iPad in My Workplace

Nope, it just isn’t a “media consumption device” for me anymore. I have finally been able to adjust to using it at work on nearly a daily basis. There are a few apps that are key to this new development. Most are on the iPad itself, however it does require one piece to be installed on my laptop.

iPad Apps for Work:

  • Dropbox App. While it isn’t needed on the iPad for what I do, I have it anyway. – Free
  • Goodreader App. This is a must no matter what. It handles PDF files so easily. – $2.99
  • Documents To Go Premium. This is the workhorse. It allows the viewing and editing of MS Office docs. – $16.99

Laptop Apps for Work:

  • Dropbox App. Set this up for your My Documents folder and it will sync your PC to the cloud, allowing you to work directly on the documents from the iPad. – Free

The first step in getting set up is to create your free Dropbox account. Takes less than 5 minutes and can be done from any machine. Just head to http://www.dropbox.com and click on the Register link. At this point, you will be offered the chance to download and install the PC version which will allow automatic syncing of whatever folders you wish to your Dropbox account. I dont have my whole My Documents folder selected, just my Work Documents folder selected.

Next, get the Documents To Go Premium (DtGP) app for the iPad. There is a Standard version for $9.99 but it does not connect to the cloud services (DropBox, Google, Box.net to name some), requiring you to manually manage the files between the iPad and Laptop. Once installed, head to the Cloud icon in DtGP and select the + sign in the upper right of the screen. this is where you select which cloud service you wish to use. I use Dropbox, so I created that link.

Once you have the iPad connected and the laptop synced up, you can now work on nearly and file. You will not have access to all the functions within Microsoft Office (especially the higher end formatting in Word or complex functions in Excel) but you will be able to make most edits.

For myself, I use a lot of VBS scripts at work and I am always tweaking them. I hated trying to remember tweaks to do when I was not at the office. I had to somehow remember to do them the next day. Now, I just bring up the script (nothing but a text file, anyway) and edit away. I use many Word documents when performing different functions during the day with different builds. Instead of swinging my chair around or printing off a bunch of checklists, I just keep my iPad with me and open the needed documents. When doing computer refreshes, we have a lot of information to log about users and their computers (old and new) and we use a spreadsheet to keep track. Well, instead of printing it out, I just pull it up on my iPad.

I am not going to say it saves me hours a day, but it does shave off minutes and I do my part in keeping things a little more green.

There is one app I have not talked about yet, and that is Goodreader. It can connect to FTP servers, websites and can download files. I use it mostly for my office maps. We get new sets every month. I use an app on my laptop to take 12 PDF files and merge them into one, then upload them to the iPad. This lets me view the maps without needing to print them. I can annotate the files for changes that happen with users moving between getting new maps. Being able to zoom in allows the really small text to be easy to read. Especially when chasing down office numbers.

Stands: What holds up the iPad to make it useful on a desk?

  • There are countless stands available made strictly for the iPad. They range in price from $15 to over $300.
  • I had no desire to pay even $15 for something I knew I could come up with a workable solution for less than $10.
  • My solution: Metal Business Card holder from Office Depo for $2.50 with some rubber feet to keep it from sliding for $1.00.
  • So far, it has worked as expected. No need in spending more than $10. I have even gotten one for use at home.
  • It works just as well in Landscape as in Portrait.
  • Works with no case, the Apple case and the Otterbox Commuter case. I would try others if I owned them.
  • Yes, it is even adjustable – just bend it.

Here is the iPad on the Business Card Holder.

Here is the iPad with the Business Card Holder.

These are only the first steps I have taken to get my iPad into more of my daily life. With it now being useful at work, I can start finding more uses for it as time goes on. However, these are big steps needed in order to help with my job. I am looking into an App that will allow me to edit my websites on the go in order to make changes immediately and on the fly. If that happens, and I think I have found the app, then I can once again look into doing some work on the side with websites. It is called FTP On The Go Pro.

As I find more ways to integrate the iPad into my work life, I will come back and add comments to this post. As I am continually searching, I am hoping to have many comments added in the future. As for now, I hope I have inspired some of you to take a good hard look at your jobs and see if your iPad can work its way into that aspect of your life.

By the way, this was written on my iPad with the WordPress app. I have the 64GB Wifi/3G iPad.

Update: I picked up FTP To Go Pro ($9.99) and it is nearly perfect. Granted, it does not do Syntax Highlighting, but it does allow me to edit my websites and other files directly on my iPad. On my laptop, I use a program called UltraEdit and have been since 1999. It also allows for FTP editing on the fly and has been so useful over the past 12 years I purchased the lifetime update license for it so I always have the latest and greatest. FTP To Go is as close to an equivalent app as I could find. If only it has syntax highlighting… But oh well. It definitely meets my needs on the iPad.

Within moments of having it downloaded on my iPad and the server information filled in, I was browsing the files on my website and able to edit them with ease. This now allows me to do quick updates to coding on the fly without having to tell someone, “Shoot me an email with the changes and I will update the site when I get home.” This is nice for meetings involving site changes and such – no lag time. Also, with as easy as it is to do the edits, I can finish the coding, have the user refresh the browser, and make any other changes with instant verification.

And lets talk about the Keyboard. Standard iPad keyboard pops up when you open a file for editing, but there is an extra row of keys on this keyboard. Number keys and common punctuation and HTML symbols are available without having to swap from the QWERTY skin. Click on the image below for a closer look.

FTP On The Go Pro Keyboard.

Again, check back for any updates as I find work-related apps and applications for the iPad in my job. While they may not fit for yours, maybe they will inspire you to think outside the box a little bit with regards to your iPad use in your workplace.

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