[UPDATE: 25-Sep-2012: Thank you for all the offers to help with the private previews! We have all the participants we can handle, and we are about to begin the testing. We will make public previews available to everyone as soon as we have gotten through the initial private testing.]
We are a few weeks away from releasing private previews of the next major updates to both versions of Sente (desktop and iPad). As with other recent releases, we intend to make both applications available as private previews for the first rounds of testing. If you are interested in participating in the private previews, please read on for more information.
Here are the major changes coming in these new releases:
New Sync Design
Sync has long been an important feature of Sente. For the most part, users can just turn it on and forget about it, and their libraries will be automatically synchronized across any number of Macs and iPads, anywhere in the world.
On the other hand, there have been some issues that we have wanted to address for a while, starting with the stability of the sync server. Most users have not been overly aware of problems with the servers, but we have and we would like to spend our time on more interesting tasks than babysitting the servers. This required a complete overhaul of the sync servers. With the frequency of server issues increasing, we finally reached the point where we could not put this work off any further.
As long as we were going to be reworking big chunks of our sync server architecture, we decided to address several other sync issues that we thought important. Here are some of the other new features we have been able to include as part of these changes:
Unlimited attachment size. Many users have at least some attachments that are bigger than the 20MB limit imposed by the original sync engine. With the new version there is no practical limit on file size. Furthermore, attachment uploads and downloads will automatically pause and resume, even across Sente sessions, so very large files can be synced efficiently, even on unreliable network connections.
Eliminate firewall issues. Some users have had trouble using sync in some contexts because of institutional firewalls. The new version uses standard, secure web protocols, so if you can access a secure web page, you should be able to sync.
Internet-based library installation. The need to create a synchronized copy of a library to install it on another computer has been eliminated. With the new version, if you are connected to your sync account, you have immediate access to all of your synced libraries. To install a library on a new computer or iPad, just select it from your list of libraries.
Easier library sharing. One consequence of having Internet-based library installation is that sharing libraries with other users is now much easier. To share a library with a colleague, just add their name to the access list for the library, along with their permission settings, and then click a button. When the user next opens Sente, the library will be available for download.
Simpler library backup. With the new version of sync, you could lose every one of your computers and iPads in one cataclysmic event, and still recover all of your research libraries, including all attachments, by simply installing Sente on a new computer, logging in to your sync account, and selecting the libraries you want to restore. The old version required at least a stub copy of a library for this to work; this is no longer needed with sync2.
The ability to have any number of libraries automatically synchronized across any number of devices, anywhere in the world, has long been one of the most important features in Sente. We think these changes make it even better.
New PDF viewer on the iPad
The iPad has changed so much about how people work with their research libraries. It is now just expected that you can carry your entire research library around on your iPad and read papers, highlighting and taking notes, anywhere. To make this experience as productive as possible, it is essential that the PDF viewer on the iPad be as good as it can be.
Toward this end, we have rewritten our PDF viewer on the iPad from the ground up. The new version supports continuous, vertical scrolling and a completely new interface for highlighting text and regions. We have a series of exciting updates planned after the initial release of the new PDF viewer, but even this first round of changes should make reading papers on the iPad more enjoyable and productive.
Our preview process for these updates will involve several phases. We will first release a private preview of the desktop version to make sure that sync works well with many, simultaneous users. Then we will roll out a private preview of the iPad app (to a smaller number of users, due to limitations imposed by Apple), to test sync on the second platform, as well as the new PDF viewer. Then we will release a public preview of the desktop application for wider testing with more simultaneous users. Finally, we will release the official versions of both products.
If you would be interested in participating in the private preview testing, please open a new, private support thread by sending a message to our support email address (support@...). Please include:
- your name
- your Sente license number
- an approximate count of the number of references in your main Sente library
- an estimate of the total space used by the attachments in this library
- the number of Macs on which you maintain synchronized copies of this library
- the UDID of your iPad, if you use Sente for iPad
We are still a few weeks out from the first private preview, but if you let us know that you are interested, and tell us the above information, we will let you know when you can download the software.
And, of course, everyone else can participate in the public previews that will follow not long after the private previews.