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iPad Snag

One hiccup I’ve encountered with the iPad that hits home for a writer: as of this writing it’s not very import/export friendly for word processing documents. Google Docs, while viewable, are purely read-only, which is a big, big hole. This is apparently due to a problem with Safari, which doesn’t support the “makeEditable” HTML 5 property, something that Google Docs depends on. (So much for open standards, Steve. Want to look into that for us?)

There are some apps that work around this; but it’s pretty clear that Apple intends that for your word processing on the iPad needs, you’ll use Pages. And at $10, Pages is certainly affordable, but it also has its problems — the biggest being getting existing files into it. Like all of the iP* (I pee stars!) apps, or at least, all of the ones I’ve seen so far, it keeps documents in its own little vault. So if you want to open a document, it has to already be in the vault to begin with. To get an existing document into said vault, you have to mail it to yourself as an attachment (in a format that Pages can read, which sadly does not include .WPD, but what does any more), and in the Mail app, tell it to send the document to Pages.

It’s a lot of go-around-your-thumbey kind of nonsense that is really unworthy of what is otherwise such an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. And like I say, I wouldn’t even be doing that much if I could just open up Google Docs and work there.

I’m sure this will be ironed out over time — too many people are going to want to actually be productive on an iPad for it to stay hobbled this way — and if nothing else I expect Google will make a stand-alone Google Docs app. But it is kind of a nuisance out of the gate.

All that said, as an experiment I’m going to do tonight’s writing session in Pages while listening to my tunes via the iPod app, and then export it all back to my main PC when it’s done. This is a dry run for how I expect to work on the road, so I’ll have the kinks ironed out before it becomes time to actually do something.

-The Gneech

Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 5th, 2010 12:24 am (UTC)

And after you get it into/out of the vault, how do you print it? That seems to be the biggest peeve I've heard about the iPad so far.
May. 5th, 2010 02:17 am (UTC)
Well, from what I gather, you e-mail it back out to a machine that has a printer on it. There are supposedly printing apps as well, but I haven't looked into them.

May. 5th, 2010 06:01 am (UTC)
Setting up a printing architecture for a device like the iPad is actually tougher than it sounds like it should be. Two words: "printer drivers." They could put on a very small subset -- say, just Postscript and PCL 5, with no printer-specific features supported at all -- but that would get a lot of complaints, too. Apple has probably decided that for the time being it's better to annoy everyone equally. I'm hoping a solution will be available after the next major OS release, but I'm not holding my breath.
May. 5th, 2010 01:41 am (UTC)
My Mum the multi-published e-novelist, thanks you for your concerns and comments.
May. 5th, 2010 02:14 am (UTC)
Uh ... you're welcome, frustratedpilot's Mum!

-The Gneech
May. 5th, 2010 05:56 am (UTC)
You can get files into and out of Pages on the iPad using iTunes, although right now it's still unnecessarily kludgy. If you go to the "Apps" tab in iTunes and scroll down there's a list of programs which are capable of filesharing, and when you select one you see the documents in its "vault."

...except that in Pages, that area is actually *separate* from the documents Pages shows you in the app itself, which is the stupid part. You can import documents from the file sharing area into Pages by tapping the folder icon in the upper right corner of Pages' UI, and you can export documents to the sharing area from Pages by selecting "export" from the document action popup. I'm hoping that in a future version of Pages this little hula dance will go away (and that in a future release of the OS, file sharing will be handled in a different way to start with).

One odd note: if you use Dropbox on your PC and get the Dropbox syncing app on the iPad, you can open files from the Dropbox app directly in Pages. (And any other app on the iPad that knows how to open a file in the Dropbox can open files from it.) It's one-way -- Pages basically just imports the document and then you're stuck with Pages' own anemic exporting capability -- but it may still be a little easier.
May. 5th, 2010 10:31 am (UTC)
Using iTunes! So very not intuitive, but hilarious!.. Thanks for the helpful tips... never woulda guessed this one :D
May. 5th, 2010 10:28 am (UTC)
ooo... more very helpful information... thanks, bud!

Personally I like 'publishing style' apps, but yep.. the lil' cripplings should be So Over by now. Macs had so many of those in the past, isn't it time for them to be free of their hurdles?
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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