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Yojimbo 4.0 Adds Syncing… But Not Via iCloud

Here’s a brief recap for those who haven’t followed the saga of Yojimbo, the information organizer from Bare Bones Software. In the first version of Yojimbo (see our review in “Let Yojimbo Guard Your Information Castle,” 30 January 2006), there was .Mac-based syncing so you could access the same set of Yojimbo-stored items on any of your Macs. That feature evolved with the move from .Mac to MobileMe through Yojimbo 2.0, and into 3.0 (read “Yojimbo 3.0 Gains Scanning and iPad App,” 19 October 2010), but when Apple turned MobileMe off in June 2012, Yojimbo’s syncing was similarly disabled.

“But iCloud replaced MobileMe,” you say, and you’d be right. Unfortunately, syncing application data in iCloud has been unreliable since the beginning, and while Apple continues to work on the system, Bare Bones was never able to make it sufficiently functional. Rich Siegel of Bare Bones even wrote a lengthy explanation of the problems.

So that’s where Yojimbo users have been stuck for the last year, but the good news is that Mac-to-Mac syncing has now returned to Yojimbo 4.0, though not through iCloud. Instead, Bare Bones chose to partner with Wasabi World Wide Heavy Industries, whose Wasabi Sync service offers a highly reliable syncing solution for Core Data-based apps. The “bad” news related to that decision? Syncing is now an optional feature in Yojimbo 4.0, and, after the first 30 days, will cost $2.99 per month, due to the ongoing costs of running the sync services. More on prices in a bit.

The subscription, which you sign up for within the app, bills automatically to your credit card each month. If your credit card expires or if its number changes, you’ll be alerted via email and will have a month to resolve the problem. And, of course, if you discover that you’re not using the syncing, you can cancel the subscription and Yojimbo will simply stop synchronizing your data and remove it from the server — you won’t lose anything, and you always maintain ownership of your data.

Apart from the new syncing capabilities, there are few new features in Yojimbo 4.0. Most of the work took place under the hood in terms of re-architecting the app to replace MobileMe syncing with Wasabi Sync. In the process, Bare Bones added full-screen support and Retina-savvy graphics, along with some bug fixes. Bear in mind that once you upgrade to Yojimbo 4.0, you can’t go back without restoring data from a backup, which the app will make before converting to the new format.

As a result, if you’re a happy Yojimbo 3 user and don’t want syncing, there isn’t much reason to upgrade right now. That’s especially true if you’re using a PowerPC-based Mac; due to the new code, Yojimbo 4.0 now requires OS X 10.8.2 or later, and thus won’t run on those older Macs. It’s unknown as yet how Yojimbo 3 will work in OS X 10.9 Mavericks, but if there are issues, that might be a reason to upgrade, since Bare Bones will ensure that Yojimbo 4 is completely compatible with Mavericks once Apple releases it.

Back to the costs. Aware that the $2.99 per month subscription does increase the overall cost of Yojimbo, Bare Bones has dropped the list price from $39 to $30, and a five-user Family Pack costs $60. Upgrades are free for anyone who purchased on or after 14 June 2013, and for those coming from any earlier version of Yojimbo, upgrades cost $20. (This is the first paid upgrade since Yojimbo 2.0 came out nearly four years ago, since the jump from Yojimbo 2 to 3 was free.) Because of the syncing subscription, Yojimbo 4.0 is not currently sold in the Mac App Store — Apple doesn’t allow such independent approaches — but those who previously purchased from the Mac App Store can still upgrade directly from Bare Bones.

The optional subscription for syncing will no doubt engender much discussion, since it’s an unusual move for consumer-level software, and does result in an overall cost of ownership that is higher than the previous list price. But there is an actual cost to providing an ongoing service, and by making syncing optional, Bare Bones is passing those costs on only to those who use the service. In essence, they’re saying, “Syncing is the product, not you.”


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Comments about Yojimbo 4.0 Adds Syncing… But Not Via iCloud
(Comments are closed.)

