Windows Phone Thoughts: Jon's Over The Air File Sync Solution

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Jon's Over The Air File Sync Solution

Posted by Jon Westfall in "ARTICLE" @ 07:56 AM

If you're like me, you find having to sync certain files with your Pocket PC to be a real pain. First you have to find a sync cable (or perhaps more appropriately: the correct sync cable), plug your device in, setup a partnership in ActiveSync, explore the device, drop the file in, etc. When you're used to having your email, contacts, and calendar sync up automatically, this seems to be an archaic pain in the butt that should be easier than it is. And now, thanks to a bit of scripting magic, it is (at least for me). Here's how I did it.

Jon's Somewhat Complicated But Do-able Sync Solution

Ingredients (you may be able to find optional freeware alternatives, or perhaps you're a scripting guru who can write their own. These are what I had on hand, so I used them)
1. Getright Pro (Although any scriptable FTP client will work)
2. SKScheMa (from SKKV Software)
3. An FTP Server to Upload to (Although you could set up your home XP machine to be an FTP server, but that's beyond the scope of this article)

Procedure
First I began by setting up Getright Pro to upload my eWallet file nightly to my FTP server. Not only is this handy for my server sync procedure below, it also is good for backup purposes. You can never have too many backups! Be sure to set a sufficiently difficult-to-guess username and password on your FTP server, especially since the account needs to have upload capabilities. If you feel more comfortable using sftp or SSH for your file transfers - fell free. However, you need to place your file in a location that can be downloaded via Pocket IE.

Now that the eWallet file is somewhere I can get it, the second step was to setup SKScheMa to download the file to my Pocket PC. Now this is far from the most elegant solution, as the script literally opens a Pocket Internet Explorer window, navigates to the URL of the eWallet file, wait 30 seconds to make sure it connects, and then sends the appropriate keystrokes to tell PIE to download the file (and, if necessary, overwrite the previous version). You could modify the script to send different keystrokes if necessary. One thing you may want to do is to close the PIE window when the download is finished, although you'd have to know a rough estimate of how long the download will take and add the appropriate sleep statement.

Before the script, I just have to mention that SKScheMa is probably the best software I've seen for simple scripting on a mobile device. If you're a programmer that doesn't want to fire up VS to write a simple app, perhaps a SKScheMa script will work just fine. Advanced users will probably also find a lot to like about SKScheMa. Best of all, the price is reasonable for the power the app provides - it's only $9.60! You can pick up a copy on at our Handango Store or through other retailers.

Anyway, here is the script I used. Pretty simple, and pretty extendable. SkScheMa has a nice ability to create a link to the script in the Programs menu, so a simple tap fires it off. Obviously be sure to change the URL, username, and password below to your own values. I also wouldn't try using that username and password on that IP address - I doubt it'll work out well for you.

[code]
#r(iexplore.exe) #p(ftp://jw:falbviabxkdak@236.113.I77.62/PPCMYDOCS/Jon's Wallet.wlt)
#r(#findwindow) #p(IExplore) #sleep(30000)
#r(#activatewindow)
#r(#sendkey) #p( )
#r(#sendkey) #p(#!)
#r(#sendkey) #p(#R)
#r(#sendkey) #p(#R)
[/code]

Now all you have to do is schedule a task in SkScheMa to run the script sometime it won't be bothered (i.e. at night while you sleep!) and you've got up to date eWallet files. Obviously you can upload other file types or even a ZIP file (SkScheMa has the ability to work with ZIPs, so you could upload a ZIP of all your important files, download the ZIP and have SkScheMa unpack it to the right directory). Like I said earlier - it isn't the most elegant solution, but it works. Good enough for now, while I wait and pray that Microsoft creates a Foldershare client for Pocket PC! (If you're listening MS - you've got a beta tester, suggestion giver, and overall enthusiast for the idea in me!). Got your own solution or a way to improve this one? Post it below!

Jon Westfall truly does not know how to classify himself. Decision making researcher? System Administrator? Editor & Reviewer? Maybe all of those. To find out more than you want to know, you can visit JonWestfall.Com or just watch for his frequent news posts here at Pocket PC Thoughts!

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