Less paper. Better workflow. Going from ideas to a presentable product faster. It’s become an obsession. Why? At a higher level, it’s about turning over what you learn as fast as you can, so that others can benefit from it. At a lower level, it’s just a reason to celebrate getting work out the door with a cup of coffee.
This article is about tablet workflow and tools (or toys). I want to put together some ideas and share them quickly. It’s not about polish, just the power of the idea and the reaction to the idea.
Simple is best so let’s talk about an input method, a medium, and an output method. This isn’t supposed to be a Wacom add, but our flow is going to be Bamboo Stylus on an iPad Mini into Bamboo Paper and then out via Airplay and Reflector from the folks at Squirrels.
This replaces the moleskine and fountain pen with something a little more high tech, but still the same size.
create and share faster
This setup has a lot of benefit.
- It’s a familiar model.
- You can jot down ideas on your way and immediately share with an audience.
- Prep a hand drawn presentation for your class.
- Tell a story, solve some equations, mark up some photos.
- Collaboratively create a presentation with your audience in real time.
- It’s portable.
- And let’s not forget it’s familiar.
Before we start the workflow, let’s take a look at our tools. First we need that stylus. Yeah, yeah – Steve Jobs didn’t like them. And you always have your finger with you. But I like something in my hand when drawing. I was never a fan of finger painting as a kid.
Having used a few, I like the Jot Pro for a precision stylus, and the Bamboo Solo for something a little faster. The Bamboo is the goto these days, it’s comfy and I just don’t like the feel of the plastic tip on the Jot hitting the iPad. The Bamboo has just the right amount of squish in the tip to provide a good tactile experience. I never got into active styli; maybe I would if I could actually draw.
There are lots of fun writing/drawing apps out there. I tend to favor Paper and Bamboo Paper. Wacom’s Bamboo Paper let’s you import images, but is otherwise darn simple. For the purposes of work, Wacom wins for the image feature alone. And it’s otherwise really slick and simple. A few different pens to use, some colors, multiple notebooks; and we’re done.
Last in the chain is a presentation display application. Reflector is the way to go on this one. It runs on your laptop; just connect that to whatever you are using and go. You Airplay from your iPad to your laptop and run the whole show while strolling around the room, engaging your audience, and looking like you walked off the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
making it all sing
Now that we have a bag full of stuff, we should do something with it. Time to break out the stylus and make some content.
marking up some drawings for a presentation
This is me, every day. Running to another meeting. An awesome team member sends me an email with just in time content, need to tweak it, and get some feedback. In comes a render to the inbox, save to Camera Roll, open Bamboo Paper, import, draw in a few pendant speakers, and then up on the conference room display it goes via Reflector.
If changes come up, no problem. Just mark them up with everyone watching and email them back to the designer while everyone moves on to the next topic. No action items to take away from the meeting, it’s already been handled and you looked good doing it.
Analyze, design, develop, implement, evaluate. Lather rinse and repeat; I’ve heard this somewhere before. Cocktail napkins make great storyboards. Then again, so do storyboards. Pull up a some pre-formatted storyboard layout in Paper and put the stylus to it. Directly from doodle to client approval email. Sure beats PowerPoint and you can do it from a park bench.
using a whiteboard that you can easily share with your audience
It’s white. It’s a board. It’s bored. iPad up on the screen again with Reflector and crack open a blank notepad. Now start teaching. Stroll around the room, talk to your audience. Write as you go; let them write on your iPad as you go. Create the presentation together. At the end of the session send them a copy of the day’s work right from your iPad. Nothing to do when you get home but prepare the next lesson and drink some coffee. Or sleep.
back to the beginning
This all comes back to workflow. Your workflow. My workflow. It’s about getting your point across and facilitating communication effectively and efficiently. We aren’t winning juried design competitions here. But we aren’t trying to. We are showing our work, bringing our audience along for the ride, and in most cases letting them drive a bit too. We’ve gone from scribbling on our iPad to presenting and collaborating in the time it took to drink a cup of coffee. All by means of a paradigm we know; and perhaps should get to know again.