SyncEvolution 1.0 alpha 1 released

Today we are releasing SyncEvolution 1.0 alpha 1, a development snapshot, “because we can” :-)

In particular, we can:

  • synchronize directly with a phone over Bluetooth/OBEX
  • accept Bluetooth/OBEX connections in cooperation with obexd 0.19
  • run SyncEvolution as a rudimentary HTTP SyncML server
  • be reasonably sure that it compiles and runs as well as 0.9.x because it passes the same nightly testing without known regressions

The main goal of this release is to get feedback on where we are going with 1.0 and its SyncML server and direct synchronization features. If you want to get involved, now is a good time because a) there is something which works and b) there is still time to influence the final 1.0, scheduled for March 2010.

This is definitely work in progress. Only a source snapshot is made available, not the usual set of binaries. If you can, compile the latest source directly from the git repositories and recheck before reporting issues:

The source tar ball itself is at the usual location:…

Documentation is lacking at the moment. Watch the “Development” section for HOWTOs or ask on the mailing list. Contributions welcome, as always.

Here is a more complete list of features compared to the stable release. The full (and up-to-date) list can be retrieved from the Moblin Bugzilla (MB) issue tracking system with this query.

Implemented features are marked with a plus +, open ones with a minus -.

Improved sync-UI:
+ settings for HTTP servers are now done inside the list of all configs and server templates instead of poping up a separate window
+ uses the new D-Bus API
+ no longer uses private gconf key to select default peer, replaced by “defaultPeer” in SyncEvolution config
- the design is a bit tentative and not all of it is implemented; for example, the triangle in front of server entries cannot be used to unfold the entry, only the “setup now” button does that (MB #8315)
- recovery features like restoring from backup and handling of unexpected slow syncs (MB #2416) are missing

Redesigned and reimplemented D-Bus API:
+ central syncevo-dbus-server controls configurations and sync sessions:…
+ accepts incoming SyncML connection requests and messages received by independent transport stubs (obexd, HTTP server, …)
+ can be used by multiple user interfaces at once
+ fully documented, see src/dbus/interfaces
+ no longer depends on dbus-glib with hand-written glue code for C++, instead uses gdbus plus automatic C++ binding generated via C++ templates
- ’syncevolution’ command line tool bypasses D-Bus server and runs sync sessions itself (MB #5043)
- waiting for peer not reported over D-Bus and not shown in sync-ui (MB #2229)
- interactive password request not implemented yet (MB #6376)
- availability of peers not detected (connected for HTTP, paired for Bluetooth; MB #7700)
- once started, syncevo-dbus-server keeps running forever (MB #7711)
- restoring backups only possible via command line (MB #8144)

Revised configuration layout (MB #8048, design document):
+ several peer-independent sync and source properties are shared between multiple peers
+ they can be accessed without selecting a specific peer, by using an empty config name or with the new “@” syntax
+ user interface in command line and D-Bus API unchanged
+ old configurations can be read and written, without causing unwanted slow syncs when moving between stable and unstable SyncEvolution versions
+ old configurations can be migrated with the “–migrate” command line switch; however, then older SyncEvolution can no longer access them and migrating more than one old configuration causes the second or later configuration to loose its “deviceId” property (which is shared now), causing a slow sync once
- users of the sync-ui will not know about the –migrate option, so if they have only one configuration, it should be migrated automatically

SyncML server in general:
+ incoming connections are accepted by syncevo-dbus-server via the D-Bus Connection API; because this is a “personal SyncML server”, all local data is meant to belong to a single user, and only one sync session can be active at any point in time
+ different users on the same machine can run their own server, as long as they ensure that listening for incoming connections does not conflict with each other (different port in HTTP)
- suspend/resume support is untested (MB #2425)
- an HTTP client which stops sending messages blocks the server forever (MB #7710)
- automatic backup of server databases is inefficient (done even when client is not allowed to do a sync; always backs up all data, including sources which are not active; MB #7708)
- the progress events and statistics reported for a SyncML client are not generated when running as SyncML server, will require a fair amount of refactoring in the Synthesis engine (MB #7709)
- the Synthesis serverexample config contains workarounds for specific phones, but SyncEvolution does not currently use those; adding new workarounds should be made very simple (MB #7712)

HTTP SyncML server:
+ test/ provides an experimental HTTP server based on Python and Twisted
- a configuration must be created for each peer manually, including a remoteDeviceId value that contains the peer’s SyncML device ID (MB #7838)

OBEX SyncML server (”sync with phones”):
+ peers are contacted via a builtin transport that uses libopenobex (MB #5188)
+ Server Alerted Notification (SAN) message triggers syncs
- a configuration must be created for each peer manually, including a syncURL that contains the peer’s MAC address (MB #7838) and correct settings for generating the SAN message (MB #7871)
- should be integrated into the system’s Bluetooth pairing (MB #7089)

OBEX SyncML client:
+ obexd 0.19 contains a plugin which passes SyncML messages to syncevo-dbus-server
- parsing of SAN message is rudimentary and depends on an existing local configuration, needs to be refined depending on which SyncML server software it is meant to work with (MB #6175)

Automatic sync (MB #6378):
- no support for the various server push notification mechanisms
- no intelligent detection of local changes
- no regular background sync
- depends on safe handling of concurrent editing, which is blocked by merging of a new Evolution Data Server API (MB #3479)

Upgrading from 0.9.x:

  • Upgrading and downgrading should work seamlessly when using existing configurations. But this being an alpha, better ensure that you have backups of both your data and your configurations in ~/.config/syncevolution.
  • The new configuration layout is only used when creating new configurations or explicitly invoking “syncevolution –migrate” (see above). Such configs cannot be used by older SyncEvolution releases.

SyncEvolution 0.9.2 is still in the pipeline. It is a minor update, addressing several non-critical issues. All of these are also fixed in 1.0 alpha 1:

  • Evolution Address Book: avoid picking CouchDB by default (MB #7877, evolution-couchdb #479110)

    CouchDB address books are appended at the end of the local database list, otherwise preserving the order of address books. The initial release of evolution-couchdb in Ubuntu 9.10 is unusable because it does not support the REV property.

    Reordering the entries ensures that the CouchDB address book is not used as the default database by SyncEvolution, as it happened in Ubuntu 9.10. Users can still pick it intentionally via “evolutionsource”.

  • installation: templates now in $(datadir)/syncevolution/templates (MB #7808)

    This are files used internally, meant to be extended by distributors. Storing them in /etc is no longer supported, but also unlikely to be needed. Added warnings that these files cannot simply be copied into .config because they are not complete configurations.

  • installation: “make install” populates $(docdir) (MB #7168)

    Previously README, COPYING, NEWS, and server READMEs were copied into .tar.gz/.deb/.rpm archives as part of custom make rules and thus missing in other installations.

  • autotools + Boost: –with-boost had no effect (MB#7856)
  • configure: detect incorrect use of –with-synthesis-src
  • stderr redirection: detect “error” messages and show them (MB#7655)

    The “GConf Error: Failed to contact configuration server…” error message was suppressed by the code which catches noise from libraries invoked by SyncEvolution. Now it is printed as ERROR, making it easier to detect why running SyncEvolution inside cron needs additional changes.