That Syncing Feeling

One of the most common support emails I get is when users have a problem syncing with Delicious (or Pinboard.in). In this post I hope to cover the most common problems and their solutions.

Maybe the first thing to discuss is why, if Yummy has been on sale since 2008, are users still having problems with something as basic as downloading bookmarks? The short answer is that there there are three major components that need to be working correctly for the process to complete, only one of which is Yummy. The others are the network and Delicious.com itself.

“Delicious.com says that you’re refreshing too quickly”

If Delicious.com thinks that you’re connecting to their servers too often, they stop responding to your requests. This is most likely to happen if you try to sync multiple clients in rapid succession or, perhaps, start Yummy syncing and press the “Home” button on your iPhone. Yummy does not currently continue syncing in the background so the next time you launch it, it starts the whole process again.

The answer here is to exit Yummy and wait a while before trying again. You might also try switching to a different network (e.g., from 3G to WiFi) and try again.

Error Code 999

This is Delicious’ general error; “Something went wrong but we’re not exactly sure what.” In practice is means pretty much the same thing as the ‘refreshing too quickly’ error and can be treated in exactly the same way.

Error Code 500

There are two possible sources for this message. If the error comes directly from Delicious, then your best option is simply to wait a bit and try again. These problems are usually temporary and they usually fix themselves.

Alternatively, it could be your wireless connection. 3G networks, especially, sometimes do weird things with messages before they get to their destination. The quick-and-dirty solution is just to use a different network. WiFi networks are usually more reliable and quicker and have fewer oddities.

The other option is to go into the settings and change the “Sync Speed” option. This will either be set to “Fastest” or “Normal” depending on how you authenticate with Delicious. If you switch this to a slower setting it should make the syncing more reliable, albeit slower.

“The certificate for this server is invalid”

This has happened around the middle of May for the last couple of years. It means that Yahoo! have forgotten to renew their SSL certificates (or that something has been misconfigured). This means that your iPhone cannot establish a secure connection with the Delicious.com servers and, therefore, refuses to continue.

The solution to this is to wait until Yahoo! renew and correctly configure their certificate.

2 Responses to That Syncing Feeling

  1. Kevin September 7, 2011 at 18:58 #

    I realize now that the eight tries and one delete/reinstall of the app to get my 5000+ bookmarks to sync after downloading the app probably weren’t your fault. But if I could make a suggestion, please try to give a more verbose explanation of what might’ve happened (or even offer to take the user to this page) directly in the app’s UI. This will probably result in fewer users thinking they got burned and heading straight to the App Store to write a two-star review. (That wasn’t me, promise).

    I dunno how big of del.icio.us/Pinboard accounts you test with (looks like your personal account is under 600) but just as a benchmark, Yummy handles 5000+ bookmarks and upwards of 2000 tags with no apparent problems—AFTER the initial sync. The fact that I can scroll fluidly through my 2000+ tags without the UI lagging (looking at you, Delibar) means that you’re doing all right, I think. Please don’t go crazy with 3.0… 🙂 Please consider the affect that extra features like the in-app web browser add to startup time, esp. on a “cold” launch from the bookmarklet, which is 99% of what I (most people?) use the app for. I’m sure you will.

    I *would* like to see tag, title, and description combined into a single UI, if possible, if it can be done without making it too clunky/buggy (cf. Delibar). And some fix for the issue with tags of more than about 10 letters running together with the autocomplete “buttons,” already reported by one of your reviewers. The way the iOS mail app autocompletes from your address book and turns into those blue “pills” would be ideal, if this were a standard UI component. Simplenote also does a good job with their UI for autocompleting tags. Maybe it’s so difficult to get right because developers tend to (have to?) homebrew their own solutions instead of using a reusable component that already exists somewhere… I’m not an iOS developer, so I dunno.

    Thanks for sticking with it since 2008. I converted to Yummy after having used the free Delicious Bookmarks app—which was perfect for what I needed it for, except no autocomplete—for like, forever. I eventually deleted Delicious Bookmarks because it got confused when I tried to switch to a different del.icio.us account, only to find it was gone from the App Store. Fairly happy with Yummy so far as a replacement. Smart move not putting “Delicious” in the name of the app, or making the Delicious logo too prominent, esp. with the hordes of people ditching del.icio.us for Pinboard.in, and Delicious’ uncertain future. Best of luck for 3.0 and the future!

    • yummy September 7, 2011 at 22:19 #

      Many thanks for your thoughtful feedback. I won’t respond to every point, but…

      The sync experience is something that I’m continually trying to improve and, yes, better feedback is definitely something on my TODO list. My main problem is that it seems to happen to some people all the time but others (including me) almost never. I still don’t really understand that; I don’t think it’s a problem with Yummy but I can’t rule out the possibility.

      The performance is certainly something I’m very pleased with (I test with up to about 4500 bookmarks) and I’m glad to hear it’s working well for you.

      The problem with trying to display all the meta-data on the bookmark view is that it’s of a variable length, and table views scroll much more smoothly when each cell is the same size. I could make the cells bigger but I prefer to see more bookmarks on each screen. You can, however, see the full title and flip between the URL, tags and notes without drilling down to the bookmark. And in the Setting you can change to a different piece of meta-data as the default.

      The tag autocomplete… all I’ll say is that this is much harder than it looks! I have been planning on blogging about the design decisions (and some of the things I prototyped) behind some features, and this is certainly one that would be worth talking about.

      And finally, the name and icon was more about trying not to infringe Yahoo’s trademarks. I didn’t want to deceive users into thinking that Yummy was an official Delicious product. I probably lost some sales by being honest but I sleep better at night…

%d bloggers like this: