iPad as a writing/research tool

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Mishenka
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Thu May 20, 2010 10:21 am Post

With Soundpaper, as far as I can see, one is only limited by how many MB your iPad has. An alternative is AudioNote which basically works the same way & allows doodling on your iPad as well. AudioNote allows you export notes & audio via email or over Wi-Fi.

Link to AudioNote in iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/de/app/audionot ... 20957?mt=8

Link to AudioNote's website: http://luminantsoftware.com/iphone/audionote.html

Both can be used at any kind of get-together, meeting, seminar, etc... Don't see why it can't be used during interviews as well, although you might want (or need) to inform those being interviewed that they are being recorded.

Es
Esmeralda
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Thu May 20, 2010 2:17 pm Post

Thank you for the suggestions. Yes, the people I interview know they're being taped. They're part of an oral history project I'm working on. The ability to jot down notes during the interviews would be most helpful when I listen/transcribe/translate the subject's stories. I appreciated your prompt response.

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druid
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Fri May 21, 2010 3:17 am Post

Thanks to Mishenka and omill for their lists of writing apps.
I'll try them out soon. Bought Things and Bento, since I have desktop versions.
They are pricey; the usual 1.99 floor tends to spoil me.

I like Stanza on iPad so much that I downloaded the desktop version.
Great for reading a series of files that you just want to scan quickly.
And you may export in up to 17 formats. And thus exchange with iPad.

I looked at Penultimate, but there are many complaints about its limits.
For now, I'll stick to typing or use Adobe ideas for written notes.

And thanks to Andrew Nicolle for info on Story Tracker.
Off to check it out!

Later: good series of reviews on iPad apps for writers at InkyGirl:
http://www.inkygirl.com/ipad-apps-for-w ... anagement/
Covers SimpleNote, Corkulous, Office2 HD, My Writing Nook, PaperDesk, Notably, and SketchPad HD.

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druid
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Fri May 21, 2010 3:00 pm Post

Reference manager: I wrote to the EndNote company, asking if they were working on an iPad app, and got back this reply from one of their product managers: "Both iPhone and iPad apps are near the top of our to-do list for EndNote."

Nothing about when, but they are apparently working on it. A reference manager is critical for most writers, so let's hope BookEnds and the others have similar plans. All I want is the ability to install a library on the iPad, and then display, edit, and synch entries with my desktop app.

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rvdparis
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Fri May 21, 2010 5:10 pm Post

Reference manager: Sente is releasing an iPad version this summer. See : http://www.thirdstreetsoftware.com/blog/

On another note: Say we work daily with Scrivener, how do we incorporate the iPad in our process? I'd use Simpletext.ws or Writepad...Does Scrivener play nicely with them or other programs? (I am sure it does...)

Thanks...R

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AmberV
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Fri May 21, 2010 5:18 pm Post

Currently it plays nicely with SimpleText.ws. Check out the `File/Import` menu. From there just plug in your username and password and you can download texts from the service.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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AsafKeller
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Fri May 21, 2010 6:11 pm Post

All I want is the ability to install a library on the iPad, and then display, edit, and synch entries with my desktop app.

PubMed On Tap will let you do much of the above with Bookends.
http://www.referencesontap.com/

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druid
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Sun May 23, 2010 6:35 pm Post

Notes and Writing: The InkyGirl review cited two apps that I decided to buy and try, Notably ($2.99) and My Writing Nook ($4.99). Both advance iPad note-taking interface and functionality. One review calls Notably "the Moleskine of iPad apps," and Nook has similarities to Scrivener.

Notably has a good-looking skin: notes are on a cream-ivory "paper" set on a wood-grain "desk." The app's best feature is a choice of 12 fonts and sizes: Baskerville, Cochin, Palatino, Times New Roman, Gill Sans, Trebuchet, Courier, Helvetica, American Typewriter, Academy Engraved, Chalk Duster, and Snell Roundhand.

Notes appear in the right pane and an index/table of contents on the left. Each note has a date/time stamp, with most recent at the top. You can't sort the notes, but the Search function helps you find previous notes quickly.

You type with full touch and keyboard editing, plus spell-check and auto suggestion. Notes may be in portrait or landscape. Saving is automatic, and you share via e-mail. (Additional export/synch options are coming.)

For three dollars you get a pretty way to work, and many writers on the forum say they are more productive when using a favorite type face, like Baskerville or Times. Notably is no Moleskine replacement, since you can't create hand-written notes or diagrams. And in function it's not that different from Apple's Notes, which comes with OSX.

