Nov 4 2007

Sync is the New Pink

Whenever Amy tries to explain fashion to me, she says something like “orange is the new pink.”  I’m not color blind, but I never really understand this – partly because I don’t really like pink (or fashion.)  Ok, ok – I get the metaphor.

I love the word “synchronization.”  Early Lotus Notes users (and database geeks) will prefer “replication” which I did until I saw Blade Runner for the first time.  So – synchronization – or sync (not “synch”) is my preferred word.  The construct is the same.

There was a time – in the late 1990’s – where sync became popular.  Microsoft Exchange promulgated the phrase into mainstream corporate IT while the Palm Pilot got folks like my dad saying the word “sync” on a regular basis.  Sync was hot – and important – for a little while.

Post-bubble, sync wasn’t to be found anywhere.  The emergence of broadband and the rise of the consumer Internet rendered sync less interesting and it faded.  Exchange users still loved it most of the time (except when Outlook sat there and grinded away on a slow connection), but they stopped cherishing (and talking about) it.

I’ve never loved laptops as my only computer.  I’ve got a desktop in each office I work in using almost exactly the same configuration as their fellow desktops.  Today, almost all of my data lives in the cloud or on a server somewhere so I have these lovingly overpowered desktops with beautiful monitors to do email and browse the web.  However, when it’s all seamless and works, it’s really nice and allows me to only have to carry my smartphone (running Windows Mobile) around with me.

All my friends that are “web only” – especially my Mac buddies – are suddenly starting to find that their data isn’t always where they want it to be.  Specifically – it’s not on their laptop when they are offline (e.g. on a plane) or on their desktop at home (when they leave their laptop at work.)  Oops. 

Sync is coming on fast.  Again.  Mary Foley just wrote an article about Microsoft Sync Framework CTP1 titled Microsoft delivers first test build of its online-offline sync platformGoogle Gears appeared six months ago and several of my friends at Google (and the Google Gears API site) suggest it’s going to be the automagic offline sync interface from Google.  I remember the joy I had when I discovered the Google Browser Sync Firefox Extension.

Several really smart developers I know are working on “sync” applications – both at the file and object level.  Everyone that I know that is working on sync talks about how important it is to make it invisible to the user.  Well duh.  It should have been built into the operating systems that were released in the past 12 months (you each know who you are) but it wasn’t (although the perversion referred to as Sync Center tries, but not very hard.)  The window is still open for real sync solutions – at least for another major OS iteration.

Sync is the new pink.