The Web 2.0 revolution has removed traditional barriers to adoption for many applications. This allows developers to rapidly deploy tools and services that consumers can easily evaluate and use. The Web-only nature of this approach makes many of these applications feel “shallow and over-simplified” to users. The result: applications that are easy to try and easy to forget due to limited access to information while offline and limited integration with all non-web applications and services.
Until the day when all local storage is banned and all applications run in a giant Borg hive-mind, we think that many successful Web services could benefit from offering local synchronization of user data to desktops and mobile computers. By building tools that expand your service away from the Web, you may, counterintuitively, create a larger, more committed user base, all while lowering operational costs.
This talk describes the technical considerations Evernote made in designing a hybrid client-Web service. This includes a description of:
- The service data model
- synchronization protocols
- the storage implementations for the service and clients.
For each of these, we’ll walk through options we considered and the reasoning behind our final decisions.
Then, we’ll abruptly leap from the safe zone of architectural boxes-and-arrows and into the real world to see how all of this translates into daily usage patterns. We think that our pie charts and line graphs will illustrate some interesting lessons about how client synchronization may contribute to higher user loyalty and lower operational overhead.
Dave Engberg is a technology entrepreneur with a background in building systems that can scale to support massive numbers of users. This includes both high-volume mobile/embedded solutions as well as back-end service infrastructures. Before joining Evernote, Dave was the founder and CTO of CoreStreet, Ltd, where he designed and built identity management and digital credential validation systems used widely across the US Government and elsewhere. Prior to CoreStreet, he served as the CTO of Driveway, Inc., an online data storage service with over ten million subscribers, and VP of Engineering for JSource, which built smart card virtual machines used in tens of millions of mobile phones in Europe. Dave also served as architect and developer at Gemplus, Taligent and Stanford Medical School.
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