iCloud

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Vince

02 Jun, 2018 06:07 PM

First, MMD doesn't show as a Location in Files. I know it's early, so that may be on the radar, just noting that it should be there.

Also, there needs to be a way to get to iCloud Drive files from within MMD; maybe a top-level menu item just underneath iCloud.
Last, iOS MMD iCloud doesn't show any files, even though I have three or four-dozen files in the MMD/Mac-created directory on iCloud on my Mac. The file I created on iOS does show up in the MMD directory on the Mac, so it's working that direction, just not the other one.

(If any of this was covered in your intro beta notes, I apologize; I also couldn't figure how to get that to open up again from within the app.)

  1. 1 Posted by Vince on 02 Jun, 2018 06:20 PM

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    Hmmm. I note that the file I created on iOS MMD says nothing beside it in Finder, while all of the other files in that directory say (in gray) "in iCloud Drive". And I also now see that they are all aliases (if you can't tell, I don't spend any time in the MMD iCloud directory). But unlike a regular alias, they do not show the "original" the alias is pointing to in Finder's "Get Info" dialog.

    All in all, a very confusing situation. I didn't create those aliases; MMD is doing that. I don't know why it's doing that, but nevertheless, it's doing it.

    Bottom line, if I look in MMD's iCloud directory and see a lot of files, then I expect to see those files on both versions of MMD. That's not happening.

  2. Support Staff 2 Posted by Fletcher on 02 Jun, 2018 06:29 PM

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    iCloud sync happens on Apple's schedule, not mine, unfortunately. You may have to create a new file on the Mac or on your iOS device to try and "tickle" it into syncing again. There's nothing I can do, sadly.

    The iCloud folder shows up in Files. Sounds like you may need a reboot of your iOS device? Or maybe just more time before the sync kicks in?

    If you need "real-time" sync, Dropbox is under my control and sync happens in real-time (or at least within a few seconds -- polling too frequently for new downloads just drains battery life, but uploads happen in real time).

    What files are you seeing on your Mac that are aliases?? MMD doesn't create aliases. Sounds like an iCloud issue. May need to reboot your Mac as well. For me, once things start working, they generally work well. But it sometimes takes a few reboots for new apps (not mine, those of others) to start working. Once I even had to disconnect and reconnect my iCloud account on all of my devices to get one new app to sync.

    iCloud is much better than it used to be, but still has issues unfortunately.

  3. 3 Posted by Vince Rice on 02 Jun, 2018 08:01 PM

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    This has nothing to do with syncing. As I said, the file I created on the iPad is on the Mac (and showed up almost immediately).

    I didn't say anything about the iCloud folder not showing up in Files. I said MMD wasn't showing as a location in Files. Many of the other programs on my Ipad do show up as locations (Documents, Working Copy, etc.) My supposition is that MMD should, too.

    I also said that iCloud Drive doesn't show up in MMD. I have a number of user-created folders on my iCloud drive, and that's where I want to save things when I'm editing in MMD on iOS. I don't want to save to MMD's iCloud folder, which is where MMD iOS' "iCloud" goes. Thus, MMD needs a file menu item for iCloud Drive.

    I don't (and won't) use Dropbox.

    I am not an iCloud novice. I've used iCloud for a few years now, and I have no trouble with it. I have two Macs and two i devices, and everything syncs just like it's supposed to, when it's supposed to, without sacrificing any chickens or playing the Windows Reboot Until it Works game.

    After playing with it for a few minutes, it appears that when a program saves a file to a user iCloud folder, i.e. anything other than the program's designated iCloud folder, then an alias is also saved to the program's folder. (An alias that, again, does not point to an "Original" in Get Info.) I've only noticed this with MMD because MMD is the only thing I use where I save to a user folder. I keep Pages files in the Pages folder, etc.

    I just tried this with MMD, Byword, and Pages, on both my Macs. In all three programs and both Macs, I created a new file, typed some text, then saved the file into my Blogs folder in iCloud Drive. In all six cases, at the same time the real file was saved, an alias was also created in the program's iCloud folder on that Mac (and shortly synced to the other Mac), i.e. the MMD folder, the Byword folder, the Pages folder.
    Deleting the file from the Blog folder also causes the alias to be deleted from the program folder.
    Interestingly, deleting the alias from the program folder did not cause the original to be deleted from the Blog folder.

    So, my guess is the aliases don't show up in iOS MMD because it's not showing iCloud drive files, only iCloud ones. To confirm that, I created a file in MMD on the Mac, saved it to the MMD iCloud folder, and it showed up in iOS almost immediately. It would be interesting to see what happens if, when MMD iOS has access to iCloud Drive, I open one of those aliases in MMD iOS. Will it open the real file? We shall see.
    I did have one "real" file in the MMD folder on the Mac, and it did not show up in MMD iOS, until I touched it on the Mac. That would appear to be an actual iCloud problem, but at least one with an easy fix.

