iPad Mini & Dropbox - can't open databases

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iPad Mini & Dropbox - can't open databases

Postby pritchett4@gmail.com » Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:08 am

I purchased HanDBase for ipad this Monday because I wanted to be able to use ipad in conjunction with Desktop and Android which were syncing via Dropbox. I cannot find anyway to open HandDbase databases in Dropbox. See attached photo of Autoparts database. I did send request to support but have not received help. Would appreciate any help anyone is able to give, or else my purchase is useless. Please see attached photo. Thanks in advance for your assistance -- I see that due to the limitations of upload size the picture is pretty useless. But there is no "Open with" in the drop downs anywhere.
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Handbase - Dropbox small.jpg
Handbase + Dropbox
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Re: iPad Mini & Dropbox - can't open databases

Postby ddhsoftwareadmin » Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:32 am

Hi there,

Thanks for your post. You can definitely open HanDBase databases from within Dropbox. Here's how:

- Tap the database in the list of documents within the Dropbox app
- Tap the ... icon at the top
- Tap the Open In option in the second row.
- Tap Copy to HanDBase from the choices that show there.

HanDBase will install the database if not already there. But if it is there, you'll be given the choice to overwrite what you have or merge the changes from the DropBox one into yours. This is a great way to keep two devices in sync, in a more manual way!

Hope this helps.
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Re: iPad Mini & Dropbox - can't open databases

Postby pritchett4@gmail.com » Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:49 am

I'm in Dropbox. There is an icon "..." above the folder listing in dropbox and the only options in the drop down are 1. Create folder, 2. Select, 3. Make Available offline 4. Add starred. Over on the right hand side there is an icon "..." (next to the trash can icon in Dropbox). When tapping on that icon the drop down offers 4 options: Export, Rename, Move, Copy. If I tap "copy" there is a "copy to" Handbase but all that does is create another database with an incremental number. There is no "Open with" -- this is an iPad Mini.
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Re: iPad Mini & Dropbox - can't open databases

Postby ddhsoftwareadmin » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:38 am

I apologize- missed a step, it's under the export option you saw on the right ... icon. Hitting that brings up the share sheet and Open In will then be shown there.
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Re: iPad Mini & Dropbox - can't open databases

Postby pritchett4@gmail.com » Thu Sep 28, 2017 12:03 pm

I did find that under "Export" it was possible to "Open in" in HanDbase and have been able to do that. Now, how does one "Save" or "Close" a file so that Dropbox recognizes there has been a changed? I used test database "autoparts" to make changes. Changes are recognized in HanDbase - but Dropbox is still listing the file as edited a year ago even though I edited today.
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Re: iPad Mini & Dropbox - can't open databases

Postby ddhsoftwareadmin » Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:36 pm

Another good question! To answer, I'll explain something you may already know- iOS is a sandboxed Operating System. What that means is that each application has it's own documents folder (and temp, caches, etc) that only it and the OS itself can access. This makes it inherently much safer than a traditional OS where one app can read the data of another's quite easily, opening up apps from hacking other apps. It also makes sharing data between apps when you actually want to for non-nefarious reasons much more difficult. HanDBase can't open DropBox app's data file but Dropbox can export the data file to HanDBase. At that point, a copy of the file is created by HanDBase and it exists completely separate to the DropBox copy. When you make changes to it, the changes are stored in HanDBase and dropbox has no idea of these changes.

To get the changes back to drop box you have to export back to dropbox from HanDBase. To do this from the Choose DB screen press the ... button next to the database and choose the Open In.. option. Then choose dropbox and the file will be saved back to your dropbox.

By now you're probably asking why HanDBase can't automatically do this to Dropbox. The answer is that it wouldn't be possible in the above manner as there is always user interaction required to send a file from one app to another. However, Dropbox does offer an API that I could integrate into HanDBase and make this possible. I have looked into this and considered it as a feature to add, but I really want to do a better job than this of syncing. I have come up with many different designs for how to sync to dropbox, iCloud, our own server, etc and continue to try to find the model that I will decide is a winner and worthy of adding to HanDBase. My "analysis paralysis" in this case has candidly been going on for years- but I hope to soon come to a conclusion and develop a way to make cloud syncing useful to everyone within HanDBase.
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Re: iPad Mini & Dropbox - can't open databases

Postby pritchett4@gmail.com » Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:21 pm

Thanks for the help. I will give that a try. One final observation -- when I use Adobe Acrobat on ipad, there is a direct link to open Dropbox where I can then view files. I can open a PDF and make notes and highlights. When I close the PDF file it automatically syncs back in Dropbox. I don't how that all works but that would really be a nice way to handle Handbase files. That's it for now.
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Re: iPad Mini & Dropbox - can't open databases

Postby ddhsoftwareadmin » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:48 am

Thanks for following up. That's most likely the API integration that DropBox offers, that I mentioned above. I can see where it would be quite useful and it's something I'm exploring. The major issue I've found is that it blows up when you are in a multi-user situation since there is a chance the database could be changed on DropBox while another user is editing it. I've thought about how I could check for that- if the date of the file has changed on the dropbox side since we last imported it, I could import it again and merge the changes. But this is a major complication and not as simple as it sounds (for example, there could be two devices that get stuck in an infinite loop of trying to save their files but having to merge and remerge because they are detecting the other side's changes!). It's tempting as it would overall be much more simple to implement than a proper cloud sync, but there are many more benefits to a true cloud synchronization, such as real time syncing per record, the ability to offer user permissions (eg, one can view but not modify, another can add records but not modify existing, etc), and the ability to access databases from a browser. So I'm still considering the best way to tackle this problem, and trying not rush into a solution just to get it out there. That said, it's taking me an awful long time to settle on something, I realize that! And at some point DropBox sync may be the solution I end up with, so we'll see!
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