Blog updates

Monday, 30 August 2010

ChromeMarks - update 2010.08.30

Just published an update to ChromeMarks.

I discovered a nasty bug during the update process where a change to certain folders wasn't being applied to the database properly and then the folder was in limbo and no longer visible or updateable. This was annoying as I thought I checked for it before. This new release fixes this, but does require any users to refresh all their bookmarks from scratch - sorry.

Other highlights:

  1. A Progress window on startup. Previously, if you had a lot of bookmarks, it could take a few seconds to open while it leaves you staring at a black screen.
  2. An initial page with instructions if you have no bookmarks in the database.
  3. Some reporting for various errors during the sync process. I'll add more in the next release.
  4. Larger favicons for each bookmark. Also a larger folder icon.
  5. Long press on bookmarks and folders for more info.
  6. Some updates to the main Sync Progress dialog - the numbers and progress bar weren't working properly. It's much better now, but a bit laggy especially when reading a successive batch. Will try and fix it next release.

PS. Next I'm off to look at the google auth processes to see if I can use the credentials already on the phone or (*shock*) find a way to use the phone's connection to gtalk instead of making my own.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

ChromeMarks - sync your Google Chrome bookmarks to your Android

Use Google Chrome or a Chromium browser..?
Like the way that the bookmarks are stored in the "cloud"..?
Want to use one of those bookmarks on your Android device..?

Well, as luck would have it - I've just released a new Android application to the market called ChromeMarks:

Here's a shot of some bookmarks in my browser

Here's a shot of the same bookmarks synced to my phone
This program will connect to the Google Sync service, retrieve your bookmarks and store them on your phone. Press any bookmark to fire it up in your browser of choice. Click on a folder to navigate through your list. A mere click of a button and any recent updates will be retrieved and merged.

The program works by communicating with Google 100% the same way as Google Chrome does - I do not do anything differently to your browser. The same with each update - they are performed exactly the same.

This is the first release - I suspect there are a few bugs, and there is even a big list of new features to add.


  1. The stock Android browser does not understand Folders - so it is unlikely I could ever find a way to merge these so they work in the default browser.
  2. Other android browsers tend to store bookmarks in their own custom database. I'd like to see if I could merge with them, but I don't want to tie myself down to individual programs.
  3. This is a ONE-WAY process *currently* - all updates are synced to your phone, but at the moment, there is no way to make updates on your phone and sync them back to the cloud. Yet.
  4. Bookmark data can take a significant amount of space. With 900 bookmarks and folders, the database is almost 0.5mb in size. In a later release, I'll flick the flag to allow Froyo users to stored it on the sd card.
  5. Similarly, the amount of data returned from the Google Sync service can be heavy - especially for the very first sync. If you have a lot of bookmarks and are on a limited data plan, I recommend doing the first sync on wi-fi. For example, my 900 bookmarks and folders was a 473k download. There is nothing I can do to make this smaller - I'm using the exact same messages that your browser uses when first setting up a sync.
  6. Very little error trapping and handling of problems. For example - if you enter the wrong password, you may get problems. If Google prompt for a captcha, you may get problems. If you don't have bookmarks stored, you may get problems. These are on the list to fix soon.


  1. Performance improvements. The code to retrieve data from the sync is using the java libraries provided by Google. But they are a bit heavy and do trigger a significant amount of garbage collection each time you do a sync. For that reason, the sync process can be a bit slow. I'd like to make it slicker.
  2. Updates. I'm not quite sure how as I imagine it would be fiddly to have to note a url, fire up a new app and then press buttons to add it in another app. I'll try to see if I can hook into various places - one idea is to catch the request ot save the url to the local stock browser and then automatically fire up my app and say "would you like to sync this to the cloud?" and ask you to choose a folder.
  3. Favicon fixes. A large number of my bookmarks in Google Chrome appear to be missing favicons. Maybe this app could retrieve the missing ones..? And then maybe it could sync them back to Google..?
  4. Automated sync. Obviously it would be nice to make it instantly update from the cloud. But that would require a permanent data connection, and could be costly on your data plans. So maybe a timed sync to go off at a time of your choosing..?
  5. Better error trapping - especially if Google prompt for a captcha or you get your id/password wrong.
  6. I don't like storing the user's id and password. Rest assured they are not abused by me in any way and are stored with all the other private data in the application. I'd like to try to use something like OAuth, but would prefer to merely "ask" the phone to authenticate using the details you've already supplied it, and return me a key to use for the sync.
  7. Search/Filter. Could be nice to be able to press the search button, enter some text and get a list of bookmarks and folders that match.
  8. Integration of some kind with other android browsers. Would love to find a way to get the bookmarks and folders visible in some of the browsers. Dolphin looks to be promising especially since GoMarks appears to work with it.

It has taken me a significant amount of time to get this app to work, hence, it is a priced app in the market. Sorry if you are in a zone where you cannot access priced applications - you need to contact Google about that.

Enjoy! H.

Updated: 02 Oct to strikethrough out of date stuff.

Monday, 9 August 2010

DroidEssentials - update 2010.08.09

Another publish today. Just some optimisation of the app to stop it trying to start the service if it was already running. I know Android won't do much if the service is already running, but I wanted to avoid even the Toast message appearing as well. Also had a play with the "About" page and added a link to this blog. Also added a "Release Notes" popup as well to detail the changes since the last release. For both these dialogs, I used the techniques detailed in the NetCounter app, which I've found to be a great source of knowledge!


Sunday, 1 August 2010

DroidEssentials updated

Another update to DroidEssentials today. This was due to a request in the market comments, but was something I'd already looked at last week.

The idea was to try and get different coloured icons depending on the theme the user had installed on their device. For example, vanilla eclair has a white status bar, so the icons are black. But some users have a theme that has a black notification bar (like Sense) and the black icons don't come out well.. :-)

I tried several fancy ways of working out the colour of the notification bar dynamically, but gave up (for now?) and added a tick box in the main app page. If you tick the box, you'll get white icons which work better on a back blackground.

Don't have any screenshots as I couldn't get any custom roms to run in the emulator and I had some trouble with nandroid so didn't want to reflash my phone.