain the product with the feature set you have at present, the product that you paid for.” this might become a problem given the distribution channel(s) of the software (iTunes and Mac AppStore).

    If, at least for a given timeframe, local sync won’t be available people not willing to invest in cloud sync will need to stay with the last version offering this functionality. If ever, by error, one chooses to “update all” the applications on one of the stores (or just because he/she needs to do a fresh install of an iDevice) he’ll end up with a version not supporting local sync any more and won’t be able to go back (as only the latest versions are available on the Apple AppStores).

    The only way for CC to prevent this would be having two versions on the Stores, i.e. publish the cloud-sync version of TM,TI & TIP as new v2 and leaving v1.x as they are.

    But then, people interested in cloud sync would need to purchase all the apps once more and at full price as there’s no update policy on the stores right now (unless CC has a sufficient list of promo-codes to allow all those interested to “upgrade” at no cost).

    Anyway I’m curious to know how they’ll proceed.

  74. Philip Mar 29, 2011

    This all sounds good to me. But I think it would be great if the artwork for the sign up page was available as a wallpaper… ;~)

  75. Paul Mar 29, 2011

    I don’t want to be rude, but this has dragged on far far far too long. Less talk, more action! Compared to some of your competitors, you’re starting to look like you can’t keep up – much less be the leader you once were.

    And, since I have $80 invested in your apps, it’s extremely disturbing to hear you may be charging me to make them talk to each other. Charge for a service or charge for apps… charging for both feels (to me) like you’re nickel-and-diming us to death!

  76. Erik Mar 29, 2011

    Reading through these comments I understand more clearly some of the reasons why Apple keeps their software development a secret.

    Let me guess – you don’t want pay extra for having extra apps on your iPhone and iPod, and you don’t think you have to pay extra for syncing. Drop box would be just fine thanks, even though CC has already explained why it’s not the optimal solution.

    I think CC was right to avoid blogging about this stuff because doing so mainly produces more complaints and more questions. However, CC had to blog now to try to avoid losing clients because of the delay of implementing the sync.

    I’m glad that CC is taking the long view to its code, but it has taken quite a while. It’ll be worth it if it helps to avoid the kinds of mainstream software disasters such as Quickbooks, Microsoft (insert product name) and others with seem to be caused by a lack of forethought and an unwillingness to take time and spend the resources to make it right.

    I’m just hoping that in the not too distant future we will get some kind of collaborative ability with Things to sync tasks with other people, etc. This seems to be a logical extension of the syncing so it seems like we will get there — eventually!

  77. Antony Sastre Mar 29, 2011

    Finally a date! =) I was about to announce my resignation from using Things because of the wait … but of course I’ll wait some more! (Hoping to be an early pilot.)

  78. mark Mar 29, 2011

    Another disappointing post. I can’t play this waiting game much longer. A cost for cloud sync would be the final blow.

  79. Levi Figueira Mar 29, 2011

    Is it me or is CC desperately trying to make mobile users need the desktop (and more expensive) version a requirement?

    I own all 3 versions (bought the iPad version less than a week ago) and won’t mind paying for Thing Cloud Sync if the following conditions are met:
    1) Less than $40/year
    2) Finally add some significance to the “Teammate” feature, via cloud (with a free way to sync with Things users that don’t need/want to pay for Cloud).

    I really love the quality of your products (which is the only reason why I ended up spending another $20 last week) but Mac-to-Mac only sync is so limited in it’s use that I hope the first versions for iOS supporting cloud sync will be coming out soon thereafter.

    I understand you’ll want to have this ready before WWDC, and for your sake and the sake of my investment into your products: I really hope you do.

    Cheers.

  80. Will Mar 30, 2011

    Excellent! I have things on Mac and iPad and love the usability and interface design. Unfortunately, I am using Omnifocus due the syncing capability. I am really looking forward to the cloud sync with things!

    Good luck.
    W

  81. Francois Mar 30, 2011

    At last ! Congratulations, guys ;-)

    I would have preferred Things to use Dropbox but as explain, it’s not possible…

    Starting the service in May ? Do you mean you’ll use the announced revamped version of MobileMe ? ;)

    Francois

  82. Steve M Mar 30, 2011

    While Mac-to-Mac syncing is by far the most important issue I’m facing, occasional iOS device syncing remains a requirement (else my “Errand” context becomes extraneous).

