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Yojimbo 3.0 Gains Scanning and iPad App

Bare Bones Software has released version 3.0 of their Yojimbo information organizer with an option to sync to a separately purchased iPad app—Yojimbo for iPad—and scan directly using TWAIN plug-ins. Version 3.0 is otherwise similar to the previous version, apart from a few bug fixes.

Yojimbo is an indispensable application into which I stuff all kinds of material: notes, passwords, serial numbers, PDFs, images, Web archives, and links. I use Yojimbo’s tags to mark similar items, and then create collections to gather data into sets. The program uses MobileMe to sync my data across multiple computers.

The new scanning feature is intentionally simple—you press a Scan button and an image from your attached scanner is deposited in your Yojimbo library. There are no tweaky settings for scanning, nor an option to perform optical character recognition on the scan.

Until recently, Yojimbo’s main failing was the lack of an easy way to access the same data in iOS. The new app solves part of that problem. You can’t make changes to items on the iPad, but you can view any data stored in the desktop version, including encrypted items, which remain encrypted on the iPad.

You set up Yojimbo for iPad after upgrading to Yojimbo 3.0 in Mac OS X. A new preference pane lets you pair with the iPad app via Wi-Fi. Click the Pair button, and a four-digit code appears. Now launch the iPad app, tap the Start Pairing button, and enter the same code. Sync starts, which took many minutes for me the first time around due to the size of my Yojimbo library—180 MB. Sync is a one-to-one relationship: you can only sync Yojimbo on the Mac with one iPad, and Yojimbo for iPad with one Mac.

Sync requires both the Mac and iPad to be connected to the same local network; 3G sync isn’t available. Sync occurs automatically whenever you wake the iPad while the app is running or when you launch it. While I would have liked an option to sync via Dropbox, as Agile Web Solutions does with 1Password under iOS, it’s not going to happen. Bare Bones chief Rich Siegel explained in a briefing that Yojimbo relies on a database architecture that can’t be synced across Dropbox (yet, at least). Siegel also said his company didn’t want to rely on a third party, as it wouldn’t be able to help Yojimbo customers with Dropbox-related problems.

With data synced into the Yojimbo iPad app, you can find items using the Yojimbo view. This display mirrors what you see in the left tab of the desktop version.

Tap the Library, an item type (like Images or Recent), or a collection to drill down to see individual items. You can also tap the Search field and search on the title or tags attached to a Yojimbo element. You cannot search the contents of files.

Tap an item to view its contents, and it fills the screen in portrait or the right two-thirds in landscape. Bookmarks display Web pages in an embedded browser. Encrypted items show a lock that you tap, after which you must enter your desktop Yojimbo password to view the item. Unencrypted items can be forwarded via email. Links may be copied or opened in the Safari app. You can also copy images or save them to the photo library. An “i” information button exposes creation and modification date, collections to which the item belongs, and assigned tags.

Yojimbo 3.0 is a free update for owners of Yojimbo 2.x, and a $20 upgrade for owners of any Yojimbo 1 license (education, family, or individual). Purchased new, Yojimbo costs $39 for a single-user license, $69 for a family license (up to five in a household), and $29 for educational users. It may be used on multiple computers by the same person. Yojimbo for iPad costs $9.99.

Yojimbo for iPad is a good first pass, but it’s clearly just the beginning, for the simple reason that it is a read-only copy of your desktop data. That works for me—for now—as a dedicated Yojimbo user who wants my Yojimbo data available wherever I am. But it’s not ideal, and Rich Siegel was up front about how Bare Bones plans to extend the Yojimbo app’s capabilities to take in new information in the future. Right now, sharing data among iOS apps is extremely fussy, but as Apple creates more ways for apps to share data, hopefully we’ll see Yojimbo for iPad become the equal of Yojimbo on the Mac.


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Comments about Yojimbo 3.0 Gains Scanning and iPad App
(Comments are closed.)

Michael Cohen  2010-10-19 21:47
Glenn, I am shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you, that your 180MB of data took "many minutes" to sync to your iPad. I have a 270MB Yojimbo library, and mine only took 2-3 minutes to sync the first time. Seriously, though, nice review. One feature I'd like to see in the iPad app is a list of the all tags in use in the library as a pick list to make searching easier. Typing them is clumsy, especially in horizontal layout when the search field contracts to about 5 characters wide!
Glenn Fleishman  2010-10-19 21:55
Shocking, isn't it? Yojimbo uses SQLite on the Mac, and I figured it could just do a dump and import into the same database format in iOS!
Blake Helms  2010-10-20 08:03
Without Dropbox support I won't use it. Syncing should be transparent, I shouldn't have to make a conscious effort to make sure my iPad and Mac are in sync. The Dropbox "support" comment is a bad excuse, too many other apps work with Dropbox without issue.
Glenn Fleishman  2010-10-25 18:32
I was dubious, too, but after discussing this with Mr Siegel, the issue is also the database structure. 1Password uses a package-style file with structured entries inside it. That doesn't work well for searching large documents or storing lots of data. Bare Bones uses the SQLite database that's available in OS X and iOS. There are lots of advantages to using a relational database. (Of course, Bare Bones also—when it made Mailsmith—relied on packages and individual files for searching mail!)
I think Bare Bones has done an excellent job with the iPad app, and I applaud the company's strategy, similar to that of Third Street Software's, of bringing out a read-only version before attempting anything more ambitious. (Mekentosj is a company that went the other way, and now has to suffer endless abuse on their forums because annotations on the iPad version don't carry over to the Mac and vice versa.)

Your mention of a Scan feature puzzles me: I have Yojimbo 3.0 and can't find a button of that description, nor any mention in the internal help.

Once they've got the sync features fully worked out, I'm hoping they're going to shift their focus to tag browsing. On the Mac, there is a Tag Explorer, but it's a narrow, one-column strip that takes forever to scroll through if you have a lot of tags. On the iPad, you can only browse through tags for which you have already created a smart collection. Again, I think Bare Bones could learn something from Third Street Software's Sente Viewer
Glenn Fleishman  2010-10-25 18:30
It's in a sort of logical place instead of as a separate feature. Select New > New Image, and if you have a scanner with a TWAIN driver installed, the Scan button is lit up.
Thanks! I'm unable to actually get it to do a scan, so I'll have to contact tech support, but it's a relief to find the button.