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How syncing attachments SHOULD work

Nickel Contributor
Posts: 895
Country: USA

How syncing attachments SHOULD work

1. I attach a document to the Documents tab of a contact record in the Main database.

2. I sync a Remote Database. The document now appears on the Documents tab of that contact.

3. I open, edit and close/save the document in the Remote Database and sync.

4. I open the document in the Main database and the changes are NOT in the document.

 

I did this with three different databases (using ACT! by Sage Premium 2010 Version 12.1.181.0, Hot Fix 2) and receive the same results.

 

Aren't documents attached to the Documents (or History) tab supposed to sync on a continual basis?

 

Or do I not understand how this feature actually works?

Dan Pisano
ACT! Certified Consultant
The Dapian Group, LLC
Platinum Elite Contributor
Posts: 6,537
Country: USA

Re: How syncing attachments SHOULD work

Hello dpisano,

This is an issue we have seen when the system times for the remote and the main machines do not match. Try matching the system times for both machines and then testing the synchronization. The cause for the issue is currently under investigation. When additional information is available, an update will be posted in this forum and in our Knowledgebase. I apologize for any inconvenience this issue may have caused.

Greig Hollister

Note: Effective 6/1/13, Sage no longers provides support for the Act! software. This is now provided by Swiftpage.

Nickel Contributor
Posts: 895
Country: USA

Re: How syncing attachments SHOULD work

Hi Greg,

 

Thanks for the reply.  The system times do match.

Dan Pisano
ACT! Certified Consultant
The Dapian Group, LLC
New Member
Posts: 1
Country: Canada

Re: How syncing attachments SHOULD work

I am having a similar problem.  I drafted a letter via a template within ACT (Word 2007) and then when I printed it I got the dialogue box asking if I want to attach the doc.  Which I did.  My assistant subsequently opened the document from the History tab on her computer.  All was fine.  A few days later I opened the doc on my computer and made some changes.  I printed the doc but did not get the option to attach it.    So clicked the save icon.  Even after a number of Syncs, the changes do not show up on my assistant's computer.    We had a third user log in and no changes available for that user either.  This is quite disconcerting as now we are not confident that we have access to the same information.  Our notes and letters are an important part of our historical documentation that could be needed if there was a legal action later.  What do we do?

 

In the past we have not had this problem but I think I usually get the option to attach the doc when I print it a second time.  But I think I should be able to just save subsequent changes without printing and expect that the next sync will send the changes to my assistant's computer.

Nickel Contributor
Posts: 895
Country: USA

Re: How syncing attachments SHOULD work

More information.

 

I have done extensive testing about this issue and want to report further findings.  This issue does NOT happen with Excel, Text and PDF files; so far, just Word files. The issue exists in existing and new databases on separate computers running ACT!2010 and Word 2007 as well as ACT!2011 and Word 2010 (latest updates to both programs). I am unable to tell if this is an ACT! issue or a Word issue.

 

Details of what happens:

  1. A Word doc (Test.docx) is created and attached to the Documents tab of a Contact record in the Main database (MDB). The link on the Documents tab points to \Attachments\Test.docx. The document appears in the Attachments folder as “Test.docx”.
  2. A remote database (RDB) syncs with MDB.  “Test.docx” appears on the Documents tab and in the Attachments folder. The link on the Documents tab points to \Attachments\Test.docx.
  3. “Test.docx” is opened, edited and saved in the RDB.
  4. RDB syncs with MDB.
  5. At this time, the filename is changed from “Test.docx” to “Test a49854f5-b500-4f0c-a7fd-048ca0e4c782.docx” in the RDB.
  6. The “Test.docx” that is listed in the Documents tab (still pointing to \Attachments\Test.docx) in the RDB can no longer be opened as the file no longer exists.
  7. The MDB receives the new file (Test a49854f5-b500-4f0c-a7fd-048ca0e4c782.docx) and overwrites the existing “Test.docx” in the Attachments folder.
  8. The “Test.docx” that is listed in the Documents tab in the MDB can no longer be opened as the link points to \Attachments\Test.docx, which no longer exists.
  9. When the RDB syncs, the “Test.docx” link in the Documents tab is changed to “Test a49854f5-b500-4f0c-a7fd-048ca0e4c782.docx” and the doc can be opened.

