Backing Up Inkflow and Vittle Files

by qrayon 16. August 2013 14:19

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Inkflow user Phil recently asked a question about backing up his over 200 (!) Inkflow books. We thought other users might want to know more about this too.

There are three ways to keep your files safely backed up:

1. If you activated your iCloud account and turned on iCloud backups, your device automatically gets backed up when you charge it. This includes the device settings and all App data (unless you individually turn them off). You can completely restore your device (or a new device) from the iCloud backup in case of a catastrophic failure. This is a good failsafe, but the problem is that it's an all or nothing proposition (i.e. you can't choose to just restore one or two Apps at a time).

2. iTunes backup works in the same was as iCloud backup, but it's to your computer. There's a WiFi backup option, so you don't need to physically connect your phone. This is a good idea, just to have a second backup available.

3. There's a new feature available in Inkflow 3 that activates iTunes File Sharing. This lets you copy individual Inkflow (*.inkflow) files to your computer. To use it, connect your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch to your computer, and then:
    a. Select your device in the iTunes sidebar (View menu \ Show Sidebar).
    b. Navigate to the Apps tab, and select Inkflow.
    c. Copy the Inkflow files (all of them if you like) to your computer.

You can then copy these files to an external backup disk or cloud backup solution of your choice. To restore them, simply copy them back to the same Apps tab, or to a new device.

This is also a good way to “archive” older books that you don’t need to carry around on your device all the time. First backup the files, then delete them from the device.

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Vittle also supports iTunes file sharing. You can similarly copy project files (*.vittle) and their associated video clips to your computer, and back them up in the same way.

Bonus Trick: Backing up to Dropbox Directly

There’s one more way to backup individual files in Inkflow directly on your iPad or iPhone. In Inkflow 3, we added the ability to export the native .inkflow file. Tap the “Action” toolbar button, select “Export…”, then select the Inkflow format. If you have the Dropbox App installed, you can open .inkflow files with it. When you do, it will prompt you for a folder and then upload the file immediately.

This is a great way to save an important backup of a file when away from your computer.

Open Inkflow from DropboxYou can also open Inkflow files from the Dropbox App into Inkflow. First view it in the Dropbox App. It will say “Unable to view file”, but don’t worry. Tap the download button (top right on the iPad) and selecting Inkflow from the list. Just be aware that this will create a duplicate copy in Inkflow if a book already exists with the same name.


Create a Backup Plan that Works for You

When it comes to backing up data, having multiple levels of redundancy is a good idea. Pick the combination of options (or all three) that best suits you.

How To Change the Background in Vittle

by qrayon 16. July 2013 11:53

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Use the Lock-Image feature in Vittle to use any image as the background for your projects. Here’s how:

1. Insert the image you want to use as the background.

2. Tip: You can copy images from external Apps such as Mail, Safari, or Dropbox and paste them into Vittle.

Copy from Dropbox

3. Resize the image to fill the screen, then tap on it and select “Lock Image”.

Lock Image


You can now draw over the image and move things around without affecting the locked image. To unlock an image, simply tap on it again then tap “Unlock Image”.

You can quickly create multiple pages with your background image. Tap on the Page Number at the bottom, and tap the Duplicate Page button multiple times:

Duplicate pages


Bonus: Grid Paper Templates

To get you started, here are three grid templates that you can use as backgrounds:

1. Numbered Grid

2. Numbered Grid with Positive values

3. Un-numbered Grid

You can create your own in any graphics program, even using Keynote or PowerPoint. Here is the PowerPoint file for these templates.

We hope you’ll find this useful in your projects.

Three Simple Ways to Practice Video Storytelling

by qrayon 4. May 2013 16:59

Video is fast becoming an important medium for our business and everyday communication. You can describe things more clearly and in a more engaging way using video and simple drawings than with just text.

This is a short guide to help you get started using video and leveraging it in your own work.

I'm going to be working through the three exercises using Vittle on my iPad (you can download the free edition from the App Store here), but you can use any recording device you want, even your iPad or iPhone's camera.

You can also start practicing by recording audio-only first, then add the visuals later.


1. Exercise 1: Describe a Recent Trip
Pick one photo from a recent vacation or trip and pretend you are describing being there to a close friend or family member.

Here's one from a trip we made to the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. last Fall:


If you are like me, you are probably going to find yourself getting some points out of order when you try this for the first time. That's ok. Remembering a scene from the past tends to be non-linear. You are trying to put your memories into a coherent structure. As you speak, you will likely remember additional details that you want to add in.

What's nice about video is you can easily record multiple takes, and that's the first secret to making great videos: Multiple takes. Your audience doesn't care how many takes you did, since they only see the last one.


2. Exercise 2: Your Living Room Layout
For this exercise, you are going to sketch out the layout of your living room, and describe it to someone such as an interior designer.

