RM8 File => Export Data => Dropbox problem

I just now ran the File => Export Data => Dropbox procedure and encountered the following screen. What does it mean, and what am I supposed to do?

I have run the same procedure many times before, and all it did was create an RMGC file for me without no further ado and with no problems.

All is well, but the behavior was very strange. I was being asked to logon to Dropbox.

At the time I was being asked to logon to Dropbox, RM8 had already created a new RMGC file in a temporary folder. So I logged onto Dropbox as requested, and RM8 proceeded to copy the new RMGC file directly to Dropbox without copying it anywhere else in my local disk. RM8 was apparently using the Dropbox API because it was not copying the new RMGC file from the temporary folder to its proper place in C:\Users\jbryan\Dropbox\Apps\RootsMagic\ on my local disk. Instead, it was just copying the new RMGC file straight to the Dropbox cloud.

After a while, Dropbox itself downloaded the new RMGC to its proper place in C:\Users\jbryan\Dropbox\Apps\RootsMagic\ on my local disk. I don’t think there is anything wrong except that I have run File => Export Data => Dropbox many, many times on RM8 and it has never asked my to logon to Dropbox before. I wonder if something has changed, either in RM8 or in Dropbox.

One last point: I wasn’t doing the File => Export Data => Dropbox procedure to get my file to Dropbox so I could load it into the iPhone mobile app. I was expecting the file just to be saved in C:\Users\jbryan\Dropbox\Apps\RootsMagic\ without further ado and I was going to open it in RM7 to do a quick compare and contrast between RM8 and RM7. So I really just wanted the RMGC file on my desktop, not on my iPhone. And as I said, after logging on to Dropbox, all is well.

To the best of my knowledge, RM has NEVER saved directly to the local Dropbox folder. It has always saved directly to Dropbox which would then sync a copy to your local folder. It was the same way with RM7, because that is what broke when DB changed their API. RM could no longer directly save to Dropbox, hence the need for the user to save locally and let Dropbox sync up to the cloud.

As for having to sign into Dropbox, this also happened with RM7, from time to time, RM had to reauthenticate to Dropbox in order to communicate.

Just from a maintainability viewpoint, it seems like it would be simpler to save to the user’s local dropbox folder and then let dropbox do the syncing. Why stick another moving part in the machine? Especially when that moving part is an API which you have no control over.

As I always used to tell the engineers “Just because you CAN do something with technology, that doesn’t always mean you SHOULD do something with technology.”

First of all, now that I think about it I think that kfunk is correct that no version of RM has ever saved to the local Dropbox folder. Rather, it has always saved directly to Dropbox in the cloud and then I could see the results when Dropbox synced back down to my desktop.

Second of all and in line with Rwcrooks thoughts, with RM7 I never used the Save to Dropbox feature. I just copied my RMGC file to the \Dropbox\Apps\RootsMagic\ folder and let normal Drobox processing sync it. There was no muss, no fuss, and no dependency on the Dropbox API. It always just worked. And I never encountered the need to logon to Dropbox to re-authenticate. So I agree with Rwcrooks that getting the Dropbox API out of the loop would be a good idea, at least as an option.

Third of all, until this little hiccup just happened, I had never been asked to logon to Dropbox with RM8, either. And of course, with RM8 you can’t just copy the RMGC file to the \Dropbox\Apps\RootsMagic\ folder because there is no RMGC file until you run the File => Export => Dropbox process. So now I’m subject to API changes and Dropbox logon hiccups in a way that was never an issue for me before. I’ll obviously adapt because I have to, but I wish there were a way just to Copy RMTREE to RMGC and let me take care of getting the RMGC file where it belongs.

And fourth of all, there appears to be an undocumented and surely unsupported way to create the RMGC file in RM8 without going through these kinds of hiccups and logons when they happen. Namely, I now realize that the RMGC file has already been created in a temporary folder before the Dropbox hiccup happens. So if I want to do so, I can just find the RMGC file and copy it where it needs to go just like I used to do in RM7 and ignore the hiccup.

Believe it or not, there seems to be some number of persons who never installed the Dropbox client on their machine, and as such, they would have no local Dropbox folder. By using the Dropbox API to save directly, it would seem that RM developers were trying to make things as simply as possible for the computationally challenged.

That’s a valid issue.

It didn’t matter much in RM7, one way or the other, because either the user or RM7 had to copy an RMGC file and no file conversion was required. But it matters in RM8 because the RMTREE file has to be converted to an RMGC file. In this particular case, what I was really wanting was the conversion, not the Dropbox stuff. I knew where to find the converted file, and I wasn’t expecting the Dropbox signon and initially I didn’t understand how to respond.

