iDocument 2 Puts You Back in Control

We reviewed iDocument earlier this year and whilst it was a very capable app, some of our readers weren’t able to get on with it, whether it was due to the way it handed their documents or ongoing performance issues.

The developers, Icyblaze, seem to have been taking all the feedback on-board and have recently released iDocument 2 — a complete reworking of the original app. I’ve been taking it for a spin to see just how different iDocument 2 really is from its predecessor.

Out With The Old…

iDocument 2 shares almost no resemblance to the original iDocument, using a muted grey and blue colour scheme that wouldn’t look out of place within one of Apple’s Pro apps.

iDocument 2 has had a substantial redesign, both on the surface and under the hood.

iDocument 2 has had a substantial redesign, both on the surface and under the hood.

Whilst the aesthetics of the app are radically different, the layout itself remains the same, with folders and collections located in the left-column whilst documents are presented in the iPhoto-like main view. The search bar has now located to a more traditional top-right and gone is the toolbar from the bottom, opting instead for an Inspector that can be toggled into view.

In With The New

iDocument 2′s biggest change from its predecessor is perhaps the way it handles your documents. While you can still import many types of documents into the app’s own library, you don’t have to anymore. A common complaint was that iDocument insisted on importing and handling documents itself, and if iDocument were to go wrong, you’d have to spend time moving data out of its own library folder.

iDocument 2 no longer requires documents to be imported and can simply reference them, keeping them untouched.

iDocument 2 no longer requires documents to be imported and can simply reference them, keeping them untouched.

iDocument 2 does away with this process completely and instead of importing documents automatically like the app used to do, the app leaves the documents where they are, merely indexing them and handling any metadata and information itself whilst keeping your documents well and truly separate. In this respect, iDocument 2 is less like iPhoto and more like Aperture — allowing you to reference files instead of simply having to import them.

This allows iDocument 2 to work with any existing folder hierarchy you might already have and, just because you’re not importing into its own library, you’re not missing out on any of the app’s other features. You can still link documents into collections, similar to iPhoto’s Events, as well as add tags, descriptions and flag them as needed — but none of your files are moved.

Changes to any folders are noticed instantly and iDocument 2 instantly updates its library as soon as it detects another compatible document within a folder. Support for video and audio is also now much improved and iDocument 2 will display any media files you may want to include and preset searches for author, recency and file type are all available under the new Focus menu.

iDocument 2 still has its own library function if you’d like to import files and this can be done simply by drag and dropping items onto its window.

Cloud Support

iDocument 2 handles online storage services in a similar way. You can point the app to a folder within your respective cloud storage service, such as Dropbox or Google Drive. The app detects which service you have automatically and asks if you’d like to use it with it, an option that you can decline.

There are a wide number of services it can provide automatic support for, with the ability to manually specify any services not listed here simply by selecting its folder.

There are a wide number of services it can provide automatic support for, with the ability to manually specify any services not listed here simply by selecting its folder.

As iDocument no longer requires documents to be imported, it means you can still keep them on these types of services and access them from other devices, such as an iPhone or iPad. Changes you make outside iDocument 2 are automatically reflected.

Any services set up in this way are displayed with their relevant service name and any folder hierarchy is retained.

Specify a folder within Dropbox and iDocument 2 will retain its hierarchy, keeping that carefully developed folder structure intact.

Specify a folder within Dropbox and iDocument 2 will retain its hierarchy, keeping that carefully developed folder structure intact.

iCloud

One of the many criticisms of iCloud is the way in which it handles documents that you store on it. Save a document to iCloud in TextEdit and only that app can view it.

iCloud support is able to display many of your iCloud documents all in one place, allowing you to edit them in other apps as well.

iCloud support is able to display many of your iCloud documents all in one place, allowing you to edit them in other apps as well.

A novel feature of iDocument 2 is that it provides a way of accessing all the documents you have stored on iCloud and displays them within the app. Instead of browsing app by app, iDocument will show you all of your iCloud documents in a central location, all without moving or copying.

What’s more, you can then edit the documents in any app you’d like and the changes are then synced back to iCloud. Power users will already know how to do this through the Finder but iDocument 2 provides a great front-end to doing this. I was able to edit a document I originally created in TextEdit using Textastic and as soon as I saved the changes and checked the document in TextEdit, the changes were there.

Encryption MIA

You can purchase iDocument 2 from either the Mac App Store or directly from the developer. Unfortunately, due to sandboxing restrictions imposed by Apple, the ability to encrypt documents (now called SafeBox) is not currently available if you purchase the app through the Mac App Store.

Whilst I can understand that there is little the developer can do to resolve this, it’s a feature I spent a good 10 minutes trying to find after reading about it on the website, only to discover the reason it was missing within a blog post rather than a support article. As it’s a main feature that the developer focuses on, I’d be a little annoyed if I had bought the app in the hopes of using encryption, only to find out it’s missing.

Conclusion

Make no mistake, iDocument 2 is a completely different app from its predecessor and, in fact, it’s less of an upgrade and more of a reinvention. By doing away with the import requirements, it should resolve many people’s past criticisms and now provide the best of both worlds, letting you retain any existing document organisation you might have yet still be able to use all of the features that make iDocument 2 so useful.

Whether you have a meticulously planned folder hierarchy or simply drop everything in your Documents folder, iDocument 2 will help you manage of your documents — without taking the control away from you.


Summary

Completely redesigned, iDocument 2 puts you back in control of your documents and can be as hands-off about them as you'd like. It's new layout, clever iCloud support and ability to now simply reference documents makes it, once again, a really useful document management tool.

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