DropBox as Alternative Sync Engine?

Matt Walburn's Avatar

Matt Walburn

24 Jan, 2017 03:14 PM

Hi there,

I was wondering if there are any plans to allow alternative syncing engines with Bear. I have had mixed results with applications that leverage iCloud Drive, and I imagine others have as well. DropBox support would be fantastic.

I love Bear! Thanks for making such a great product!


  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by Danilo Bonardi on 25 Jan, 2017 11:20 AM

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    Hi Matt,

    we'll consider alternative syncs for the future, but right now is not one of our priorities.


  2. 2 Posted by Joe McBride on 26 Jan, 2017 06:27 PM

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    @Danilo - thanks for this response. I'm sure you may know this, though many corporate users like myself have iCloud turned off. So iCloud only syncing = no syncing at all. Just wanted to re-iterate that. Liking Bear so far, thanks!

  3. 3 Posted by Matt Walburn on 26 Jan, 2017 06:29 PM

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    That’s exactly the problem I’m having. iCloud Drive is disabled by JAMF. DropBox is not. I miss Bear!

  4. 4 Posted by Nick on 26 Jan, 2017 06:50 PM

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    @Danilo - You guys have over 60 responses on the general thread, combined I'm sure many more from customers who love your product and are willing to pay you for this. What number do you need to reach to make it a priority?

  5. 5 Posted by Paul on 26 Jan, 2017 09:04 PM

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    There are some interesting discussions about storing data on iCloud. Apple don't care about the type of data (so a database is going to be OK), but they appear to care far more about the size of the data. I'm sure the Shiney Frog guys have been through all this, but are they imposing a max size of the data that can be stored in Bear because of this?

    I'd like to use Bear at work instead of Evernote (or OneNote), but we don't have MACs, so iCloud is blocked. Dropbox on the other hand is welcomed. If Dropbox isn't on your radar, then a web interface (with APIs please) would suffice for me.

  6. 6 Posted by jim g on 26 Jan, 2017 09:11 PM

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    Hi, I'm a fellow Bear user. I wanted to make you aware of a recent thread where there was a detailed discussion about syncing, iColud Drive, CloudKit, etc.

  7. 7 Posted by Paul on 26 Jan, 2017 09:22 PM

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    Thanks 'jim g', an interesting read. Their argument doesn't entirely work though. I agree that they shouldn't take full responsibility for storing data for users, which is of course why they use a 3rd party cloud service. Since the software only works on Apple gear right now, iCloud is a natural choice. All good, but it doesn't explain lack of Dropbox as an alternative storage solution.

    They are however, stepping round issues with using Bear at work where iCloud is blocked, presumably because that's not their target market.

    I'm certainly not going to get annoyed because it doesn't offer my preferred cloud storage service - I've paid for premium and don't regret it. However, I'd like to see either an alternative back-end, or something like a Web front-end more important than it appears to be.

    However, as a software architect, I can see that changing the back-end should come before a web front-end.

  8. 8 Posted by jim g on 26 Jan, 2017 09:53 PM

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    I think the main issues regarding adding Dropbox sync at this point are primarily manpower and the desire to implement other features that they deem of higher priority. Keep in mind that Shiny Frog is comprised of three developers. That’s it. So I don’t think they’re really trying to step around anything. I think that would love to have all kinds of things already in place like a web version in particular. I’m sure they would love to have Dropbox sync in as an alternative right now too. But they have a working sync service at this point, one they built the app around from the start, so I can see how adding Dropbox might not be as high on their priority list as other things. Just my two cents for what it’s worth.

  9. 9 Posted by spiv on 30 Jan, 2017 01:56 AM

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    Folks, keep in mind that Bear uses CloudKit, not iCloud drive. Confusing terminology, but CloudKit is very different (and much better) than iCloud drive.

    Syncing to Dropbox (or other file-based cloud storage) is a very different architecture than using a data object database like CloudKit. Doable, but a major development effort - it is not just pointing to a different place to store files.

    If you really need a file-based solution, it might be possible to set up an automated workflow that exports files/folders to a Dropbox structure from one location (home) and then imports them from another location (work).

    If you aren't actually trying to synchronize in real-time (i.e. you are never at home and at work at the same time), this might be a workable workaround. It would take a little conscious effort to not mess it up, but might be usable in a controlled process.

  10. 10 Posted by jim g on 30 Jan, 2017 02:24 AM

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    @spiv, thanks for your comments. Maybe this will help people understand why adding Dropbox sync is not something the developers really want to tackle anytime soon.

    If one wanted to set up the file-based automated workflow you mentioned, then what's the best way to go about learning how to do that. Are you available to be our consultant?

  11. 11 Posted by Paul on 30 Jan, 2017 02:25 AM

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    Now *that's* an interesting thought, and something I might look into. I'm not sure that I actually 'need' a file based solution, but it would be very convenient, and provide platform independence which in turn provides comfort :)

    ATM, I use Bear at home (gradually moving from Evernote), Dropbox as the solution to a very different set of issues/problems, and Google Drive at work. Each offers part of what I'd consider an overall solution. Realistically, if I put effort into upgrading the Wiki I use (in Dropbox) that could probably do a lot of what I find attractive in Bear, but it's a fair amount of work and not that high on my priority list.

    I really do understand Shiney Frog prioritising things, and I'm very glad that they do. I also get the fact that my priorities being different from theirs isn't all that important and I don't have a problem with that.

  12. 12 Posted by spiv on 30 Jan, 2017 04:39 AM

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    I was using OneNote until I just started with Bear a few days ago. OneNote was the "best of the worst" as it did certain better than most other solutions and did some things that none of the others did.

    However, as a Mac user (can only use via OneDrive, no local storage option) there were three nagging issues that were really disturbing me:

    First - OneNote uses some back-end magic & tricks to hide the actual database files such that the only visible files are actually special URL shortcuts. There is no simple way to copy OneNote for Mac database locally to your Mac.

    Second - OneNote has a proprietary backup solution but it only works from a PC. After two years of waiting, there is still no way to backup the entire database easily. This is completely unacceptable. I cannot rely on Onedrive internal backup mechanism.

    Third - OneNote is a proprietary data structure and although it can import from a few different formats, there is no easy way to output. PDF generation is on a single notebook page "file" and there is no batch mechanism. So basically, OneNote is a data Roach Motel -- your data gets in, but almost never can get out.

    I looked at the updated Apple Notes, Evernote, and other solutions - but nothing was vastly superior, addressed the above concerns, or seemed stable enough to undertake a conversion.

    (The primary feature I need is mixed text and graphics - not a fully anything-anywhere layout like OneNote, but the ability to annotate screen shots or other images. Apple Notes can do that, but has many other limitations.)

    Bear is the first product that finally meets my needs. The absolutely crucial ability to "round-trip" data is amazing. The choice of text, markdown, html, or pdf formats means all the hours I am putting into manually getting my data into Bear will never lock me in. (I am making periodic exports and backups and for the first time feel my data is safer than it has ever been.)

    For me, living with iCloud instead of Dropbox is a non-issue, I understand others have constraints, but just wanted to share why I think Bear is a bit revolutionary and not just evolutionary.

  13. 13 Posted by tod.w on 30 Jan, 2017 05:47 AM

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    You go, Spiv! Thanks for your recent comment WRT CloudKit. Welcome to our community.

    -Tod (another happy Bear user)

  14. 14 Posted by Arthur on 14 Aug, 2018 02:48 AM

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    Putting in my 2 cents for this feature as my company uses JAMF and has iCloud Drive disabled.


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