Monthly Archives: November 2012

Announcing Rainy – a poor man’s Tomboy sync server

In this post I’d like to announce Rainy, a new synchronization/cloud server for Tomboy which I’ve been working on at the Monkeyspace Hackfest and the few weeks up to today.

To keep the expenses down for my stay at Boston, I shared the hotel room at Boston Marriott with Stefan Hammer, one of the Tomdroid maintainers (Tomdroid is a Tomboy-like client running on Android). So I got to know Stefan throughout my stay in Boston (and New York, which we both visited afterwards for sightseeing), and also got to know Jared Jennings who is working on Tomboy (and it’s Cocoa based OS X counterpart ‘Macboy’). That was the first the time I heard from Tomdroid, as well as saw it in action on Stefan’s Nexus 7 tablet. He told me how they have issues syncing the notes with Ubuntu One, and that the existing Snowy server is somewhat unmaintained and hard to get up and running.

After I heard Demis Bellot‘s talk at Monkeyspace about ServiceStack, I wanted do try it out, and actually do real-world project with it (I did experiment with it before). So I thought, why not use ServiceStack to create a drop-in replacement for Snowy. I started hacking on it at the Monkeyspace hackfest, as well as in the 4 hour ride by train to NY, and got curious. I finished it to a releasable first alpha version in the last weeks, and pushed it to github along with build instructions yesterday.

So, here are some facts about Rainy’s current state:

  • written in C#
  • re-uses tomboy-library, a C# library created by Jared to bundle the note management logic and data storage, that is intended to be used by Tomboy one day
  • is fully compatible to the Tomboy REST API 1.0, no changes to Tomboy or Tomdroid required
  • multi-user capable
  • uses tomboy-library on-disk storage format, which will store the notes as flat XML files within a given directory (on a per-user basis)
  • two-way syncing is working with Tomboy, tested with Ubtuntu 12.04 LTS on 2 machines accessing the same notes on the server
  • creating, modifying and deleting notes is replayed on each Tomboy upon sync, so your single note repository should always be in consistent state

While Snowy is written Python/Django and uses a SQL database as backend, Rainy is designed to be more leightweight. The data store is directory based, so no database setup is required. Rainy is a command line program that will create it’s own http listener, so you don’t need to setup a webserver application. All dependencies besides mono are also C# based and 100% managed code, integrated as git submodules, that will build together with Rainy. So the current build requirements are only a recent mono install and git for checking out the sources.

Syncing with Tomdroid has some issues on the Tomdroid side, but I’ve reported the bugs and am in close contact with Stefan, who promised me to works those out ¬†ASAP. You need to use the latest development build, not the version from the google play store.

Of course, this first release is considered alpha quality, and you should not rely on it to safely store your notes. When using Rainy, always create backups of your notes before syncing, and don’t blame me (but send bug reports) if Rainy sucks up your notes into nirvana.

If you want to give Rainy a spin (and maybe report some bugs that you find), checkout the github project page.