This article is about one of the most important features in both Sente for iPad and desktop Sente: synchronization.
Strictly speaking, synchronization is nothing new in Sente for iPad. It works the same way on the iPad as it does on desktop. But that is also the big news: it works exactly the same way. For example, this means:
- You can have any number of copies of a synchronized library, located anywhere in the world (as long as they are on the Internet). They do not need to be on the same local network.
- All open, on-line copies of a library are automatically brought up to date within a few seconds of each edit; other copies are brought up to date the next time they are opened when the device is on-line.
- Everything about references is synced, including notes, PDF highlighting, status changes, tags, etc.
- Any copy can be edited even if the device on which it is stored is temporarily off-line.
- There is no master copy that needs to be on-line for sync to work (the "master" is actually the data stored on our servers).
- Each copy of a library can have different permissions (full edit, read-only, no access to PDFs, etc.).
- Each copy can be set to download attachments only when called for by the user to minimize the space required by the library on devices with limited storage. An Internet connection is required to obtain the attachment, but once downloaded it can be read off-line as normal.
In short, sync in Sente for iPad works the way synchronization should work.
In Sente, any library can be made into a synchronized library on desktop Sente using the File > Synchronization > Create Synchronized Copy command. This first sends the current sync data for the library up to our servers, and then lets you create a synchronized copy that can be installed on your iPad or another computer. This copy includes the information needed to access the sync data on our servers. (It is not currently possible to create a synchronized library directly on the iPad.)
The most common use of synchronized libraries is when a single user owns multiple computers and/or iPads and wants their reference library (including PDFs) always to be up-to-date on each device. When working with a synchronized library on your iPad, everything you do, like acquiring new references or annotating a PDF, is almost immediately reflected in all other copies of the library. Read a PDF on the train ride to the office in the morning and your desktop library will be completely up-to-date before you get to the office.
There are a number of other common uses for synchronized libraries, including:
- sharing a library across a lab, group or department, where some users have full edit permission while others might have restricted access;
- using a shared library to distribute references and PDFs to a group of people; each user would drag a copy of new references from the shared, synchronized library into their private library for personal use;
- maintain a public bibliography on a research topic; for example, you could post a read-only copy of your library for download on the web, where anyone interested in the subject could access it.
You can test sync now using desktop Sente and Sente Viewer for iPad. Simply install a synchronized library on your iPad and watch edits flow from your desktop to your iPad within seconds. Of course, when the full version is released, it will be possible to make changes on the iPad and you will see them flow from the iPad to the desktop or other iPads.