10.  When the “Test.docx” link in the Documents tab in the RDB is opened, edited and saved, the filename is changed to “Test a49854f5-b500-4f0c-a7fd-048ca0e4c782 17bf6cf1-5a17-47bb-bc3b-aa6877895f8c.docx”.

11.  The “Test.docx” link in the Documents tab can no longer be opened.  It is still pointing to \Attachments\ Test a49854f5-b500-4f0c-a7fd-048ca0e4c782.docx but the filename is now “Test a49854f5-b500-4f0c-a7fd-048ca0e4c782 17bf6cf1-5a17-47bb-bc3b-aa6877895f8c.docx”.

12.  And the weirdness goes on.

 

ACT! says this is not happening for them and that they believe my issue it is either a Word issue or a permissions issue.  However, as this is happening on multiple pcs and on ACT!2010 & Word 2007 as well as ACT!2011 and Office 2010, I doubt this is true.

 

I am not sure where to go from here.  Any ideas?

Dan Pisano
ACT! Certified Consultant
The Dapian Group, LLC
Bronze Elite Contributor
Posts: 2,547
Country: New_Zealand

Re: How syncing attachments SHOULD work

Dan,

What you are seeing is the GUID + GUID phenomena.... kinda like northern lights..Smiley Happy

This may help with understanding. Back in August 2008 I posted this to the ACC newsgroups for sync...

 

Scenario:
A synchronising  database with remote users and live users that have
Projects as seperate Excel files  and attached against Contact records
in the documents tab. The projects are updated regularly by any of the
users.
 A user that is live to the database opens a Project file from an ACT!
Contact and edits the file and leaves it open for a period. In the
meantime a remote user makes changes on their notebook to the same
document. The remote user syncs. The file is still open at the main
database.
 My questions...
1. What is the designed process in ACT! synchronisation model that
handles the synchronisation of files that are open?
2. If the live user that has the file open on his desktop makes
changes over say an hour, then closes the document. In the meantime
the remote has been trying to sync the document which includes earlier
changes made at the remote, will all the changes get to be in the
document after the next sync? In other words does the content of the
document accurately reflect the changes. Presume that changes are
being made to different parts of the document, different cells in the
spreadsheet.

Observations from the real world (refer attached image)...
1. The open document does not sync...obviously because it is locked.
2. The synch of the database results in a 2nd document being created
on the main database with an appended GUID and it could be Original +
GUID1 + GUID2 etc. This occurs at each sync. Eventually the last  file
created cannot be opened possibly because the file name is to long.
Change the file name and it can be opened from Explorer.

What are others observations?

The reply from Benjamin....

This is correct. We do not sync open files but once they are saved this will
queue it for sync. We will not combine two documents that were editted
during the same sync window. If there is a potential for both files to be
editted, there will be a new file created with a guid appended so there is
no data loss. We certainly do not do cell level sync of attached excel
documents.

This is different from database level changes where if two users edit a
single note the last change wins.

--
Benjamin Lederer

My response....

Thanks for your response Benjamin.
So to clarify the process  so I can establish best practice when
advising clients....

Since any document that is attached on a main or a remote database has
the potential for being edited at any time and leaving aside the
matter of open files for sake of simplicity, how does the  ACT! synch
process assess "potential for editting"? If potential for ediiting
equates to a file lock being in place I can't see how that helps.
Surely any editable file can be edited at any time on any database as
long as it is not locked.

If there is a new file created (appended GUID), is that in addition to
or does it replace the original? If the former, how does the History
entry cope with that? One entry but two files?  I can't see how
creating an additional copy can help.

It is obvious that you can't treat attached documents as you could  do
in a networked environment as file locks are not operating to ensure
that only one person can edit between file saves. Likewise,  I am not
expecting support for editing of  multiple spreadsheet appearances.
That would demand  a binary level sync. The processing overhead in
that doesn't bear thinking about!
 
From the limited knowledge I have at this point I can only see that
best advice is :
1. "Do not edit attached documents unless you are the creator of the
document".
2.  "Only open any one appearance of a document at any one time
anywhere in the same sync environment"

I don't no that these rules are practical in a working environment but
I think that customers need to know these limitations.

Graeme Leo
Xact Software - consultants and developers
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