Grocophile iPhone icon

Using Google Documents

With a free Google account, you can backup, restore and share your Grocophile data any time you have an Internet connection through Edge, 3G or WiFi. With this ability, it's now possible for people to share their inventory data and shopping list without both devices being simultaneously connected to the same WiFi network.

Getting a Free Google Account

Anyone can sign up for a free Google Documents account. You get access to Google Documents automatically if you have a GMail account, but you can sign up for access to Google Documents with any email address you like.

If you have a GMail account, or you have created a Google account for any of their other services like an iGoogle custom start page, then you already have access to Google Documents. You may skip to the next section.

If you don't already have a GMail account and would like to have GMail, you can get a GMail account by going to the GMail Sign Up Page.

If you don't have, and don't want to have, a GMail account, you can set up a Google account that will give you access to Google Documents and lots of other Google goodies by going to the Google account signup page.

Entering Your Google Account Info

To back up your Grocophile data, go to the Tools tab, then tap the Google button.

google view setting the google account info


The first time you use the Google tools page, you'll need to enter your Google username (the email address you used when you signed up for a Google account) and your password.

Once your account has been verified, Grocophile will store your password securely in the iPhone OS Keychain. (Even though your password is stored securely, if your iPhone or iPod Touch is lost or stolen, you should change your Google account password as soon as possible.)

If you want to switch to using a different Google account, you can tap the Account button and enter new account info. If you wish to clear the account name, tap the Account button and clear both the username and password fields, then tap the Set button.

Backup and Restore Your Data with Google Documents

google view with account setup

After entering your Google account info, you'll be able to backup your Grocophile Data by tapping the Backup button. Grocophile will then copy your Grocophile data to your Google Documents area.

When doing a backup, if necessary, Grocophile will create a folder called "Grocophile Data". Within that folder, it will place a copy of all of your Grocophile data in a file called "Grocophile.groc". At this point, that file is an encoded representation of your data that cannot be edited. (We'd like to enable online editing in the future, but we don't have a we to do that yet.)

The next time you backup, the previous data file will be renamed to "Grocophile Data - Backup.groc". Grocophile will limit the number of old data files to ten so that you don't fill your Google account with an unlimited number of Grocophile backups, while still allowing you to recover an older backup if needed.

To restore data to your device, or copy it onto a different device, simply log into the same account and tap the Restore button. Grocophile will look for the "Grocophile.groc" file in the "Grocophile Data" folder and replace the data currently on the device with that data set.

If you want to restore an older backup (i.e., one of the "Grocophile Data - Backup.groc" files) rename the current "Grocophile.groc" to another name and then change the name of the file you want to use to "Grocophile.groc".

Share Your Data with Google Documents

Although previous versions of Grocophile allowed users to share data when connected to the same WiFi network, the current version allows sharing to occur over the Internet and doesn't require simultaneous connections. So, if Pat just updated the grocery list at home and uploaded it to a shared Google account, Chris can download it from work and pick up the groceries on the way home.

Once Pat has uploaded the new list, Chris can either do a Restore operation to replace any existing data with Pat's version, or Chris can Merge Pat's data into Chris' existing data. See the Merging Data section of the Tools tutorial for more infomation about the merging process. As with WiFi sharing, the merging process is one-way, so Chris will need to do a backup after the merge if Pat wants to download the merged version of the data.

Examining Your Google Documents Contents

You can take advantage of Google Documents to backup, restore and share Grocophile data without ever looking at the contents of your Google Documents account contents. Unless you need to recover one of the last ten backup document for some reason, you'll never need to access Google Documents from the web interface. Of course, there are lots of other things you can do with Google documents that have nothing to do with Grocophile, so explore if you like.

If you want to take a look at your Google Documents account's contents, you can get there by going to the Google search page, logging in to your account, clicking on the "more" item at the top of the page, then selecting "Documents" from the resulting menu.

The image below shows an example Google Documents account with two Grocophile backup documents, the most recent one called "Grocophile Data.groc" and an older one called "Grocophile Data - Backup.groc". As you backup more, additional documents with the name "Grocophile Data - Backup.groc" will be created until there are ten such documents. After that Grocophile will start deleting the oldest files as new ones are uploaded. If you want to preserve older backups, you can rename them, or move them to another folder where Grocophile won't find them.

Google Documents account page showing two Grocophile backup files