This is part 6 of my 8 part series about starter apps for a lawyer to build a basic work machine. I’m not digging into a lot of custom apps here – just the meat and potatoes of the workflow for many lawyers. Last time I talked about presentation apps. Today I’ll talk about a subject that is probably of top concern to many lawyers – Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel compatibility.
Even if you do most of your drafting in raw text (which I recommend), you will inevitably need to view and edit a .doc or .xls file. For those times, my preferred app right now is QuickOffice Connect Mobile Suite (iTunes link). For a mobile Microsoft Office compatibility suite, this app offers everything you would expect. While you won’t be generating cross referenced tables of contents and custom styles in QuickOffice (or any of the competitors), all the basic formatting tools a lawyer uses are there. The reason this app is at the top of my list compared to the other capable apps in this area is in how it manages files. QuickOffice uses an intuitive drag, drop and tap interface that resembles how one might work on a desktop computer. Given that file management and version control is so important for lawyers, this feature pushes QuickOffice ahead of the competition in my eyes. QuickOffice Connect Mobile Suite is also just $14.99 at this writing (usually $24.99) (iTunes link).
That said, Dataviz’s Documents to Go Premium (iTunes Link) is still on my iPad and gets used from time to time. The main positive distinguishing feature between QuickOffice and Documents to Go is that DTG supports footnoting and QuickOffice does not. If documents with footnotes are part of your workflow, then you are going to want DTG. I draft contracts and correspondence rather than briefs and memoranda so footnotes are rare in my legal writing workflow. On the flip side, I find DTG’s file management scheme simply Byzantine at times with unintuitive panels of file management options that don’t seem linked together in any intuitive way. I’d love to see this aspect of the app get a refresh.
One thing to remember with both of these apps is that they aren’t WYSIWYG like your desktop version of Office. This is unfortunate as WYSIWYG seems like it is certainly possible on the iPad. Indeed, Apple’s Pages for iPad is much closer to a WYSIWYG experience. I think the reason QuickOffice and DTG don’t offer WYSIWYG views is because they are ports from older mobile devices and mobile operating systems (I think Palm may have been the original platform) where WYSIWYG was not an option.
Both apps have a standard version. Documents to Go’s (iTunes link) basic version is $9.99, but it lacks PowerPoint editing and cloud storage access. The basic version of QO is QuickOffice Mobile Suite (iTunes link) $4.99 but also lacks cloud storage integration and is only an iPhone app. Because cloud file storage is so critical for effective workflow on the iPad, I only recommend the premium versions of these two apps. There are other “Office” suite apps out there including Office2 HD (iTunes link) and the Pages (iTunes Link) / Numbers (iTunes link) combination, but these apps did not fare as well as DTG and QO in handling the quirky formatting of typical law firm documents (see my posts about pleading formatting and business agreement formatting on the iPad).
Stuck with a WordPerfect file? Well, you can’t edit it, but you can view it with WPD Viewer (iTunes link).