It's hard to imagine that you would be reading this blog if you don't know me, but just in
case, I'm blind as a post. And I'm getting older. This presents me with something of a problem
when it comes to the scientific literature, which will soon be set in typegaces that can be
measured only in some quantum unit. Sure, pretty much everything contemporary is online
now, either in HTML or PDF, so you can zoom it up to some comically huge size for easier reading.
If you use preprint servers you can even see things in glorious PS. I work on a MacBook connected
to a Thunderbolt display all day, and I tend to use my iPad when I sit on the couch in the evening
after the kids go to bed. So I'm interested in a painless workflow that will let me tag things
that sound interesting, move them to my iPad for easy reading and annotation, and then move them
back into a central repository so that I can see the changes from almost anywhere. That's not too
tall an order these days, right?
Surprisingly, the answer is, "No, actually, that's pretty easy." No doubt you can imagine my
surprise. So, how do I do it? I was lucky enough to find Craig Eley's 2013 blog post on
iPad Workflow: Zotero + Zotfile + ZotPad,
which got me about 99% of the way there. In fact, the only thing I had any trouble with was
an "Advanced Dropbox" setting in ZotPad that was converting blanks/spaces in filenames to
underscores, and that was easily fixed.
Here's my workflow, fron my Mac to my iPad: Zotero (in Firefox) → ZotFile →
Notability. The best thing about this is that all of the tools in this chain are free
with the exception of Notability, which is $2.99 from iTunes or the Apple Store. Since you can
use other PDF viewers/annotators, you don't even need to pay for that. You could just use the
free Acrobat Reader for iPad. In the opposite direction, you just send the PDF from Notability
back to ZotPad, and it gets synced back to Dropbox so that desktop Zotero can see the changes,
Now that I have this up and running I'm pretty excited about it since I haven't been keeping
up on my reading like I should because it's been getting harder. (Yes, I know, I'm off to my
eye doctor soon.) I think that this is going to work well for me, but I'll have to let you
know for sure in a couple of weeks.