    Most (not all, see above e.g.) of the issues I hear about with iCloud aren't issues with iCloud, they're issues with people, including developers, not understanding it. As was the case here, with both of us. Now we know.

  4. Support Staff 4 Posted by Fletcher on 02 Jun, 2018 08:52 PM

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    I guess I'm not following you then:

    1. Composer does show up as a location in Files -- in iCloud if sync is
    working and "On My <blank>" as well. If it's not, try rebooting or
    force quitting Files and starting it again.

    2. iCloud does show up in Composer (it's the top option in fact) -- as
    long as iCloud is configured. If iCloud is not enabled, then it doesn't
    show up as an option. But it sounds like that is showing up for you
    from what you describe -- that's what the MultiMarkdown Composer folder
    inside iCloud is.

    (I *think* it sounds like you're thinking of "iCloud" and "iCloud Drive"
    as two different things. They're the same thing (for purposes of this
    discussion anyways -- I understand that Calendar/etc. are part of
    iCloud, but aren't technically part of iCloud Drive.) But maybe that's
    not what you're saying and I just misunderstood you.)

    3. Apple doesn't give "carte blanche" access to one iOS app so that it
    can access any folder in any other app's folder. That's prevented by
    sandboxing. Each app can only access its own folder. If you want to
    open a file somewhere else, that's the "Open other file" which uses
    Files (via the document picker to allow you to files from anywhere on
    your device).

    (This is how iCloud initially worked on macOS -- you had to use the
    open/save dialogs inside the application to access files in iCloud.
    Fortunately, they quickly opened it up so that the Finder could access
    any iCloud folder without any trickery, and one app could access the
    files in another app's folder as well. But on iOS you have to use Files
    to do this (either the app or the via the document picker view which
    basically just runs part of Files inside the dialog.))

    4. As for saving to another folder, I do plan on adding a "move" or
    "copy" option to allow you to copy a file from Composer to another app.
    But honestly, it is probably just as easy, and more in line with Apple's
    apparent plans, to use the Files app for that.

    5. As an aside, based on what I've read from Apple about iOS 11 and
    Files, I think that Apple wants to migrate towards a more
    "Finder-centric" approach to file management on iOS, where Files
    replaces the Finder. They encourage developers to basically use the
    Files app as the opening view for each app that is file-based. Which
    means that every app would basically look identical when first launched,
    aside from possibly changing the highlight colors. I don't think this
    has really taken off, but I only installed iOS 11 on my iPad a few
    months ago. I'm betting that recommendation will change a bit for iOS
    12, or they will provide new ways to manage interaction and appearance.
    But I digress....

    > I am not an iCloud novice. I've used iCloud for a few years now, and I
    > have no trouble with it. I have two Macs and two i devices, and
    > everything syncs just like it's supposed to, when it's supposed to,
    > without sacrificing any chickens or playing the Windows Reboot Until
    > it Works game.

    Then you haven't used iCloud enough. ;) I'm glad it has worked for
    you, but it definitely causes a lot of problems for a lot of people.
    Hopefully those problems will continue to asymptotically approach
    zero... And is definitely orders of magnitude better than when it first
    launched.

    The problems I have had most recently stemmed from an iOS app that I
    purchased that doesn't have a macOS counterpart. I was unable to access
    my files from my Mac. After several hours of deleting and reinstalling
    the app I found the proper article on their FAQ. Which included the
    instructions to turn off/turn on iCloud on all of my devices (and I had
    to completely log out, not just turn it off/on). It meant re-syncing
    Calendar, Reminders, etc. (all of which went off just fine). But until
    I did that, iCloud would not sync those files to my desktop no matter
    what I tried. Immediately afterwards, the files appeared. iCloud is
    probably the least reliable part of the macOS/iOS ecosystem I have used
    since the classic days. I haven't noticed big problems since that reset
    (back in September??)

    From the developer side, it's frustrating that there is no way to force
    iCloud sync to do anything. The most you can do is touch a file, and
    hope that wakes up the sync process to cause it to go ahead and perform
    a sync. With Dropbox, I can request an update at any time, as well as
    to verify that I have the most recent copy of each file. That's not
    possible with iCloud.

    Re: "aliases" -- I think that is the iOS method of saving permissions
    for repeat access to an "external" file that would otherwise be
    prohibited by sandboxing, but I can't swear to that. I'll try to keep an
    eye out for this and see if I notice any problems.

