2018 iPad Setup

It’s so amazing to look at my 2016 posts and see how much has changed in iOS and my own setup and workflow.

The start of every year I prepare my device for the work year ahead. I spend time archiving old documents, notes while preparing all my most used apps for the year ahead. In doing this I think through my workflows and ensure I am maximising the apps and setup I have.

By admission I’m an app junkie anything and everything that’s looks remotely interesting I’ll download and buy. This affects my setup as I can sometimes use an app for the sake of it without thinking through the entire workflow.

2018 iPad resolution

  1. Create a workflow and stick with it for the year
  2. Use the least number of apps
  3. Keep it simple stupid

Home screen(s)

Since iOS 11 I have adopted a blank main home screen. This I call my workspace. All my work related apps1 reside in the dock with the most common easily accessible on the dock and those least used in folder on the dock.

The second Home screen is all my more personal use apps and naturally games. This is where I can relax, read and get my mind off work. Currently I have Spark back on my iPad again testing to see if it can replace mail.app as my default email client. As per previous 2 I’m never quite satisfied with my email setup and continue to look for the Holy Grail of email applications. If you are looking for some good games you should check out Civ VI and Antihero both are really great time wasters.

Getting stuff done

Lucky for me I spend a bit of time out of the office at different locations and thats where the iPad comes to the fore however I am still bound to an PC centric organisation.

I have been reasonably successful in having other colleagues provide meeting papers and other documents to me in PDF format. Allowing me to take them on the road and mark them up without having to rely on being at my desk. Sadly the PC iCloud app is useless and I’m left using Dropbox for storing documents. If a better alternative for iCloud existed I would store all my docs there.

PDF’s are where the first rationalisation need to occur. Three apps are currently in use and not one meets all my needs; PDF Expert, Notability, and DEVONThink.

PDF Expert has fantastic annotation tools and has the ‘Open in’ ability unfortunately the inking engine is lacking and adds to more poor handwriting.

Notability is a lovely looking app with a great inking engine that makes my handwriting look pretty decent. Sadly you need to import PDFs from Dropbox them export them back when finished, this is better now with drag and drop but Dropbox in the files.app is damn awful. In addition the annotation tools are poor by comparison.

Lastly there’s the PDF tools in DEVONThink which are solid enough and offer all the tools one could need however it’s just not as polished as PDF Expert and the inking engine is even poorer.

Winner: PDF Expert – works in all the right places, convenient to use with files.app or DEVONThink I’ll live with the poor handwriting

This next workflow is a little harder to work through and I’m still undecided where to turn. I meet regularly with my team and takes notes of actions and discussion points. I like to keep a record of these discussions and last year used notes.app to accomplish this. Sadly as good as notes.app is I would rather keep all my work documentation together in a app with great search features, that app is DEVONThink. So the question is how do I get it there?

Some might think this is easy just share and send the note to DEVONThink – sure that seems easy enough however its just plain text and I like to do a little formatting. I especially like writing in markdown. I have two thoughts and both I really like and find hard to split.

First is Drafts 4.0, I can write in Markdown and using my custom action can send it to DEVONThink with all the formatting intact this works quickly and efficiently with the added bonus of any to do items can also be highlighted and sent to Things 3 using an action created in Drafts 4.0.

The alternate option is Bear which is a stunning looking note taking app which you can use Markdown to write in and the export as markdown to any app like DEVONThink.

Winner: Drafts 4.0 wins hands down however Bear is so pretty!

Things 3 is my to do app of choice it is a well thought out app that is nice to look at and flexible to suit most needs. The UI gets out of the way to allow you to get stuff done. There is no system for you to follow freeing you to use it how you see fit. Worth every dollar – just get it!

1Password is the must have tool for managing all you passwords both for work and personal. Security is so important these days and any tool that helps create and store secure passwords is a must.

Slack is my team communication tool whilst the apps are on the average side the tool itself has helped to reduce the number of emails I receive on a daily basis.

Finally Ulysses is my tool of choice for blogging and writing long form papers for work. The subscription is expensive here is Australia but you can’t deny the quality of the software and the app is fantastic.

