• PDF Expert bug (bleg)

    Does anyone in my readership use PDF Expert on their iPad? Moreover, do you sync it with SugarSync?* If so, are you experiencing anything like this:

    ss problem

    What’s happening to me is that PDF Expert is kind of syncing with SugarSync, but not the way it should. It sucks down new files just fine. Then, if I annotate one in PDF Expert, instead of overwriting the file — as it used to do, always — it generates a new file with a date stamp suffix. What’s worse, is it does this upon every annotation/sync iteration. So, instead of one file, annotated — what I want — I get N files with accumulating annotations (N = number of annotation/sync cycles) — which is annoying and useless.

    I’ve tried mightily to get PDF Expert’s customer support to engage on this. They’re usually very good. We did one iteration in which I was asked to uninstall and reinstall. I did that, but it didn’t help. Since then, I’ve not been able to get them to reply to me. I’ve emailed and tweeted at Readdle (the makers of the product) every which way. What happened to them? (No, I didn’t yell at them. I’m not mad. I’m perplexed.)

    Not knowing when they’ll resurface from their customer service walk-out, I’m turning to the collective. Can you help me? (And, yes, maybe this is a SugarSync problem, but I’ve seen glitches like this with PDF Expert before, so I figured I’d start there until they confirm it’s not them. So far, they’re just confirming they don’t care, which sucks from a keep-the-customer-satisfied point of view.)

    UPDATE: After sharing this post with Readdle via Twitter and email, I received a reply that they will look into this and get back to me. Still, if this is a problem you’ve experienced and, possibly, solved, I’d love to hear from you too.

    * In a bit of SugarSync news, they’re moving to an all-pay model. No more free 5GB accounts. What I can’t tell is if those of us with free accounts are grandfathered or if we have to start coughing up for service. At existing prices, I’d pay for it, but not if I don’t have to! (I’ve been paying them in referrals, which has earned me a lot of free storage. Nice deal.)


    • Lackadaisical SugarSync users had their free accounts turned off recently, so that perhaps actual loyal freebie customers will get some grandfathering. “Lackadaisical” means I didn’t use it much, and when they said “hey, if you don’t say something, we’re going to retire your account”, I didn’t bother to say anything. It never really worked for me, and lately I’ve been kinda grumpy about Dropbox; I may not fit their user model, but it doesn’t do what I want it to (which is usually to hold something so I can link to it from elsewhere on the web). Perhaps I am a bad customer; I work in tech, but my “smart device” is a loaded MacBook.

      If PDFExpert continues to annoy, you might try PDFPen. I got it mostly so I could OCR my great-grandfather’s memoirs (larger than the Evernote OCR limit), and it did that well enough — there are errors, but it suffices for approximate search (“hog” appears 35 times, “snow” 19, “fertilizer” 101).

    • I use WritePdf and their support is ace, app is easy to use but I am technically minded so used help desk once, got a reply shortly after and was up and running in half hour

    • I have no direct experience with either of these apps, but in the screen image what stands out is that your iPad name is used in the file name generated. This may or may not be consequential, but bear’s investigating and possibly correcting.

      Why does it say “Ausitn’s iPad” [sic]? Is the slightly lysdexic “Ausitn” really part of your iPad name, or does this represent a misconfiguration of the PDF Expert or Sugar Sync app? If the apps have different ideas of what your iPad name is, and they use that name to generate synchronized file names, this gives a plausible theory for what may be going wrong.

      • Ha! A typo, made long ago and never noticed. I don’t think this is related to the trouble.

        • As long as the typo is consistent, definitely not a problem.

          This reminds me of a similar problem from a different context, so
          here is another theory: the dialog box message above means that literally the cloud copy of the file you are annotating with PDF Expert has been changed by another process or device during the time you had it open on the iPad and made changes on the iPad. This could be, for example, if you have modified the same cloud file with a different application or from another device, say an iPhone or a desktop.

          When visualizing this, keep in mind that your Sugar Sync cloud version of the file is not always exactly in sync with the version of the file being used local to the iPad by PDF Expert. If you change the cloud version “out from under” the iPad PDF Expert it would behave as you described.

          Since the PDF Expert app on your iPad did not make that change itself, it does not want to overwrite the “external” changes, nor is it able to safely merge the changes made on the iPad into the changed cloud based file. It is expecting you to manually compare the alternate version (with the long name) with the original version and decide which to keep and which to delete.

          If you do annotate a cloud based PDF from more than one device, you should get in the habit of forcing Sugar Sync to update the cloud or closing the PDF app entirely on one device and reopening or re-syncing with the cloud version before opening it on another device.

          I’ve experienced this with Drop Box and apps that sync with Drop Box. It may be the PDF Expert has a command to force a sync or write through to the cloud of any changes. Use this religiously after making an annotation to keep things in sync as frequently as possible.

          • In addition to all that, it could be that syncing with Sugar Sync is updating a modification time property on the file, which PDF Expert notices and interprets as a possible file contents modification, even if the contents have not been changed externally to PDF Expert.

            If PDF Expert is not programmed to explicitly recognize how Sugar Sync handles files, this could be the issue. PDF may be erring on the side of caution here. Perhaps there is a config option or command to force it to overwrite a changed cloud copy, but this could be dangerous (you could lose modifications) if you really are annotating the file from more than one mobile device or computer.