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Thanks to my boss's beanplating, I am getting an iPad, suckers!
June 30, 2011 3:49 PM   Subscribe

Is making documents for an iPad really that hard?

So, my work will be issuing their board iPads. I think the goal is that all paper documents the board would have gotten on paper will now be viewed on the iPad. My boss has informed me that I am going to be in charge of supplying the board with these documents. My boss is saying we need to create templates and that we will probably have to use an authoring software just for iPad to make the documents. I mean, he thinks this is a whole new science. I am thinking that we just need to tell people that, when they make their documents in Word, use a bigger point size and make a PDF that would be read by an app on the people's iPad. Am I going to be unpleasantly surprised or is my boss beanplating?

I would especially like to here about anybody who has helped their office go paperless
posted by Foam Pants to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
iOS devices can read PDFs via many means. The default on my iPhone is to be prompted to save into iBooks, and they are read quite easily and nicely.

I presume since you will be the authoring guru, you need an iPad for work and you can test it yourself. :-)
posted by artlung at 3:56 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps you want to look into Google Docs-based collaboration tools or Office-like editors for the iPad.

Going paperless means storing your data on the network somewhere (WebDAV service, Dropbox, etc.). Keep in mind the nature of your work, and if you handle confidential data, understand how that will impact your design requirements.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:58 PM on June 30, 2011


I don't think that the board will be modifying the documents in any way. They will just be viewing them.
posted by Foam Pants at 4:01 PM on June 30, 2011


If you do not want to modify the files, then there are many good pdf readers for ipad. (certainly better than any ugly "new" ipad exclusive software) I would suggest searching for good reader or upad as apps that can let your board view pdf's and make personal notes easily.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 4:07 PM on June 30, 2011


Can't you also just read Word documents directly?
posted by The Lamplighter at 4:09 PM on June 30, 2011


But as far as making documents for reading on an iPad.... can people just make them in Microsoft Office and export to PDF? I mean, am I missing something here? I would understand if it was an iPhone but the screen of an iPad is almost as big as a piece of paper. Is legibility a real problem?
posted by Foam Pants at 4:10 PM on June 30, 2011


If they are just viewing the documents, and the Office and PDF documents are on a web server, you can just open them up from the iPad's Safari web browser, which can be used to view Office and PDF documents.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:11 PM on June 30, 2011


I provide daily briefing documents for a cabinet secretary on his iPad. We convert everything to PDF and he uses Good Reader to read and take notes. It's a piece of cake and the documents look fantastic.
posted by fancypants at 4:16 PM on June 30, 2011


IMHO letter sized PDFs need to be cropped to be easily read on the iPad. There are PDF readers on the iPad that will allow you to crop, but I would experiment with PDF output sizes that look good on the iPad.
posted by wongcorgi at 4:26 PM on June 30, 2011


iBooks is free. I use it for PDFs and it's not a problem.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 4:28 PM on June 30, 2011


fancypants, how do you get the documents on to his iPad? You email them?
posted by Foam Pants at 4:32 PM on June 30, 2011


We use a dropbox. Our IT folks set up a custom system for me, but I'm sure you could use dropbox.com or another off the shelf solution.
posted by fancypants at 4:39 PM on June 30, 2011


I read lots of Word and Excel documents on my iPad. The iPad can open these documents natively without the need for any special formatting, no need to make them a PDF.
posted by stephennelson at 4:49 PM on June 30, 2011


it is possible to read documents at default A4/ 8.5 size, as you have multitouch - but at the same time, sizing them specially for ipad is probably preferable
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 5:17 PM on June 30, 2011


There is a good chance that these documents will be printed at some point. Also, your average office worker will be making these documents on Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. For those reasons, I was leaning away from doing a special size and just encouraging people to use a larger font so, when the page is shrunk to fit the screen, it is still legible. Is there a compelling argument that would trump my reasons and make me want to do a special size?

