Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Ipad for quilt designers ( and ultimately for Luddites too).

Diane Hock

and I had a girly -geek day today. We took two ipads, one laptop, two kindles and a mobile phone which provides a back up mobile wifi mobile hot spot and went and claimed our place on the sofa at Cedar Farm coffee shop for a good few hours.

There we engaged in serious ipad app research, purely for your benefit you understand.

Our aim was to find a single app or if necessary a combination of apps that would allow us to
1. Blog surf for images and information for information, clip that information and sort it into subjects for easy retrieval
2. To be able to add our own notes and sketches inspired by that research
3. To be able to retrieve that material and collate it in a visual collage type display
4 . I also wanted to be able to access the material from my work computer which is so secure I am unable to download programmes and also my itouch so I needed web based services which with cloud based synchronisation.
5. I also wanted some project management functionality for time and cost recording and to do lists, preferably with one visual overview of all projects.

I cannot guarantee we hunted down every possible app but we had a good go. Your needs and preferences might differ if you have similar needs and want to spare yourself several hours you might want to try the following apps which we concluded were as good as it was going to get ...


This programme allows you to set up notebooks for an individual topic. The notebooks can be collated in stacks of similar topics. In your notebook you can put text notes and images and can create to do lists. You can email notes to your notebooks or can write direct in the app. Images can be annotated with comments The App is free and cloudbased. In a full web browser you can get a web clipper to install which allows you to clip web pages and pop them in your notebook. On ipad however, this clipper cannot be intalled in the safari browser. The solution is with the MEMCLIP app (also free) which fulfils this function.

So that got us a single source to store and organise all that inspiration. But evernote notebooks give you a list of notes one at a time. It does not appear to easily allow you to combine the material.

For that we turned to

I found the App for this fairly useless and deleted it. However, the programme works perfectly well on ipad from the web browser. Pinterest allows you to set up ' boards' - basically virtual pinboards on which you can pin images you see from the web which you like. The site automatically records the original source of the images. Others can follow your boards. It is a good free site on which to combine visual images by topic. However, it does not facilitate added Text documents other than the captions added to images.

An alternative visual display which does allow notes ( and arrows and the like) is

The Lite app is free but limited athough t is enough to play with and get the idea. The full app is a fairly hefty £6.99 but allows unlimited boards on which you can display images and notes in a very decorative way. Diane has it and her verdict, when asked whether it was worth the price, was "I'm not sure. Not yet but I want to play with it more." I personally will probably stick with Pinterest.

For project managment I like

This app allows you to make as many projects as you like and on the same screen to show related to do lists. Even better you can link NOZBE with EVERNOTE and DROPBOX ( a file storegage service which I already use to store my files and photos so nothing is vulnerable to loss if a hard drive crashes. It offers some free storeage and more at a low monthly cost). So in NOZBE I can have, on one screen, to do lists, notes and files including images all together. It does not link to Pinterest but because Pinterest is web based you can clip your Pinterest boards with MEMCLIP, pop it in an EVERNOTE notebook and then it will come up in NOZBE too.The NOZBE app (£10.49)will allow you to have as many projects on the ipad as you like for that one off payment, but in order to synch them to NOZBE on other devices or the website you must have a paid account. The exception is that you can have a free account limited to five projects only. Now for business use or for coordinating all aspects of you life I can see that five might be enough. But, if used only for Quilting projects a limitation of Five works in Progress at a time might well be a good restraint!

And it fits in neatly with the

which is all about a Japanese method of work flow control called Kandan. Basically you write your intended projects on cards. The are stacked up in a to start pile. As you start to work on projects they can be moved to an In progress and then a Completed pile. You can set limits on how many cards go in each column and you can make it all rather more sophisticated with sub columns and categories. Thats not the best of explanations but it provides me with sn excellent visual representation of what work I have at what stage. Very helpful. Diane found SCRUMBOARD which seems to do much the same thing although I found the graphics less crisp and the options less sophisticated.

for the Time Recording I turned to


Free and dead simple. Put in the name of your project, press start. It records tme. press stop. It stops. the difference to a stopwatch is it retains the records so you can see the cumulatve time each quilt took. Excellent for figuring out profit margins or answering the inevitable "How long did it take you?" question.

So, there we were. Information collated and organised. Tasks to doable and timed. Now we wanted to pull it all together, to sketch next to the information and colour in. We ordered more tea and set to. We played with various notebook options which allow you to use your finger or a stylus to hand write and draw. ONENOTE ( Full Microsoft on laptop programme good, app only for iphone and useless) and MOLESKINE ( seductive cover app limited) being but two. None provided good enough control on the handwritng and sketching front. We were getting frustrated when suddenly we broke the barrier and found the perfect solution :

The onsite art shop sells really beautiful journals.
We concluded that much though we LOVE our ipads we also love paper and pen and that the ipad cannot match the use of a sketchbook for the actual work. We believe that the collation of information is fabulous on the ipad but when it comes to using that information we vote for printers, pretty books and real scissors and pencils!

Of course havng spent all day looking at productivity apps we have spectacularly failed to actually produce anything. Except this post of course. Which was written in the BLOGSY app of course......


JB said...

I thought you were both supposed to be working the show!! :-) I loved your collection and description of apps even though I do not have any of your fancy gadgets to use it on.

Linda said...

This is both timely and interesting. I'm Android based so not all the apps you mention are available to me - though there are alternatives.
I'd begun to use Pinterest, just because it was there but have noticed that the collections I've made so far are colouring my thinking.
I've used Evernote on and off for a few years but find that it isn't as flexible as I'd like. Did you look at Zoho - your post reminded me of it. They have a nice suite of applications and now notepad, which is supposed to be an Evernote alternative.
Now I'm off to see if there is an android Kandan app. - that sounds like it thinks like I do!

geni said...

Thank you for sharing the results of your tests. I totally agree: the WWW is fabulous for collecting info. Exploring my ideas works best in a journal or sketchbook.

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Keith Bourne said...

Hey, thanks for posting about MemClip! We just launched the app in July and are just getting started. Evernote just added us to their Trunk list (select apps that work with Evernote) and we're not ranked 89 in iPad productivity apps. We'll continue to improve the web clipping functionality on the iPad, to make it as easy as possible for users like yourself. Big update coming in September!

Judy said...


Thank you for doing all that research for me but like you found I love my real paper pencils etc.