Trip Sync

Mauna Kea Summit

You might think that keeping things in sync would be fairly simple. It’s just copying data around, right? But no.

What makes it difficult is handling conflicts. Just like in the real world, we’d have fewer problems if we all just got along. But like a programmatic Middle East, some data synchronization conflicts are simply intractable. In the abstract, there’s no right answer. Just, if we’re lucky, a compromise that all parties can agree to.

But we’re just a humble software program. The only game we know is abstraction, and we’re not invited to any of the good parties.

So we do our best, but even when we do everything right there are cases where the result is wrong. We don’t even know why, but we end up accused of corruption. There is no trial. We’re uninstalled. Game over.

Next time around we have a thought. Spending some time in the real world always brings inspiration and, sometimes, solutions. This one is simple, and it seems to work for almost everyone in this day and age: what if we hand off all of our externalities to someone else?

It turns out we’re not really in the data synchronization business at all. Instead, we simply provide a conduit for data to be synced. A higher authority can decide what’s right and what’s wrong, and worry about who killed who. We’re just a data-agnostic platform, a neutral happy medium without a message, an arms dealer to good guys with trips to sync up and down. If we had a business model, it would be keeping our hands clean.

One question remains unanswered. To whom shall we externalize the problems that weigh so deeply on our souls? Well, dear user, if you don’t know the answer to that, then it’s probably you.

Which brings us to our latest Backroads premium feature. As of version 2.0.0, you can now use your OneDrive account to sync trips between your devices. And when we say sync, what we mean is that we give you upload and download buttons on your trips and you decide when to press them. The app will warn you if you’re about to overwrite local changes, or about to upload an older version to the cloud.

It works quite well, and we think you’ll really like the feature. We think there’s at least one more fun thing we can do with cloud storage, so this isn’t the end of the story. And maybe this cloud thing will catch on after all.

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