Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My pre-iCloud life

I thought it might be handy to write down how I handle files and directory structures before iCloud forces me to rethink everything I do.

Because what I have is a kind of belts-and-braces version of iCloud, at least in some regards.

Let me start with the hardware, as one should. I have a MacBookPro, creaking at the knees a tad, but still offering valiant service. To that I can add an iPhone and an iPad, both shiny at time of writing. I am a MobileMe subscriber and a Dropbox user.

So how are things set up? I sort files by type, all my Text documents are in a single folder, called Text Documents, all my spreadsheets are together in another, all my PDFs in another, and so on. I have a rigorous file naming system which Ive blogged about before, but which enables sorting by project and date simply by sorting by name. So a folder filled with thousands of text files is not the jumbled mess you might initially assume.

Three key folders sit inside my iDisk, Text documents, Spreadsheets, and Presentations, each with a symbolic link back to my main Documents folder. Default FolderX knows each applications key folder and guides all my open/save dialogs to the right place. And yes, that's my iDisk, not Dropbox. I was helping a friend with their setup and noted that they synced their disk with no issues. Like many early adopters I followed the standard dictum that this was unreliable and you just didn't do it. But hey, it actually works, at least in my recent experience. Perhaps Apple got their act together while all our backs were turned.

So what does this mean?

Effectively, I have the same files available to iWork on all three devices. Sure, when I add a file to one of the iOS apps, it will drop some features, and I have to be conscious to maintain my file naming patterns and save back out. But it's a glimpse of what's to come.