Part 7: Synchronizing Locations

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This tutorial details how to synchronize your saved locations in the TPE web app. Location Sync is optional: if you do not want to synchronize your locations, you don’t have to use it.

To use Location Sync, you’ll need to sign up for a free Crookneck Photo Apps account.

Note: Location Sync is available only for the TPE web app at the moment. We plan to add this capability to the mobile versions of TPE in the near future.

TPE Web App Tutorial 7 Image 1 Synchronize your locations from the Locations page in TPE

Why sync my locations?

First, let’s be clear: if you value your saved locations it is important to back them up regularly by exporting and saving the KML files somewhere safe. Location Sync should not replace this practice. Before you begin this tutorial, please export and save your locations. Do it now!

After using the TPE web app for a while you may have accumulated quite a few saved locations. What you may not realise is that there are a number of circumstances in which your locations could end up spread across separate lists, or even be inadvertently deleted:

  • Clearing cookies: the TPE web app saves your locations in your browser’s local storage. Clearing cookies from your browser will delete your saved locations.
  • Alternate browsers: since TPE is browser-based it is possible to open the app in multiple browsers. If you save locations in these various browsers, the lists exist independently of each other. It is easy to forget which browser you used for saving a particular location: it may appear a location has been “lost” when it is really just stored in an alternate browser.
  • Alternate machines: perhaps you use multiple machines e.g. a laptop and a desktop. Saving locations on each machine means that, as with multiple browsers, your saved location lists will be completely separate.
  • Multiple users: if you share use of a single machine, it is possible for multiple users to access TPE. Saving locations on a single machine means that all users of the machine have full access to a single saved locations list.

After spending time planning and saving your locations, it would be a shame to lose them and time consuming to reinstate them.

How does Location Sync work?

You must sign up for a Crookneck Photo Apps account in order to sync your locations.

Setting up the account is easy. When we store your saved locations during synchronization, we need a way of associating that location to you, its creator. A user account is the easiest way of establishing that associattion.

One, two, three… Sync!

In preparation for this tutorial I have backed up my locations and saved them as a KML file. If you have more than 1000 saved locations, please save them in smaller batch files, as import into your account is limited to 1000 locations.

I have also cleared my saved locations list so that I can set up a “test” list (more on clearing locations later).

I have opened TPE in two separate browsers and saved some locations in both (this is for the purpose of demonstrating how location sync works). I now have two locations lists: one in the Chrome browser with the locations “Tromsø”, “Wagga Wagga” and “Timbuktu”, and one in the Firefox browser with the locations “Muscat”, “Raja Ampat” and “Albuquerque”.

TPE Web App Tutorial 7 Image 2
The two separate locations lists in two browsers: Chrome (left) and Firefox (right)

To begin using Location Sync first sign up for a free Crookneck Photo Apps account. This is done by clicking on Sign up at the top right of the Locations page. If you want to follow along, you can do this from either browser. I happen to be using Chrome to complete the sign up.

  1. You will need to verify your email address by clicking the link in the email you receive from us.
  2. Now go to the Locations page in TPE and Sign in to your new Crookneck Photo Apps account.
  3. Once signed in to the account you will see some changes to the Locations page: the Synchronize button is now enabled and the time since your last sync is shown. In this case, it says ‘Never’, as this is a new account that has not been previously synced in this browser.

The first time you synchronize a location, it becomes associated with your account and a cloud symbol is displayed alongside it in your saved locations list. A legend at the top indicates the meaning of the different cloud colours:

  • Light Grey: synchronized
  • Black: requires synchronization
  • Red: location belongs to another account

In the last case (red), where there may be multiple users viewing TPE in the same browser on the same machine, the red cloud indicates that the location has previously been synced to an account other than the one currently signed in.

Since I have never synced to my account, no clouds appear in my locations list.

TPE Web App Tutorial 7 Image 3 The Locations page has changed
  1. The email address shows that I am signed in
  2. Synchronization status legend
  3. The synchronize function has never been used for this account

Now, I simply click the Synchronize button and locations saved in Chrome are synchronized to my account.

TPE Web App Tutorial 7 Image 4
First synchronized list in Chrome

  1. The Synchronize button
  2. The grey cloud next to the location shows that it has been synchronized to the account

It is important to note that when you have TPE locations saved across multiple browsers, you must sign in to your account and synchronize from each browser that you use.

Now, go to TPE in Firefox and sign in to your account from the locations page. Then click the Synchronize button. Look at the locations list in Firefox. The locations originally from the Chrome browser list have been added to the list in Firefox.

TPE Web App Tutorial 7 Image 5 First synchronized list in Firefox

Now switch back to Chrome and hit the “Synchronize” button again. The locations originally from Firefox are synchronized to the Chrome locations list as well.

