The “meh” experience of sermon-writing on my iPad

Today I took the plunge and wrote my sermon on my iPad. It’s a “doable” experience, but not one I’d want to repeat over and over again just yet. Let me share my two biggest reasons why I don’t think it’s quite “there” yet.

  • There aren’t any windows. I know, on the iPad that’s a feature rather than a bug – but the nice thing about windows is the ability to look at information, and enter in data in another window without have to completely switch screens (or do so seamlessly). Also, I keep IM open while I’m working and I miss seeing my IM client there while I’m typing away. Most of my problems will be handled in iOS 5 this fall, switching apps seamlessly will be a simple swipe-gesture, and the new alerts set-up for iOS 5 will solve my IM dilemma. Right now, however, working collaboratively between processes is rather disruptive.
  • The writing apps aren’t quite up to snuff. I use Documents to Go as my word processor. It’s not awesome, but it does outlines, is synced to my Google Docs account (though it really should sync the doc automatically when it’s saved, rather than syncing only after the document is closed), and has a good set of features. It’s not as stunning to look at as Pages, but it actually has the features I need. The problem is, the keyboard support is pretty awful – the typical formatting shortcuts don’t work, and neither does the “save” command (which is needed, I lost whole paragraphs because the app didn’t suspend properly when I went to go search something in my Bible app). Also, would it kill Documents to Go to have a setting to enable typographic quotes? It just looks nicer. This writing experience needs to improve significantly before I move over to writing sermons on my iPad full-time.

So, that’s where I am. I could keep my MacBook shut down all week and just write on my iPad – but the disruptive way of collaboratively working between processes, coupled with weak apps for document generation, make it an undesirable option. I actually had considered using Google Docs directly on my iPad, but the desktop version is suddenly not working properly on my iPad anymore! I’ll keep looking for tools that make sermon-writing on my iPad a more enjoyable experience, and will revisit the process when iOS 5 comes out in the fall.

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4 responses to “The “meh” experience of sermon-writing on my iPad

  1. I use my iPad for writing outlines and lessons all the time, so I thoughts I’d share my process. First, the iWork apps, especially Pages, are so much better than the other office apps on the iPad. Pages has beautiful typography, and really can be used for creating a wide variety of documents, with images, sidebars, and more.

    Then, for outlines, I’ve found OmniOutliner to be an amazing app for organizing what you want to say and getting it laid out nice. It doesn’t support printing right now, but you can email the Dynamic HTML version to yourself and then print it via AirPrint. I write most of my lessons for church in it. Really nice.

    Another option is the clean writing apps, such as PlainText, Simplenote, OmmWriter, or iA Writer. If you just want to sit back and write a large amount of content, they’re great for that.

    Hope that helps, and enjoy writing on your iPad!

    • I’ve eyed omnipresent outliner – does it allow you to add information between points?

      My outlines start with the points, then I write the manuscript in-between them.. Google Docs, Libre/Open Office, and docs to go all let me do this.. Which is why I use them…

    • I rather dislike using pages for writing, actually, it gets in the way and doesn’t support outlines, and it’s a pain to get things I and out of the iOS version..

  2. Yes, Omnioutliner lets you add and move points and subpoints, and also lets you add notes underneath individual points. You can then tweak the font and style of points at different levels, and the notes underneath. Works really nice. Here’s an example draft lesson I wrote up recently, in HTML format from OmniOutliner: http://f.cl.ly/items/151i3z432S0F3m0I192t/Fish%20in%20the%20Bible.html

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