Shortcomings of Offline Files, Proposal to build new app, advice appreciated.

Shortcomings of Offline Files, Proposal to build new app, advice appreciated.

Post by Tim_Ma » Sun, 31 Jul 2005 01:37:10


hi,
i have used offline files in windows XP for a year or so, and i'm not
happy with it. i am considering developing a replacement .net
application (open source).
i would appreciate any feedback that other users may have on my
assesment of windows offline files, and my proposals for the new
application.

firstly here is what i don't like about windows offline files:

1. can't use "fast user switching" with offline files.

2. in a workgroup environment, new subfolders are not automatically
included in the synchronisation. see this 3-times-unanswered thread for
more details:
http://www.yqcomputer.com/ %22offline+folders%22&rnum=24#919844df02af5eac

3. it excludes .mdb files from the synchronisation. i understand
there may be complications with a locked or open file, but you can
always copy/paste a locked database file (i have done it 100's of
times) and every time the file has been fine, no corruption problems
etc. so i don't see why it should be excluded from the sync, even if
it is locked.

4. files visible while 'online' may not be synchronised yet, and there
is not obvious indication of this. i have often left the office with
the laptop, having checked that the files i want are showing up on the
offline folder, so i unplug the LAN cable and leave the office, only to
find at the client site that the files were not synchronised.

5. i also occassionaly get denied access to my offline files. "Windows
cannot access the device, path or file. You may not have the
appropriate permissions to access the item". this further decreases my
confidence in leaving the office safe in the knowledge that all my
current files are present on the laptop. another unanswered thread on
this topic:
http://www.yqcomputer.com/ %22offline+folders%22&rnum=26#f024d58f7a6a6e5f
apparently someone overcame this issue by increasing the cache size,
but my cache size is twice the size of the files and i still get the
error.

i'm a .net developer and i have enough spare time to build a winforms
application to replace the offline files that ships that windows. i
would aim to provide similar functionality, and overcome the above
limitations, while keeping it as light-weight and simple as possible.
i have sketched out some plans for the program and would appreciate any
advice or comments from other members of the community. has anyone
tried this before? are there any free apps out there that do this
already? (i couldn't find any).

thanks in advance
Tim Mackey.
 
 
 

Shortcomings of Offline Files, Proposal to build new app, advice appreciated.

Post by Doug Sherm » Sun, 31 Jul 2005 02:15:41

uch of this is peculiar to workgroups as distinguished from domains, so I
suspect there is a fair amount of room for private development - ie. the
answer to office workgroup issues is often to upgrade to a domain. In
general, I agree that offlines files can be clunky and require significant
client side configuration/maintenance. However:

Re #3. although it is not recommended and there are sound reasons for the
default setting, even in an XP Pro workgroup you should be able to to
configure offline access to mdb files:

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;252509

Re #4: "so i unplug the LAN cable and leave the office" If you mean that
you do not log off or shut down and wait for synchronization .............
well yeah, you might get this result.

Doug Sherman
MCSE, MCSA, MCP+I, MVP


"Tim_Mac" < XXXX@XXXXX.COM > wrote in message
news: XXXX@XXXXX.COM ...
http://groups-beta.google.com/group/microsoft.public.windowsxp.network_web/b
rowse_frm/thread/7b8f45db622e4ca0/919844df02af5eac?q=%22offline+folders%22&r
num=24#919844df02af5eac
http://groups-beta.google.com/group/microsoft.public.windowsxp.network_web/b
rowse_frm/thread/f801bf73efbc4afb/f024d58f7a6a6e5f?q=%22offline+folders%22&r
num=26#f024d58f7a6a6e5f



 
 
 

Shortcomings of Offline Files, Proposal to build new app, advice appreciated.

Post by Tim_Ma » Sun, 31 Jul 2005 04:59:14

hi doug,
i appreciate the response.
re #4 i admit it is my fault for not using the software properly, but i
think i would be forgiven for thinking that because i could see the
files in my supposedly offline folder, that they should reside on my
computer. granted you're supposed to invoke the synchronisation, but
the fact that as a proficient windows user i am still learning how to
'use' offline files is surely a reflection of how complicated it is.

just to illustrate this, when i get the errors about .mdb files, it
tells me definitively that "Files of this type cannot be made available
offline". so i believe it, not realising that as you have pointed out
there is a configuration buried away in the group policy that really
belongs in the Tools > Folder Options > "Offline files" settings. or
at least to say something like "this behaviour can be changed in the
group policy, and here is a helpful link to the kb article".
if i have such a hard time getting offline files to behave the way i
want it to, i can't imagine how confusing it would be for non-technical
windows users.

as a respected MVP what do you think, am i wasting my time thinking
about building an app to try and do it better?

thanks again
tim
 
 
 

Shortcomings of Offline Files, Proposal to build new app, advice appreciated.

Post by Doug Sherm » Sun, 31 Jul 2005 06:11:32

I wouldn't count on getting rich, but No - I do not think you are wasting
your time. This is one of the largest newsgroups, and the vast majority of
the posts concern workgroup networking. Obviously, there is a persistent
level of interest and demand for peer to peer networking solutions; but MS,
at least in the context of business networks, is necessary going to
emphasize AD domain solutions which partially, but not completely alter
offline file issues. Also, the very existence of XP Home Edition (sigh)
suggests that workgroup networking will not be going away any time soon.

Doug Sherman
MCSE, MCSA, MCP+I, MVP
 
 
 

Shortcomings of Offline Files, Proposal to build new app, advice appreciated.

Post by Tim_Ma » Sun, 31 Jul 2005 17:05:19

hi doug. thanks for the perspective.
i don't plan to try and sell the application anyway :)
hopefully it will relieve my own headaches with offline files, and if
it helps other users as well then that will be a bonus.

cheers
tim