    I appreciate and respect the thoughtfulness that CC has demonstrated in selecting the proper cloud-syncing design. However, I worry that overlooking iOS devices, even in an initial beta release, goes contrary to some of the central tenets of the GTD workflow.

    I think I might have to wait for iOS syncing before joining the beta.

  83. Steve Gary Mar 30, 2011

    To everyone saying that DropBox can’t sync tasks. I say take a look at the competition. There are 4.99 apps that work on iPhone and iPad and sync via DropBox perfectly without fail. Never had one conflict. As I’ve already said I won’t mind paying for a sync solution from Cultured Code, but I don’t want to spend more in a year for sync than I spent for the app. It needs to be a reasonably priced sync solution.

  84. Jon Mar 30, 2011

    I am very surprised by some of the comments here. Personally, I am very disappointed. Cloud Sync Part III is a lovely note and i feel warm now. The trouble is, May 2 for beta test on Mac to Mac. Then a wait for that, then a beta test (if we ever get there) for iPhone/Pad? then what.

    I wonder if this is true irony (which is hard to find) the productivity tool that dampens productivity.

    As a Mac/iPhone/iPad user, I need to be working on all platforms and not dependent on being at home or in the office with my base unit. I am embracing technology and when i travel, which is a lot, i need my iPhone and iPad to be synced. With the iPad, I don’t travel with a laptop so if i am away for more than a day, which is usual i am un-synced.

    I am also disturbed that CC have no clue about the implications of syncing. There is data out there so they should have a clue and this makes me wonder if there is an underlying bigger problem.

    Things is not a low cost app. this is the best part of £50 ($80) and i have gone from very enthusiastic user and promoter to a person who will not be recommending – particularly if syncing between devices is important. I have just about lost all confidence. At this high cost, I expect better.

    I am really sorry to say (because i thought CC were doing good stuff) that as a result of the most recent blog, I would realistically have to wait indefinitely for cloud sync. I can’t wait so I have to spend all over again. Massively disappointing – not to mention expensive.

  85. Hammy Havoc Mar 30, 2011

    This is great progress, progress that I thought would never happen as Things seems to have a ‘casual’ userbase.
    Good work, guys.

    Much love,
    @hammyhavoc

  86. Ketil Heyerdahl Mar 30, 2011

    It is a pleasure to use Things – and it is a pleasure to read the blog. Keep up the good work – I am looking forward to be a test pilot!

  87. Mike Mar 30, 2011

    Why not leverage the services offered by MobileMe to allow for syncing. I use it for my FTP favorites through Transmit all the time.

  88. Um, no. Mar 30, 2011

    In all fairness, you provide a wonderful application for keeping track of tasks. I hope that remains the focus (although I am starting to have my doubts). But realize that while you strive to build (and potentially charge for) the perfect syncing solution, the application itself is not perfect to begin with, resides in a market that is fraught with competitors (who actually implement certain things more perfectly), and that a simple pen and paper are able to (in one, simple stroke of a checkmark) obviate the need for your entire universe.

  89. Arnaud de Mouhy Mar 30, 2011

    I’m an early adopter of Things, but then, the lack of great syncing (opening the things iphone app, opening the mac app, waiting, some glitch in the sync, …) made me move to Remember the Milk… I love both and i think your move to the cloud sync is a great leap forward for Things and users ! I would certainly return to Things once the cloud sync is alive. but I have to ask a question that maybe some of us asked themselves when we were looking for a productivity app : how do you position yourself in term of services with RTM ? What can you tell to a new guy looking for that kind of service (of task management) to sell him your product and service over competition ?

    Great work nevertheless, i’ve just subscribed to the beta test :) I’m sure your solution will blow of competition ! That’s what i want for you guys !

  90. Brian Cameron Mar 30, 2011

    @Lutz Meyer Your points are valid, but are a failing of Apple not CC. That is why avoid the App Store in its current form. In its 1.0 release, the App Store is unsuitable to me as a user.

