Saturday, August 16, 2008

Palm to iPhone migration - address book and notes

My painful Palm to iPhone/cloud migration continues. I've updated my summary table.

I migrated my Calendar by basically stopping use of my Palm/Outlook Calendar and entering data in the iPhone/iCal calendar [1]. I use Spanning Sync to publish to gCal and, less often, update from changes I make to gCal. I'll archive my Palm data in PDFs and data tables.

I migrated tasks by moving them from the Palm to Palm Desktop to archival To Do file to Toodledo. I corrected minor conversion bug on Toodledo and sync with on the iPhone.

I migrated my encrypted password database to 1Password.

Note the above costs money. I've spent about $80 on additional software and services and I'm not done yet. Some of the costs are recurring, but on the other hand so far I've seen no reason to buy MobileMess.

I don't yet know what I'll do with my Memos/Notes. Too bad Google Notebook isn't a more useful product, and too bad Evernote doesn't yet do data freedom. I will probably wait to see if Apple delivers sync of iPhone Notes in September. Other options:
On another front sync with my work calendar, contacts, tasks, memos, notes, appears hopeless for now. (I fear those will be intractable unless Chapura produces an iPhone version of KeySuite.)

So the Address Book/Contacts are up next, then I take a break.

I'm expecting to migrate from either Outlook (via Access?) or Palm Desktop to OS X Address Book (10.4 if possible). Options so far:
I think I'll reinstall my old copy of Missing Sync for Palm to migrate my contacts from the Palm (backup first of course). Then, if Apple or a Cloud competitor doesn't give me a good Notes solution by the end of September, I'll invest $25 in Missing Sync for iPhone and take care of my Notes problem.

[1] As I wrote this note I realized that I could have used my old copy of Missing Sync for Palm and moved the calendar data from my Palm to iCal. Note this exposes one of the many peculiar limitations of iCal. Categories in the Palm become calendars in iCal. Of course Spanning Sync only syncs one calendar to Google. So much for categories ...

Update 8/17/08: Address book moved easily. This is what I did.
  1. Install my old version of Missing Sync for Palm OS.
  2. Backup OS X address book and iCal
  3. Delete all existing Address Book entries and sync iPhone (so all gone from both)
  4. Disconnect iPhone
  5. Set Missing Sync to overwrite Notes (might as well get those on the Mac somehow!)
  6. Disable sync on Everything else including calendar.
  7. Missing Sync default is to "sync contacts". This is a misnomer on first sync; it should say that handheld will overwrite desktop (same for calendar).
  8. Consider zipping up your iPhone backup file at this point.
  9. Sync Palm then disconnect
  10. Connect iPhone and Sync
Oddly enough, my favorites were preserved. I wonder if they match on strings.

Based on what I've learned so far, this is what I'd recommend for any Palm user migrating to iPhone/Mac:
  1. Consider Missing Sync for iPhone, it includes the "migration assistant" that will move your data. It's $50 new, but you get a $25 sidegrade on other MS products and future upgrades. (See update below however)
  2. Use Migration Facility to move data from Palm.
  3. Use iCal data to move tasks to Toodledo or RTM. Pay for these. After migration to Toodledo/RTM, you'll want to delete tasks from iCal and disable task synchronization.
  4. Buy for iPhone.
  5. Buy Spanning Sync to sync iCal with gCal (optional).
I'm now almost done with the personal migration. Only a solution for Notes remains -- a solution for my work data is still in the future.

Update 1/5/09: A commenter left a very negative review of Missing Sync for iPhone, so please read and review before ordering. My experience personal experience was with using other Missing Sync products.

Update 5/7/09: A reader points us to to a detailed migration path from Palm/OS X to iPhone/OS X.


Eduardo Ramos said...

Thank you for your guide. I plan to follow it. I am also a 12 year Palm client, now migrating to iPhone.

One thing regarding iPhone - Google calendar sync. Isnt there a better way to sync? I would like to have real-time sync, as my iPhone is already connected.

Through spanning sync, the process seems to be tough (though they say it is a breeze):

Syncing your Google calendars and contacts with your iPhone is a breeze. Just use Spanning Sync to sync Google with your Mac and iTunes to sync your Mac with your iPhone. Since Spanning Sync takes full advantage of Mac OS X Sync Services, it all just works.

