Work Smarter and Save Trees with iPads and Wordpress
Work Smarter and Save Trees with iPads and Wordpress
Programming iPad is complex and expensive. This project will bring more of the iPad's power to business owners, teachers and others.
Programming iPad is complex and expensive. This project will bring more of the iPad's power to business owners, teachers and others. Read more
The Short Story
If the iPad is the first viable "post PC" computer then it should also be the first "post programmer" device where it no longer takes programming skills to integrate an iPad with your website. Imagine being able to give an iPad to your staff, students, or clients along with an app that makes it easy to collect information. They might use it for order forms, estimates, taking measurements in the field, or anything where they are working on their feet and would ordinarily use a clipboard and paper. But in this case the information is automatically sent to your existing Wordpress site where a free plugin lets you visualize the data in a variety of chart styles and tables. This Kickstarter project will fund the final development of a new kind of iPad app that enables the flexible exchange of information with your Wordpress site.
Whether your iPad has 3G or only Wi-Fi; in a downtown coverage area where you survey people on the sidewalk, or in the middle of a national park where you catalog plant species, the iPad collects the data and forwards it at the next online opportunity.
I have two broad objectives in mind for this project:
1) empower average people (non-programmers) to do more serious work with the iPad by sending their own content to and from the device;
2) help organizations reduce their dependence on paper through the appropriate application of technology.
I started on a prototype of the app about six months ago, but now things are getting exciting because it's starting to work and I get great feedback from people who see it. There's a clear map toward completion of the project, but there’s still a way to go between a prototype and something that’s ready for consumers. Your interest in this Kickstarter project will allow me to focus on making the best possible product instead of making Powerpoint presentations, and you'll earn the gratitude of millions of trees and iPad users.
The (slightly) Longer Story
Announcing the iPad in January 2010, Steve Jobs called it "The best browsing experience you've ever had." A few days later, a reviewer for CNNMoney saw "The ultimate couch-potato computer." At the time, I wrote on my blog "what we find most interesting are the business applications" and it turns out the iPad has become the best computer for people who work on their feet. So, over the past two years I have been recommending iPads to my consulting clients for all kinds of interesting uses that enable a more agile and mobile workforce. For example, we gave out iPads for the following:
- carpenters and painters complete the “paperwork” for a job (hours and materials used) while still on the job, and send it to the office for immediate review and billing;
- mystery shoppers fill out site inspection forms when visiting retail locations, and any serious problems are sent to regional managers immediately via automated text message and e-mail;
- property managers submit maintenance requests as they drive around inspecting the buildings and property;
- sales staff are using iPads to manage sales and inventory in a retail store.
For our projects the iPads have worked out great - they stand up well to daily use in the field, people love using them and they pay for themselves very quickly. But we kept running into the same two problems: a) the difficulty of integrating the iPad with existing systems, like the Wordpress websites many of my clients run; and, b) current apps all require the use of a third-party website, which increases cost and complexity, and introduces security concerns.
This Kickstarter project is my attempt to solve those problems and, at the same time, save some trees by eliminating the paper in paperwork. For security, our new app will communicate only with your Wordpress site, “pulling” information from your site and “pushing” data directly back to you - there are no extra hosting fees or agreements and your data is as secure as you make your Wordpress system. As you collect data from the iPad(s) a Wordpress plugin will let you specify line, bar, pie and other chart types, or simple grids to visualize your data.
Developing the current prototype was my first iOS coding experience so it started off slowly and I hired a consultant to write most of the real code. Now we have a functional prototype of the iPad app - it’s not pretty, but it works well enough to move data in and out of the iPad as a proof of concept. So now we can exchange data with Wordpress and let a designer work on the user interface. If this project is successfully funded we will have the resources to complete the development by mid-to-late October. Depending on Apple’s approval process the app could be in the App Store by mid-November. Qualified backers here on Kickstarter will be able to get early access to the app and help us beta test.
Wordpress is our first target because it’s easy for regular people to use and there are about 75 million Wordpress sites, but there are other great open source content management systems. In the future we might support Joomla and Drupal, but we have to stay focused on Wordpress for now and will let backers and customers tell us their priorities for next steps.
Even if you don’t have an iPad yet, or don’t have a Wordpress site of your own this project could be fun. Want to impress your kids? At one of our pledge levels we will add your name to the credits on the iPad app. How cool would that be? Millions of iPad users will know your name and the role you played in making the world a better place.
Pick a higher pledge level and we will throw in some consulting time where our developers will help you set up a Wordpress site of your own to use with this app. If you already have a site we can spend the time talking about the custom features you want added to our app.
I hope this explanation makes sense and that you feel at least a little intrigued by the potential benefits this app will provide - making iPad data integration easier for average people would be a big win. Please post your questions if you are still unsure about backing us. I will do my best to answer all questions promptly.
- (45 days)