Anonymous  2013-08-14 18:54
I have never understood why Yojimbo [or Quicken Essential for that matter] can't use Dropbox to sync without the restriction on having the program open on only one computer at a time. 1Passport can, and it works just fine.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-08-15 08:35
It's an architectural distinction with how the programs choose to store information. Dropbox is really only good for syncing entire files, whereas Yojimbo needs to sync data records within a file.
Steve Nicholson  2013-08-15 12:12
Yojimbo 3 does currently "sync" via Dropbox with the restriction of having the program open on only one computer. That's exactly how I'm doing it. Bare Bones made the instructions available but specifically stated that they don't officially support this approach. So if my data gets corrupted by having Yojimbo open on multiple machines, I'm on my own.
Jerry Walz  2013-08-19 16:54
Not upgrading is a no brainer for me. Dropbox sync, free, works fine on ver 3. With essentially no new features paying $36 a year doesn't make sense to me.
Waldova  2013-08-19 17:26
I was a dropbox, Yojimbo 3.0 sync'er...but I upgraded to 4.x and so far I'm thinking it was a good decision. The machine to machine sync is smooth and fast...and I can have the app open on more than one machine at a time. Is that worth $36 a year? Won't know that for a few months, but I like the fact that I can turn it off if it starts to seem an extravagant expense...
Richard Wolf  2013-08-19 17:34
Hmm…I'm not sure I'm happy with the $3/month idea. After all, Wasabi charges BareBones $600/year/1 app for 10,000 users or $1200/year/unlimited apps for 30,000 users (and that cost scales linearly). If BareBones charged me, say, $5/year to sync, upgrading would be a no-brainer and BareBones could recover the cost of using Wasabi if only 120 people opted to sync per every 10,000 Yojimbo users ($5/year/user x 120 users = $600 = $50/month/10,000 users/app x 12 months). And I'd see WAY more value to $3/month if we had a firm commitment on Yojimbo syncing via Wasabi on all iOS devices (including the iPhone!). Please don't misunderstand, I like Yojimbo and I *want* to upgrade, but I can't see the value for me (if Yojimbo 5 debuts in 2015, say, I'll pay $72 for two years of syncing + $20 for the upgrade from 3 to 4 to run Yojimbo in the interim = $92…but if syncing cost $5/year, then Yojimbo ownership would go down to $30 and BareBones would still make nice money).
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-08-19 18:04
I saw that pricing on Wasabi Sync too, and confirmed with Bare Bones that it does NOT apply to Yojimbo, for which there are significantly more services in play. I've been assured that the $2.99 pricing covers costs only.
Richard Wolf  2013-08-19 22:45
Hmm…well, I do know Rich Siegel is a really good guy, so I'll accept that BareBones makes nothing from syncing via Wasabi. But I'm also thinking it might be good for the folks at BareBones to explain how the renumeration works exactly. Assuming 10,000 users opt to sync, that comes to $3/month/user x 12 months/year x 10,000 users = $360,000/year…just to support syncing! I bet Yojimbo's entire annual development effort doesn't cost that much (I speak as an iOS/OS X developer…though, admittedly, I cannot brag that I have same fame/skill that Rich Siegel has). :) The *only* thing I can think that explains the syncing cost is the little blurb on the Wasabi site about pricing for BLOBs and dedicated servers. Otherwise, I am at a loss to understand the cost. In the end, I want to stick with Yojimbo (I want to support BareBones), but it's suddenly become hard not to consider alternatives like Evernote. $36 to sync just one app (without a comparable iOS sync option) is a lot to ask from users.
Kerri Hicks  2013-08-20 12:25
Rich answered that question in greater detail here:

Basically, the costs listed on WasabiSync's web site for their basic services don't reflect additional services with them, but they *also* don't reflect data storage and data transfer fees, or other services needed to make syncing work.
Richard Wolf  2013-08-20 14:17
Hmm…unless I'm missing something, I wouldn't say Rich's answer had any greater detail than your summary. In fact, I'd say they're pretty much the same in terms of detail. :) My impression (from reading the entire Google groups thread) is that folks are reacting much the same way as me. We all really like and continue to want to use Yojimbo, and we're willing to cut BareBones some slack because the folks there do an awesome job…but we're all scratching our heads over the sync price. I kind of look at it this way…if the total cost of ownership for Yojimbo 4 will be $92 over the next two years ($36/year for syncing + $20 upgrade), I'd like to know a bit more about its future…will the iOS apps work with Wasabi? Will there be an iPhone app. Will syncing to the iOS be free? What will any iOS apps likely cost? Will fixes to CoreData in Mavericks changes things?…I don't want BareBones to violate its NDA with Apple…just a hint at Yojimbo's future would be nice.

I have my fingers crossed…
Kerri Hicks  2013-08-20 17:49
A better place to continue this conversation is probably the Yojimbo Talk list at!forum/yojimbo-talk -- but I will give you a short answer about the future of Yojimbo. While we don't make forward-looking statements about features and options, we certainly would not have undertaken the efforts to make Yojimbo sync successfully if we didn't plan to continue fully supporting and improving it in the future.
Richard Wolf  2013-08-21 16:40
Well…I think I've made my points…and you've made yours…and I think we've kept this friendly…but it can't go much further, so I'll stop after this post. I've no doubt that you guys intend to support and improve Yojimbo (and I wish you every success…honest!). Even so, I admit I have a character flaw…whenever I don't know all the details for any story, I simply make up what's missing to suit the facts. Sure, I'm almost always wrong, but my system is fun to apply and I try not to rely on it for anything critical. In this case, the missing detail I'm going to make up is that Wasabi costs more for Yojimbo because you guys need to support syncing BLOBs. I'm guessing about 75% of users don't need to sync BLOBs (e.g., me) or would forgo doing so in exchange for cheaper syncing…but the remaining 25% of users really do care about BLOBs, so you made an admittedly tough design decision…and there we are. :) I hope it works out…and I may return if Yojimbo supports Wasabi syncing to all iOS devices.