    @Jon “Then What” surely a successful beta leads to a release…
    “no clue on implications” Neither did gmail, which was in beta for a long time, until they understood user habits. CC need to know in detail user habit, and data levels to determine price point, IF needed, They could say give 1Gb of free sync a month for free, only to find all users using more than that! Would that be ideal to you? As all companies seeking cloud rollouts, you NEED live data.
    “not a low cost app,” thats correct, but it also not advertised as a syncing app. you get what you pay for, if you need sync between devices so urgently, then why buy it? Don’t blame CC for your poor purchase choices.
    “Wait indefinitely” – good god. CC release it now it a half built form full of bugs!!! Seriously, Mac Beta first makes sense, as server side is locked in, continued dev of mac version, then rollout of beta for iPad and iPhone, followed by unified 2.0 rollout of all products! Simples!!! And all suitable developed and tested to ensure that for the non-tech wise, they get a sleak, and reliable app on all platforms.

  91. Tim B. Mar 30, 2011

    Already switched task manager application, definitely won’t come back if syncing isn’t free. I’ve already paid $50 for the mac app in addition to the iPhone app – no more will be spent on CC by me. Ever.

  92. Brian Heumann Mar 30, 2011

    Yeah-ho! Ich freue mich schon auf den nächsten Release.

  93. Martin Mar 30, 2011

    I have bought your Things Mac Things iPhone and Things iPad. I love the products and use them every day. However I’m surprised to learn that i may be charged for syncing as a service. This will tell me a lot about your company. I have to say I have been recommending your products to a lot of people however after reading this blog I will be holding off on any recommendations until I am sure you are not going to start charging for services on top of your premium priced products. In fact I’ll be recommending against your products. I know this sounds harsh, however I believe that customers will look after companies who look after them. And I feel that this is going be the factor that will show your customers if you are focused on making great products or focused on getting money out of people.

    Martin.

  94. Nick Mar 31, 2011

    I really like things, but this sync thing has been ridiculous. I used things for about a year, always waiting — hoping, checking — for real sync to come. Months ago, I switched off, because I *need* to be able to sync (via the cloud, w/o any manual steps) between my mac and my iPhone. It’s a must for a to-do app.

    I am sure this sync solution will be amazing (!), and you may even tempt me to come back to things, but I must say that the (unimaginably slow) process for designing and rolling this out has really made me question CC’s in-sync’d-ness with its customers.

  95. Jacob Morrison Mar 31, 2011

    Thanks so much for these updates and your hard work!

  96. Lutz Meyer Mar 31, 2011

    @Brian Cameron: I do agree regarding the Mac AppStore.

    However you can’t circumvent the iTunes AppStores for the iOS apps.

    As far as I understood the blog post, there’ll be a period of time with all 3 apps only having cloud-sync. Jürgen didn’t specify how much time it will take to re-implant the new local sync afterwards.

    So even if you get Things for Mac directly from CC, you might still end up with an “old” TM version and newer iTunes AppStore updated iOS versions that do not even do local sync any more.

    This whole thing being Apple’s fault I do not really agree with you :
    1) CC decided to go the AppStore way (granted, they didn’t have the choice for iOS). However, if you go that way, you have to deal with the limits that were well known before.
    2) CC decided that they’ll “remove” existing features in a future update. That’s what it is, not more not less and that’s the main point here.

    Do they HAVE to do it? I don’t think so.

    Back in the days when I did some dev (on Windows, ok, but still) software was “cut” into different “layers” such as CORE, GUI, DB, … . So, changing a db server (e.g.: Oracle –> MS SQL) would ONLY affect the db layer. I presume / hope CC did more or less the same, otherwise they’ll need to rewrite the whole app.

    Given that, I think they could have chosen a different approach, that is :
    1st STEP :
    - leave the old DB and local-sync-engine as it is
    - add the cloud-sync-db-engine to the 3 apps
    and let the user choose which one to use (a setting).

    2nd STEP :
    Now having all the time as everybody is happy, replace the old local-sync engine by the new one.

    3rd STEP :
    And only then, add new features that are/were not compatible with the old local sync.

    As it looks now, a lot of users, happy with the local sync might be forced to use cloud-sync as local sync won’t work any more. No pb if cloud-sync will be free, but I really don’t think so. If you want to do it right, you’ll need at least two servers with load-balancing and failover, redundant power and Internet connection, around the clock supervision, off-site backup, blah blah blah. All that costs money.

    Another option would of course be offering a free cloud-sync “trial” as long as the new local sync is not available.

    We’ll see what they come up with.

  97. Antonio Bauzá Mar 31, 2011

    Well, well, well…….I love Things but dont know if I can wait so much time. First is a mac to mac beta……how namy time do we have to wait to sync all devices?…..
    I know you make all your efforts but….not everybody can wait.

