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[IOS] Automatic Backup

Posted: Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:55 pm
by Silverdragon
Completely separate from Dropbox Sync:

Would L&L please consider an option to make an automated zipped backup to a designated Files app folder of any (Dropbox section or On My iPhone / iPad section) changed project, once the user has returned to the Projects screen? It seems to me that this would vastly improve data integrity, much as it does on the Mac and the PC versions.

Thanks in advance for considering this.

Re: [IOS] Automatic Backup

Posted: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:27 pm
by JimRac
Yes, this would be assume. I’ve thought many time of submitting this one myself. Thank you for actually doing so!

Re: [IOS] Automatic Backup

Posted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:38 am
by lunk
I can see the good points of this, and I don’t want to be the guy wrecking the party, but is this at all possible? It would require that the app remains in focus while the backups are created and sent somewhere, which means you’d have to wait not only for a normal sync but for a complete upload of the whole project. I can see a whole lot of problems this would create in case of bad internet connection, being in a hurry and not having time to wait And therefore swapping to another app, getting a call in the middle of everything, etc.

Perhaps a quicker way of manually creating a backup is a better alternative? Like a backup button appearing on any edited project.

Re: [IOS] Automatic Backup

Posted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 7:31 am
by Silverdragon
Well, you'd only have to wait for a normal sync if you were actually using normal sync..… :wink:

But seriously, if I do this now by hand, Scrivener throws up a dialog while it creates the archive (very fast), then hands it off to Files app instantly. Files itself handles the uploading to wherever. It could as easily be a file management app on your iOS device, for use when you're out in the boondocks without internet. It happens that I sent it to Dropbox, but the point is that Files handles the uploading. And because it's an archive, a single file, it's much less fragile than a live Scrivener project. Heck, even Google Drive can handle a project archive.

And of course, the user would be in control of where, exactly, the backup was stored, and even whether auto backups are made. I personally think that now that Files is more mature, that auto backup like Big Scrivener is an idea whose time has come to iOS.

Re: [IOS] Automatic Backup

Posted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:38 am
by lunk
Silverdragon wrote:Well, you'd only have to wait for a normal sync if you were actually using normal sync..… :wink:

I assumed you meant a backup procedure in addition to the normal sync, like on the desktop version? Not an external Save as opposed to the standard sync-with-Dropbox.

Considering all the weird requests and shouts for help that pop up in the Mac Technical support forum from time to time, because people don't understand the difference between Save (sync) and Backup, I don't think adding this to the iOS version will make things easier. You will then end up with having three different versions of your project: the automatic Save on your iDevice, Sync with Dropbox and Backup wherever you decided.

And if the user decided to save the backup in the live project sync-folder it could potentially even end up inside the project folder itself, potentially creating havoc and disaster. Not to mention the screams for help when the same project is later opened on a Mac/PC and "all I wrote on my iDevice is gone!" because the user forgot that he/she made a Backup, not a Sync, and the zipped backup must be unpacked and moved somewhere before it can be opened.

I think this requires some deep thinking from L&L's side before something like this is implemented. It must be so robust that ignorant users can't destroy their projects when trying to make some kind of extra backup.

Re: [IOS] Automatic Backup

Posted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:30 pm
by krastev
I can only imagine how slow the zipping of a 1GB project will be. I know some people have smaller projects, but some have bigger, and that will kill the battery of the device.
Not that it's not a good idea, I like it too, but I wonder how practical it is.


Re: [IOS] Automatic Backup

Posted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 4:38 pm
by Silverdragon
Your point about users' remarkable ability to misinterpret features to their own sorrow is well-taken, @lunk. But this sort of thing comes up all the time regarding Big Scrivener now—people opening projects inside the backup folder, forgetting where their projects are on their hard drives, etc. Yes, of course, L&L should carefully build their UI design should they decide to implement this.

