|UHN Palm Newsletter (July 2000) |
This month our topic is "style". Speaking as a geeky guy who hangs out in the Emergency Department where body fluids and fleas pretty much have the run of the joint, I don't worry much about style. No, I'm referring to how to organize textual material I develop for the Palm PDA.
Here's a simple exercise for you. Pick up your Palm and imagine yourself reading Dostoeyevsky's "Crime and Punishment" on that tiny screen. That would be a punishment alright, and probably not what you want to inflict on yourself or your students. Should we try to present material as full screen text? Does the Palm lend itself to reference or reading like a book at all? How long is too long when it comes to reading material here? Would it help to use colour, or different fonts?
I have some opinions as to what would work better in terms of readability and organization. Short sentences. Outlines with bulleted lists or links to detailed footnotes offscreen. I think you get the idea. This is where Outline software like BrainForest (reviewed in May) can shine. Another approach is Tealdoc (reviewed in April) with its bookmarks that function like a Table of Contents (see illustration to the left) and hotlinks which let the reader jump to points of interest. A click on the bookmark symbol on screen pops up a list of bookmarks and the reader can add more as desired.
And there are also HTML viewers like iSilo and AvantGo (reviewed in May), which allow you to embed hotlinks like a web page. Unfortunately, Avantgo doesn't provide bookmarks although you can create a Table of Contents using hotlinks.
If you are interested in learning more about preparing documents for viewing on the Palm, check the Palm home website (http://www.palm.com) and at the AvantGo website (http://avantgo.com/developer/reference/styleguide.html).
Last month I neglected to mention a few more approaches to prepping documents for the Palm. For users of Microsoft Word, there is a conversion utility called Documents to Go (http://www.dataviz.com/) which will take your work and convert it to a viewable file ready to put on the Palm. MakeDocW (http://www.robofish.com/download/utils/makedocw.zip) will also convert Windows documents to Palm format. You can even convert PDF files (a common format for online documents, in case you didn't know) to Palm format with PDF2Doc (http://www.palmspot.com/software/detail/ps2338a_98200.html).
Those interested in creating TealDoc text files with bookmarks, hotlinks, embedded pictures and other features, will quickly find that they must learn a few obscure tricks to prepare documents with these bells and whistles. It can be accomplished with Word or any text editor. If you aren't keen on struggling with this there is an alternative. It's Tword (download it from http://www.robofish.com/download/utils/TWordSetup.zip) which provides shortcuts for many of the steps. If you really want to put in the formatting codes yourself, try MakeDocW or MakeTeal.
Finally, there's QED (http://www.visionary2000.com/qed/index.htm) which is a sophisticated word processor for those who want to do their writing on the Palm device itself.
That's all I'm going to write about preparing text material on the Palm. You should have enough ideas to get you started. And you can always email me for help and gratuitous advice
Did any of you back up your files after last month's article onpreventing data loss? Let me know how you made out and if you discovered any useful tricks I didn't mention.
Next month we will discuss a different category of software that might be useful to doctors and teachers using Palms: medical formula calculators. And, once we have all these applications and documents (ok, ok, games too) we will look at ways to swap between tasks more quickly.
That's right, this month's issue is quite a bit shorter than previous ones. Why? It's July and I have to get out there and teach my daughter how to ride her bike. Have a great summer.
This is one of a continuing series of newsletters on Palm handheld computers, prepared for doctors, nurses, IT professionals and video game afficionados at the UHN. Feel free to pass copies around electronically or on paper. To subscribe, or complain, contact the author at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org