  98. Mike Mar 31, 2011

    I’m excited that there is something in the works, but I’ve been trying out a competing product for the last couple of weeks and it is really quite good. Especially considering that it costs nothing. I’d prefer to switch back to Things once it is updated for cloud sync, but not if I have to commit to some kind of recurring billing. Couldn’t you roll the cost of the service into the price of the app or do a one-time fee, like Pinboard?

  99. Toni Bauza Mar 31, 2011

    Dont know if i can wait…….1 month just for a beta mac -to-mac???????? .When will i sync all devices???? Can not wait.

  100. Greg Southcombe Mar 31, 2011

    I love Things but really need to be able to collaborate with others on tasks. I’m currently ‘torn’ between Things and another app (where I can delegate tasks to others and collaborate on them.) Will the Cloud Sync mean i can collaborate with others (delegate tasks, etc) in Things? I’d happily buy another license of Things for the other people i collaborate with.

  101. Boutros Apr 01, 2011

    Hi! I love Things because of it’s UI and the flexibility it gives me attaching keywords, recurrent tasks and becaus of the ability to sync through WiFi with my iPhone.

    I have two important questions concerning syncing:

    a) does this development mean that I will not be able to sync anymore through Wifi/Bonjour??!
    This would be a death stroke for my user of Things!

    b) security: I feel that so many overlook the security implications of all the so called “could solutions”. Who manages my data? What about all the personal/confident/… information that is and will be available somehow online. In the time of WikiLeaks I don’t want somebody else to manage all of my ToDo’s “in the cloud” without being 100% sure that the sync of my data is secured – I prefer to do that locally on my computer or local server …
    What’s the situation with Things concerning this????? How is data transferred and stored online? Any form of encryption? Who has access to the data? How can I be sure it will not be used in any other way than by myself?

  102. thomas sabo kettingen Apr 01, 2011

    if syncing isn’t free. I’ve already paid $50 for the mac app in addition to the iPhone app – no more will be spent on CC by me. Ever.

  103. Lee Apr 01, 2011

    I will not pay for a sync service after buying every version of Things you made. I hope you’ve thought about implementing a sync-type selection and including something through mobile me like OmniFocus did. Cloud sync is something many of us have come to expect since using mobile me to keep all of our mail, calendars, and contacts instantly up to date. Manual wi-fi updating is simply tedious. Hope you took the right direction in bringing us cloud syncing.

  104. Lutz Meyer Apr 01, 2011

    @Boutros :

    Hi,

    You have partial answers to your questions in the blog post :

    as for question a) : Local WiFi Sync :
    Jürgen wrote that “Bonjour sync – in its current form – is incompatible with the database layer improvements” and that “This* is something that might not ship with the initial release of cloud sync, but shortly thereafter.”

    (* referring to the complete re-write of the local sync solution, based on their new db layer)

    So yes, you might not be able to use local sync for a “short” period of time (short(ly) not being defined any further).

    as for question b) : Your security concerns :
    Jürgen states that “Things will always connect to the server using an encrypted connection. Not only during log-in, as many web sites do, but for every connection. This means that your to-dos will never be sent in the clear.”

    Obviously this only refers to the transfer between the CCC-S-S (Cultured Code Cloud-Sync-Server(s) :) ) and the iDevices. No word about data encryption here, only encrypted connection. So if the data is not encrypted and being stored on an Internet accessible server hosted by CC or XX, you can never be sure that your info is safe / private. If the server gets hacked from the outside (Internet) or is accessed from the inside, your data might be accessible to third-party. Jürgen would have to confirm about data encryption.

  105. Joe Apr 01, 2011

    I second that thought of Boutros. I want high security with my personal data, so it doesn’t end up for grabs to some hackers and intermittent parties.

  106. Andreas Apr 02, 2011

    I do run a small server (MacMini) with OS X 10.6 Server which i thought i could use as a base (database there) for the Cloud solution.

    Will it be in option to use a personal server for the base application/database as it would be convenient as all our devices use this as the base for Information?
    Maybe in a future release?

    Would love to use Things because of its design and workflow but this would be a crucial feature. (partially due to some concerns similar to Boutros and Joe above)

    Thanks in advance for any feedback.

  107. daniel Apr 02, 2011

    OS X Lion is suppose to concentrate more on using webDAV … was curious if this was considered for local sync purposes? Instead of creating your own sync server conduit.