Here's my description:

In this exercise, we had to be a little more exact, to combine facts like sizes with subjective descriptions. Notice how even a crude and simple drawing helps convey the information more accurately. Imagine how difficult it would be to have to describe that same room using only text.


3. Exercise 3: Refueling a Car
Now, for something a little more complex: Pretend you are describing how to fill up a car to someone who has never done that before, as if to a teenager. This lets you practice describing something you are probably very familiar with already.

Here's the description I came up with:

Notice that this was a little more involved than describing the static layout of your living room. The quality of the sketch is not important here. The goal is to convey a piece of complex information quickly and efficiently.

Simple drawings help a lot to convey the relative locations of things and their operation. Certain elements are easier to show with a quick sketch, while other points are easier to simply narrate.

Next Steps

Ok, hopefully these three simple exercises have helped you warm up your video-storytelling skills. You can easily apply these techniques the next time you need to explain your business to a customer, or get a point across to your colleagues.

Please let us know what you think. You can send us feedback through our website.

Happy video-making!

Five Reasons Why Video Is the Future of Communication

by qrayon 4. May 2013 16:49

You may prefer to watch the video of this post instead of just reading it:


Humans are naturally audio-visual creatures. We are born with an instinct to parse our world through sight and sound. Yet it takes years of training to learn written language, which are essentially shortcuts to our visual vocabulary.

Writing is a marvelous invention, but its role is destined to become more narrow and specialized in the future. At the same time, the role of video in everyday communication is going to dramatically increase. Here are five reasons why:

1. Video is Far More Engaging than Text

We much prefer to consume video over text. Just compare the number of movies you’ve watched over the last year to the number of books you’ve read. The reason is simple: A well crafted video can concentrate the experience of reading a long book into a much shorter amount of time. Video can also deliver a level of impact that a book cannot, simply because it engages more of our senses at once.

2. Our Attention Spans are Getting Shorter

It’s not our fault, there is simply so much more media to consume these days. As a result, video’s ability to deliver more information in a shorter amount of time is going to win out in the long run.

The other interesting feature of video is that it is easier to consume passively. You can watch a video lecture or news program while eating dinner, and easily absorb most of the content without and trouble. With a smartphone, you can also consume video from pretty much anywhere.

This passive nature also means that people are more likely to consume your information through video when they are tired after a long day's work.

3. Video Production is Now Free, Actually it's Better than Free

If you bought a smartphone anytime in the last 3 years, you already have an entire video production studio right in your pocket. Couple that with free online services like YouTube and Vimeo, and you now have the broadcast capability that rivals even the biggest movie studios.

These days, you can even earn a portion of advertising revenue from the videos you post online. What was once inconceivable is now trivial. Just ask all the folks who make cat videos.

4. Your Customers and Colleagues are Going to Expect Video

Look at the example of video lectures. They once used to be a backup in case you missed the actual class. They are now fast becoming commonplace and actually preferred over live lectures. The idea of “flipping” a classroom is quickly catching on in schools across the globe: Where students watch their lectures at home, and spend their valuable time in class working on problems with their teacher’s personal supervision.

In business, we are right now crossing a tipping point where video is going to become the norm. Once enough websites have a video introduction, all websites are going to have them, just to stay competitive. Once someone in the office realizes they can more effectively spread their great idea with a video instead of another long email, everyone is going to expect it.

So why wait? You can be the one to lead your organization through this transition, instead of having to play catch up later.

5. Video is More Human

None of us have any trouble engaging in a conversation with a friend or colleague. This is after all, the core of what it means to be human. So why do many of us struggle with so called “formal” writing? Try reading a typical business email or website out loud. Why do they sound so impersonal and even somewhat alien?

The reason is that it’s hard to convey your exact meaning or mood in writing. As a result, we are forced to err on the side of caution. We don’t want to give the wrong impression or accidentally alienate someone. So we avoid being too casual, or appearing uncertain about things, of being too human in our writing.

Video changes this. We can now communicate in our natural way again. This is not only more authentic, which our audience already expects, but it can be far more accurate and precise.

What Can You Do Today?

Start by practicing recordings of everyday topics you are already familiar with. Here are three simple exercises you can try, check them out. I'm sure that before long you will be connecting with your audience in a more meaningful way. The extra bonus is that recording videos can also be a lot of fun, and even liberating.

I hope you found this post useful. Please send us any comments or feedback you might have through our website. We really love hearing from you guys.

Thanks a lot.

Book Review: The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde

by qrayon 4. May 2013 11:33

Sketchnote Handbook

Sketchnotes are notes taken in real time while listening to a lecture, talk, or presentation. They incorporate both typography/words and pictures to capture the speaker’s main points. Sketchnotes can help you stay more engaged during a lecture, and are more fun than just taking written notes. The completed sketchnote also serves as a visual map of the talk for later.

