Saturday, February 23, 2008

More iPhone Writing Notes

My iPhone novel experiment is close to 40,000 words right now, and it isn't a hardship.  That's the important part I think.  Sitting down in random moments to blast out a paragraph or two will happen if it's nearly effortless, but not if it's a chore.

There's a couple of points about transferring the data I'd like to comment on.  Before, I said that you had to email the notes to yourself.  That's no longer the case.  Independent programmers have been at it and there are a few ways to move the data around that don't depend on shipping the data through the Internet.

The first thing I tried is a bit hackish.  On the Uninnovate blog, it details a python script that decodes the iPhone backup files and breaks out all the data types.  From then, you point the Sqllite Data Browser at the notes database file and the content of the notes is available to export to a text file.  This is great and I've done quite a few chapters this way.  Of course I'm a command line geek at times and it's totally natural for me, but hardly the mass-market GUI way of doing things.  There is another gotcha as well.  The text you get this way has a slightly different encoding.  Most everything is fine, but non-ASCII characters shift a little.  For example that non-breaking space that appears in the email export route is instead a different glyph altogether.  And when I put an accent mark on an e in a word, it was decoded into an entirely different character.  These are easy enough to work around and preferable to the email route, but it left me looking for an alternative.

So I ran across MegaPhone, a $20 shareware tool that is a GUI data transfer tool.  Getting the notes data out is very simple, and plus, the encoding is the same as email, so that's a bonus.  The software does advertise a bunch of other things as well, such as allowing editing and moving data into the iPhones Notes as well.  I was less impressed by my experiments on that end.  For one thing, I was excited at the possibility of putting a PDF file to be read later into the notes, but it wasn't what I had hoped.  It converted the PDF into what I imagine is HTML.  My goal was to be able to proof the formatting of a PDF document, and that was totally gone.  Plus, once you use any other font than the designated Marker-Felt font, the note looks horrible against the yellow lined note background.  

I'm sure there are other tools out there as well, but probably I'll go with MegaPhone for easy note export and limited note import as well.  It fills a gap until Apple provides a better native solution.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I realize this post is from 2008, but have you tried Evernote? Syncs automatically with the web and your Mac/PC. I would think it would make your life much easier when transferring notes...