If the user is that computationally-challenged, the odds of them actually retrieving a backup from dropbox are pretty small.

Yes, if only we could find it. (I stopped at the Dropbox sign-in prompt and I don’t seem to be able to find any such file on my Mac. I will keep trying.)

Maybe it’s just held in memory and not written to a disk. You could have a very large database file and not run out of memory, especially if the page file is used.

One would think, however I deal with several old ladies at the local Family History Center than seem to manage just fine if they can log in to Dropbox in their browser, yet they get all blank and start to cry when I suggest using the Dropbox software on their machine.

In my case, the initial temporary copy actually is written to disk. On my Windows system, I find it in C:\Users\jbryan\AppData\Local\Temp\ where jbryan is my Windows userid. The Windows magic place for this sort of thing is the AppData folder. I would assume that a Mac has a similar sort of magic place, but I wouldn’t have any idea where it is. In any case, if I refuse at this point to allow RM8 to send the file direct to Dropbox using the API, I can still move it to the Dropbox folder myself and the mobile app can pick the file up that way.

Notice in particular that at this point, the temporary copy of the file is not yet in my Dropbox folder at all. It only gets into my Dropbox folder after RM8 sends the file to Dropbox using the Dropbox API and then Dropbox itself syncs it back to my Dropbox folder. That copy is found on my machine in C:\Users\jbryan\Dropbox\Apps\RootsMagic\ and that is where the RM mobile app expects to find it. Well, the mobile app doesn’t see the C:\Users\jbryan part and only sees the \Dropbox\Apps\RootsMagic\ part on my iPhone and iPad.

Does Finder on a Mac have a way to do an absolutely global search of your local disk? If so, you would be looking for a file with the same name as your RM8 file except with an rmgc extension instead of an rmtree extension. Or maybe just look for the rmgc extension. I don’t have very many of them on my machine.

As a test, I just exported a copy of my .rmtree file to Dropbox and found a copy as a .rmgc in
c:/UsersUserName/Dropbox/Apps/RootsMagic on my c: drive as well as a copy on the web.

Because I had previously used that functionality and provided my Dropbox account userid and password it did not ask me for my credentials again. Apparently they were saved somewhere in RootsMagic, probably in a .xml file.

And I see Jerry beat me to the answer!

That would be because Dropbox sync’ed it down to c:/UsersUserName/Dropbox/Apps/RootsMagic, not because RM wrote it there.

Not installing Dropbox on your computer is not luddite behaviour. Mac users have iCloud if they want to share or sync files. Dropbox is pricy and works by putting a klunky folder on your computer that only syncs what is put in it.

I don’t seem to recall saying anything about it being luddite behaviour, and if you don’t like Dropbox…then don’t use it. There are a number of people that do elect to use it in order to get their datafile into the app, which, last I checked, you can’t do via iCloud.

Dropbox is free for up to 2GB which should be plenty to store an RM database.

That’s not to say that iCloud and RM on a Mac and an iPhone or iPad should not be able to work together to make an RM database available to the RM mobile app. That’s just not the way it’s presently designed to work. For that matter, the way OneDrive is becoming so integrated into Windows, it would make sense to me that OneDrive and RM on Windows and an iPhone or iPad should be able to work together to make an RM database available to the RM mobile app.

Even more importantly, I think the RM8 process to produce an RMGC file should have an option that’s File => Export => RMGC that would just make the RMGC file without doing the Dropbox sync part or any other sync part. The option File => Export => Dropbox could still be there, but Dropbox shouldn’t have to be part of the process.

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Seems like a lot of angst to get a RM file into the RM ios app which is only an ancient 2015 gedcom reader. Much better to use the free ancestry app which is kept current and will let you edit any tree uploaded to the website.

Uh no, it isn’t a GEDCOM reader at all. It can’t and won’t do anything at all with a GEDCOM file. It can and will read a .rmgc file, created by either RM7 or RM8 but if all you got is a GEDCOM file, you are hosed!

It probably doesn’t change the thrust of your point of view about preferring the ancestry app to RM’s iOS app. But the RM iOS app is not a GEDCOM reader and it never has been. It is and always has been an RMGC file reader. That’s what much of this discussion is about.

RM7 databases were RMGC files. RM8 databases are RMTREE files. RMGC files and RMTREE files are very similar but they are far from identical.

RM’s iOS app is designed to read RM7’s RMGC files. RM8’s process of File => Export => Dropbox does two things. #1 is to create an RMGC file from the RMTREE file. #2 is to place that RMGC file into Dropbox in such a way that RM’s iOS app can read it.