The Sketchnote Handbook is easy to read, and is full of inspiring examples of different styles of sketchnotes. The book mainly covers techniques using pen and paper, but they can also be applied to digital tools. For example, the tip on different writing patterns to fill a page is useful, although if you are using Inkflow you can easily change patterns mid-stream. There’s a section at the end with exercises to practice drawing people, objects, and lettering.

Make sure to pick up the Video Edition of the book. This includes a unique code to access over an hour of additional video content online (yes, you can watch them on your iPad too). It’s sure to give you new ideas on how to take better notes and communicate visually.

Mike Rohde did the illustrations for the book Rework (another excellent read). He also started a website called Sketchnote Army, which has tons more examples of Sketchnotes. Well worth checking out.

Using Icons in Your Visual Vocabulary

by qrayon 3. May 2013 17:32

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One of the benefits of freeform digital note-taking tools such as Inkflow is that they allow you to easily mix left-brain thinking (words) with right-brain thinking (pictures). Pictures have actually been a part of written language for a long time. Billions of people write using languages derived from pictographs (e.g. Chinese or Korean); what we would call icons today.

The benefit of icons is that they allow you to compress a lot of meaning and even emotion into a simple picture. You don’t need any artistic skill to use icons effectively.

Building your own Icon Alphabet

By developing a set of icons to use in your own notes, you can more quickly capture and combine key ideas. The trick is to come up with icons for concepts that you use frequently. Here’s how to get started and build your icon vocabulary over time:


1. Look at your general shorthand

Guess what, you already use icons everyday: Think of all the shorthand you use, such as checkmarks, stars, and arrows. The cool thing is that these icons are re-usable. E.g. a star can represent a favorite item, or an important point, or well, a star.

You can easily customize these icons with your own special meaning. For example, you might draw a circle around a checkmark, and use that icon to represent important new ideas that you learned.

Common glyphs


2. Think about common concepts

The next set of icons that you might look at developing are for common, everyday concepts. Things like “Home”, “The World”, times of day, or places such as “cities” or “schools”:

Common concepts

You’ll find that using these simple icons in place of words much more evocative. They are especially useful as titles or to headline groups of ideas.


3. Create domain-specific icons

Finally, think about the major concepts that you frequently use in your field of work, especially the more complex ones. For example, you could represent “The Environment” with a tree. You can also reuse your icons. E.g. Use the city icon to also represent a business or corporation:

Domain specific concepts

When you iconize concepts this way, you’ll find that it’s easier to think of them as distinct entities or actors. This makes mapping out the relations between entities easier and more engaging. For example, you could use a set of icons to map out the interplay between governments, businesses, and the environment. This is useful both when brainstorming, and for communicating complex concepts to others.


Whole Brain Thinking

Icons not only help you capture ideas faster, but think better too, because you are working with a richer set of meaning, and engaging both sides of your brain at the same time. You will notice a difference in how your brain processes concepts represented by icons vs. just words. The thing is, you don’t need to pick one over the other. You can combine both to think more effectively.

What other ways have you found to leverage icons effectively? Love to hear your comments. Feel free to leave them below or send feedback.

Using Air Sketch with an Ad-Hoc network (no hotspot needed)

by qrayon 10. July 2010 14:24


Several users have asked if its possible to use Air Sketch when a WiFi hotspot isn’t available. It turns out the answer is YES! Air Sketch works just as well when connected directly to a computer running an Ad-Hoc network.

An Ad-hoc network is basically a private WiFi hotspot that runs off your notebook or desktop computer. All modern operating systems allow you to create one very easily in a couple minutes. This can be very useful when you are in a WiFi-less environment, or don’t want to risk connectivity issues on an unfamiliar network.

Here’s how to use Air Sketch on an ad-hoc network with Mac OSX Snow Leopard:


1. Start on the Mac. Click on the Airport (WiFi) icon in the menu bar and select "Create Network...". Give it a name, and (highly recommended) a password.

2. Go to network settings on your iPad, and join that new network. Wait for the WiFi icon to appear in the status bar. We found that it can take up a minute for the ad-hoc WiFi connection to be established.

3. Now launch Air Sketch. The IP address will be different, but everything else should work the same.


That’s it! On the first connection it may be necessary to manually refresh the browser a couple of times if the network hasn’t been fully established yet.

The steps for other operating systems should be very similar. Here are the steps for setting up an ad-hoc network on Windows Vista and Windows 7. Note that you can’t set up an ad-hoc network from the iPad itself.


But wait, there’s more!

Once you have your ad-hoc network set up, additional devices can connect to it and to Air Sketch as well, just like any other WiFi hotspot. You can even connect your iPhone, another iPad, or iPod Touch to the network and project Air Sketch to those. Before you go too crazy on this, remember to limit the number of Air Sketch clients (we recommend less than 4) to avoid performance issues.

We hope you find this tip useful. If you try it out, do let us know how it works out for you. Feel free to leave a comment or shoot us an email.

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