  108. e2o Apr 02, 2011

    Another sync service? Another subscription? Another bill? I was really trying to simplify…

  109. Jürgen Apr 02, 2011

    @many

    I would like to address two concerns that have been expressed by many commenters here.

    WiFi (Bonjour) sync. Some users are worried that the ability to use a local WiFi network to sync might be disrupted for some period of time. This will *not* be the case, and it was not our intention to give that impression. We will make sure that users who use WiFi sync and wish to continue to do so will see no interruption. In fact, our aim is to already have the ability to choose between the local or cloud sync option in the first public release.

    Service costs. The fact that we haven’t committed to a free sync service at this point doesn’t mean that there will be costs. To make a long story short: it has always been our intention to offer cloud sync for free. In fact, we wanted to do two things:

    1. To provide a high quality sync solution.

    This means encryption is a necessity, which in turn increases server load. It also means we need to sync often, which again increases server load. And it requires fast sync transactions (to be able to have data been sent to the server successfully even if the app is quit immediately). This either requires more powerful servers or a more clever architecture.

    2. To be able to offer cloud sync for free.

    To offer such quality for free is a task that can’t be compared to what some of our competitors are doing. This is why we have been working so hard on the right technology, which also led to making you guys wait so long.

    Last week we did do some careful internal load testing. The results were very encouraging. I’d be surprised if we had to charge for sync. But we are not going to make an official announcement until we’ve had a chance to do large scale test with actual user data.

  110. Mattias Thurfjell Apr 02, 2011

    @Jürgen

    Thanks for the update! Very encouraging.

  111. goldencrisp87 Apr 02, 2011

    Thanks for the update, Jürgen! It’s very encouraging to hear both of those pieces of news!

  112. GettinItDone Apr 02, 2011

    Thanks for this clarification, Jurgen!

  113. Devastat Apr 03, 2011

    Thanks a lot for this, it will be very beneficial to all if this is service gonna be free.

  114. Boutros Apr 03, 2011

    @Lutz: Tnx for you filtering out the already made statements. I have to admit that I was too lazy/busy to go back and read everything again …

    @Jürgen
    Thanks a lot for the calrifications! Sounds promising! But “encryption is a necessity” doesn’t explain yet what that means. Does ist mean the connection is encrypted only (SSL I suppose ?). Or does it mean that the stored data on the server in encrypted so that only me (my devices) know the key?
    Let me be clear: If that isn’t the case I wouldn’t confide my ToDo-date to that server … And to know that this is the case, CC would have to lay the system of encryption on the table for every user, so you can be able to see how the data actually is secured.

  115. Jürgen Apr 03, 2011

    @Boutros: I was talking about https (for every request not just login) as opposed to http. So yes SSL (or rather TLS to be precise).

    The encryption of stored data would have to be done on the client anyway using keys/passwords that are only known to the user and are not transmitted over the network. Users with this kind of security requirements should stay with local WiFi sync for now.

  116. mhoutman Apr 03, 2011

    Hallo Jürgen, thx for the additional clarification. I am a Things user if the first hour on Mac OS and iOS. I installed Omnifocus twice and deleted it so i made clear choice for Things because of the clear UI. It is nice that WiFi sync remains in tact. Additional Sync would be welcome although I still don’ understand why you guys didn’t choose the MobileMe way…

  117. Vicente de Pablo Apr 03, 2011

    @jürgen
    Thanks for the clarification. I understand from it that we will always have one Things app, and then an option of cloud sync (at some cost or free) if we want so.
    I think that everyone understand that there may be a cost for all the servers involved in cloud sync. But for many, the ability to sync our Macs with iPhone/iPad over wifi is more than enough and you can not let this customer base down in two ways:
    1.- We must have the option for local sync only in the future, for those unwilling to pay and/or compromise security.
    2.- You cannot concentrate all your development efforts in sync and not addressing issues that would transform Things from very good to perfect (In my case, some structure to projects, you have other people’s wish-list in this thread). I disagree with you on sync to be the biggest question about Things. Do you really think that after all this time the people who is deeply interested in sync is still using Things? They are not here long ago!

  118. David Simmons Apr 03, 2011

    That is all great news and I am *very* happy to read it! Thanks for the clarification.

  119. Brian Cameron Apr 03, 2011

    @Lutz Meyer as i understood Jurgen’s original post, the wifi sync would only be missing from the initial private beta test, with an aim to include it in first public gold master release.

