Google postal address sync - part three

It has been almost two years since our last post on google postal address sync. Given that better postal address sync is still the #1 most requested feature for the Zindus addon, it is time for a status update.

In June 2009, Google released version 3 of the Google Contacts data API. We cheered the structured postal addresses feature, which interchanges Google’s free-format postal address field with Thunderbird’s structured (street, city, zip, country) fields.

Two months later, Google said that they were working hard on implementation.

Here we are, a year later and at the ghost town that is the current Google Contacts effort, the tracking bug is marked as:

  • low priority
  • an “enhancement”, not a “defect”

Google’s structured postal address feature is the road to the best user experience - offering users a consistent view of postal addresses across Thunderbird, Google and mobile phone.  But if Google doesn’t implement the feature, the addon will (reluctantly) support a .csv format sometime in 2011.

You can “star” Google’s tracking bug to be notified of any changes.

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29 Responses to “Google postal address sync - part three”

  1. johnd Says:

    I installed this today and sync’d my contacts from google to Thunderbird. None of the postal addresses in my google contacts were transfered to Thunderbird. I understood that some xml might be added to the addresses on google and that would be fine. But, I would like the addresses to be sync’d to Thunderbird in *some* form…

    Thanks

  2. leni Says:

    @johnd - until this Google bug gets fixed, you’re not going to see your free-format Google contacts in Thunderbird.

    If you visit Tools/ZIndus/Advanced Google Settings then select “Thunderbird fields are represented as XML in Google” then any contacts you have in Thunderbird will be synced with Google.

  3. johnd Says:

    Thanks.

    I found another add-on that does sync the addresses from gmail (using a template to separate out the bits) and it’s working pretty well. I stick with this one for the time being.

    Thanks!

  4. Steve Says:

    I’m a new user and find the postal address issue a problem, but I’ve also noticed that info from the notes field in Outlook makes it to Google contacts, but never to Thunderbird. Is this problem being caused by the same “free-form” structure of the notes field or am I just missing someway to get the notes field into T-Bird?
    Thanks!

  5. leni Says:

    @Steve, Thunderbird notes field does sync with Google. I wonder whether you be willing to test it again? Edit a contact in google, add/change the note field. Then from TB, visit Tools/Zindus, select Sync Now. The note field that you changed at Google should be reflected in the corresponding TB contact. If it’s not, could you file a bug report. Thanks!

  6. nopivnick Says:

    @leni

    I’ve exported a .csv of all my Outlook contacts and used Excel to concatenate and properly format the individual address elements under google’s .csv ‘Address 1 - Formatted’ column heading.

    I’ve determined that if I import a .csv comprised of records that contain *both* the individual/structured address elements *and* the corresponding formatted address, I’m able to create Google Contacts that retain both the structured and the unstructured address information.

    I had hoped this put me ahead of the game while we wait for google to implement their unstructured address parsing algorithm but now I’m not so sure.

    my question is: were I to make a change to an individual address element in Thunderbird and have Zindus sync with google, would the edit to the *structured* element be sync’d in google’s contact record even though it won’t be reflected in the contact’s formatted/unstructured address?

  7. leni Says:

    @nopivnick - that’s a great question! Unfortunately, the answer is “no”. If the Tools/Zindus/Advanced/”postal addresses as xml” setting is “no” then the addon doesn’t add/modify or delete data in either the structured or unstructured google contact postal address fields.

  8. BigBopper Says:

    @johnd What is the other addon that you found?

  9. johnd Says:

    I’m using gContactSync … working pretty well, I’m afraid to say…

  10. Will Khan Says:

    doesn’t gContactSync only work for outlook, and not thunderbird? I’m trying hard not to use outlook…
    Will

  11. BigBopper Says:

    @Will Khan, No gContactSync is a Thunderbird addon. It actually does a decent job of getting around the flaws in both the Google contact manager and Thunderbirds groups. Neither are ideal solutions, but that is not the fault of gContactSync, but the fault of Google and Thunderbird. The Google issue has been around since it started, and even when they promised improvements, they are slow in coming. The Thunderbird issue has a bug report dating back to 2004.

  12. Khalad Says:

    I downloaded gContactSync and “Addon” to TB in its Portapp form. Like another “zindus-0.8.28-tb+sm+pb+sb.xpi” Addon for TB, it comes back as error.
    Have anyone of you done this to TB in its portable app, compared to regular TB software?

  13. leni Says:

    @khalad, if you email through the logfile I’d be happy to have a look and see whether it contains a clue re: the problem you’re encountering.

  14. msherman Says:

    Google’s iPhone synch integration manages to map the iPhone’s distinct address fields to gmail’s multi-line address blob pretty cleanly, by interpreting each line as a separate field:

    Street
    Street2 (optional, but if you use this, all following fields are required)
    City
    Province/State
    Postal/Zip
    Country

    Is there a reason you can’t implement the same thing in Zindus so that the same gmail account can sync addresses cleanly with both Thunderbird and an iPhone?

  15. BigBopper Says:

    My Android phone is the only place I can reliably enter all the fields. Any of the other sync programs I’ve tried are hit or miss, and mostly miss.

  16. leni Says:

    @msherman - iPhone uses Microsoft’s ActiveSync protocol to sync with google. addons like Zindus have to use the Google Contacts API - which has the limitations around postal addresses.

  17. msherman Says:

    How does the contacts API limit you in a way that would break this? Contacts API lets you put an arbitrary multi-line string into gd:formattedAddress, doesn’t it? After all, that’s how you’re doing the current XML sync.

    All you have to do is structure the string in the way I described above, omitting the xml tags you currently use and replacing them with implied meaning on the various lines of the string, and it should match with the iphone sync.

  18. leni Says:

    @msherman - do you have any working code that demonstrates that the API actually works as documented? If so, would you care to share it?

  19. msherman Says:

    No, my comments are based on observed behaviour of manually editing the plaintext multiline address field in the gmail web ui, and then observing how each line is synchronized into the discrete fields in the iPhone interface.

    But in pseudocode, it should be as simple as (optionally?) replacing the code where you currently generate the XML which you put in the plaintext multiline address field with:

    formattedAddress = street1 + ‘\n’ + street2 + ‘\n’ city + ‘\n’ + province + ‘\n’ + postal + ‘\n’ + country;

    and the reverse parsing code with:

    addressLines = split(formattedAddress, ‘\n’);
    street1 = addressLines [0];
    if(addressLines.size >= 6) {
    streets = 2;
    street2 = addressLines[1];
    } else {
    streets = 1;
    street2 = “”;
    }
    city = addressLines[streets+0];
    province = addressLines[streets+1];
    postal = addressLines[streets+2];
    country = addressLines[streets+3];

  20. Anserk Says:

    I’ve been using Zindus for many years with no problems. However, the lack of addresses sync is still a bit of inconvenience. Recently I came across Google Contacts addon which does perform addresses sync. It doesn’t separate out addresses structure, putting them all on address line with commas, like 123 Main St,City,State,ZIP. Can Zindus be modified to do something like that?

  21. Anserk Says:

    Actually, I just played with it, enabled address conversion and everything works. Everything syncs perfectly between Gmail, Thunderbird and my iPhone. Can you possibly look at the source code of that addon if it’s available? I would still prefer Zindus, as I have more trust in it and I like the sync status etc.

  22. leni Says:

    @anserk - yep, if google doesn’t implement the feature they promised in 2011 then the zindus addon will implement something like that as a fallback.

  23. Richard Says:

    Today, 2011-07-29
    Comment 78 by project member ala…@google.com, Today (4 hours ago) Hello developers,

    This has been fixed since Contacts API v3 and is also now available in GMail’s Contacts Manager.

    Best,
    Alain

    Status: Fixed

  24. marcin Says:

    Any news when this gonna be updated?

  25. gasp Says:

    Certainly looks like its there in gmails contacts manager so whats the news on the sync in Zindus? Can we have an ETA?

  26. ZE Says:

    They claim from July 29, 2011 to have fixed this:
    “This has been fixed since Contacts API v3 and is also now available in GMail’s Contacts Manager.”
    http://code.google.com/a/google.com/p/apps-api-issues/issues/detail?id=1002#c78

    Is that the case? If that is not they case, you might post onto that bug with why.

  27. ZE Says:

    @anserk: “Recently I came across Google Contacts addon which does perform addresses sync.” https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/thunderbird/addon/google-contacts/

    @leni: do you have any comment on this addon? It seems to duplicate a subset of Zindus functionality (no offline sync).

  28. Ted Wood Says:

    Google’s contact sync XML is the more mind-boggling beast I’ve ever seen. I honestly don’t know why they can’t just get a straight-forward model in place. For example, the “Name” field comes through in the “title” field in a contact feed. What’s up with that? What about the existing Title field? I’m very unimpressed with Google’s effort on their contact sync feeds.

  29. Cristian Says:

    Any update on this issue either form Google or Zindus side?

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