My Writing Nook works on iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android; the port to iPad is new. It has a superficial resemblance to Scrivener, in that the left pane functions like a Binder, where you may set up chapters or scenes to view on the right.

You may do the same in Notably, but in Nook you get bullet icons in 12 different colors to mark project bits and keep them sorted together—similar to the use of color bullets in xPad.

Nook includes 9 font/size choices, spell-check, and autosave. Additional features are a dictionary or thesaurus lookup, and (bravo) real-time word count. The index pane shows the word-count for each item. You share via e-mail or synch with a Nook web app, using a Gmail account address.

Both of these apps offer attractive ways to enter notes or work on segments of a writing project. A crucial limitation of both is the inability to import notes or chapters.

The developers ask for suggestions; my advice is to look at SimpleNote for its synchronized saving, web app version, and hooks to other programs, like Notational Velocity. Although SimpleNote remains "free," it inserts ads, which you eliminate with a $3.99 one-time payment. For $8.99 a year you get Premium service, which eliminates ads and adds auto backup, a private address for mailing notes, and sharing via RSS feed.

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Gaijin de Moscu
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Sat May 29, 2010 3:34 pm Post

Very nice review, Druid. I just bought both programs - to encourage the developers!

It's relatively easy to import documents into the "MWN": via their website. A bit cumbersome - I guess it's easy to forget to synch the website and Scrivener, - but workable. I've just put the beginning of my book into it and it works nice.

Both programs have limitations (from my pov) that are actually addressed in Pages for iPad. Specifically, I write with an indent for each paragraph in my Scrivener; without it the writing looks messy. Neither of the programs allow me to indent. But I'm sure for many others this isn't a big deal at all.

Having tried them both, I actually prefer the MWN as it seems more geared towards an actual writer. "Notably" is more of a pleasure to use visually; a shame it doesn't allow an easy import yet.

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KB
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Sat May 29, 2010 5:17 pm Post

Both programs have limitations (from my pov) that are actually addressed in Pages for iPad. Specifically, I write with an indent for each paragraph in my Scrivener; without it the writing looks messy. Neither of the programs allow me to indent. But I'm sure for many others this isn't a big deal at all.


You can't really blame the developers for this - Apple didn't make a rich text engine available to developers for the iPad, so most developers - and thus writing programs - are going to be stuck using plain text for the foreseeable future. (Rich text is necessary for indents, line spacing etc - Apple created their own rich text engine for Pages but didn't make it available to third parties - so the bit in the Keynote where Steve said he gave the iPad to the iWork team just "to see what they could do", implying that the iWork suite could just be built using the regular iPad tools, was a little misleading. :) ) Beyond Pages and Office2 HD (not sure how they managed it, but they have a cross-platform suite), I doubt you'll be seeing indents etc in third-party iPad programs for at least another year.

Best,
Keith

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douger
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Sat Jun 05, 2010 5:08 pm Post

This is great thread, druid, and I have to say I’ve been in love with my iPad as a note taking tool since I got it. But I was surprised that in these ten pages no one has mentioned TaskPaper.

On the iPad I’m using the TaskPaper "show project" function to work with longer texts, like story drafts, kind of the way I’ve used Scrivener on my iMac or MPB. I know that TaskPaper is marketed as being for ‘simple task lists’ but being able to move paragraphs around, hoist sections, tag others, and it's not that far of a conceptual leap to think of it as a powerful drafting tool. Simply managing revisions as sequential "Projects" lets me flip back and forth and see what the heck I was doing four revisions ago. I'm sure you can take the example and extend it to your writing situation. Of course I've had to learn how to get rid of all the indents and such in the core plain text files before printing, but that's what WordServices is for, right?

I'm using TaskPaper (both iPad and Mac) for note collection and arrangement. It’s wonderful for quotes, or phrases you want to use, just like shuffling around cards in Scrivener (chunkification and de-chunkification :-) ). I also keep my research lists there, books and article I need to pull when I get to the library, Project = Area of inquiry, Tags = In which facility they are located. etc...

Now I'm thinking about being in DropBox and being able to open text files on my iPad in TaskPaper (and or WriteRoom someday), and I have to say, I think my trips down to Poets House will be much more productive, especially since I'm not dragging the old laptop along.

…and the native syncing of TaskPaper files into Scrivener (via SimpleText.ws) works effortlessly.

So, of course I’ll still use Scrivener for the big stuff, it is without parallel, and I think I’d rather do that on the monster screen of my iMac, not the iPad, but for the text noodeling that makes for the raw material of the big stuff, I’m having trouble finding fault with the iPad.

