PDA and phone support

Matthew Thomas mpt at myrealbox.com
Sat Mar 12 18:26:29 CST 2005

Lyndon Drake wrote:
> I want to improve that situation, and to that I end I have a proposal
> that I am willing to put time towards (though other volunteers will be
> needed in order to make any significant progress).


> To my mind, the three main use cases for PDA to desktop connection are:
> 1.  Evolution calendar, address book and task list synchronisation.
> 2.  Access to the device's storage in Nautilus, in order to manage
> photos, MP3s and DivX files.
> 3.  Application installation - this is basically a specialisation of (2)
> but with at least one significant difference for Windows Pocket PC
> devices [1].
> Hotplugging a USB device should start the synchronisation software.  The
> analogue to this is that hotplugging a removable drive mounts it in
> Nautilus.

Or you could just make them do the same thing -- open their windows in 
Nautilus when they're connected. That would satisfy #2 above ...

> If the device has not been seen before, the user should be presented
> with some simple preferences: which Evo calendar, address book and task
> lists should be synchronised, and whether the device should be
> synchronised automatically when it is plugged in.

... And if a device was detected as being a PDA, its window could have a 
custom toolbar with a "Synchronize" button on it, which would open the 
dialog you describe.

> If the device has been seen before, and the user chose automatic
> synchronisation, that will happen first.  Then three options will be
> presented (maybe in a dialog, or perhaps less intrusively via a
> notification area icon): Synchronise;

If synchronization is supposed to be happening automatically, the 
presence of a manual "Synchronize" item would be rather confusing.

> Open in Nautilus;

<aunttillie> Nautilus? Why is it talking to me about seashells, dear?

Opening the device could be achieved by double-clicking on its icon, so 
I don't think an extra dialog or notification icon is necessary for 
that. (What if you have two PDAs mounted, to transfer stuff from one to 
the other? It would be much easier to distinguish them if they had 
full-size icons and names on the desktop, than if they had notification 
icons and no immediately-visible names.)

 > and Install an application.

Ideally, doing that should be no more complicated than dragging the 
application to the device's icon or window.

> There should also be the ability to disconnect the device.

"File" > "Disconnect" in Nautilus, perhaps.

> Much of the software for doing the actual synchronisation is already
> available, but is difficult to configure and complicated to use (notably
> gnome-pilot, multisync, and synce [2]).  Hopefully we can eventually
> look at getting something similar in functionality to iSync [3].
> What do people think of what I've said so far?

I think the existence of iSync is an unnecessary complication to the 
overall interface of OS X, because it's a whole separate application for 
file management when the system already has a file manager.

It's fine if the synchronization stuff is implemented by separate 
executables under the hood, but from an end-user's point of view I think 
it should all appear to be part of the file manager.

> If there is some agreement on the basic idea, I will come up with some
> UI mockups and start looking into recognising the devices when they are
> hotplugged.


Matthew Thomas

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