I stand corrected, but I won't take it lying down

A few weeks back, I lamented the fact that it was not possible to move image files between iPad apps. I was wrong. Sort of. Desperate to find a real-world, photography-related application for the iPad — well, real as in my version of reality, at least — I delved a little deeper into Bento.

For those not familiar with Bento, a quick primer. Bento is a simple database app that does something really neat. Using an iPad or iPhone, you can create and customise a database library that can be synced to the desktop version of Bento. And when I say lightweight, I mean Bento is to lightweight as Steve Wozniak is to computing genius.

This is not a putdown. Bento is, in and of itself, a nice piece of work as far as apps go, but when you’re accustomed to the power and versatility of Filemaker Pro, Bento always measures up poorly. But that's OK. Bento is what it is.

Wanting to find out if I could create a sales order library, I fired up one of the many templates that Bento offers and began modifying it. Soon, I discovered that a field can be set up to import media. Voila! That means I can generate a new sales order, populate it with data such as customer name and all the usual stuff and match it up to the file name of an image printed on the proof sheet my customer is looking at … oh, wait a doggone minute.

That horrible sound you’re hearing is my hopes being dashed.

Why is it, Apple, dear old Apple, love of my computing life, that I can’t see file names on an iPad? If I could see the file names of the images I’m trying to sell, it would be a doddle to import them into that media field in the Bento sales order. As it stands, however, I have to hunt around the album in which I believe the image I’m after will be, isolate it visually from the rest, and then choose it.

If I weren’t in front of the customer as I was trying to do this it wouldn’t be so bad — but this is not a back of house operation, it’s a point of sale operation, and fumbling about with a visual selection of an image file is just embarrassing.

Why is there not at least an option to display file names? Or better yet, a way to export an image from the Photos app to Bento? Creating a sales order with an image selection as the starting point — that would be perfect.

Well, yes, we all know the answer to that question, don’t we? Accessing files, folders and directories is just not something that fits within Apple’s vision for the iPad.

This is a gadget that holds consumption as its raison d’être, not creation, and the act of creating stuff relies at least a little on having access to a file system. Except that we have Pages and Keynote and Bento, right? Yes. Yes, we do. It is possible to create stuff on an iPad and these apps show the way, but only within the constraints of what Apple will allow us to do with an iDevice.

Which brings me back to where I was a few weeks back — looking for a way to use the iPad as a point of sale tool. Not a pretty show-and-tell device — that’s easy, and the iPad excels at it. I want a point of sale tool. The acronym for said tool is POS, and I'll leave it to those with a sense of irony to make what they will of the double entendre.

A local app developer, whom I know by his Twitter nick @alexeckermann — which, kind of surprisingly is actually his real name — tells me that it’s possible for any app to import an image asset from the Photo app. It’s right there in the SDK, and you can easily insert the code into any app. This leaves me wondering why on earth there aren’t iPad apps that can do what I want.

Of course, it’s about now I blame myself for not having yet made a fortune as an iPad app developer. I simply must sit down and nut it out one day. Unless someone else would like to give it a go. Hello? Anyone? I've got a good idea for an app. Hello?

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