JGF said...

The calendar limitations are my current greatest iPhone frustration, though copy/cut/paste and cross-app search are probably next. (Then on to bluetooth kb, etc, etc).

Apple has not provided a calendar API. So there's no way to use their calendar app with anything but exchange server or mobileme.

There's a very small startup, nuevasync, that provides an exchange server (activesync) service, then they sync with gCal. Beyond the obvious security issues, they're tiny and in beta. Not something I'd tyr.

MobileMe doesn't sync or communicate with ANYBODY.

So we're stuck.

Nobody who's talking knows if/when Apple will provide a calendar API, and, if they do, nobody knows if they'll permit anyone to write a service that would use it to sync to gCal.

Eduardo Ramos said...

What do you think about using some App (is there any?) that syncs directely with gCal (I could give up using iCal and the iPhone Calendar application)?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why you recommend Missing Sync for iPhone. I just bought it based on your recommendation, and it's totally useless!
It just tells me that I don't have Outlook installed (duh, why would I want that?), and that's it. "...lets you easily transfer your contacts and calendar from a BlackBerry, Palm OS, Windows Mobile or Symbian smartphone to iPhone."
Besides, it doesn't even recognize my iPhone and tells me to restart iTunes (which is running and synchronized with my iPhone).
These must be the crappiest software I've ever bought for 40$

JGF said...

Eric, I'll add a comment mentioning your experience. I hope Missing Sync tech support is able to clarify. They may have a money back offer too -- worth a try!

Anonymous said...

The site for Missing Sync for iPhone clearly (to me) states that Outlook 2003 or 2007 is required for Migration Assistant feature (that's how you get the contacts over). It's on the requirements page.

Like Eric implied, I feel no need to install Outlook just to get my contacts migrated over. But I guess I will if I have to.

There are some posts out there about free calendar transfer as noted on here (via VCard/VCF file, Yahoo Cal to get a CSV file and Google Cal to get the ICS file that iTunes wants). Not much on contacts yet. Tasks has a solution (ToodleDo), Notes not yet. Sigh.

Everyone told me that 'It's really "easy" to get things taken over' (I should have read the fine print!).

edweirdo said...

Hi Gordon,

I wrote up a guide for non-technical folks, in terms of how to migrate from Palm to iPhone on a Mac:

JGF said...

Nice tutorial! I added it as a link update in the main article.

OpusMark said...

I just tried MarkSpace MissingSync and it seems to "choke" on more than 700 notes. I am not giving up (as I would prefer to keep my 13 categories of notes, but the Spotlight search on the iPhone makes this less critical) but I found a different option.

If you want to abandon your Palm (i.e. manually synch legacy notes ONCE) and stay with the iPhone OS 3.0, look at PhoneView from You can manually add (dozens at a time, maybe hundreds?) of .TXT notes from Palm Desktop or MarkSpace NoteBook.

Just click "apply" and after a few minutes (without iPhone reboot, which previous version of PhoneView did) you have all your notes on the iPhone. New notes created on the iPhone will synch going forward.

LSD said...

Hey, I have an idea for you to solve your Notes problem. What if you save all your Palm notes as "Secure Notes" in 1Password? That's what I'm doing.

I still don't like the way any other task (to do) manager works with the iPhone or Mac, and don't see why no available software better emulates the interface of my ancient Palm Desktop for Mac.

OpusMark said...

Okay, whatever happened I don't know but Markspace Missing Sync iPhone now works fine, it syncs 1200+ notes, retaining folders from the Palm.

David said...

Gordon, Thanks for the beta. My Treo 680 just died and I'm considering making the jump to iPhone and this guide will be a great help.

Neil Gerstenberg said...

To move from Palm Desktop to gCal/iPhone etc you can also try Dba2Csv or Palm2Google to move your calendars. No sync here - this is just accurate conversion from .dba to .csv (for Palm Desktop 4 files) or direct export from Palm to Google Calendars (for Palm Desktop 6 files) for those who want to leave the world of Palm calendars far behind them, or those like David who no longer have their Palm. Unlike some other solutions to this problem, I am an independent freelance developer, and I provide unlimited online help (chat/email) AND a 100% quibble-free money-back guarantee :-)