This is my setup if you have thoughts or questions leave a comment or touch base with me via Twitter @YouSaidWhatBlog

  1. Yes I know Tweetbot is there and is not work related – It’s my most used social media app!
  2. https://yousaidwhat2.com/2016/11/05/email-client-wars-pt-2-returning-to-an-old-friend/
    https://yousaidwhat2.com/2016/04/16/untitled/

My First…

For some time I have been wanting to write for my own blog (and for others). The problem was finding the right time, the right subject and clearing the decks to do some writing all of which were getting in the way. After many starts and failed attempts today is the day.

This first post explores my start up process, what I will be writing on and the tools to get it up and out there.

What’s it all about

Technology plays an important part in my life both at home and in the office this intersection is where I will spend my time writing. Looking at both hardware and software that makes a difference to the time I spend working and playing.

I’ll admit upfront I’m an Apple fanboy but that won’t stop me discussing interesting tech that crosses my path. Camera’s and watches are also passions of mine (and no I don’t own an watch).[1]

Tools

Getting this post up required decisions to be made about the hardware and software I’d be using. Fortunately most of the software tools I had already purchased, although barely used. The hardware was a given…

The iPad Pro is one mean device and perfect for writing it is just the right size, the software keyboard is servicable and the pencil is just magic! What brings all this together is iOS9 and split view which in conjuction with the iPad Pro brings a new level of multitasking to my workflow.

I’ll not write too much on these topics as better people than I have already. Federico Vittici of Macstories wrote the following articles which more than adequately cover iOS9 and the iPad Pro.

iPad Pro Review: A New Canvas

iOS 9: Our Complete Overview and First Impressions

As for the software I was lucky enough to have all the suggested apps already installed (yes I impulse buy) on my iPad. Taking some time to play with what I had I determined what was best for me by selecting the more basic apps rather than the more powerful alternatives.[2]

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Omnioutliner by The Omni Group

At some point my thoughts need to be organised into a cohesive post and this is where OmniOutliner comes in. I can create a list of headings for my chosen subject and then add bullets point under each of those heading. The Omni products are fantastic and for work I have the whole suite.

Drafts by Agile Tortoise

Drafts is my go to for all little snippets of written ‘stuff’. I can write a quick paragraph on the bus and send it to my writing app of choice for formatting and publishing. Drafts is like a Swiss Army knife for moving little pieces of writing to all manner of services and apps in simple stripped down interface. The automation is where the power lies and this can be as simple or complex as you can create

Byword by Metaclassy

Byword is a Markdown writing app that allows you to simply write distraction free in Markdown. From Byword you can then publish to a number of mediums you use for blogging. The interface for Byword like Drafts is simple and stripped down with a easy on the eye UI for continuous use in all lighting situations.

From thought to publish the process for me was as follows;

  • OmniOutliner for idea creation
  • Drafts for rough drafts/passages
  • Byword for formatting and final publication

Getting it out there

Choosing a medium to publish to is no easy task there are many options;in the end it came down to convenience, ease of use and what I knew of.

WordPress is the main place for blogs and for no setup costs other than time you can have your own site. As a starting point you can’t go past this service especially if you want to eventually pay for a site. My goal will be to do this but first I’ll need a following.

As an alternative driver of traffic each post will be published on Medium. It’s an interesting service that I know little of. The payoff here is that it’s easy to use, there is no site to maintain and the content uploads nicely from Byword.[3]

Rounding this out I have Twitter account @YouSaidWhatBlog for the site where I’ll post regular updates to those (if any) who follow.

Coming next

I will look to post every two weeks. I beleive setting schedule that is achievable will ensure I can maintain a steady stream of updates.From time to time I’ll link to other news that I find interesting and want to comment on. In the mean time here is my list of articles waiting to be written

  • How I use social meadia
  • Thoughts on moving to an iPad Pro
  • App reviews
  • Workflows for the office

  1. I love watches and I like the freedom to choose a watch based on the day and my wardrobe. I feel the watch needs to be worn all the time for maximum benefit I would do that therefore I’m not buying one.  ↩
  2. There is great power in simplicity!  ↩
  3. As an IAP you can purchase the premium publishing package for Byword, this allows publishing to other services including WordPress and Byword  ↩