I'm sorry for asking so many damned follow-up questions, I seem to be an asshole today.
posted by Foam Pants at 5:27 PM on June 30, 2011


One of the neat things about the ipad is the pinch-zoom and movement interface. It's intuitive and easy and even kind of beautiful the first time. I kind of doubt you need to modify your pdfs at all.
posted by PercussivePaul at 5:43 PM on June 30, 2011


We don't modify the font size on our documents at all except for speeches which get blown up a little. This is pretty much all I do all day long, so memail me if you have any other questions.
posted by fancypants at 6:32 PM on June 30, 2011


I don't think legibility will be a problem at all. You can always just zoom in on any section with the pinch/zoom feature PercussivePaul mentions.

You can also print documents straight from the iPad now if you have a networked printer, no problem (you don't need the iPad 2 to do that, either. Works with the original).

Make the documents the same way you always have. The only issue is making sure everyone has the document with the same editing. So you are going to need a way to make the final edited version viewable for everyone.

I haven't used Google Docs, but I understand it is very similar to Word, so you could just use that online and share them. Or you can create the documents in Word or whatever and then upload them to a file-sharing site. You'll want one that is compatible with Safari (shouldn't be an issue, but I just had to deal with an antiquated system that wanted IE for everything, so I thought I'd bring it up).
posted by misha at 6:36 PM on June 30, 2011


The vast majority of any PDFs exported from Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, are readable and manageable on an iPad. The only app you might want to make sure everyone downloads is iBooks, as that makes it easy to save and read PDFs to your personal iPad's internal harddrive.

You have no need to use a special font, or a different sized font, because unless the font is copyrighted, it will be exported and embedded into any PDF you make.

Just proceed as usual, and you'll find that the iPad is a tremendously useful tool in the office setting.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:37 PM on June 30, 2011


I'm a freelancer on the receiving end. I get scripts emailed from clients as PDFs. I put them in my Dropbox folder and read them right inside the Dropbox ipad app. I also use iAnnotate, so that I can mark them up and save those notes/questions to an email.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:37 PM on June 30, 2011


nthing GoodReader, though it's not quite as good at taking notes on the PDF as upad. Much better reader, though.

Depending on how the docs are stored, you may want something with good samba or AFS connectivity so you don't need to store docs on a cloud service or WebDAV (which is fine, but it's probably not already in place). Files Connect has served me well.

SimpleNote and an Apple bluetooth keyboard are a great combo, too. The keyboard is super small and very nice to type on and will pair to either my iphone or my ipad. Capturing typed notes on my iPhone while I use the iPad as a PDF or Powerpoint reader is super handy.
posted by pjaust at 5:14 AM on July 1, 2011


Don't bother resizing or doing anything funky to the document specifically for the iPad. Just create the document as you would normally and use whatever means you need to in order to get it to the recipient (email, online storage services, etc). Most common document formats open just fine on the iPad. The recipient can zoom in and move the document around to their hearts desire if they need to see it larger. This is the beauty of the device. PDF is nice, my personal preference, but not totally necessary. Sounds like you should tinker with the iPad and get used to the way it works before you decide on a process and purchase apps.
posted by Gadgetie at 7:16 AM on July 1, 2011


Agree with all the comments so far. iPad will read PDF's just fine and if you use GoodReader (an app) then it can access a shared drive on the corporate network or a Dropbox account that you set up to put the files into. Board members will very quickly get the hang of pinch to zoom, so no need to change the docs except...

My boss's EA started doing this for him and found it works easier if the agenda, minutes, supporting docs etc are in one PDF so he doesn't have to bob back and forth between docs. She uses Adobe PDF to combine them for him and can then also highlight any important items she wants him to read. Finally, she sets bookmarks for each agenda item so that he can click the book icon and go to each one quickly. I've seen the finished product and it's really polished, and she says it still takes much less time than printing, putting little flags and hole punching the whole lot for a folder. Just food for thought...
posted by ranglin at 4:15 AM on July 3, 2011


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