ZotPad 1.2 has been released

ZotPad 1.2 is now available in the App Store. This is a major update that improves performance and stability and adds important features. The main new user-visible features in the 1.2 version are
  • Filtering the item list by tags and editing tags
  • Reading, editing, and creating notes
  • Adding items to favorites by "starring" them
  • Looking up items in library and citation databases
  • New file reader user interface with quick switching between recently viewed files
All features support offline use so that you can work with ZotPad for example on a train or in an airplane and the changes will be synchronized back to Zotero server the next time you get online.

A look at the main new features

The screenshot below shows the tag selector that can be used to filter the item list by tags. The tag selector is normally hidden below the library and collection list to save screen space and can be opened over the collections list. The second screenshot shows the note editor. The note editor can display and edit formatted text including tables and figures, but the formatting itself cannot be edited using ZotPad. (i.e. you can edit text in tables, but you cannot add rows to a table.) The note editor is accessible from the item detail view and the file viewer. To support working with notes and tags while reading an article, the file viewer has been redesigned. The new file viewer is shown in the screenshot below. Most notable change is the new panel that can be pulled from the side to show and edit the notes and tags for the file and its parent item. The navigation bar on the top shows also two other features: The navigation arrows can be used to quickly browse the history of viewed files, like the navigation arrows in a web browser. Another new feature is the star button, which can be used to add or remove an item to a special "favorites" collection.

Internal changes to improve stability, performance, and maintainability

The user-visible changes are less than half of the changes in ZotPad 1.2. The initial release of ZotPad and to some extent also the 1.1 release were aimed at getting something functional out in a reasonable time. This obviously resulted in implementing some parts of the app in a "quick and dirty" way. In the ZotPad 1.2., large parts of the app have been rewritten. This had the effect of delaying the 1.2 release from the initial fall 2012 release target, but also has several positive sides. ZotPad is now noticeably faster, particularly when launching the app. These changes also reduce the number of crashes and solve many problems that could not be addressed with maintenance releases. These include for example the problems that file uploads sometimes did not start or produced unnecessary conflicts or endless conflict resolution. Finally, the internal changes and maintenance done in the code will make future development faster and also increase the likelihood that potential problems in the 1.2 release can be fixed with maintenance releases instead of waiting for the next feature release.

What to look forward to in the 1.3 release

The development of the 1.3 version will start after the 1.2 version of has been successfully rolled out. There will be three user-visible focus areas in the 1.3 version:
  • Adding items and attachments
  • Integrating iAnnotate library
  • Small user interface improvements
Adding items and attachments are the two most requested features by a wide margin. Although the Zotero bookmarklet goes a long way in enabling collecting articles and other items on iPad and iPhone, there are things that it cannot do. The version 1.3 will implement adding new items and attachments. Retrieving PDF metadata and adding books by scanning barcodes are also on the roadmap and may be added to the 1.3 version. ZotPad currently uses Apple's QuickLook framework in the file reader. This is a fast, but feature poor solution and including a real PDF reader has been on the roadmap since ZotPad was started. The version 1.2 includes under the hood changes that will make it possible to switch to a better PDF viewer in the future. During the development of the 1.3 version the QuickLook framework will be replaced with the iAnnotate library. This will allow viewing and editing PDF annotations directly in ZotPad, searching PDFs in the file viewer, and indexing the PDFs for full text search. Not all the features will be rolled out in a single release, and it may be that the release of iAnnotate powered version will be postponed in the 1.4 version. This depends not only on the amount of work needed to integrate the iAnnotate library, but also on whether ZotPad sells enough to cover the substantial license cost of the iAnnotate library. A lot of small user interface improvements, such as supporting copy-paste and displaying long fields on multiple lines instead of truncating them in the item detail view, were included on the initial plan for the 1.2 version. These have been postponed to the 1.3 release, or possibly maintenance releases in the 1.2 branch. This decision was made because the 1.2 version contains a lot of critical fixes and postponing less important changes allows for an earlier release. The plans for the 1.3 version are described in more detail on a separate page. You can also read more about each requested feature, vote on new features, and suggests new features at the UserVoice pages.