Doug

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hatsuyuki
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Sun Jun 06, 2010 6:39 am Post

I do not own an iPad but a few days ago I came across "MyTexts" which for a short time I tried out on my mac. The app gives you a list of text documents not entirely unsimilar to Scriveners binder. I am curious wether anybody has tried this and maybe could elaborate on the experience. ^_^

http://myownapp.com/

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brett
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Sun Jun 06, 2010 5:49 pm Post

douger wrote:
I'm using TaskPaper (both iPad and Mac) for note collection and arrangement. It’s wonderful for quotes, or phrases you want to use, just like shuffling around cards in Scrivener (chunkification and de-chunkification :-) ). I also keep my research lists there, books and article I need to pull when I get to the library, Project = Area of inquiry, Tags = In which facility they are located. etc...
Doug

I keep hearing good things about TaskPaper. I don't have an iPad, but you can you elaborate a bit about what makes it superior to say, TextEdit or Pages on the Mac for note organizing? A step by step account of how you use it might help those of us who don't actually have the app yet.

I have read that TP works well between iPhone and Mac, too. For syncing Mac notes with my iPhone, I just use SimpleNote, although I do have WriteRoom and SimpleText and could use them instead. How TP + SimpleText would improve the situation?

In both cases (iPhone and Mac), I move notes from TextEdit (or Bean) and SimpleNote into Scrivener.

Of course, I realize that our uses differ and what works for you may not for me and vice versa. thanks!

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AmberV
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Sun Jun 06, 2010 6:11 pm Post

I'd download the desktop version of TaskPaper and play with the demo a while to see what the buzz is about. The iDevice version is fundamentally the same, though in my experience it is a little less elegant to work with in terms of data entry. The biggest handicap is that rows cannot easily be changed strictly with the keyboard. In the desktop version, a very simple syntax drives the structure. Lines with a colon on the end make it a project; lines with a dash in front make it a task; lines with neither are notes. That's it. On the iPad you have to change the mode via a three-tap menu command. I wish it could just derive style from syntax.

That weakness aside, the rest of the it is quite similar to the desktop version. It is very easy to drag things around to re-organise them; easy to check things off; and the tag and project filtering is as elegant, but not nearly as powerful as the desktop version, which supports some advanced query syntax. Neither of those are as interesting to people using it as a way of writing out ideas though---those are more interesting to people using it as a GTD implementation, though they are not completely useless in the "augmented text editor" realm of things.

So to compare it briefly with something like Pages or TextEdit: the key thing that makes it more useful for note collection and idea brainstorming is that it has a core model built around the outline metaphor. Paragraphs are equivalent to outline entries, though it does without the headline+note method and just runs it all together. Headlines are notes because there isn't a visual or data restriction on length. You can type 1,000 words into a line and it doesn't look weird---whereas that would look weird in OmniOutliner. That is where it ends up feeling more like a text editor than an outliner. Where it ends up feeling more like an outliner than a text editor (like TextEdit) is that it is supremely easy to move things around and form hierarchies of information. No more or less difficult than OmniOutliner. It really does straddle the line between text editor and outliner, and I think that is what generates a lot of the buzz. Ah, one other main difference between TP and a more standard outliner is that it doesn't support disclosure. Everything will always be in front of you---however this can be mitigated by filtering---which in outliner parlance would be akin to hoisting (though non-linear in nature).

Then once you add in its other features, such as tagging, overstriking entries, and filtering, that increases its ability to function as a quasi-todo list as well as a text editor.

I'm not as entirely thrilled with the mobile version to be honest. I really like the desktop version. I think its one of the most fluid environments for lists of notes and simple todo lists. The type contortions on the mobile version though make it feel a bit hindered, to me. Like I said, I wish it would just derive type based on what you input. Taskpaper uses the exact same sync protocol as WriteRoom, so if you are familiar with that you already know how Taskpaper works.

So yes, try the desktop demo. That will give you a good feel for how it is different than a standard text editor.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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druid
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Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:41 am Post

douger and hatsuyuki, thanks for the news on TaskPaper and MyTexts. I downloaded MyTexts and will say more after I've tested it. TaskPaper does not come up in a search of the Apps Store, at least for iPad apps. I gather it's an iPhone app that will run on iPad. (found it at HogBay; suddenly $30 for a writing app seems a lot!--$5 discount if you watch the screencast)

I'm interested in what douger and Amber say about working in TaskPaper. I used Hog Bay Notebook and Mori long ago and thought they were good outliners; the minimalist approach of TP left me a little cold. But on the iPad, that may well be a virtue.

Since I also own EverNote and Things, I may tinker with them awhile to see if they are useful as research/writing apps between desktop, laptop, and iPad. Both synchronize very easily.