Friday, January 4, 2008

Syncing in the New Year

Happy New Year!  We know we're behind on our blog posting, and we apologize for the blogospheric silence.  We've been very busy trying to iron out the myriad wrinkles in our upgrade process during the holidays, and it's time to give you a report.

First, our overall status is that well over 95% of our users are now syncing happily with version 2, but we've still got a list of problems that we're working through. (Actually, we think the number is 97.98%, but we don't want to bore you with precision.)  Thanks to everyone who has been so very patient with us during the last few weeks, especially those of you who have helped us to understand some of the problems you were having.  We realize it isn't very comforting for you if you are in the remaining 3%, but we continue to work nearly 24x7 to resolve your issues as well.  We are committed to getting everyone syncing successfully.

Here are some of the problems remaining that you may be experiencing:

  • During high traffic periods (approximately 8am - 4pm EST or 1300-2100 UTC), auto-synchronization may fail repeatedly.  This will cause the little icon in the lower right corner of your browser to display a red question mark.  (If you are the type to examine your logfile, you'll see some errors with a 503 status code.)

  • Foxmarks 2.0 is not very forgiving about corrupt bookmark data, unlike its predecessor.  A very small percentage of users seem to have some corruption in their data which Firefox hides gracefully, but Foxmarks does not, causing errors when users attempt to sync.  If you are using the latest 2.0.36 release (not on Mozilla's site yet, but linked from the post below), you may see an error message that explicitly tells you that you have this corruption in your bookmark data. (For the technically curious: the problem is the same bookmark -- not a copy, but the very same bookmark -- appearing multiple times in your set of bookmarks. We don't know what produces this situation, but it's definitely abnormal -- if you have a clue about what might cause this, please post here. If you delete one of these cloned bookmarks, your vision will go fuzzy for a moment and then the other member of the cloned pair will disappear too, leaving behind only an empty bookmark. Creepy.)

  • If sync for you seems to take forever or you see a message saying "Foxmarks is busy" each time you try to sync, you have likely encountered a proxy settings problem.  This may only affect one of your machines and is applicable even if you are not using a proxy. (Again, for the curious: if you have enabled Firefox's automatic detection of proxy settings, Foxmarks 2.0.34 will crash if it makes its first network request while auto detection is underway.)

  • You appear to have lost all your bookmarks after you installed the 2.0 version on a new machine (or you recently reinstalled Firefox). This is due to our new 2.0 server not talking to our 1.0 server.  We were relying on you to upload your bookmarks to the 2.0 server, but in between versions you lost your local copy so the new server only sees the default set.

The good news is that all of these problems are addressable or are fixed already by the 2.0.36 version.  Further, we've identified several operational and performance improvements that will help with our peak load, and we are working on a new version of the Foxmarks extension to address these.  We hope to have a fully tested upgraded extension available on the Mozilla Add-Ons site within a week, but we will of course make it available here first for those of you who are willing to help us test it.

Meanwhile, if you are having problems with the 2.0 Foxmarks extension, here are some things you can do today to make things better:

  • Upgrade to 2.0.36 from here -- note that it's not available on the Mozilla Add-ons site yet.

  • If auto-sync doesn't seem to be working for you, try a manual sync (Ctrl-Shift-S on Windows/Linux, Cmd-Shift-S on MacOS).  Better yet, try again at a low traffic time if you have that luxury.

  • I think we mentioned this before, but please upgrade to 2.0.36, especially if you have a computer that has never successfully synced. You can download 2.0.36 here.

  • If you suspect you may have corrupt bookmark data, you can fix it by following these (slightly tricky) instructions.

  • If you think you've lost all your bookmarks, but are willing to believe that they still exist on the old Foxmarks 1.0 server, there are some instructions that will help you fix it here.

  • If you're having a different problem, or nothing seems to fix it, we want to hear from you! Please email our support, and if possible include the last few dozen lines of your log file.  Instructions on how to send us your log file are here.

We're not sure how many times we've apologized for the messiness around this upgrade, but we continue to be grateful to all of our users who have been patient with us, and who have shared advice with others on this blog.  We have definitely learned some valuable lessons, but we're sorry you had to be the ones to teach them to us.  We promise to do better next time.  And once again, please know that good things are coming.  Do you have lots and lots of bookmarks?  Your syncs will be faster.  You still waiting for that cool new feature we promised you? It's on the way.  Firefox 3?  Soon!

As usual, please feel free to share your experiences here, but if you are having problems, we hope you'll contact support, because we're not able to track and handle individual issues via the blog.

Thanks to all, and Happy 2008!