April 10, 2011

iPad Office Workflow - 1 (Dropbox)

Using an iPad in office environment requires developing a workflow. A common initial application is to be able to review documents on your iPad, rather than printing them. But how do you get the documents onto your iPad?

Your workflow could be as simple as just mailing documents to yourself and viewing the attachments in the mail app on the iPad. But a more scaleable approach is to organize your files within folders on your office computer, and then synchronize them with your iPad using a network server such as the free cloud-based Dropbox service. Using the free Dropbox app, you can then view any of the files in your Dropbox folder on your iPad.

While the iPad has built-in support to display image, MS Office, iWork, html and PDF attachments, in the case of complex MS Office files the iPad's preview won't be perfect. My preference is to generate PDF versions of my documents and store these PDFs along with the originals in my Dropbox folder. On a mac, print to PDF is built-in as part of OS X. On a PC, Adobe Acrobat Pro adds the same functionality. Adobe also provides an online conversion service.

So my office workflow begins as: