I recently downloaded Index Card for iPad. It’s a pretty cool app that allows users to manipulate text snippets in the form of both index cards and text. This makes it attractive to screenwriters, fiction authors, and maybe anyone who like to work with compositing small bits of text together into a whole. I mentioned the app in A Long Journey To Find A Better Way To Write Notes.
The metaphor of piling and reordering index cards is very attractive to me, but, alas, things are not going well.
Why? First, the app is only available on iPad, and I do almost all of my research and writing on Mac. So, I looked into the app’s options for importing, which are limited to Scrivener docs (through a complex series of steps) and index card formatted files, which is the nature format of the app and perhaps others.
I thought I would ask about possible support for importing text files, via Dropbox, thinking that others might want a similar capability. Here’s the transcript of my interaction with a customer support person, who never identifies himself (for some reason, I am convinced this is a guy, and the developer of the tool):
Stowe Boyd, Jun 28 08:34 am (PDT):Would make Index Card much more useful if I could import a text file from Dropbox as the content of a new card. Even better: import all the text files in a Dropbox folder as index cards.
I am using TextDrop (similar to Notational Velocity) and would like to be able to manipulate text files in Index Card, after creating them in TextDrop.
DenVog Support, Jun 28 08:43 am (PDT):
As you might guess, Index Cards have a very specific format in order to define individual cards, and accommodate title, text, notes, labels, etc. Importing a raw text file would throw this out the window. If you’re just making a separate plain text file for every card, then why not start with the Index Card app in the first place?
You can always copy and paste text between the apps. Not convenient, but I really don’t have a better suggestion if you are wanting to start your writing in something other than Index Card or Scrivener.
Stowe Boyd, Jun 28 01:13 pm (PDT):
But there are many reasons that text files might have been created by other tools — email, exports, word docs, etc. Certainly, everything is not created in Scrivener and Index Card?
DenVog Support, Jun 28 04:10 pm (PDT):
That seems like a rhetorical question, so I’m not sure what kind of response you are looking for.
You can obvious create files in any number of programs. Index Card won’t know what to do with a Word file, just like Word won’t know what to do with a .indexcard file. Could I engineer a way for Index Card to open a Plain Text file? Probably. But I’m not sure that many users would find it that useful since Plain Text does not have a concept of title, synopsis, label, etc. Dumping it into the synopsis of a single card doesn’t seem much better than cut-and-paste.
Given that you present yourself as a “clairvoyant” on your web site, I’m sure you already knew I was going to say that. :P
Your blog presents a very unique, specific workflow that you have in mind. Even if Index Card did import Plain Text, it appears it would still be a long way from what you’re looking for. I’m sorry that Index Card is not a better fit for you.
Anyway, leaving aside the trivial implementation issues (like mapping first line or filename to be the title of an index card, etc.), it’s the entire tone of this interaction which is annoying. The guy is so tin-eared that he can’t hear how condescending and unhelpful he is being.
I don’t want to over generalize, but this guy is just an extreme case of a general problem, and I hope that bringing to light the most egregious examples we can shove the world in a better direction, one tin-eared idiot at a time.
Update: 10:26 am
I wrote in one last time, with a link to this post:
Stowe Boyd, Jun 29 05:10 am (PDT):
Thanks for the help!
DenVog Support, Jun 29 06:20 am (PDT):
Instead of just saying “no”, I was trying to offer you some insight as to why. While you are free to disagree, I will not try to carry on a dialog with someone who resorts to name calling. You will not be receiving further replies from me.
So, he completely avoids the issue of his unhelpful customer support. I wonder how many other people he’s pissed off?