Synergy 3 Beta is finally here!

Tuesday, March 21, 2023
(updated 
)
Nick Bolton
Nick Bolton
Founder CEO & Interim-CTO of Symless (Synergy team)

Dear Synergy customers!

I have a very exciting announcement to make. One which is five years in the making...

The beta version of Synergy 3 is now ready to download! We built an entirely new version of Synergy. This new version is completely different to both Synergy 1 and Synergy 2; it uses the same Core, but has a brand new user interface and background service layer. Synergy 2 remains discontinued, but for those who are not ready to upgrade to Synergy 3, we will continue to support Synergy 1 for a further five years.

TL;DR: Existing customers can get the beta for free from the download page.
Non-customers can sign up for the free beta sneak peek — tell your friends!

Synergy 3 Beta: A new modern look

In 2018, we announced that Synergy 2 was going back to beta. The last half-decade has taught us a lot about what our customers really want. Yes, you want the setup of Synergy to be less time consuming, but you also want to be able to tinker with all the same settings that Synergy 1 has.

What's new?

Synergy 3 Beta is significantly easier to use and more versatile compared to both Synergy 1 and Synergy 2. With both advanced and novice users in mind, our new version features a freshly designed, modern screen layout system, no longer constrained to the grid-format familiar to Synergy 1 users. With Synergy 3 Beta, you can easily resize and reposition each computer's screen to reflect real life. Coming soon: Multiple screens for each computer will be shown in the layout (but for now, each computer is shown as one big screen). Synergy 3 Beta settings are also automatically synchronized between your computers, so you can easily and quickly change whichever computer is the primary (the one that's sharing its keyboard and mouse) without needing to reconfigure; we've done away with the technical notions of "client" and "server" and instead adopted more fluid and easy to understand terms that regular people can understand.

Synergy 3 Beta now works at the login screen on every major desktop operating system (Linux, macOS, and of course, Windows). To achieve this, we rebuilt the background process management from the ground up. Synergy 3 Beta now also automatically runs on all supported operating systems without any additional configuration. The new universal tray icon looks, works, and feels the same on all three operating systems (on macOS, this is called the 'menu bar', and can be found in the top right of the screen).

What will it cost?

When Synergy 3 officially goes on sale in a few months, it will be a free upgrade if you have a Synergy 2 license. Those who have the Innovator or Early Adopter account status will also receive a free upgrade. You can check your account if you're not sure what kind of license or account type you have.

If you have a maintenance license: Should your maintenance license expire before Synergy 3 is released, then you'll need to extend your maintenance license. If you choose not to extend your maintenance license, then you'll still be able to use Synergy 1. You can check when your maintenance license is due to expire if you don't remember.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, we are committed to supporting Synergy 1 for a further five years after releasing Synergy 3, for those who are not ready to upgrade.

About the tech

Synergy 3 Beta is arranged into three components:

  • Config: The GUI (graphical user interface) that only runs when you need to change settings.
  • Service: The background service that controls the lifecycle of the Core component.
  • Core: The C++ open-source component that does the actual keyboard and mouse sharing. The Core is effectively the same as in Synergy 1 and Synergy 2.

We decided to commit to Electron, React, and Node.js for our technology stack in Synergy 3 Beta. The Service is written in Node.js, and the Config GUI uses Electron and React. While the memory use is a little higher compared pure C++, we came to understand that it was well worth benefits; a far more modern user interface and faster development time.

In terms of memory usage, the Core still uses around 10 to 20 MB; we kept this light and nimble since this the long-running, heavy-lifting part of Synergy. For the background service, we do aim to reduce the memory footprint significantly in future by further utilising Rust, which uses less memory than Node.js. The new Config GUI also uses more memory than the old GUI in Synergy 1, but like our plans for the Service, we do intend to use a more memory-friendly technology for the GUI (such as Tauri).

Compared to Synergy 2

Synergy 3 Beta is an entirely different app. It actually shares none of the code from Synergy 2 which, sadly had to be abandoned in favour of a better approach.

For Synergy 2, we stuck with what we knew and tried to rebuild the GUI (graphical user interface) with the same technology we used in Synergy 1. In Synergy 2, we neglected to add all of the settings from Synergy 1 and the result was a GUI that had all the flaws of the Synergy 1, and none of the benefits.

Synergy 3 Beta works completely offline (i.e. local network only). Unlike Synergy 3 Beta, Synergy 2 was permanently connected to the Internet, which left many of our customers very uncomfortable for a few reasons. First, there's privacy, how did customers know for sure that keyboard and mouse data wasn't being sent over the Internet? (it wasn't, but it still left customers feeling uneasy). The more prevalent issue, however, was one of stability. Internet connections aren't perfect; certainly, the low-ping world we live in is something we take for granted, but Synergy 2 showed us that Internet connections are not quite as reliable as we feel they are. Most of the time, it worked, but when your Internet connection goes down, the last thing you expect is not to be able to use your mouse and keyboard. It also put a lot of burden on us to make sure our cloud servers were kept running, something, it turns out, we were quite bad at.

Optionally, you can activate Synergy 3 Beta over the Internet, but this is purely for customer convenience. An offline serial key option is available for those who want to keep everything local.

Synergy 2 end of life

Now that Synergy 3 Beta is able to replace any Synergy 2 Beta installation, the time has come for us to announce the sunset of the Synergy 2 cloud service. We will be shutting down the Synergy 2 cloud servers on July 31st 2023. Any customers that have not transitioned from Synergy 2 Beta to Synergy 3 Beta will experience a disruption of service. Please contact us if for some reason you are unable to update your installation to the latest beta.

Try the beta today!

Existing customers: Download the beta for free

Non-customers: Free beta sneak peek

Posted 
March 21, 2023
 by 
Nick Bolton
 (revised on 
)

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