@krastev, It wouldn't take long to fill up even a maximum storage iPad Pro with backups of a 10 Gb project! But again, I'm thinking there would be a limit for how many of these are kept just as there is for Big Scrivener. As for how long it would take to archive such a project, well, I'm not going to experiment and find out. :D . But even in the current thread about sync crashes, the projects deemed "large" are generally in the tens of Mb, not Gb.

*Digs out iPhone and stopwatch* It just took me 21 seconds to make an archive of a 13 Mb project with 2445 files in, on an iPhone 8 Plus. That's really fast compared to how long it takes to sync. The archive weighs in at 5.3 MB.

Part of the problem here is that I believe, @lunk and @krastev, that you are thinking Mac or PC centrically. This would greatly benefit the iOS-only users. Making a backup is so buried in the iOS Tutorial that many users don't get that far, or their brains skip over the one parenthetical phrase that mentions it! The focus is on sync, sync, sync. And not even syncing between iOS devices, which in my experience has had more problems than syncing between iOS and Big Scrivener. Yes, this would be an option in addition to regular syncing, or instead of it. One that actually takes less time than syncing, with its "downloading file list", and which preserves the iOS version of the project in the case of sync gone wrong. My vision for this is that the order of operations would be backup then sync.

This is of particular benefit to the crowd who just plain hate Dropbox. An archive file is safe to store on even project-mangling cloud services (I'm looking at you, Google Drive). This would give Dropbox-haters a semi-automated way to transfer projects among their various machines, using any cloud service that integrates with the Files app.

Ideally, L&L would provide an iOS "share sheet" that would accept a zipped archive, de-archive it, save it as a project if it's a project, or discard it with a message if not. I do that now with a Shortcuts app share sheet and it works great.

Yes, there are many design decisions for L&L to consider. I think that the potential benefits for iOS users outweigh the drawbacks, or I wouldn't have posted. I'm content to leave the decision to KB and the L&L design team.

Re: [IOS] Automatic Backup

Posted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:28 pm
by kewms
Silverdragon wrote:*Digs out iPhone and stopwatch* It just took me 21 seconds to make an archive of a 13 Mb project with 2445 files in, on an iPhone 8 Plus. That's really fast compared to how long it takes to sync. The archive weighs in at 5.3 MB.

21 seconds is an eternity for someone who wants to put their device away. We get complaints when Mac Scrivener takes "a second or two" to complete a task.

And 13 MB is a very small project.


Re: [IOS] Automatic Backup

Posted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:46 pm
by Silverdragon
Can't argue with you because no data yet, but I'm in process of doing a comparison of sync v. archive. I'll let you know how it comes out.

And as I said, :D , I leave this up to L&L's (ultimately, KB's) judgement. When y'all tell me no, I'll stop. But as a lesser included option, how about the ability to make an archive / backup being put a bit more prominently into the Tutorial? I've helped several iOS users who had no idea that this was possible.

And I believe you about the users complaining regarding things not happening instantly, on Mac or PC or iOS, makes no difference. And the "Backing up..." dialog when closing a project on Mac is on screen for a detectible amount of time. :D

Re: [IOS] Automatic Backup

Posted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 7:19 pm
by Silverdragon
OK, same project, changing one file and syncing, took 8 seconds to sync. (It took me a while to set up because I've stopped using Dropbox sync. I don't count that time....) Six of those seconds were for downloading file list and processing—which will take longer, potentially much longer, if more than one project is present in the sync folder. And of course, the more files changed, the longer the sync time.

I wouldn't expect iOS automatic backup to be on by default. And setting it up so users who are both syncing and backing up don't shoot themselves in the foot would require careful design and might be impossible . OTOH, making use of the Files app means easier file transfer for those who avoid Dropbox for whatever reason.

L&L, please, y'all think about it. I've spent too much time away from writing, advocating this already. Not going to answer any more objections—anyone who wants to debate, y'all go right ahead. I don't enjoy debate as a recreational activity. I've had my say.

Re: [IOS] Automatic Backup

Posted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 7:47 pm
by krastev
Silverdragon wrote:I don't enjoy debate as a recreational activity.