TPE Web App Tutorial 7 Image 6 Chrome second synchronization

We have looked at synchronizing across browsers, but the same scenario applies to multiple machines as well. If, for instance, you have saved locations on both a laptop and desktop, you can synchronize the lists by logging in to your account from each machine and clicking Synchronize.

With your new synchronized locations list, if you accidentally clear your browser cookies, no problem: just go to the Locations page, log into your Crookneck Photo Apps account, hit Synchronize to add your saved locations to your browser cache from your account.

Important things to note about Location Sync in TPE

Edit vs Sync

Even when your locations are synchronized, it is still possible to edit a saved location on different machines or in different browsers.

It is important to understand that only the most recent edit is retained through the synchronization process. However, the time and order of synchronization do not matter: it is the time of the edits that count. To put it simply, the most recent change always wins.

For example:

  • You have a location, “London”, synced to two machines: A and B
  • On A, at 09:00, you edit “London” by moving the pin and updating the location, then you save the edit
  • On B, an hour later, you edit “London” by adding some notes (the red pin is still at the original location). You save the edit
  • At 10:05, you sync the B machine to your account
  • Then, at 10:10, you sync the A machine to your account

Even though you synced A after B, the B version is the one that is retained, because its edits are more recent. The A machine edits are discarded and A’s version of “London” is now the same as B’s after synching.

There’s a limit

As you might imagine, there is a monthly cost to us in providing this service. To avoid any unreasonable use of the service that might result in unexpectedly high operating costs, there is a limit of 1000 synced locations per user. The account is free for up to 1000 saved locations.

TPE Web App Tutorial 7 Image 7
1,000 locations, max

Although you may not sync more than 1000 saved locations you can still save locations using TPE’s Export function:

  • Export all (or a filtered selection) of your saved locations as a KML file and store this somewhere safe
  • Delete locations from TPE local storage until you have fewer than 1000 or delete the local unsynchronized copy by using the “Clean saved locations” function in the TPE settings menu (see below)
  • Sync your locations after logging in to your Crookneck Photo Apps account. You can then add new locations and re-sync.

If you are serious about looking after your saved locations, we recommend that you regularly back them up by exporting and saving them as KML files.

Cleaning vs Deleting

In TPE’s Settings page there are two buttons. You need to understand what they do, so don’t press anything yet!

TPE Web App Tutorial 7 Image 8
TPE’s Settings page

There are certain instances where you may wish to clear locations from a machine or delete locations from your account.

Clean saved locations

The orange Clean saved locations button removes all saved locations from the local machine, but any previously synchronized locations remain safe in your account.

This function also resets (clears) the record of the time you last synchronized and therefore allows for a clean re-sync.

An example: you have 43 saved locations that have been previously synced to your account. You import a KML file with 200 locations. You do not sync the machine and decide you don’t want to keep these new locations:

  • Rather than going down the list deleting individual locations, click “Clean saved locations” to delete all locations from the local machine.
  • Clicking the synchronize button now re-synchronizes your account: the 43 synchronised saved locations are restored to your browser cache from your account.

Delete saved locations

BEWARE!

After clicking the red Delete saved locations button, all saved locations are deleted from your local machine and, when you next synchronize, are also removed from your Crookneck Photo Apps Account!

An example: you could use this function to clear out your account, freeing up space to add more locations. Perhaps you have locations from a completed project synchronized on both desktop and laptop. To delete all locations from both machines AND from your account:

  • Delete saved locations on the desktop and click synchronize, all locations are deleted from the desktop and from your account
  • Synchronize the laptop: all locations are deleted from the laptop

Remember to regularly back up your locations as KML files: export your locations as a KML file and save it somewhere safe. If you accidentally delete locations from your machine and your account you can import the KML files to restore them and re-sync to your account.

Managing your account

TPE Web App Tutorial 7 Image 9
Account profile

If you forget your password:

  • Click the Sign in button on the Locations page
  • Click on Forgot your password?
  • Click on the link in the email you receive to create a new password

To change your password:

  • Sign in to your account from the Locations page
  • Click on your email address at the top of the page
  • Under Change password enter your current password and then a new password
  • Click Update profile

It’s easy to delete your account should you ever wish to do so. The process deletes your Crookneck Photo Apps account, along with the copy of your locations in our server, but your saved locations are not removed from the local machine:

  • Sign in to your account from the Locations page
  • Click on your email address at the top of the page
  • Enter your password in the Current password field
  • Click the red Delete account button and then Yes in the confirmation dialog box

That’s it

We hope you find Location Sync a useful addition to TPE! If you have any questions on its use, please send us an email at our usual support address.