Syncing - again

After extensive research on note taking apps I chose Obsidian for the same reasons many other have. I am a Windows/OneDrive user and I also use an iPhone.

SOOOO disappointing to discover the syncing limitations that prevent me from using Obsidian vaults stored in OneDrive on my iPhone in the same way as with every Windows device.

Yes, I read all about the reasons and explanations for this in other posts and in the Obsidian docs. I’m a retired developer and I get it. Still, all I can say to a community like this one is: can we please get over the excuses and enable people to work they way should be able to?

Evidently, we can’t.

I suggest you to explore obsidian sync and/or the third party sync plugin.

If you don’t find anything that floats your boat, we are sorry but it is what it is.

I appreciate the response. I like Obsidian, both the software and the community, so I’d just like to add that if an iPhone app like OneDrive can sync files and folders to the MS cloud and allow access to them via the MS apps, it seems to me that Obsidian should be able to also manage its files in the MS cloud. Obviously, the API exists and works. This would just make sense since Obsidian has made it a basic feature to be file-based, not to mention that it has not trouble doing it on Windows devices and, with the help of third parties, on Android.
It also seems to me that keeping Obsidian free while charging for limited sync capabilities is inconsistent with the vision of a community supported app. If the team feels they should get paid for some of their work, then they should get paid for all of it. So I’d say charge for the app and set it free from crippling limitations. Others may object to my saying this, but I would gladly support a more functional product. Judging by the success other note taking apps, I’d say others would, too.
Thanks again for your response.

What does it mean a community supported app?
If you mean supported by voluntary donations, that’s not the case. Donations are nice but are not the main source.

Obsidian is free as an attempt to have a large user base and covert a fraction (low single digit) of its user base to its paid services. Nothing new here, most software startup do this.

Specifically the problem with iphones is described here https://help.obsidian.md/Getting+started/Sync+your+notes+across+devices#Why+can’t+I+sync+using+X. The limitations are not artificially introduced by Obsidian, but by Apple. On Android, you can use third-party sync systems based on your raw files. So why don’t send this complain to Apple?

Thanks for the clarification about how Obsidian is funded. Since the app is free and there are add-ons that are also free, my impression was that there was a community of people who develop and support it without charging up front for it. That’s why charging for the sync option was confusing. It is helpful to know that Obsidian considers itself a startup company and that the free app is a way to get more people to use it. I’m familiar with this type of business strategy, but I do not think it’s the best. If you have a good product, and it costs money to develop and support it, then charge for it after a trial period. If it’s worth the price, people will buy it, as evidenced by how much people are paying for other note taking apps. Charging for options but not for the app is confusing and comes across like a bait-and-switch tactic, like those used by people who are not confident of what they are trying to sell. To me, this presents a bad image. It seems to me that you have proven that people want to use an app like Obsidian, and that t therefore has a good future. I think that if you sell it that way, and continue developing and supporting it well, people will have a better impression of the company. Just my opinion.
About syncing to the MS cloud, your documentation says: “Implementing a system to read, modify, and monitor an entire folder structure comprising of possibly thousand of notes outside of the supported locations is challenging. We hope to address this limitation in the future.” You are already doing this on Windows local storage, in some of the cloud, and on Android, so you have already done the hard part. Again, since there is an iOS app capable of using the MS cloud and syncing content with it (OneDrive), it’s only fair to assume that it’s doable by other iOS apps like Obsidian. If Apple does things in such a way as to not make this possible, I’d like to know what they are and I would complain to them.
I’m only saying all this because I want to use Obsidian, not to criticize it.
Thanks again for your response.

I think you are confused here. The only thing that obsidian handles directly is obsidian sync. All the rest is handled by third party apps on windows and android, accessing the files directly. Said third party apps cannot work and do not exist on iOS due to restrive nature of apple sandboxing.

Thanks for the additional info. That makes sense. It’s unfortunate and may consider switching to Android because of it. Keep up the good work.

Just one more question: the OneDrive app is able to access and manage files stored in OneDrive from an iPhone. Is this because of some special deal between Microsoft and Apple? Could Obsidian use the same or similar means as the OneDrive app to use vaults stored in OneDrive?

There are two issues. I am not familiar with how one drive for ios works so I am gonna assume it’s like the dropbox app.

  1. These apps work remotely. They access and download one file at time when the user needs it. Obsidian needs all files to be present locally at all times to work.

  2. These app implement/use an API (sometimes not public) that is dependent on the particular service. Dropbox has an API, Ondrive has an API. Icloud has an API. We basically would have to write a full fledged sync client for each Cloud provider and that is a lot of work. (We did it partially for Iclould on iphones because Apple makes it easy).

It’s not like on desktop OS (or on Android), where you point both obsidian and onedrive to the same directory and the MS onedrive client does the sync work. On iOS, we would have to write the sync client (again for each cloud provider) and it’s unlikely to happen.

Once again, I appreciate your prompt response. It’s unfortunate that iOS makes this difficult.