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MobileNoter synchronization with OneNote

Thursday, 08/27/2009, 12:23 AM by Vitaly Gorn

There were questions regarding synchronization. How it works? Is it seamless? Why do we need server part?

In this post we are going to answer these questions. If you have more, please feel free to ask in comments.

How data is transmitted between your iPhone and Windows PC.

MobileNoter is not only iPhone application, but a solution which consists of three pieces:

  • iPhone application.
  • Windows Desktop Sync Client. Very light application that is installed on your PC where you use OneNote.
  • Sync Web Service. Hosted on our web server.

MobileNoter will support two types of synchronization:

  • Via our server. This option is already supported from the v 1.0. In this case all three components will be working.
  • Via your local Wi-Fi network. This will be added in some of the next releases. Only iPhone app and Desktop Sync Client will participate in synchronization.

We also have idea adding option to sync with cloud storages that should become more popular with introduction of web edition of Office . In this case you will not have to install anything on your desktop. This is only idea yet. Not well thought.

Sync through web service

We decided to implement this option first as it seems to cover synchronization needs of most of users. The idea is that both, iPhone and Windows PC, are synced to our web service independently. You do not need them to be turned on and connected to the internet at the same time. You can synchronize desktop client, then close it and synchronize iPhone several hours later. Drawback of this is that you should have internet connection to synchronize. And if you have large OneNote notebooks with many images, it is better to connect iPhone to Wi-Fi when synching as synchronization may take considerable time. We compress content, but do not resize images. Your data will be transferred to MobileNoter web service via secure channel.

On Desktop Sync Client synchronization will be seamless in v1. For local notebooks, stored on your PC, synchronization will be started automatically just after you change anything in OneNote. For remote notebooks synchronization will be started by schedule you will be able to control.

On iPhone synchronization is started manually. You should press button. We will be improving this, but not in v1. The goal is to make completely seamless synchronization.

Sync via Wi-Fi (planned)

To provide even more flexibility we plan to implement option for synching via your Wi-Fi connection directly with your PC. In this case not internet connection will be needed, data will be transferred faster, but you will have both iPhone and PC be turned on syncing at the same time.

What data is transmitted and in what directions.

OneNote books are transmitted from Desktop to Web Service and then from Web Service to iPhone. They are not transmitted from Web Service to Desktop.

QuickNotes transmitted in both directions. This is two-way synchronization. You can add, change or delete notes either on Desktop or on iPhone. If conflict occurs (the same note is changed), we override the note with the one that was modified last.


8/28/2009 9:48:10 AM #

Have you considered trying to leverage Microsoft's Live Mesh service for cloud notebook storage?

Andy |

8/31/2009 6:46:25 AM #

Yes, we had. We consider implementing different sync options. But syncing with cloud storages (Live Mesh, Dropbox etc..) is currently only an idea. We definitely will analyze its feasibility and probably will implement in one of next versions.

Vitaly |

9/17/2009 10:06:05 AM #

Can I add my request to Andy's for support of Live Mesh in a later release?  I already use it to sync notebooks between my office PC and my laptop while travelling.  I know that Live Messh plan to support mobile devices in the future, but simply being able to sync with the copy on the Live Desktop would be great.

tom |

9/12/2009 4:43:47 AM #

It would have been good to have direct pc to phone sync in first release, this is more useful for personal users

Penny |

9/12/2009 9:50:54 PM #

I am waiting for the WiFi (Bonjour?) solution as well as transmitting personal notes to a 3rd party doesn't meet my idea of privacy, especially as you publish no details about your encryption.
You write "secure channel" which I read as client-server connection is secured, but data is unencrypted on your server. So you or anyone who will eventually break into your systems will have my data readable. If for whatever reason synchronisation via an external server is required data should be encrypted on the device already using a user-defined encryption key and a trusted algorithm.

But thank's for making OneNote available on the iPhone at all and I am really looking forward for the local sync version.

Arno |

9/12/2009 10:06:35 PM #

@Anno: yes, there will be Wi-Fi version (Bonjour discovery).
You are right, client-server connection encrypted (we use SSL channel) while the data is not. We understand that this level of security can be not enough for some users. We are considering adding option to encrypt/decript data on client using user defined key.

vgorn |

9/15/2009 11:04:03 AM #

will MobileNoter sync to One Note 2003?

rob |

9/16/2009 12:41:35 AM #

No, only OneNote 2007 and OneNote 2010 are supported

Vitaly |

9/20/2009 8:58:54 AM #

Great Work!

Have you considered expanding the service to other mobile phones (I use symbian). Or web access?


Nash |

9/22/2009 12:06:43 PM #

We do not have plans to expand to Symbian.
Microsoft annonced that there will be Mobile Office for Symbian, not sure when they are going to release it though.
Web version is not planned yet. There will be web version of OneNote from Microsoft soon.

Vitaly |

9/24/2009 7:18:14 AM #

How about for the Pre?


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