SyncML: Synching PIM data everywhere

Classified in : Android, Ubuntu - Tags : sync

SyncML is a standard  for synching PIM (Personal Information Manager) date between different devices (PCs, PDAs, mobile phones, ...).


SyncML is now part of the Open Mobile Alliance,in the working group Data Synchronization and Device Management. Although, SyncML does no longer exist, I will carry on using this word in this article ... as it's  still the way most of people will refer to this technology today.

It provides a standardised way of synchronising PIM data (typically contacts and calendar, and pushmail with the latest version) between all sort of devices.

Typically, a SyncML solution, uses a repository (a server) that stores all the data and the different devices synchronise with the server.
But it is also possible to just synchronise between two devices.


Traditionally, Funambol has been the leading company in that field. It all started, in 2001, with the project Sync4j performing an Open Source implementation of the SyncML specifications in Java. In 2006, it changed name to  Funambol, the same as the company that commercialises the project.
They have developed all sorts of solutions using SyncML: mainly servers and clients connectivity for diverse platforms.
They provide the software through their community web site, or you can buy dedicated solutions on their commercial web site.
They also have a demo service myFunambol, to be able to test the use of their solutions.

There are quite a number of companies providing synchronisation services using Funambol servers, including the free service Ubuntu One (which provides synchronisation for contacts only).


There are a lot of other companies, that have developed SyncML solutions, they are listed on the Wikipedia page about SyncML.

One of the other leading ones is Syntesis. They have been providing good SyncML solutions for a long time. This includes server and clients and also an open source libraries.

PIM software

SyncEvolution project allows Gnome Evolution to synchronise to other devices or server using SyncML. It originally used Funambol but in 2009, it switched to Synthesis to take advantage of the possibility to synchronise directly to smartphones using Bluetooth (v 1.0 in 2010).

Other PIM software, e.g. Thunderbird, Lightning and Sunbird, have also solutions to synchronise using SyncML standard. They are listed on the SyncML Wikipedia page.

Of course, there are also solutions for typical Windows software (Outlook), but that does not interest me anymore.

And also at the same place, you will find solutions to use on your smartphone: there are a few solutions to use with an Android device (but also Palm).

Note that there are also solutions to synchronise with companies directories (LDAP, ...) but I did not look into that.

More Reading


That's it for now.
I assume when I will get a bit of free time (never ?) or when there will be a real need, I will investigate using SyncML to synchronise my PCs running Ubuntu and my Android. it would seem logical use UbuntuOne ... but who knows.

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