This review has been a long time coming. I remember when my buddy Scott Kelby first raved about FolioBook and I downloaded it and tried it based on his recommendation. However, and to be quite honest, I wasn’t that impressed. Don’t get me wrong, FolioBook did all the things that Scott raved about, but for me it didn’t do anything that any of the other major portfolio Apps I had didn’t already do. Sure it’s great for creating a custom branded portfolio experience complete with video support (in-app purchase), logos and music, but it was missing the same thing that most of the others were missing. There was no way to “sync” photos from Lightroom or cloud storage such as Dropbox.com. The developer contacted me for a review and like so many other Apps I actually declined to review it simply because there wouldn’t be anything really great for me to say other than it’s another fine choice for a portfolio App. I wanted MORE! I explained to him that it’s not good enough that I can get my photos into your App and display them, I need an easy workflow for updating my portfolios/galleries. My portfolio (galleries) is a “work-in-progress” that will never be done! I’m always looking to improve it. That means that when I take a better shot than one of the ones already in it, the old one gets replaced by the new one. I even have a “Recent Work” gallery that is updated every time I do a new shoot. It always has 24 of my most recent pics in it. For most portfolio Apps this means a manual update. I’d have to get the new shot it in, arrange it and remember to delete the old shot. Like most things, if it’s not easy to update you won’t update it. My portfolio on my iPad always seemed to be out of date and I’d have to scramble to get it up to date before showing someone or heading to an event.
Lightroom to Dropbox to FolioBook – That’s My Workflow
Adobe Lightroom is where all my photos live. I have various catalogs for the different types of photography that I do and Lightroom is my mission control center for publishing and sharing my photos with the world. Thanks to The Turning Gate I even use Lightroom to create my Photography Website. I use Lightroom’s Publish Services to publish to Facebook, Google+ (Picasa), 500px.com, Flickr and Smugmug. However, I also use Lightroom to Publish to folders in Dropbox via the built-in Hard Drive Publish feature. This is also one of the ways I go from Lightroom to my iOS devices.
Any time that I update my Portfolios (galleries), I just hit the Publish button for each Smart Collection in my Hard Drive publisher and the new JPGs are generated and sync’d with Dropbox. FolioBook could always “IMPORT” from Dropbox, but it was a very manual process. You’d have to pick which images to import and then remember to manually delete the old ones. In this latest update to FolioBook, FolioBook Now “Syncs” with Dropbox. That’s right! Real syncing. Simply choose the folder on your Dropbox.com account that you wish to sync with as a gallery in FolioBook and it will “sync” the new photos to FolioBook and remove the old ones. Hooray!
NOTE: Your initial sync could take several minutes as FolioBook has to look at every file in your Dropbox folder once and note the modification/creation date/time. Mine took about 10-15 minutes and I thought it was forever stuck on “preparing”. After the initial sync it syncs any other galleries/changes very quickly.
Sort order: The images in FolioBook will be ordered by file name coming from Lightroom/Dropbox. Therefore if you add an image later in the middle of your collection, you’ll need to rename all the photos in that collection with a preceding sequence number and mark all photos in that collection to republish so that they are all generated with a new sequence number/name.
This is the update I’ve been waiting for. While FolioBook isn’t the 1st app to sync Photos with the cloud (Minimal Folio can do it and Adobe Revel can sync as well) the other Apps don’t have all the “Portfolio” features that I want/need such as slideshows, transitions, music, etc.. This is why starting today if any photographer were to ask me for a recommendation for a Portfolio App for iPad, I will say “FolioBook”. I’ve gone through more Portfolio Apps than I care to mention and it’s posible that I’ll change my mind again if something better comes out, but right now FolioBook is where it’s at!
The Bottom Line
Until now FolioBook was a good option for having a portfolio of photos on your iPad, Today, it just became a “Best App” for having a portfolio of photos on your iPad. This updates goes a long way towards making FolioBook the “perfect” portfolio App for iPad, but there are still some things I’d like to see in the next update. Now that we have Dropbox syncing of galleries, I’d like to see an option to “Backup” and “Restore” to/from Dropbox. Currently the App offers backup/restore, but only via iTunes and a cable. I’d also love to see syncing of the order of photos between devices and yes I’d love to see an iPhone version since I have my iPhone with me more often than my iPad. I’d also like to see a slightly “smoother” manual swipe from image to image. Seems like you have to really “pull” to get to the next image.
Dropbox recently made their “sync API” available to developers. So I’m sure we’ll see other Portfolio Apps follow FolioBook’s lead, but for now if you’re a photographer and you were looking for the Best Portfolio App for your iPad, currently this is it.