TapNote 1.2 for WebOS: now with Dropbox sync!

Quick and dirty: if you want to view the TapNote short description or see a video of it in action, check it out in the Palm App Catalog or take a gander at the official TapNote webpage. Otherwise, read on for details about what’s new with TapNote 1.2!

Three weeks short of a year ago, I started work on the WebOS app that would eventually be called TapNote. I had a grand vision at the time: it would be an extremely simple text editor similar to classics like PlainText for iOS or WriteRoom for Mac (both from Hog Bay Software, and both highly recommended). It would synchronize my documents with an online service so that I could access and edit them on my Mac or elsewhere. It would take the WebOS world by storm with its classy design and minimalist approach to text editing. Along with sundry other minor goals and visions for a grand future.

Of those three main goals, I accomplished the first: I released a beautiful, minimalist text editor for WebOS. It turned out that in order to ship anything at all, I needed to slim down my expectations. Sadly, there was no way I could include sync and still release it during the Hot Apps promotion (a self-imposed deadline, since I thought I might have a chance to win some money, and I knew I’d need some external impetus because I had never released an app before), and after I released it in a haze of excitement and started hovering over my sales statistics it quickly became clear that TapNote was in no way taking anything by storm.

I am a stubborn bastard, however, and the happy result is that I am now one step closer to my original dream: TapNote at long last will sync your notes with Dropbox, allowing you to view and edit them from virtually anywhere! (If you’re new to Dropbox, sign up here to give both of us some free extra disk space.)

Even for me, who has written (and often rewritten) every single line of code necessary for Dropbox sync, it feels pretty magical. TapNote 1.2 is the version of TapNote that I wish I could have released originally, and I think the few remaining WebOS stalwarts out there are going to love it.

Dropbox, for the uninitiated

This section is probably unnecessary (after all, when I told my Dad—who is generally not that internet-savvy—that my app update used a popular cloud service to back up its files, he said, “Which one, Dropbox? I love Dropbox!”), but for those of you who are not in the know, Dropbox is a service that makes it ludicrously simple to transfer files from one computer to another. Simply move a file into your special Dropbox folder, and it is instantly whisked up into the cloud and onto whatever other computers are hooked up to your Dropbox account.

Dropbox also has some other nifty features (sharing folders with people, keeping revisions of your files for 30 days, and more), but they are extraneous to the TapNote experience. I leave it up to you to discover and enjoy them on your own.

TapNote in the cloud

TapNote is not a Dropbox client for WebOS; you can only access text files (with the .txt extension). In TapNote, the Dropbox connection is a simple two-part affair: an on/off button in the preferences, and a sync button at the bottom of the main documents list.

After you turn Dropbox sync on, the app will try to make sure that your documents are always both on your Palm device and on Dropbox’s servers. To do so, it syncs when you launch the app, and immediately pushes any changes you make to a document as you make them.

(Just a side note: yes, WebOS is vaunted for its ability to do background processing, but background processing without any interface shown at all is severely curtailed in WebOS 1.4.x, and given the variable amount of time it can take to complete a sync—not to mention the variable amount of CPU usage—it is safer to only attempt syncs when the app is running. I will likely revisit this problem in the future when dropping support for 1.4 is viable, since WebOS 2.0 has a number of workarounds for this issue.)

Once things are synched up, you will be able to access and edit your documents right on your computer from your Dropbox folder. Any changes you make on your device will show up almost instantly, and any changes you make on your computer will show up on the device after your next sync.

It’s dead-easy; just set it once and forget about it until you need it. So far as I know, there are no other highly polished note-taking apps in the App Catalog that make synching your data with the cloud so simple.

The road ahead

With TapNote 1.2 I finally have the basis upon which I can incrementally build some of the awesome features that I dreamed up in my early brainstorming (along with others that have been suggested by TapNote users along the way). Although the next several months will mainly be focused on figuring out how the heck to deal with the nasty curveball that HP threw WebOS developers on February 9th, I suspect you are going to very much enjoy some of the things I have planned.

In the meantime, though, I would love to hear from folks how TapNote 1.2 is treating you! If you have any questions, comments, or feedback don’t hesitate to email me!

As always, you can find information about TapNote at the TapNote website and download it from the Palm App Catalog.

2 responses to “TapNote 1.2 for WebOS: now with Dropbox sync!”

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  1. Harry Lynn says:

    I’ve been enjoying TapNote Lite for a while and liked the feature of being able to share the Tapnote folder in Dropbox with my wife on her WebOS phone. For some reason, after we switched to a Pre 3 phone from the Veer, I can no longer share the TapNote folder in Dropbox. It’s like each of us has our own folder that can’t be shared any longer. We were using it to share a shopping list so we could see whatever was needed that either of us added to the list. Now it’s broken. Is this a Dropbox or TapNote issue. If I purchase TapNote will this issue be resolved? I will buy it if that’s the problem, but not if we can’t share the folder.

    • Ian Beck says:

      The Dropbox synching is identical in TapNote Lite and TapNote, so purchasing the app shouldn’t change anything (although I certainly would love it if you did purchase it). :-)

      Theoretically, you should be able to treat the TapNote folder identically to any other folder in your Dropbox, but Dropbox has been doing some behind-the-scenes changes to their API in the recent past, so it is possible that they have mucked up the ability to do this. One thing to try:

      1. On your computer, move your TapNote documents elsewhere in Dropbox
      2. Delete the TapNote folder
      3. Create the TapNote folder by hand
      4. On the Dropbox website, setup a folder share for the TapNote folder with your wife
      5. Move your TapNote documents back into the folder
      6. Boot up TapNote and see if things work properly

      My best guess at what is happening is that Dropbox is treating the automatically-created folder like an “app folder”, which means that you cannot share it (among other things). TapNote, however, has full Dropbox access permissions and just looks for a root-level TapNote folder for its text documents, so you might be able to circumvent the system without messing up TapNote’s functionality by creating a new folder by hand.

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