Thursday, July 07, 2011

MagicBoard to the Rescue?

A few days ago, I posted about my 2nd great grandfather, Joseph Zenophile Lanctot, and all the inconsistencies I was finding in my research.  In an effort to try to keep all my thoughts straight, I found and downloaded an iPad app called MagicBoard.  I needed something that would allow me to use photos, documents, scratch notes, draw arrows to stuff, and generally move things around until they made sense - at least in the way that my brain works.  At first look, MagicBoard seemed to fit the bill, so since it was being offered for the low, low price of $1.99 I thought I'd give it a try.

First, let me say that I was pleased by its simplicity.  There are no intrusive menu bars or toolbars.  Five icons on the top bar are all you need: one takes you to the main page where you store all of your boards; a "layer" icon so you can arrange your layers; an "add" icon that allows you to add text, a sketch, an image, or a map; a "settings" icon; and a "send" icon.

I created a board and loaded all my images (8) for Joseph from my Dropbox (I was thankful that I had decided to use Dropbox as the home for my family tree data!) into my "camera roll" on the iPad2.  From there, I was able to place the images on my board.  I was able to resize, move, rotate, and even add a caption (after I figured out how to do it - double-tapping seemed to do the trick).  There were options to add a text note and even maps.  I thought that might come in handy later.  There is an option to work in layers, but I haven't really explored that yet.

One thing I didn't like was that in order to jot my notes down (like I would if I were using a whiteboard) I had to add a sketch item, draw or write what I wanted to say, and then I had to manipulate the item to fit where I intended it to go.  I didn't have the ability to sketch in context with the rest of the board, so it took a few tries before I finally got it like I wanted.

I was able to send a picture of my board to myself via email.  Here it is:

What I liked:
1. I could manipulate my images however I wanted.
2. The size of the workspace.
3. The customization options available (background, etc.) - you can even choose whether to use "tape" or "pins"
4. The simplicity of it.
5. Having a lot of Irish ancestry, I thought the logo was super cute (and appropriate)!

What I didn't like:
1. Sometimes the images got a little stubborn and didn't want to play nicely (when resizing or moving, I ended up moving the entire board - that could have been user error or the app, jury's still out).
2. I can't draw arrows and circle stuff like I want.
3. I couldn't resize the actual board, so I ended up having to scroll from side to side to see all my stuff (which usually ended up with me moving all my images around unintentionally).
4. There was no way to change the default settings, so for each image I added, I had to keep changing the "fill bounds"  setting so the images would only fill the size of the space I gave them.
5. I wish there was a way to change the portrait/landscape orientation of the images.

Technical issues:
1. After I got all those images added and captioned, and got my sketches in the right places, I took the picture, emailed it to myself, and that was the last time I've been able to work on my board.  Now, when I open it, instead of my images, I see this:
2. Even though the app itself is fairly intuitive, I thought there should also be some sort of pop-up tips or something to tell you how to do stuff.  There aren't even instructions on the website (at least none that I was able to find).  I had to go to the forum to find out how to do some of the things the app boasted.

In any case, I posted a message on the forum about the image issue, and got a very prompt reply back from the developer, assuring me that they are aware of the issue and that it will be fixed with the next update (which I hope is soon).  I'll wait for that update and see if it changes my mind about this app.  Right now, it's completely useless to me. 

*I was not compensated in any way for this review. I spent my own money, used my own time, and these opinions are completely my own.


Susan Clark said...

Interesting potential, but you must have been frustrated beyond words with the technical glitches. Something like this that works would be wonderful!

Unknown said...

It was very frustrating. I had big plans for this app. I'll see what the fixes do, but I'm going to check out Moodboard in the next couple of days and see if I like it any better. I'll let you know :)

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