  5. 5 Posted by Vince Rice on 02 Jun, 2018 10:18 PM

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    1. I'm not talking about MMD's folder, I'm talking about MMD (the app) itself. My suggestion was that MMD (the app) be a Location in Files. Apps that show as Locations in Files allow access to their local data. For example, Documents shows up in my Files, and tapping it shows the "Documents Guide" file and Downloads folder that, in the Documents app, are internal to the app. My suggestion was that you do whatever needs to be done to add MMD as a location, so that MMD"s "Local files" would be accessible via Files.

    However, in further playing, this may not be necessary, since Composer's folder shows up in "On My iPad". I don't know why some apps show up as Locations in Files (e.g. Documents and Working Copy) whose local folders don't show up in "On My iPad", and other apps (e.g. Composer, Codea, OmniGraffle) don't show up as Locations in Files, but their local files do show up in "On My iPad". Since MMD's local files are accessible via "On My iPad", I withdraw the suggestion.

    2. Avoiding lots of things we could argue about, the bottom line is that you're hiding iCloud Drive underneath "Open other file…", which I didn't realize until this email. Don't do that; it's non-standard and it's obviously confusing. You could put a browse button on the bottom of the "iCloud" window (next to the Folder button), but I would just open iCloud to the Files interface (the one used in "Other file") with the MMD directory selected. Then you wouldn't need a separate Folder button (the Files interface already has one), you wouldn't need a separate item for "Other Files." That's how other iOS programs that access iCloud Drive (OmniGraffle, MindNode, Pages, Numbers, I could go on) work, and there are enough of them that that is what is expected.

  6. Support Staff 6 Posted by Fletcher on 02 Jun, 2018 11:23 PM

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    1. You found it -- That's why I said check "On my <blank>".

    "Locations" are something different, and intended by Apple to be used
    for apps that act as an interface to files stored on a server somewhere
    else (for example, Resilio Sync and Dropbox are two such apps on my
    iPad). These apps may need to download a selected file before you can
    access it. Composer keeps all files locally, so it doesn't need to "run
    interference" when a file is selected by a different application.
    (Technically, there is one instance where I would need to trigger a
    dropbox sync, but that can be handled in the app and doesn't require a
    separate "Location Extension". "On my <whatever>" is the
    Apple-prescribed way of accessing files inside an App's Local folder.

    2. Using your previous arguments on the Mac side, Composer *is* doing
    what the other 3rd party text editors that I own do in order to access
    other files. Byword and iA Writer, for example, use variations on the
    "Open other..." menu option to gain access to the Files interface. ;)

    And yes -- this time I am intentionally not doing what Apple wants you
    to do, because I think they've made a mistake (or at least haven't
    finished developing the interface).

    Pages and Numbers both do what I described in my last email -- they
    basically completely get rid of their own interface and use the Files
    front end instead. As I mentioned, I get that Apple is encouraging
    this, but I don't think it's a great idea. (This is opinion, not fact):

    A. It makes all apps look exactly the same at launch (except for
    highlight color). Which is annoying to me (and a few other
    developers/users I've chatted with).

    B. You can't readily tell what application you're in -- your only hint
    is the highlight color, and then you can read the name of the app in the
    upper left. But it really doesn't make sense that all apps look
    *exactly* the same.

    B. If doing this, then there's really no need to launch an app -- simply
    launch the Files app, and you can do everything you need to do from
    there. (a la Finder). Which means you can basically get this interface
    yourself without me having to do it for you by launching Files instead
    of Composer, and working from there. Which, to me, actually makes more
    sense than embedding Files inside every app individually...

    C. Because this whole situation doesn't really make sense, my
    prediction is that Apple is considering changing towards more of a "do
    everything in Files" workflow. Which is strange, since that's how the
    Mac has always been with Finder, and then they seemed to want to push
    Launchpad for starting apps (which is like the home screen in iOS). To
    me, this approach seems half-finished. They pushed it out in iOS 11,
    but hadn't really thought through everything. I suspect we'll find out
    next week what the future holds here.

    D. This approach only works with iOS 11 (and presumably iOS 12). You
    need an entirely separate interface for iOS 10 and earlier because Files
    doesn't exist. Which makes things very inconsistent if you use both
    versions of iOS (I do), and makes it harder for me when troubleshooting
    with users because there are essentially two separate versions of the app.

    E. You can't customize the Files interface to include help screens,
    settings, etc. Which means you have to further clutter the document
    interface to access those things. Which doesn't make sense given the
    more modal nature of iOS as compared to macOS.

    I don't intend to use Files as the front end to my app. I will,
    however, look to see what comes out next week. At some point, I may not
    have a choice. Or maybe they'll iron out the kinks and and it will make
    more sense to change strategies (though I would still have to figure out
    what to do for iOS 10 & 11 users).

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