“PieSync synchronizes web apps, Zapier simply lets you automatically add info from one app into another.” That’s usually my answer when people ask me what the difference is between PieSync and services like Zapier or IFTTT, which connect apps by ‘zapping’ data from one app into another.

Last week I had a chat conversation on the subject, you can read along in this screenshot below. I took the screenshot because I realized I had to ‘update’ my usual answer.

What makes PieSync different?

  • brings existing information together
  • deals with updates in both apps
  • checks for duplicates

The conversation that brought on this post

PieSync vs Zapier chat conversation

PieSync and Zapier both focus on getting more out of web apps by adding some form of automation. But that’s where the comparison stops. We are not real competitors, as the use cases for PieSync and Zapier are very different.

Use case Zapier

One would, for example, use Zapier to automatically send a message to the company chat every time there’s a new subscription on the mailing list. Any scenario where a trigger in one app (like a signup on a Mailchimp list) has to result in a one-time action in another app (like an automated message on Hipchat) is great for Zapier.

Zapier is always one-way, one-time. Only when the trigger is pulled, the action takes place.

Use case PieSync

With PieSync, one would for example sync a CRM with Google Contacts. Every time a contact is changed or added either in the CRM or in Google Contacts, PieSync makes sure the information in both systems is up-to-date and correct. No matter how often the information changes. This way, your whole team has access to all your company’s contacts on mobile. When somebody in the office adds a new prospect to the CRM, all sales people, consultants or other colleagues on the road immediately have the new info on their phones. It works the other way too: when a colleague updates a customer’s address on the go, the CRM receives the new info straight away.

PieSync is always two-way and in real time. Whenever a change occurs in either app, the change is reflected in both apps.

Quantity versus sophistication

Zapier offers a one-way connection between a lot of apps, where PieSync has fewer, but more sophisticated two-way synchronizations. From the beginning, we have focused on fully syncing web apps, and we’re adding more and more apps to the list every week.

A different focus

At Zapier they are very clear about where their focus is. Here are the first 3 FAQ’s on Zapier’s help pages, which I mentioned in the chat.

1. Can Zapier fully sync my data between two apps?

Zapier doesn’t currently offer two-way syncing features like version merging or version conflict resolution and most supported apps don’t have triggers for updated data.

2. If I update something in one app, will that change be reflected in the other app?

In most cases, no. Some supported apps do have updating capabilities which will be clearly stated in the trigger or action descriptions.

3. Does Zapier work with existing data? (i.e. data that existed prior to making a Zap…)

Zapier offers event-based automation, which requires a new event to trigger your Zaps. Data that was created before your Zap was turned On will not be acted upon. We have documented some solutions to work around this.

Those are exactly the things we do at PieSync: we offer a powerful two-way sync

1. Can PieSync fully sync my data between two apps?

Yes. First we merge the existing data in both apps, making sure there are no duplicates or conflicts and that you have good, clean data in both apps.

2. If I update something in one app, will that change be reflected in the other app?

Yes. After the initial merge, you can make changes in one app or in both, any changes will be reflected in both apps. PieSync is ‘set it and forget it’, it runs it the background keeping your apps in perfect sync.

3. Does PieSync work with existing data?

Yes. PieSync works with the data that existed before you started using PieSync, bringing you a seamless integration between your apps.

Have we built PieSync specifically as an answer to these questions?

No. Mattias and myself came up with the idea behind PieSync when we noticed a huge demand for a synchronization service between Highrise CRM and Google Contacts a couple of years ago. As developers, we were inspired by David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder of the company that built Highrise, and when we read the stories of so many people on the Highrise forum asking for a Google sync, we thought ‘How hard can it be to build it?

How hard can it be to build it?

We’re about 2 years later now, and I can honestly tell you: pretty hard. But, we built the sync between Highrise and Google Contacts, and made quite a few people happy with it, and afterwards we started our proper company to expand PieSync and sync a whole lot more. Curious? Try it now for 14 days!

Alternative Text

Ewout is straight-forward and direct. He makes sure we keep moving forward. He’s a friendly chap and never fails to motivate the team to perform at their best.

Get new posts delivered to your inbox instantly.


Get 1 email a week. Unsubscribe at any time.