Here are some questions our users asked:

1. How does this thing work?

The app connects to a web service hosted by HOST Europe (who currently has their server farm in Strasbourg, France), which in turn, after being authorized by the user, connects to the social media network and grabs the data. The underlying technology is called OAuth, which allows apps to interact (authenticate) with social media services on behalf of a user without having access to his/her passwords. I currently use a spiced up version of an open source PHP-Library to make that happen. All the communication runs via TLS encryption.

2. Why would it want to read tweets from my twitter time line?

Good question. It works like this: when you are a developer and you want your app to be able to read data from a social network you have to register your app there and tell them what exact permissions your app needs. I did this with Twitter and asked for a permission called “read only” which is the minimum permission an app can possibly ask for. The fact that this permission includes access to your tweets is out of my control. The app doesn’t use this permission in any way.

It is the same story for Google contacts, there it says in the authorization dialog: “Contactssyncer would like to know your age group and language etc.”. The opposite is true, because my users already probably know their own age group etc., but I have no way of changing that dialog.

3. When ContactsSyncer updates a contact, will it overwrite the notes I previously added with whatever silly thing my friend says in his/her the “about me”-notes at the social network?

No. Let’s say your old note said:

Totally into Lou Reed.

After the update with Twitter and Google plus the notes field might look like this:

Totally into Lou Reed.
<ContactsSyncer>
< Twitter>
I’m so vain, I probably think this note is about me.
</Twitter>
<Google+>
Digital nomad, wherever I lay my laptop…
</Google+>
</ContactsSyncer>

This way you can see which note originated from which social network. It works this way for both the address book import and the MS Outlook import.

4. I imported all of my contacts and now my Mac swamps me with birthday alerts!

Fortunately you can turn those off. Follow the advice given here.

5. Oh, I wish you could do this also for <InsertSocialMediaNetwokOfYourChoice>.

Just tell me. Now that I got the hang of it, it might even happen. Facebook and LinkedIn don’t provide access to your contacts data through any other channel then their respective websites unfortunately.

6. After exporting my contacts to excel I somehow can’t seem to open the excel document.

Please try changing your Finder preferences to always display file extensions and then do the export again (first check box on the screenshot). Setting that checkbox makes a lot of sense anyway.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 14.08.48

7. Do you plan to create a windows version? iOS? Android?

Windows: Yes, in 2017. iOS: Probably not, as you have your contacts on your mobile already (via the addressbook export). Android: Also probably not, for the same reason.

8. Why doesn’t ContactsSyncer save the data in between runs?

The basic idea behind creating the ContactsSyncer app was that people might need a tool that centralizes all of their contacts that they have spread evenly across a number of social networks (or at networks that provide no convenient way to download the data). It achieves that goal by allowing to import the data into the addressbook or MS Outlook. It does a decent job at displaying the data nicely, which led many users to believe it could be a replacement to the addressbook or MS Outlook, but it is not. Both the addressbook and MS Outlook offer features (like syncing data to your mobile phones via iCloud or MS Exchange or autocompleting email addresses) that would be silly or plain impossible to replicate within ContactsSyncer. ContactsSyncer just provides a way to get the data in there, and keep it up to date afterwards. So if you want to look up a phone number, use your addressbook or MS Outlook. Use ContactsSyncer every couple of weeks to update your data in the addressbook or MS Outlook.

Even if I wanted to store the contacts, most of the social networks explicitly disallow that in their respective terms of use.

9. I’d like to compile my own contact list from different data sources and export it into excel. How would I go about that?

Import your contacts into a new address book group (name it e.g. “my list”). Do this for every data source. Finally load the contacts from this address book group into the app and export the contacts into excel.

10. I got an Excel file containing contacts I’d like to import into the app…

Unfortunately you can’t do that using contactssyncer. But you can use the Excel2vCard-App to export the data as a vCard file, and import that into the contacts.app our MS Outlook. Once the contacts are in the address book you can load them into ContactsSyncer.

11. Who is this guy Maximilian Tyrtania?

mty

I’m a freelance developer from Berlin, Germany. I’m a father, a chessplayer, a badminton addict and I know how to hold a guitar. Feel free to add me on LinkedIn or XING.