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Microsoft Office for iPad now supports opening files from the Files app more directly

Microsoft Office and the Files App Finally Play Nice Together:

Today Microsoft updated its Office suite for iOS, with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint all reaching version 2.12. Office updates rarely receive detailed release notes, and today was no exception, but user Teddy Svoronos discovered that the updates brought 'Open In' capabilities to the share sheet, which previously only enabled making a copy of an Office document. The 'Copy to' option has now been removed, replaced by the more convenient 'Open in.'

After seeing Teddy's tweet, I did a little playing around in the Files app and discovered that, while Excel and PowerPoint documents accessed in Files will load Quick Look previews and require tapping 'Open in' from the share sheet, the experience is even better with .docx files. Those Word-associated documents open directly in the Word app with just a single tap from the Files interface – no need to open the share sheet first.

It is really nice to see proper use of the Files app user interface being adopted into apps by third party developers. The more time passes, hopefully we will see this adoption so wide that opening documents using the native file browser will feel no different on an iPad than it does on a Mac. It always feels jarring on Mac when the “Open” option doesn’t show the Finder. On iPad, custom “open” UIs have been standard since its beginning. Hopefully the Files app introduced this past fall with iOS 11 will continue to change that. 

What I really thought was interesting about this article was something I have been wondering about the Files app since the summer. 

Update: One of the developers working on Office has confirmed my suspicions: the reason Word files open for me with a single tap while Excel and PowerPoint files do not is that I haven't opened those files enough for iOS to know that I would prefer to bypass the share sheet.

I had noticed that tapping on files in the Files app could open them within third party apps but I never understood how iOS knew which apps to use. (For example, standard text files were opening in Byword on my iPhone and 1Writed on my iPad for a time.) It seems that the user can to some extent control these apps by using the “Open In…” option from the Files app and choosing the desired app frequently. Still though, I would love the option to set default apps on iOS. I can tell my Mac which app I want to open PDFs. Why not on my iPad Pro?

New podcast episode! - Working with PDFs, featuring guest, Paul Shimmons

In this weeks episode, I am joined by Paul Shimmons (band director, music tech in education blogger, and podcaster). We have a great time talking about our various workflows for reading, editing, annotating, and organizing our PDFs. This episode was recorded shortly after the announcement of iOS 11 which will bring a lot of new productivity features to the iPad. Naturally, we had to discuss these announcements and how they might reshape our PDF workflows next fall.

You can listen to the episode here.

Adding an Index for Your Real Books in forScore

forScore 10 adds a feature that allows you to add indexes to large scores by uploading a CSV file that links the song titles to specific page numbers of the PDF. This is especially useful for real and fake books that have hundreds of songs all associated with one giant file. A competing score app called unrealBook pioneered this feature to my knowledge. I used to keep it installed on my iPad just for that one feature, but now, I can do everything I need to in forScore.

I created a video tutorial of how to accomplish this. See below:

 You can find the index files I reference in the video here

I don’t have a full technical understanding of how this feature works, so I tried to avoid explaining what is going on with the file. I think I am explaining it well enough that if you imitate my steps, you will be successful in most attempts. If there is anything unclear, let me know and I will try to clarify it in a future post.

One thing I did not cover in the video are the page offset settings at the bottom of the index settings screen. I have attached about 10 indexes to my forScore library and only twice did I need to use those buttons. In some cases, the CSV score may be offset by a few pages leading to the index not linking you to the correct songs. In these cases, I simply fiddled around with the plus and minus buttons until I got the result I wanted. I would be happy to redo the video with that step included if enough people are interested.