Sunday, February 03, 2008

More on iPhone Writing

I'm still playing. Here are a few more things I've learned.

  • About 5000 words is the best length for a long note.  Longer than that still works fine, but if you leave the note and come back to it, then scrolling to the bottom takes too long.  Also, if you're doing editing on the iPhone, a too-long note makes it harder to find the text to edit.
  • Don't try to format the text on the iPhone.  Don't add paragraph indents, for example.
  • Email the text to yourself.  There's a nice icon in the notes window for that.  It's not an attachment, just included text.
  • Once you cut and paste the text into your word-processor, then you can apply a style that handles the paragraph indents, etc.  
  • For some reason I don't understand, many of the spaces in the text will be 'non-breaking-spaces'.  Carefully use a find and replace to convert those to regular spaces.  If you're not careful, some word-processors will treat both kinds of spaces as the same in the find and replace dialog, so don't just delete them.  Change them to regular spaces and then use whatever technique you normally use to standardize single/double spaces where appropriate.
  • If your target is some website, like the sample I used in the previous blog entry, then seriously consider some way to format your sentences with CSS or some other technique.
  • Currently, there's no way to move text into an iPhone note, so if you need to import/edit/export, then you'll have to do it in email messages.
  • Writing dialog is not optimized.  Until new versions of the software are released, starting and stopping quoted strings is a struggle you'll just have to get used to.  
  • The iPhone text entry system appears to learn new words from you.  For example, in my experimental story, the girl character's name is Glu and although the iPhone almost always wants to convert that to Flu, it is learning, and has carried that custom word into other text activities like composing email.  I see a market for a custom word editor utility before long.
  • The iPhone text entry system is inherently a spell-checker, but there's no way to turn it off.  Nor is there a way to check for correctly-spelled, but wrong words in context.  There's no substitute for detailed proofreading.  

That's all for now.

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