    I may have read it wrong, but regardless, Jurgen has since clarified that the wifi sync WILL be in the initial cloud sync release.

    Security is also a concern for me. CC have not 100% clear on this, but i am interested first in the quality of cloud sync, second security. I am happy to keep my Things data restricted in content during a period where security is not what it may be.

    Ideally it would all come together, but we don’t live in a perfect world. I think here as long as CC are honest, open, and upfront on this issue, everyone must make their own personal choice – and be careful!

    @jurgen Glad the internal tests are looking positive. Signed up to beta, so hope i can help during the testing period.

  120. koudi Apr 03, 2011

    Have you already sent out beta invitations?

  121. Jürgen Apr 03, 2011

    @koudi As stated in the blog post we are shooting for May 2nd. But there will be announcement as well.

  122. Joffrey Apr 03, 2011

    Thanks for the update Jürgen (and your email).
    Can’t wait to test it!

  123. Dan Apr 04, 2011

    If the server costs do end up requiring charging for sync, is it possible that the server-side application could be provided to users for free? Some of us have servers at home that we could run it on; directing the application to use our servers instead of yours should really only be one text field in the application settings… This might actually be a nice thing to do in any case, since it would both take some (small) load off your servers and provide users like Boutros who like to keep a close watch on their data the option to have a cloud syncing solution.

  124. Jürgen Apr 04, 2011

    @Dan: This is a reasonable thing to ask for and we will be looking into it. But I cannot promise you anything at this point.

  125. Marco Apr 04, 2011

    Great news? How?

  126. Randy Apr 04, 2011

    Looking forward to cloudsync!!
    To all that are complaining about the cost of Things, if this software helps you get anything of significance accomplished, then it is really worth many times what you pay for Mac, Ipad and Iphone versions.
    I recently tracked building a halfpipe and a garden renovation with this app.
    Who would have thought a few taps of keys before going to bed 1 night and a few weeks later i would be skating my own ramp!! (at age 37)

  127. koudi Apr 04, 2011

    @jurgen … Sorry, my bad. I thought it was April, so I expected it by now.

  128. Dieter Apr 04, 2011

    @Jurgen — like many commenters, I have my hesitations about cost for sync, but at the same time, I do not as an end user want to complain too much about development costs of what is mostly a great product (see post by @Um, no). Simply though, I believe there should be a choice of sync — that is, if a user doesn’t want to leverage your syncing solution (and potentially pay a fee if it comes to that), that user has the option to use webDAV, bonjour-only, MobileMe, etc. so that there is choice.

  129. Michael Apr 04, 2011

    These blog posts would be less laughable if there weren’t 1000 apps already out there syncing through Dropbox without a single problem. CC are giving fresh meaning to ‘redesigning the wheel’.

    And just when you think the endless delays are worst of the problem, we get the hilarious announcement that they might charge for the service. Good luck with that. I don’t mind paying for good services but when the competition all offer the same thing for free, you’re going to lose out.

  130. Jürgen Apr 04, 2011

    The day before yesterday I wrote a comment as a response to the concerns that have been voiced here. I am reposting it below for everyone who missed it:

    WiFi (Bonjour) sync. Some users are worried that the ability to use a local WiFi network to sync might be disrupted for some period of time. This will *not* be the case, and it was not our intention to give that impression. We will make sure that users who use WiFi sync and wish to continue to do so will see no interruption. In fact, our aim is to already have the ability to choose between the local or cloud sync option in the first public release.

    Service costs. The fact that we haven’t committed to a free sync service at this point doesn’t mean that there will be costs. To make a long story short: it has always been our intention to offer cloud sync for free. In fact, we wanted to do two things:

    1. To provide a high quality sync solution.

    This means encryption is a necessity, which in turn increases server load. It also means we need to sync often, which again increases server load. And it requires fast sync transactions (to be able to have data been sent to the server successfully even if the app is quit immediately). This either requires more powerful servers or a more clever architecture.

    2. To be able to offer cloud sync for free.

    To offer such quality for free is a task that can’t be compared to what some of our competitors are doing. This is why we have been working so hard on the right technology, which also led to making you guys wait so long.

    Last week we did do some careful internal load testing. The results were very encouraging. I’d be surprised if we had to charge for sync. But we are not going to make an official announcement until we’ve had a chance to do large scale test with actual user data.